Sara, a 36-year-old mother of 3, recently moved to your area and needs to choose a practice to establish care for her family. Like 86% of other Millennials, the first thing she did was turn to the Internet. Overall, 77% of consumers now find new medical providers online. While Gen Z and Millennials like Sara are leading the way in this digital transformation, older patients also want and need online services. For 8 out of 10 seniors, digital technology is now an integral part of life.
To grow your practice, it’s important to not only optimize your website for the best search engine results but also design it to engage patients and entice them to schedule an appointment.
Of course, bringing in new patients isn’t enough; you must also retain them. Patients have been clear that they want to be able to communicate with their care providers and access their healthcare information online. If your practice website doesn’t enable patients to complete tasks like scheduling appointments, messaging their providers, requesting prescription refills, or paying bills online, they’ll find a different practice that does.
These guidelines will help you improve your website so that patients can easily find you online and have a positive, easy, and efficient experience with your practice website.
1. Optimize keywords for your site for better search engine results
Every page on your practice website should be optimized for search with carefully chosen keywords. Top search engine rankings don’t happen by accident.
The most basic keywords of your site should include the services you offer and your location. For example, if your practice is based in Seattle and you offer pediatric care, then the words “children’s doctor Seattle” should probably be prominent on your main pages. Reviewing the copy on these pages and incorporating such keywords into your content will give you an immediate boost.
Over time, begin to focus on other services you offer and other potential words that patients might use when searching. There are plenty of free keyword-finding tools that can help you narrow these down. Create individual pages for those services and publish blog posts that relate to those keywords.
The more well-written and informative content on your site, the better. Search engines reward content-rich websites that give users relevant, informative, and unique resources.
Optimizing for search doesn’t end with copy and keywords, though. Other ways to impress the search engine algorithm include:
- Using high-quality, unique photos that show off your office, providers, and services (yes, that means you should nix the stock images)
- Describing your images using alternative text that contains keywords and quality information (this also makes your site more accessible to those who use screen-reading devices)
- Using keywords in your website’s URLs
- Having a secure connection with “https://” in the URL (or a lock icon, depending on your browser)
- Linking externally to reputable sources such as medical journals, government sites (like the Center for Disease Control), or respected news outlets
- Linking internally to other pages on your site to help your patients navigate easily
2. Make it easy for patients to find what they need
How easily can potential patients find crucial information like where your practice is located or how to book an appointment?
To support both your patients and your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts, your practice website should include the following:
- A contact page with your address, phone number, and information about how to reach you after hours (if an on-call doctor or nurse is available)
- An about page with information about your practice, your providers, and your team members
- Individual landing pages for each service you offer
- Reviews and testimonials from current patients
3. Don’t make patients (or search engines) wait
If your site loads slowly, there’s a good chance that patients might not find it. And if they do find it, they’ll probably click away. How slow is too slow? For search engines, anything longer than 2.5 seconds. Your patients want your site to load even faster. On average, sites that load in one second have a 40% conversion rate. But when the loading speed drops to two seconds, the conversion rate drops too, to 36%.
If your site loads slowly, it most likely has to do with your hosting server. Look for one that’s more reliable. You can also speed up load times by compressing the images on your site so the file sizes are smaller and by simplifying your web design.
Beyond the basics
Once these basics are in place, you can add more frills to make your website – and, by extension, your practice – even more attractive to potential patients:
- Chatbots: Artificial intelligence (AI)-powered chatbots can answer several common questions patients ask as well as collect more complex questions for your staff to answer. Addressing common questions with AI helps free up your staff to take care of more pressing issues.
- Online payment options: Offer your patients convenience and make life easier for your billing team with an online payment solution.
- Digital intake: Encourage new patients to fill out their intake forms online to free up your staff and get patients into their appointments faster. Patients can fill the paperwork out at home at their leisure, and your providers run less risk of falling behind schedule while a patient fills out their paperwork.
- Online scheduling: Reduce the amount of time your front desk staff spends on the phone by offering patients the option to book their appointments online.
- Access to health records: When patients can view their records easily and at their own convenience, they feel that they have more control over their data, and they become more confident in you and your practice.
Putting together an attractive, SEO-friendly, fast-loading website takes time and, in some cases, specialized knowledge. Consider hiring a third party to manage your website for you, so you can reap all the benefits of having a website designed for practice growth while you focus on what matters most to you: your patients.
Travis Schneider is Co-founder and Chief Corporate Development Officer for Tebra, a leading cloud-based healthcare technology platform. In his role, Travis oversees M&A and strategic partnerships for the organization.
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