According to Pew Research Center, 72% of U.S. adults have searched for health information online. This means that if you want to attract new patients, you’ll need to market yourself online. There are lots of different ways you can market yourself online, but all of those marketing efforts need to point to one central location, or hub: your website.
The goal in having an effective online presence for your practice is to get in front of patients who are searching for a doctor online. Your website is very often a patient’s first impression of your practice so it should accurately reflect your brand.
Your website is the one location that you can always drive patients to with any of your marketing efforts to give more information. Since it is online, it should also be fairly easy for you to update information about your practice as needed, either through a content management system or your web provider. Though a professional, well-built website is a more costly investment upfront, it can give you a competitive advantage and will pay off in the long run.
77% of people research online before booking an appointment.1 The right website and SEO strategy will help your practice show up in relevant searches to attract more of those patients.
As an extension of your practice, your website should be professional, easy to navigate and provide detailed information about your services and procedures. It should be an educational resource for patients, as well as showcase your expertise with your key procedures/treatments. But most importantly, it should help you acquire new patients.
Here are 10 signs that you need to update your website:
1. Is it easy to find key information?
When patients are considering an orthopedic practice, there are several factors that go into their decision-making process. Do you specialize in their problem? Do you accept their insurance? Where are you located, and what are your hours of operation? Patients don’t want to have to spend a lot of time reading through all of your website content to find the information they need.
The navigation should be structured to make it easy to find key information. The best way to test the current effectiveness of your website is to ask someone who has never been to your website to complete a few key tasks, like finding your location, requesting an appointment, and finding your practice’s specialties. Don’t give them any information on how to complete the tasks. Based on their feedback, you should have a good idea of whether or not your website is easy to navigate.
If you aren’t seeing the type of interaction you’d like from your practice’s website, a redesign could help with reorganizing your content in a way that is easy for patients to find.
We have tested out different navigation structures over the years, and have found that the following structure has worked the best for a variety of orthopedic practices.
There are a few key things to note here. We’ve made Location part of the top-level navigation to make it very clear how patients can find the practice. We’ve seen other practices put this information under Contact Us; however, with all of the different ways we tested the navigation, we’ve found placing it in the top-level works best.
We’ve also found that Patient Resources worked best for containing all the information patients need to make an appointment. Creating a separate page for insurance information has also been very helpful, as that is an important deciding factor for many patients.
All of our suggestions and best practices are aimed at making it easy for patients to navigate your website, which typically results in more appointments for the practice.
2. Is it mobile friendly?
People are constantly on-the-go, especially in large cities, and smartphones and tablets are so common now that people expect websites to be user-friendly on these devices. If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, these visitors will just move on to another site.
All P3 websites are responsive, meaning that the content will automatically adapt to fit any screen size. A responsive design can adapt to the variety of screen sizes available on smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktop monitors. New screen sizes are always being introduced, but with a responsive design, your website will look great on any screen size–no pinching or zooming required. It’s a great way to “future-proof” your website for new trends in screen sizes.
Having a responsive website is important considering that 81% of Americans own a smartphone as of 2018, and almost half (46%) of smartphone owners say that they mostly access the internet via their phones.2 We have found that, on average, the majority of our clients have about 40% of their website traffic coming from mobile devices and tablets.
According to Pew Internet Research, 44 percent of patients who research hospitals on a mobile device end up scheduling an appointment.
For those that have not upgraded to a mobile-friendly design, mobile users are having to scroll around, zooming in and out to read the website’s content and click links. This type of experience often means that a higher percentage of users leave the website after viewing just one page. With all of the mobile-friendly websites out there, patients just don’t want to deal with a website that is difficult to view on mobile. Additionally, Google has been issuing warnings to sites that aren’t mobile-friendly, saying that these sites may not rank well in search results.
It’s important to note that even with responsive websites, you should review any website updates on mobile as well as desktop. For example, if a page is fairly long on desktop, it will be even longer on mobile because the screen is more narrow. Are your paragraphs too long? Are patients having to scroll on forever to get to important information? On P3 websites, we make sure those important call-to-action buttons show up at the top of every page on mobile.
With that said, if you are considering a redesign of your website, make sure mobile usage is a top priority.
3. Is it modern enough?
Technology changes and evolves over time. Many people upgrade their phones and computers every few years. Search engines and web browsers are also constantly adding new updates and features. Your website also needs to evolve to keep up with these changes.
If you let your website get too out-of-date, you may find that your website is limited in its capabilities, and may even lose out on ranking in search engines. There are a few things that are now expected of modern websites, yet we see quite a few practices that do not meet those standards.
Not sure if your website is outdated? We like to use the iPhone as a rule of thumb when assessing whether or not a website should be designed. What iPhone was out the last time you redesigned your website? Technology changes rapidly, and you have to consider this when assessing your website. To make it easy, we’ve put together this handy chart for you:
What iPhone Came Out the Year Your Website Was Designed?
- 2007: iPhone
- 2008: iPhone 3G
- 2009: iPhone 3GS
- 2010: iPhone 4
- 2011: iPhone 4S
- 2012: iPhone 5
- 2013: iPhone 5S & iPhone 5C
- 2014: iPhone 6 & 6 Plus
- 2015: iPhone 6s
- 2016: iPhone SE
- 2016: iPhone 7 & 7 Plus
- 2017: iPhone 8 & 8 Plus
- 2017: iPhone X
- 2018: iPhone XS & XS Max
- 2018: iPhone XR
- 2019: iPhone 11
- 2020: iPhone 12
- 2021: iPhone 13
Is your website a little older than you thought? There are a few things you should prioritize to get it up-to-date from a technology perspective.
First is having a responsive design. This goes back to having a mobile-friendly website. Your website should be easy to view and navigate from any device. Mobile usage rates have only continued to grow over the years.
It’s also important to have a secure website (https). Depending on the age of your website, it may not be up to date with all of the latest security and functionality standards. This can create more frustration or distrust among your patients, and may eventually cause you to lose search engine ranking. In fact, Google Chrome has started marking non-secured websites as “Not Secure” in the browser bar, which can deter patients from interacting with your site.
As a medical practice, it’s even more important to have a secure website if you have any online forms where patients can submit information. A secure website, via an SSL certificate, will ensure that patient information is kept safe, reducing your risk of a HIPAA violation. While you do not need to redesign your website to get an SSL certificate, if you are already considering it, make sure security is part of the process.
We suggest going with a website platform that regularly rolls out updates so that your practice’s website always utilizes the latest technology available.
4. Is it compliant with HIPAA and ADA guidelines?
HIPAA compliance is a top concern for medical practices. Medical practices need to protect private patient data, but they also need to be able to go about the daily business of running a practice as efficiently as possible. Technology can certainly make day-to-day operations more efficient, but new technologies also bring about new concerns with HIPAA compliance. Many practices are hesitant to adopt new technology for that very reason.
P3 websites have HIPAA compliant communications built into the content management system, so patient privacy is protected when they submit a patient testimonial, personal inquiry or request an appointment.
The Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, is a federal law that aims to protect the rights of disabled people to ensure they are not discriminated against due to their disability. Most people are familiar with the physical recommendations for businesses to include automatic door openers and wheelchair ramps, but these guidelines are starting to be enforced on websites as well.
ADA website compliance is about making sure that everyone has equal access to all the elements on your practice website. So you may need to provide alternatives for functionality and content on your site to meet ADA website standards. Your website needs to accommodate any visually impaired, hearing impaired or color-blind visitors by having features such as: easily resizable text with a high contrast mode option so text is easier to read, photos with text descriptions, and videos that include audio descriptions and transcripts.
5. Does it attract patients?
80% of internet users have searched for health-related topics online.3
Search engines are constantly evolving, and in order to get a favorable spot in search results, you need to follow the best practices of search engine optimization (SEO). Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts to get to the top of search results, but taking the time to correctly implement SEO practices can pay off in the long run.First, weed out things like low-quality or duplicate content, and avoid using spam tactics like keyword stuffing and link scheming. A good SEO strategy should focus on quality content, local listings, and other, more technical optimization. To really improve your SEO strategy, it’s a good idea to work with someone who specializes in SEO. By working with an expert, you can improve SEO and develop a plan to keep your website optimized as you add and update content.
90% of people search a physician online before making an appointment.4
Online advertising, whether through a paid search network like Google Ads or a social media network, are another way to get your content in front of potential new patients. It is a quick way to drive traffic to your website, and it can be very useful if you target it correctly. Paid search can help you get highly-targeted traffic from patients seeking out specific procedures and services. However, you’ll want to supplement your paid search campaign with other marketing efforts– traffic from paid search will end once your campaign ends. We also recommend implementing some form of tracking for online appointment requests so that you can track your return on investment and adjust the campaign accordingly.
About 65% of people click on a sponsored link when looking for health information.5
Paid search campaigns allow you to target searches that are relevant to the treatments and procedures covered in your content. You can also target specific locations and age groups. Your ads show up right in search results and link over to the page you choose, so this is a great chance to attract patients for highly-relevant searches and educate them with good content before they come to your office.
75% of people say paid search ads make it easier to find the information they are searching for on a website or search engine.6
Social media ads don’t typically allow you to target patients seeking treatment, but they can be great for building awareness. You can create sponsored Facebook posts that link to your educational content and set the targeting so that the sponsored posts show up on the social media feeds of people in your area. Often, if someone sees the ad and thinks the content is helpful, they will share the post with their friends. This is a great way to further the reach of your content.
6. Is it converting patients?
Having a way for patients to request an appointment online makes it easy for them and also provides metrics about the effectiveness of your website. When patients are ready to make an appointment, you should make it easy for them to do so. P3 websites are structured with a header that always includes the practice’s phone number and a link to the practice’s Appointment Request form. This way, no matter what page the patient is on, it’s easy to take that next step and contact the practice. We also include space in the header for an additional button, so practices can link to other important pages, like a general contact form for questions, or their patient portal for returning patients.
Our websites also include customizable buttons on each of the pages, so that practices can tailor the calls to action on the page based on the page content. For example, Specialites pages might have a link to the Request an Appointment form and a link to the Team page so patients can learn more about the doctors.
7. Is content presented in a manner that is easy-to-digest?
Content should be presented in a way that is scannable and easy to read. This means making use of headings, sidebars, and imagery, while also taking care not to overcrowd pages with too much information. Try to be clear and concise when presenting information, and make sure that different elements on the page aren’t competing for attention.
For longer pages, like the Specialties section, we use lots of headings, bulleted lists, and smaller paragraphs to make the information easier to read. We also try to incorporate imagery to break up larger blocks of content, while also making sure not to make the page too long. Our research has shown that when a page is too long, patients often don’t scroll all the way to the bottom to read the whole thing. This is especially true of the homepage, so we caution practices against putting important information further down on the homepage, as it is less likely to be seen there.
8. Does it provide value to patients?
Prospective patients are searching the internet for information about their condition and treatment options. Providing your patients with accurate, detailed information allows them to better understand their condition or procedure and also positions you as a trusted resource.
Patient education also helps to answer any questions a patient may think of after he or she has left your office. While patient education typically won’t help you rank in search engines (because the content is typically placed on multiple practices’ websites), there is a lot of value in having it for the convenience of your patients.
Setting appropriate patient expectations through educational content on your website can improve patient outcomes7 and patient satisfaction.8,9
9. Is there unique content about your specialties?
Quality custom content should be a part of your SEO (search engine optimization) plan. You can create custom content to inform patients about your practice, qualifications, procedures, and services. Some practices write this content themselves, but you can also pay a content to help you put content together.
Quality unique content is an important factor in search engine ranking. It shows that you are knowledgeable and an expert in your field, which improves your chances of ranking for relevant searches. Effective SEO will help drive traffic to your site. For example, a page that explains your expertise in hip replacement and answers common patient questions will improve your chances of showing up in search results when local patients search for a hip replacement surgeon.
Search engines drive 3 times as many visitors to hospital websites than other sources.10
Create content with your patients in mind; what information do they want and need to know? Search engines are now intuitive enough to figure out whether or not you are providing quality information, so stuffing the content with the keywords you want won’t work. However, if you have well-written content with accurate, descriptive information, search engines will recognize it and reward you with better ranking.
Well-written, original content helps you show up in those relevant searches and also conveys your expertise to potential patients.
10. Has your practice undergone any recent changes?
If your practice has had major changes in branding, whether due to a merger or simply a marketing choice, it is important to make sure that your website reflects this, as well. Updating your practice’s name and color schemes, logos, and/or fonts throughout the entire site can already be quite an undertaking. If you are considering a redesign, a branding change would be a good time to do it so that you can start fresh with a new design.
Ultimately, it’s time to redesign your practice’s website if it’s no longer meeting the needs of your practice or your patients. If you do decide to move forward with a redesign, we strongly encourage you to consider the elements we discussed above. You want your new website to look great, but more importantly, you want it to meet industry standards and make your patients feel comfortable with booking an appointment. A flashy new website that doesn’t help you get patients is not a worthwhile investment.
From a business perspective, it’s not just about having a web presence, but ensuring your website is ‘working’ for you by effectively using search engine optimization, online advertising and content marketing.
Get a Free Checkup
If you’re still not sure if it’s time to update your website. take a look at your current website and fill out this worksheet. This will help you determine if your website is working for you or if it’s time for an upgrade.
You can also have professionals take a look at your site. At P3 Practice Marketing, we call this a patient marketing checkup. This free checkup will help us measure your current online effectiveness in reaching and acquiring patients, and provide recommendations on best next steps for improving those baselines. This includes:
- Conversion Design (how easy it is for patients to contact the practice or book an appointment)
- Online Rankings (how easy it is for the right patients to find the practice)
- Site Content (how clearly the practice conveys its expertise)
- Site Design (how professional the practice appears)
If you would like our team to do a free checkup of your site, please schedule here or call us at 504-581-4636.
Choosing the Right Company to Work With
Finding a local website vendor is not difficult; however online marketing is so much more than just having a website. Working with a healthcare-focused company with extensive experience in the industry can help you with your overall online strategy and ensure that your practice goals are effectively met.
The P3 Platform is a web development and content management system designed for practices to increase patient acquisition. It empowers your team to be able to make changes to your website quickly with our easy-to-use interface, while providing the flexibility for consistent updates (current and future HIPAA/ADA compliance, security patches, anti-spam measures, quality of life improvements) and future-proofing your practice from further technology leaps. With this solution, you can hand off the website updates to staff on site, knowledge of HTML no longer required.
- Beckers Hospital Review https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/hospital-management-administration/how-first-impressions-online-affect-patient-acquisition-and-hospital-revenue.html)
- Pew Research Center, 2019. https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/fact-sheet/mobile/
- Pew Internet Project, 2013.
- Patient Engagement Hit, https://patientengagementhit.com/news/assessing-how-healthcare-consumers-access-doctors-appointments#:~:text=Ninety%20percent%20of%20patients%20are,patient%20engagement%20technology%20firm%20Kyruus
- Wordstream.com, 2019. https://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2012/07/17/google-advertising
- B2C Brandviews, 2019. https://www.business2community.com/brandviews/shelley-media-arts/80-seo-sem-statistics-that-prove-the-power-of-search-2019-update-02251024
- NIH, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5242136/
- JOA, https://www.arthroplastyjournal.org/article/S0883-5403(19)30002-6/abstract
- Pubmed, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16967035/
- Think with Google Study, http://snip.ly/plozd2#https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/advertising-channels/search/the-digital-journey-to-wellness-hospital-selection/