If you are a doctor and don’t have a website—or have a site that is less effective than it could be—you’re missing out on a valuable asset. With 80 percent of Internet users searching for health information online, there’s no doubt that people are choosing their physicians online as well. In fact, studies show that 77 percent of patients use online reviews as their first step in selecting a new doctor.
There are a number of reasons why a well-performing website can benefit your practice:
• Provides cost-effective advertising. Building and optimizing a website can be far less expensive than running print ads to market your practice. A website gives you exposure to a broad target audience and can provide an outstanding return on investment.
• Gives a good impression. If people are using the Internet for their initial vetting process, your website may be their first encounter with your practice. If your website is easy to find, easy to navigate, and attractive, potential patients will assume the same thing about your clinic. In addition, having an up-to-date website suggests that your practice is in step with the latest medical technology.
• Saves your staff time. If people can glean answers from your website, they’ll be less likely to call in with questions. This will free your staff up to attend to other priorities. You can also post forms online for patients to complete before coming into the office and streamline patient in-processing.
• Promotes new services. Adding ancillary services to your clinic can help increase the revenue of your medical practice. These services may include medical spa treatments, a turnkey allergy treatment program, or weight loss counseling. When you optimize your website for keywords relevant to these new services, you can bring in new patients while educating your current ones.
If you’re looking to improve your website, here are a few tips:
• Choose strong keywords. Tools like Google Keyword Planner can help you choose targeted keywords and phrases. Adding city names can help. For example, if you have an allergy treatment program, you might use the following words: “sublingual immunotherapy,” “allergy drops,” “(your city) allergy doctor,” etc. Sprinkle your keywords and phrases throughout the content of your site.
• Generate content. Write keyword-rich, high-quality content on a regular basis. (Consider a weekly blog.)
• Make it mobile-friendly. The majority of digital searches happen on mobile devices. If your web design is not “responsive” to different-sized devices, you could lose customers. Make sure that your pages load quickly, too, or impatient users will leave.
• Stay on top of reviews. Nearly 50 percent of people said that they would go out of network for a doctor that had qualifications similar to network doctors but better ratings. Follow up with patients using texts and emails to encourage them to review your practice online. Make it easy by providing links to popular review sites (Google, Yelp, Facebook, WebMD, etc.)
• Add contact forms. In addition to your contact page, add mini- contact forms to interior pages of your website. If you want new customers, you need to make it very easy for them to contact you.
• Hire a pro. Anybody can set up a website, but not everybody can optimize it well enough to drive up your search engine rankings. Consider hiring a search engine optimization expert to do the heavy lifting in promoting your website.