As more and more practices realize the importance of having an online presence, simply having a website is no longer enough to make your practice stand out in the online community. You’re going to have to do more work than that if you want to stand out from your competitors.
Take a look at what your competitors are doing. In many cases, there are areas where you can improve your website. The key is not to try to copy your competitors, but rather to create a website that follows best practices in design, search engine optimization, and marketing. Your website needs to be different from or better than your competitors to truly stand out.
If you want a website that can stand up to your competitors, these 9 elements are a great start.
1. Great Design
Design matters for so many reasons. When visitors go to your website, the design is the first thing they’ll notice, before they even start reading the text. Whether we mean to or not, we judge things based on appearance. In this case, the quality of your website could lead potential patients to make assumptions about the quality of your facilities and the quality of your care. 94% of people cite poor site design as a reason not to trust a website. If you have an old, poorly-designed site, you aren’t making a very good first impression on potential patients. On the other hand, if your website is modern, well-designed, and up-to-date, you could have a great advantage over your competitors.
You should work with an experienced designer to get the best website possible, but there are a few things you should keep in mind during the design process.
- First, you don’t want your website to be too cluttered. If there is too much to look at, people may miss the main idea of what you’re trying to say. Good design should enhance your message, not stand in its way.
- Your website text should also be easy to read. Choose fonts that are easy to read and are of a sufficient size. Also, don’t use a black background with white text. Even if you think it looks good, it will not be easy to read, particularly on pages with a large amount of text.
2. Well-Written, Informative Content
Good content will not only make an impression on current and potential patients, but also search engines. The key is to write content for your website that is helpful to your patients. The goal of your website content is to market your practice to potential patients, but it shouldn’t come off as an obvious marketing ploy. If you write content that is actually useful to patients and answers their questions, you’ll earn their respect without having to go into an obvious sales pitch.
On top of that, search engines are intelligent enough to be able to recognize good content, so when you write content for your patients, search engines tend to give your website more favorable ranking. When you have better ranking, patients who are searching for the services you offer may be more likely to land on your website than your competitors’ sites.
3. Easy to Use on All Devices
If your website is difficult to navigate, people will get frustrated and leave. We live in a fast-paced society; if people can’t find what they want right away, they will move on to another website that is easier to use. In fact, the Nielsen Norman Group says that most visitors will decide whether or not they want to stay on your site within 10-20 seconds. If users can’t clearly find what they are looking for, they won’t stick around for long.
With the increasing amount of mobile web users, you can’t just focus on making your website easy to use on desktop computers. A mobile-friendly website should also be a priority. A recent report found that 23% of people only access the internet on mobile devices, while another 37% access the internet on mobile devices most of the time. Only 11% of people are primarily using desktop computers to access the web. People are accessing the internet on the go. Google is also putting emphasis on mobile-friendly websites, and may penalize your site if it isn’t easily accessible on mobile devices. If you aren’t providing a good mobile experience, you’ll likely lose out on website visitors.
The best way to provide a user-friendly experience for all visitors is to go with a responsively-designed website. Responsive websites will adjust to fit any screen size, providing the best possible experience for all users. We have had clients whose mobile traffic more than doubled when they switched to a responsive site. Learn more in our case studies.
4. High-Quality Images
Images provide visual appeal and help to break up the text on your website. You’re more likely to hold someone’s attention with a combination of images and text, rather than just a giant block of text. However, you also need to make sure that the images you choose for your website are of a good quality.
When you have a great, responsive web design and high-quality content, the images on your website need to go along with that. Images can convey your message without any words, so you need to choose wisely. Let your imagery convey the concept of wellness rather than showing off pictures from your surgery. While physicians may recognize the skill involved, patients will want to avoid the images.
You’ll need to make sure your images are sharp, not pixelated. High-quality stock photos are best for general images. For your staff and office photos, get a professional photographer. A photographer will help your photos look as professional and consistent as possible, and this will in turn convey that sense of quality to your site visitors.
5. Interactive Elements
Animations and videos can add some visual interest to your website and provide an interactive element. You can try adding animations of different procedures you offer, or videos of exercises you recommend after surgery. You might also want to produce videos with health tips. When doctors are in the videos, it gives potential patients a sense of the doctor’s personality. Just be sure to keep more graphic aspects of treatment and surgery to a minimum–it can be off-putting to some people.
A word of caution: be very judicious with your use of videos and interactive elements. If you do too much, it can be overwhelming for the viewer and take away from the overall message you are trying to convey. In the case of interactive elements, less is more.
Good branding will help you tie all of your marketing efforts into your website. Your branding is unique to your practice, so it’s certainly a great way to distinguish yourself from your competitors. Most practices have a logo; if your practice doesn’t, it’s definitely something you should consider. Although it may be an investment to get a well-designed logo, it’s something you can use for years to come throughout all of your marketing efforts.
When patients see your logo on your website, on your sign, or other marketing materials, they will instantly associate it with your practice. Logos also convey a sense of professionalism. Well-known and respected companies have logos; a healthcare practice should be no different. Once you have a logo for your website, you need to choose a color scheme that complements and pulls colors from the logo. This helps to further reinforce your branding efforts.
Branding goes beyond logos and a color scheme, however. You also need to consider your brand when you describe your practice on your website. How do you want to convey yourself to patients? What do you want to emphasize most? What are your practice’s goals? A slogan or mission statement can help to reinforce all of those goals.
7. Original Content
Patient education content and stock photos certainly have their place on your website, but you can’t expect your website to stand out if that is the only content you have. If you want patients, and search engines, to take notice, you need original content. Patient education content and stock photos can be seen on a number of sites; your own content won’t be.
You should already have photos of the doctors and staff that work at your practice, but you should also add more photos of your office. Add photos of the building, or your office door if your practice is located in a medical office building. You can even add photos of your front desk and exam rooms if you have nice facilities. These photos give patients a preview of what to expect when they come to your office.
In addition to original photos, you should also have as much original content as possible. Patient education content can explain the basics about a particular procedure or condition, but it doesn’t give any specific information about how your practice treats these conditions.
You should use your original content to inform patients, but also make sure you add in more specifics about your practice that would help to set you apart from other practices in the area. Maybe your practice performs minor surgical procedures or offers physical therapy on-site, or you perform advanced, state-of-the-art procedures. This is the type of information that patients want to know when they are choosing a doctor, and they won’t get that kind of information from patient education.
8. Bio Pages
A Meet Your Doctor page is another way to stand out from the other doctors in the area. Most doctors just use their individual bio pages to talk about their education and professional accomplishments. Some only go as far as listing out their education, awards, and publications. While patients do want a doctor who is well-educated and accomplished, many are also looking for some sort of personal connection. You might be surprised at how seemingly unimportant information can make a difference for some patients.
For example, if you are a lifelong resident of the city you practice in, some patients may hold value in that. If you are a sports medicine doctor that likes to run or play golf, patients may feel that you have something in common with them. You may not think that your personal hobbies and pastimes are a big deal, but it could be the thing that draws patients in.
9. A Blog
Although blogging is becoming more popular among medical practices, many practices don’t blog. Of the ones that do blog, many don’t do it very well. If you can produce an interesting, well-written blog, you could increase your chances of standing out from the other practices in your area.
Blogging is definitely the most ongoing, time-consuming method we’ve recommended here, but if you have the time and resources to do it the right way, you can get a big payoff. Blogging is a bit different than the other content on your website. It can take on a slightly more informal tone than the other content on your site. It’s also a great place to share health tips, like how to prevent sports injuries or stay healthy during flu season. Tips like that can add more value in the eyes of your patients; they can see that you want to do what you can to help them stay healthy, and that you’re not just trying to get them in the door.
Blogs also give you more content to share on social media. While you can share content from other sites, sharing your own blog content can increase the amount of visitors to your site. If your articles are good, other people may share them as well, bringing even more exposure to your practice.
The key to a successful blog is to have content that is well-written (free of grammatical errors), informative, and something your patients are interested in. Your patients can even serve as inspiration for your blog posts. Take common patient questions and write blog posts that answer those questions. Patients will appreciate that you are trying to answer their questions before they even walk into your office.
It may take some work to get your website to stand out from your competitors, but it is absolutely worth the investment. If your website doesn’t help you reach your goals as a practice, it isn’t serving you well.