A comment our copy department often hears is: Why isn’t the text on the page _______?
The blank can be “shorter,” “longer,” “more in depth,” “less clinical,” “more/less salesy,” “in first person?” Today, I want to share the reasons, and statistics, behind our decisions regarding number of words on a page, vocabulary choice, point of view (POV), and how SEO plays a role in our decisions.
Optimal Number of Words on a Web Page
From studies, we know a lot about how people read (or don’t read) web pages. Most of your site visitors will not scroll down. In the web biz, we try to integrate the most important elements, like contact information, above the fold. This term comes from the newspaper industry, obviously, and it refers to the area of print visible on the top half of the paper, which is literally above the fold. Translate this into web design, and the more accurate term would be before the scroll. Approximately 80% of a person’s time on a web page is spent looking above the fold.
We also know that people scan, they don’t read, most printed information. They’re looking for headings, subheadings, and bold text to determine the purpose of a page’s words. As we learned a few weeks ago in my blog about eye movement patterns, the upper left of a screen is the most viewed. The further away a person’s vision moves from this point, the less interested he becomes. In fact, web users devote about 70% of their time on a web page to the left side.
Vocabulary and Reading Level for Websites
Because your site visitors will actually read only 20% of the text on a web page, vocabulary is an important component in dental website copywriting. Even higher-literacy readers, those who make up the bulk of your patient base, will only scan your web text. While big words and clinical dental terms may make impress your colleagues, they won’t put lots of regular Joes in your dental chair. The MDPM Consulting copywriters are instructed to compose content for a general dentist at a reading level of 9th-11th grade. Because of the higher vocabulary level associated with the words used to describe dental specialties, like orthodontics and periodontics, the web copy on these sites may exceed 12th grade. However, you must keep in mind, having educational resources on your site is great, but the main pages of your website are intended to convert readers to new patients. Education and transaction are two very different, though related, purposes.
The Friendly, Welcoming Point of View
When I started working as a dental copywriter, point of view was a big issue. Dentists preferred first-person POV: Welcome to my office. I’m Dr. Smith, and I want to help you have a healthy smile. Journalists prefer third person: Dr. Smith and his team help patients have a healthy smile. The first person POV lends itself to an overabundance of words like “I” and “my.” This makes the content seem self-centered, instead of patient-focused. A third-person POV tends to sound detached, instead of warm and welcoming. Through trial and error, I found that the best POV is that of a person working in the dental practice: Dr. Smith and our team help patients have healthy smiles. Throughout the home page, biographies, and service descriptions, the employee’s POV remains genuinely welcoming, as well as authoritative on the subject of dentistry, making it ideal for marketing!
SEO in Dental Copywriting
To this point, I’ve focused on how the potential patient, your web visitors, will interpret the text on your website. A commonly overlooked and exceedingly important factor, however, is how search engines will interpret your site. Google, the largest search engine on the planet, tells us that if you write your content naturally, and it is not on any other website, you’ll probably do well in search results. What we’ve seen from our clients and others is, Google’s advice is accurate, but “doing well” is a relative term. Dentist in rural areas, where most of their peers do not have websites or have old sites that aren’t well optimized for search, can rank on page one by following Google’s advice. However, to rank on page one, position one for a competitive keyword phrase, in a competitive market, requires more than a few pages of original content.
We’re the Experts for You
The key to successful dental marketing is knowing your practice’s mission, understanding your ideal patient and target marketing, regularly checking up on local dentists’ Internet presence, and investing in the proper amount of online marketing to compete in your market, or the patients you want to attract. MDPM Consulting can do the job. For information about our services, call Jill, our CEO, today at 972-781-8861, or email [email protected].