This is a guest post by Igor Cerjan, Director of Perceptiv Digital.
Websites are no longer an optional investment for your medical practice. Your website forms the first impression your visitors make about your business, and moreover, visitors make split second judgements about the quality of your service based on your website. That’s a lot to live up to for a business of any size. Is your website up to the task?
The good news is that we’ve put together the top 11 ways to ensure you have an effective and healthy website.
Content is king
Did you know Google uses up to 200 ranking signals when ranking your website? One of these is content. In fact, content is one of the most important factors Google uses when determining the relevance of your website in relation to how people search. This means that your website not only has to have a good amount of content, but it also has to be highly relevant to your audience.
Tips: Audit all the content on your website from your audience’s perspective. Is there enough, is the message clear, and is it helpful? If you don’t have enough content, invest some time into adding additional pages or starting a blog. If a competitor is outranking you, it may be because they have better quality content.
Mobile first web design
Google are now creating a ‘Mobile First’ index, which means they will evaluate your website readiness for mobile devices more than ever
No doubt you are well aware of the importance of having a responsive, mobile-friendly website. According to comScore, 13% of adults access the internet via mobile only. Only 11% access the internet via desktop only. Furthermore, mobile devices now account for nearly 2 of every 3 minutes spent online.
It’s no wonder Google are now creating a ‘Mobile First’ index, which means they will evaluate your website readiness for mobile devices more than ever before, and this will have impact on your search ranking.
Tips: Test out your website on mobile, does it look good? Is key information clear and accessible? Can visitors book online quickly and easily? If not, speak with your web developer/designer to ensure your website mobile experience is fine tuned. Look at your Google Analytics data. What percentage of visitors are browsing your website on mobile devices?
Offer online bookings and forms
What’s the number one problem of a busy family or individual? It’s lack of time. Your website should, as much as possible, aim to solve that problem by providing quick and easy ways to make an appointment or request a prescription.
One important thing to understand is that word of mouth recommendations are essentially free marketing for your practice, so making it easy for your customers/patients to do what they need to do is an investment into your business. There is no better marketing strategy than a walking, talking, happy customer.
Tips: Invest into your business by making sure people can book an appointment online. Audit your existing processes; what can you make available online to make life easier for your customers?
Use high quality images
We’re visual beings, so we naturally respond better to websites that use great images.
We’re visual beings, so we naturally we respond better to websites that use great images. Do a quick assessment of your current website, or, even better, ask a patient or some friends to give you an honest opinion of your website. Ask them from a ‘what perception does it give you about our business?’ perspective. Customer validation (testing and asking) is one of the most important steps toward having an effective website. According to research by Adobe, 38% of people will stop engaging with a website if the content/layout is unattractive.
Tips: If your current website doesn’t have high quality, relevant images, invest into improving that on your website. It will improve the visitor experience and will impact your credibility through perception. It’s important that your images are fully optimised for websites, so they don’t impact your loading speed. Your website should load fast.
How fast does your website load? Did you know that 39% of people will stop engaging with a website if images won’t load or take too long to load (Source: Adobe).
39% of people will stop engaging with a website if images won’t load
It’s not only images that affect your website’s speed of course, it’s how well your website is built. A good way to find out is to do a free check through Pingdom. Type in your website and see what comes back; how fast is the load time? Ensure that you select the closest location to you, e.g. Melbourne. If it’s more than 3 seconds (and even that is too slow) then you have every right to ask your developer or web agency the ‘why’ question.
Tips: Developers can (and should!) be making page load time savings in almost every aspect of your website. Images can be reduced in size without reducing quality. Different sized images can be served to different devices, so you can display a smaller image size on mobile, for example. The files that control how your website looks can be minified. Ask your developer if they’re actively looking to decrease load time by assessing each of these examples.
Invest in SEO
Digital agencies are now calling SEO ‘the lifeblood of your business’ and it’s for good reason. It has become increasingly easier for people to publish a website and give their business an online presence, which means there is now more competition than ever before. This has driven pressure to compete strategically to a whole new level. The days of keyword stuffing or DIY SEO are long gone.
Google’s ranking and search algorithms change all the time; 2016 saw over 1,000 changes alone.
Google’s ranking and search algorithms change all the time; 2016 saw over 1,000 changes alone. This means that if you are to succeed online, you must choose your SEO agency carefully. If your provider doesn’t have a well developed analytics capability, it probably won’t work. SEO is a science that needs monitoring and measurement, competitive analysis, content research and more.
Tips: No matter the SEO budget, find a solid SEO provider who has a proven track record in getting their clients results over time. Stay away from agencies claiming they can get you on page one. Maybe they can, but for what keywords, and how long will it take?
If your business name is ‘Happy Gums Dental’, it’s not enough to just rank first for ‘Happy Gums Dental’. What about other search terms, the search terms people actually use? Searches along the lines of ‘Dentist in Cronulla’ are going to receive much more traffic, so make sure your SEO strategy provides you with ranking reports for a variety of keywords.
Outlearn your competition
This is one of the most important points. To be better than your competition you have to evolve with the times and adapt your campaigns. A website isn’t a one off, set and forget investment. It needs to be maintained and updated over time.
If you are investing into things like SEO, as well as paid advertising steams such as Google AdWords, how do you know whether they’re working, and what you can do to improve things to stay ahead of the competition?
Having a unified digital strategy is crucial, and being able to analyze visitor behaviour, search patterns and other useful information will impact your conversion. Realistically, this isn’t something you should expect to do yourself without some external help. It’s complex and time consuming, but if done right it will add huge benefit to your business in the long run.
Tips: Analytics is one of the most sought after skills today and it’s only growing. Being able to sift through a sea of data, turn it into something digestible and useful and then being able to use that to make key business decisions is the ultimate goal. There are several digital agencies who truly specialize in this field and can do all this for you. Let them, and you will see the benefits.
Key information above the fold
‘Above the fold’ is a term borrowed from journalism and refers to the content users can see on your website before they start scrolling. It’s all about how well your website communicates and engages your visitors. What’s important is presenting the key information visitors need to make a decisions to book with you above the fold.
What’s important is that your home page (in particular) has booking and contact information clearly visible above the fold.
What’s important is that your home page (in particular) has booking and contact information clearly visible above the fold. Once on a company’s homepage, 64% of visitors want to see the company’s contact information (Source: KoMarketing). What’s also interesting is that 51% of people think that complete contact information is the most important element missing from many company websites.
Tips: Ensure your contact and booking information is visible at the top of your website, and that you have effective calls to action throughout your website too.
Drive engagement by using video
Did you know YouTube is the second most popular website, even more so than Facebook? It’s no surprise that people love video content. Does your website have or use videos to communicate with patients, or to inform them about topics related to your niche? This increases your visitor time on site, builds credibility, improves trust, all of which flow through to increased revenue.
Tips: Invest into video. Shoot short videos related to your health niche and post them on YouTube (and your website). It’s not about who has the most videos – it’s about quality, informative videos that are on your website and are being shared by the people watching them. You don’t need fancy equipment – people are after answers to their questions, not a Hollywood production. Some of the most popular and shared videos on YouTube are people in their workspace on a webcam. What they got right was answer their audience’s questions.
Showcase business reviews
Google’s core business is to present you with the most relevant search results possible. A big part of this is business reputation. The primary factors that will affect your ranking in Google are SEO and reputation. Both of those have a significant impact on determining how relevant your business is for any specific search term, but also your click through rate (CTR). Did you know CTR impacts your ranking?
According to AHPRA regulations, most health industry businesses aren’t allowed to ask customers for reviews, and certainly can’t incentivise reviews. But that doesn’t mean you can’t or won’t get great reviews. Are you listed on Google’s local listings? Are people able to, if they so choose, submit a review of your business online? Statistically, people will click on search results that show review ratings (those little stars below your result) more than other results, so you want to enable people to review your business as much as possible.
Tips: Ensure you are signed up to Google My Business and have a good local listing as the bare minimum. This will allow people to find you but also review your business.
How healthy is your website? Website health is no longer just about design or mobile responsiveness, the game has changed. Are you playing the new game?
Igor Cerjan is the Director of Perceptiv Digital. Perceptiv Digital is backed by professionals with experience in premium web design, high converting websites, SEO, PPC, analytics and copy (that works). Everything we do is measurable and results driven.