As the owner of a medical or dental practice practice, you have decided that it is time for your practice to have its own website. You have heard ad nauseam about the importance of a website for getting and keeping patients.
- Are you familiar with terms such as pay-per-click, paid advertising, mobile-ready, and SERP (Search engine results page?)
- Do you understand link sharing?
- Do you know how to maximize your website using social media?
These are just technical terms about ways to make your site visible. Other questions to ask yourself include:
What is the difference between SEO, and social media marketing? Which is best?
While building a website is not as difficult as treating patients and keeping up their health, it does require a set of skills that most health care professionals lack.
Template and Custom Health Care Websites Originate Similarly
Website design for health-care websites includes some standard common framework (the bones) for custom and template websites. This includes:
- A home page with an informative header;
- Menus that are intuitive for users to navigate on your site;
- Call to Actions that get response – “call to action buttons can drastically improve your website conversion rate.” Says advertising blog guru, Paul Olyslager;
- Provide relevant content that gives users the information they look for.
- Use of the footer area for additional navigational links for your website.
- Your site is optimized for both desktop and mobile search.
Whether you build the site on your own or have a site custom built for your practice, this is the framework you will use:
- Easy navigation
- Current, relevant content
- Mobile optimized
So, let’s look at each of these skeletal elements of a health care website.
The Healthcare Homepage
If someone arrives at your site and goes to your homepage, aka, the landing page, the sole job of this page is to draw a visitor further into the site. So, it is important that they complete an action for you as the site owner to feel you have a live prospect for your medical practice.
The use of an appropriate image on your landing page is incredibly important. Pages with images are 90% more likely to generate user action than pages that are text only. Having a video that the user can choose to play or not increases the likelihood of success by a larger factor than no image or an image without video. One caveat about video – it should never start automatically and if it or a soundtrack are not relevant, don’t use them.
The homepage should be made as local as possible. Use local landmarks or other defined areas such as “downtown” or “two blocks from Grant Park” to make use of geographic markers used in your patient catchment area.
An example of an excellent custom dental homepage
Use the homepage to answer the following questions.
- Who are you?
- What do you do?
- Why should I choose you?
- How do I reach you?
One more thing about the homepage and your entire site – you need a logo that tells the answer to all of the above things. An example is the following newspaper advertisement from 1913.
Image source: http://wellcomeimages.org/indexplus/image/L0040514.html
Template people often feel that the more intricate a site is, the most impressed patients and prospective patients will be. Intricate navigation usually leads to one place – not your site! People who use the web for research, as 90% of consumers do have no time for websites where pages load slowly or navigating the site requires a compass and a team of people to support a safari – keep navigation simple and answers to your calls to action will soar.
See How This Ad Answers the Questions that a Homepage Should?
Well-Designed Call to Action Buttons
People who visit your website do so because they are looking for something and based on their search criteria it is you. Make sure your website buttons stand out. When you want the user of your site to do something (take action) create a button for each choice. They may include:
- Making or changing an appointment
- Print out referral forms or other information
- Take a tour of your office
- Print out information about a specific health care problem or a white paper that your patients would be interested in.
When patients take an action, they also drop into what sales professionals using Internet marketing call the “sales funnel.”
Don’t Believe Content is Dead; It is More Relevant On Websites Than Ever
Professional web designers have heard almost since the beginning of time that keyword placement was the best way to get visitors to a website – that is, until the mantra, Content is King came into use. But, the successor to keywords did not have a long reign and Content is King was declared dead and replaced with the notion that SEO was the most important part of generating website traffic. That is until it was replaced by the trend to “Mobile Marketing.”
A professionally done website by an excellent website designer has all of the above elements working in harmony. Sometimes, a designer will hire a professional content writer to create content that pulls the reading audience in by just the right recipe for creating website content. While we can debate forever whether content or something else is “king,” there is no doubt that we can agree that content is an important part of website design.
Content written overseas often has glaring grammatical mistakes and some appear to have been written with an English-whatever translation dictionary in hand. This can easily kill your site and help prevent your reputation as a solid health care professional to flourish. Remember, you want people to visit your site and complete an action. When folks introduced to you by your website make an appointment you are a winner. When they flee your site because of crummy content you lose.
90% of people searching for information or needing an appointment with a health care professional begin their search on the Internet. Of them, 67% use a mobile device for their search. A template site made for viewing on a desktop computer or even a laptop does not always display correctly on smaller screens common to smartphones. There are several technical ways to improve your mobile optimization, but first, check out this free tool from Google. It will rank how well your site is optimized for mobile search.
Take a look a the infographic below to learn more about the benefits of a responsive mobile site.
Template or Custom Site?
As a health care professional, you most likely can quickly learn how to build a website using a template. Do you have the time? Not only time to build it, but also the time to update it on a regular basis as well. Nothing is sadder than finding a website for a health professional where the most current entry is a blog post from two years ago – it is also unprofessional.
The framework or skeleton of your site is not too hard to understand. But getting the flesh and muscles that keep a site functioning as designed to attract and keep searchers engaged is more of an art than a learned skill. Successful, professionally designed websites are costlier than a template website, at least to get started. But the cost is the wrong metric for evaluating your site. The proper measure is ROI. Counting your time spent developing a template site, the ROI is greater for a professional site. Professional sites generate more new patients than template sites and tend to be shared on social media which gives you more exposure.