Turn your medical practice website into a growth machine
Your medical practice website can both serve patients and help you grow if you keep these best practices in mind.
Your medical practice website is more than extra marketing material — it’s a key touchpoint for new patients. And it can be a growth powerhouse for healthcare professionals who want to expand.
According to Tebra’s 4th annual Patient Perspectives report, 77% of users look online for doctors. Millennials and Generation Z users lead the way with 86% and 81% searching online, respectively — but their parents and grandparents aren’t far behind.
This means that doctors and other healthcare providers need a strong online presence to get found and highlight their credibility, which is where your practice website comes in.
Medical practice websites offer a high-impact marketing opportunity for new and established providers. While social media profiles are also valuable, they ultimately belong to their platforms, which can change the rules or shift in popularity. You own your website and its content, even if you create it on a particular platform. And for a potential patient, that website matters: 49% of patients believe a medical practice website is significantly important.
Patients are also clear about what matters most regarding medical practice websites. They want to see:
- Services offered
- Appointment availability
- Provider background information
- Health and care advice
- Patient testimonials
But building a stellar website that attracts and retains clients isn’t just about including these 5 components. For example, 42% of patients report that photos influence their decision, and custom photos of the practice outperform stock photographs.
Here’s what you need to know to turn your medical practice website into a growth machine.
“49% of patients believe a medical practice website is significantly important. ”
Characteristics of a growth machine website
A website is a tool. And if you want your website to be a tool that accelerates practice growth, it should do more than look professional.
A high-growth medical website:
- Performs well in search: When people search for a keyword like “chiropractor scoliosis austin tx,” a sound website will appear on the first page of the results or on the map.
- Converts web visitors to booked appointments: A strong website will encourage patients to book their appointment and enable them to do so.
- Meets patient’s needs: Patients can fill out paperwork, find your office, book appointments, and review their health records without needing to call your office.
- Streamlines processes and lessens the work for your staff: Your website should act as a touchpoint and take care of many self-service tasks. This way, your staff can focus on high-value tasks or unique situations.
How to get your medical website to rank on Google
The most challenging aspect of building a strong medical website is ranking well in search results on Google. The good news is that if you aim for progress over time, the process becomes easier.
If you want your website to appear on the first page of Google so you can reach more prospects and patients, keep these 4 principles in mind:
1. Build a strong keyword foundation
The first step to ensuring your site is optimized for Google is to plan a strong keyword foundation. When patients have questions about their condition or treatment, they type them into Google. Ideally, you want to locate these phrases or words, called keywords, and use them judiciously in high-quality content on your site.
But which keywords should you use?
Most medical practices start by using keywords that immediately refer to their services and location, for example, “OB/GYN phoenix az.” Over time, you can expand this range, especially if you plan to write a blog. But in the beginning, you can keep it simple.
Pro ip: The best keywords to target have 2 features: a high volume of monthly searches and low competition (fewer articles trying to rank for the keyword). Many free and paid keyword-based tools can help you find these specific keywords.
2. Create SEO-friendly content pages
Next, ensure your pages are optimized for search engine optimization (SEO). This can mean using specific and relevant keywords on your pages. But SEO-friendly also includes:
- Unique images that relate to the page content
- Your keyword appearing in your website URLInformation-rich image descriptions (alt text) that include your keyword
- Only one H1 (the topmost header) per page
- A secure connection (i.e., “https” rather than “http”)
- Unique, specific written content
- Reputable external links, such as to government, association, news outlet, and medical journal resources
- Functional internal links when relevant
3. Include the information patients want
When a patient visits your website, they expect to find certain information. To keep your navigation simple, it’s best to stick to a basic structure for a few reasons.
First, ensuring you have the key industry-specific pages makes it easier for patients to understand your site and find out what they want to know. As a result, they will stick around longer and are more likely to book an appointment.
Second, these pages are often easy for search engines to crawl since the structure is so standard.
Third, focusing on critical pages first builds a strong foundation for your long-term strategy. It also makes maintenance easier since different pieces of information about your business are firmly segmented.
The 5 critical pages you need are:
- An about page to describe who you are and what you do.
- A contact page, so there is no confusion about how to reach you.
- A people page where patients can get to know you and the rest of your team.
- A services page for each service you offer. Dividing your services into their own pages helps both patients and Google understand what a page is about.
- A testimonials page. Reviews are very important to the doctor selection process. Your current patients are your best advocates.
For new clinics with few reviews, you may choose not to have a testimonial page. Instead, you can add testimonials in a specific section that appears on all your pages.
4. Make sure your website loads quickly
Patients and search engines penalize slow-loading websites. Aim to have a load time of no more than 1 to 2 seconds after a user clicks on your link; otherwise, patients and prospects might close your website without looking at it. And Google will tag your site as “slow loading” and may prefer to show searchers a faster site.
To keep your website fast, use a dependable hosting server. You can also use a content delivery network (CDN), simplify your design, and compress images into smaller file sizes.
“Aim to have a load time of no more than 1 to 2 seconds after a user clicks on your link; otherwise, patients and prospects might close your website without looking at it. ”
How to design an impactful medical website
Web design is a chance to make a strong, instant impression on potential patients or clients. It’s also a crucial part of keeping your website easy to use.
Use responsive design
When a website is responsive, it works on any device: desktops, laptops, tablets, smartphones — you name it. This model ensures that patients can easily access your site no matter where they find it, and Google prefers a responsive design to a non-responsive one as well.
The good news is that most website builders offer responsive design elements so that you can build a responsive site, no matter your budget.
Original photos offer several benefits. You can show off your office, treatments, and team. At the same time, your website looks fresh, unique, and more credible. If you take the time to add original, relevant images of your practice and staff instead of pulling stock photography from the internet, it makes your practice look authentic.
Google also prefers original images that create value for users and relate to the page content, which can affect your page rankings.
Have calls to action
On every page, you’ll want to include a call to action (CTA). A CTA prompts users to take a specific action, such as booking an appointment or calling your office.
You can add CTAs throughout every page, such as in the middle of a blog post or at the bottom of your services pages. Or, you can use a sticky. A sticky CTA doesn’t move as a user scrolls down your website. It’s common to place this sticky in the navigation menu or at the bottom of the screen.
Pro tip: The best way to use a sticky CTA is for booking appointments or calling your office.
“The best way to use a sticky CTA is for booking appointments or calling your office. ”
Incorporate trust elements
Highlight your credentials and affiliations to build trust and authority. You can be creative with this, using logos (with descriptive alt text), lists, or another method of demonstrating your expertise.
It’s also helpful to provide testimonials, reviews, and case studies to give potential patients confidence. After all, if you helped so many others, you can probably help them, too.
Finally, make sure your website is up to security standards. This is especially important if you offer access to a patient portal or accept online payments. Having a section on your FAQ page that discusses your privacy and security practices can help patients feel more comfortable using your online services.
Key features to improve patient acquisition
Once you have a basic website, how can you make it even better and grow your client base? There are several features that can provide a stronger patient experience and attract newcomers. Some examples of these include:
- Doctor Q&A: You can use a chatbot to take in questions via email or SMS. Sometimes, you can set your chatbot to respond automatically to common questions.
- Online payments: One way to support your patients and your billing team is to accept payments online. This self-service method makes collections easier and faster while appealing to Millennial and Generation Z patients.
- Online appointment scheduling: Another way to boost acquisition is to offer an online booking calendar. Not only is this more convenient for your patients, but it reduces the workload for your front office.
- Digital intake and other forms: For years, patients either filled out paperwork in the office or printed the forms at home and then brought them in. Then, when digitization started, you’d have to scan the files and add them to your EHR system. But now, you can allow patients to fill out their forms online for a fast, convenient, and accessible check-in experience.
- Health record access: Finally, you can add a patient portal to your website where patients can see their health records. This adds transparency and gives patients the confidence that they have control over their healthcare data.
Signs your website isn’t working for you (and how to fix it)
Technology is great until it isn’t. You may put a lot of work into your website, only to find it isn’t working for you. So what’s going on, and what can you do?
You don’t track for discovery keywords
If your medical website isn’t ranking in the search engine, or if a page used to rank and now it doesn’t, you may need to refresh it. This can be through rewriting some of the copy, sending out the page to other websites or directories (called link building), updating the metadata, or reviewing the alt text for images.
Google can’t read your content
There can be several reasons why Google can’t read or access your site’s content.
If your site is new, it may not have been indexed by Google yet. Make sure that your website is indexed for search engines from your web host. You can also submit a sitemap to Google Search Console and enable your site to generate a robots.txt. In addition, you can add your website link to your professional LinkedIn page or social media profiles. These steps help Google index your site faster.
If you have recently restructured or rebranded your site, you may have changed some of your URLs. In this case, use 301 redirects to tell search engines that each URL has moved.
In some cases, you may have bought your domain name or website from another individual or company. If a website has a history, it might have received some negative feedback from Google that is now causing the pages to remain hidden. You would have to find a way to resolve these issues if that’s the case.
Your website doesn’t load quickly
Slow websites are penalized by Google, which can affect their rankings. Switching to a faster host, using a CDN, optimizing images, and changing to a “light” visual theme can all improve your performance.
Your design is not responsive
Another factor that Google looks at when ranking sites is whether or not they are easy to use across devices. If your website is not responsive and mobile-friendly, you will want to fix this immediately.
In most cases, this can be a simple endeavor. If you use a website builder like Squarespace, Webflow, or WordPress, you should have options to adjust the website’s responsiveness depending on your platform and theme. In some cases and for older sites, you may have to switch to a newer theme.
Your information is outdated and inaccurate
Outdated content is often looked over for fresh, interesting, and diverse content. If the information on your site is inaccurate, that can also affect its ranking. Conduct an annual review of your website information and ensure it’s current to prevent rank drops.
“Conduct an annual review of your website information and ensure it’s current to prevent rank drops. ”
You’re not proud of your website
Sometimes, you simply don’t like your website. Maybe it doesn’t reflect who you are or your values as a healthcare provider. Or, perhaps it’s too “official” and doesn’t show the human side of the care you offer.
It can often be helpful to hire a professional web designer or agency that can create a website that both works and that you are excited about.
What you need for a successful website
A quality healthcare website can be a competitive advantage. A stellar website not only improves the patient experience and boosts acquisition, but also reduces your workload. Automated billing, patient forms, and scheduling all contribute to more time and resources for what matters: taking care of your patients.
But you need more than these tools to make your website a success. SEO, a sound hosting provider, original photos, responsive design, and well-organized content all play a part in turning your website into a growth machine.
To see how your website compares with competitors in your area, check out our Competitive Scanner.
Or, if you want to learn more about what patients are looking for, download Tebra’s Patient Perspectives report today.