We’re way past advising that every medical practice needs a website.
(Even though one in four doctors STILL DO NOT HAVE a website. Really docs? C’mon…)
Today, the challenge is putting up a website for your medical practice that actually contribute to your bottom line. Most medical practices are still held back with a basic brochure site that (possibly) has some educational information.
Not good enough. Not if you want your medical practice to survive, let alone grow.
A survey of Americans found that patients are more likely to select a digitally-savvy doctor and far less likely to leave one. Your website is a crucial component to demonstrating your practice’s digital sophistication.
So here’s an overview of the components your website needs to attract and retain patients. Caveat: this is an overview. Each component discussed here deserves its own deep dive. We’ll get to that in future posts.
For now, here’s the big picture organized are the four key goals your website must achieve:
- Attracting new patients
- Positioning your practice as an authority
- Establishing and strengthening relationship with prospects and patients
- Reducing the administrative friction between your practice and patients
Attracting New Patients to Your Practice
You want multiple streams feeding new patients into your practice, including referrals and social media. Driving organic traffic to your website is crucial to bringing in new patients. That means your website needs a strong SEO strategy, particularly geared towards ranking in local search results. The means using the right keywords that answer the specific questions people in your local area are asking about the types of conditions and treatments relevant to your practice. It also requires putting up content that attracts backlinks – more on this when we talk about your site’s blog.
When the traffic arrives, your website needs to give them an immediate reason to stay and look around instead of bouncing away. Your homepage needs to communicate clearly who and what you treat, so they know they’re in the right place. You also need to provide clear, easy navigation to the information visitors are most curious to know: what services and treatments you provide, what insurance you accept, your theory of care, and basic contact and scheduling logistics. You don’t want to cram up your homepage with all this information, but make it obvious on your homepage where/how they can find it.
Last, provide some samples of social proof. Patient and colleague testimonials are valuable. If you have media quotes or references, those are also good options. Social proof is the new word of mouth, so make sure all your website visitors see the other great things people say about you.
Positioning Your Practice as an Authority
Not everyone coming to your website is ready to be a patient. They may be researching a medical issue, for themselves or someone else. Or maybe they’re just curious or concerned about a medical condition. They’re looking for authoritative information.
Your website needs to contain the content that answers their questions. You do this through blog, a resources section, and downloadable content. For example, you can post content like “How to prepare for ankle surgery” or “What your doctor needs to know that most patients don’t share.”
Posting this sort of content serves two purposes. First, valuable content keeps visitors glued to your site and coming back. Second, it attracts those backlinks we talked about earlier. The more other websites link back to your site, the more authority Google assigns your site. The more authority Google thinks you have, the higher it’s going to rank your website in search results.
Other types of content that build your practice’s authority with prospective patients and Google include links to press clippings or personable, information-rich physician and staff bios.
Establishing and Strengthening Your Relationship with Patients
The authority you can establish as an informative, engaging resource is part of forming the relationship you want between your practice and prospects and patients. While most of the content itself informs them, you also need to create obvious channels that encourage your website visitors to reach back to you.
You want to insert calls-to-action (CTAs) throughout your site and blog that give ways people to connect with you before they’re ready to schedule an appointment or contact your office. One CTA to open an ongoing channel of communication with them is including buttons to your social media profiles and encourage people to follow you and your practice.
Others CTAs can be promoting links to specific content within your website, like to check out your doctor profiles or to particularly popular blog posts. This is also where your gated content plays an important role. Gated content is the high value content that you only make available to people willing to share their email address with you. Building your list to nurture prospects and patients is another, off-site, step to strengthening relationships. But it starts on your website. Gated content can be a newsletter or special report.
Reducing the Administrative Friction Between Your Practice and Patients
Make your website easy to use.
Don’t make visitors work to find what they need. Start with navigation that’s intuitive and obvious. Place stand out click-to-call and online scheduling links on every page so people who are ready to get in touch with you can do so in that instant.
Having an online patient portal and online forms, you’re definitely raising your digital chops. That same patient survey found that practices using technology to improve administrative tasks for patients improve patients’ confidence and comfort in working with that practice.
Last, but by no means least – your site must be mobile. Mobile search started outpacing desktop search a couple years ago, and the third most popular mobile search is for a doctor or dentist. A mobile optimized practice website carries all the attraction, ease, and authority of your desktop website.
There you have it.
If any of these elements are missing from your practice’s website, it’s not functioning properly. Take a look at your website – anything obvious missing? Stop back for more posts sharing best practices how to implement all these elements on your site.