The Top Tips to Maximize your Online Presence for the New Year
Carol A. Wilcox
PREFERRED Therapy Providers, Inc.
Your clinic has a website. You’ve had it for a few years. It seems to function but you admit – you haven’t really looked at it much since it launched. If this sounds like you, don’t despair – most private practice owners are too busy to pay much attention to the functionality of their websites. But, maybe you should pay attention and now just might be the perfect time to perform a website tune up. Think of your website as the initial impression you convey to a potential patient. Websites are the first place a patient will go to learn more about your practice and the services you provide before they even make a call, so it’s important that you keep your website easy to navigate, fresh and interesting. Besides that, Google is watching.
GOOGLE IS WATCHING
If your website is hard to navigate, slow to load and has outdated content, chances are Google has noticed and may have lowered your website search engine ranking. Google, Yahoo and Bing all value what they call the user experience. This means if your website doesn’t perform well, is not multi-device friendly, has broken links or low-value content among other things, it will soon be at the bottom of the all the search engine lists where fewer and fewer people will find it – and you.
With direct access available in some form in all 50 states, there could be more patients looking on the Internet for providers who fit their needs. Maybe you don’t think a website is that important or relevant to the success of your practice, but what if you have competition down the street or around the corner and their websites are fresh, relevant, optimized and making that great first impression? Who do you think a patient is going to call?
TUNE UP WITH THESE TIPS
This is not an all inclusive list, but these are the some of the top tips you can do right now to get your website tuned up, headed in the right direction and in top shape for 2018:
1. Check the copyright date – make sure you have a current copyright year on the footer of each page of your website. A copyright protects the website owners’ rights to any content on the site including logos and images. An updated copyright date also conveys a sense of trust to site visitors and sends the message that your practice is up to date and on top of things.
2. Multi-device friendly – More people are using mobile devices and tablets instead of the more traditional desktop computer to find the information they need. Called responsive websites, all three search engines, Google, Yahoo and Bing, now require websites to be responsive because responsive sites offer users the best experience. This resource describes the new search engine requirements. One easy way to tell if your website is responsive is to view your site yourself on different devices such as an IPhone or Android smartphone as well on a tablet such as an iPad. If your website does not fit each device you’ll be able to tell because you won’t be able to see the entire webpage on the screen.
3. Secure websites – Google advocates for a safer Internet and for the last two years has been encouraging website owners to convert to a secure connection (HTTPS). Those sites that remain unsecure may not do well in search engine rankings. Visitors to your website may see a flag stating that their connection is not secure and are more likely to abandon their search. An easy way to determine if your website is secure, type in your web address in your browser. Start first by entering HTTPS://www.and then your website name and extension. If your website doesn’t come up, try again starting with HTTP://www.and then your website name and extension. A secure site will begin with HTTPS. An unsecure site will start with HTTP. If you’re still unsure if your website is secure, check to see if the Site Identity button (a padlock image) appears when you type in your website address. This resource will walk you through the steps.
4. Click, click, click away – Check each link on your website to be sure that they all work and that they click to an appropriate link. Internal links are links on a webpage that go to other pages within your site. External links are links that click to other websites or documents. Remove or correct any “dead” links. If you have forms on your website, check those as well to ensure they function properly. Typical forms on a healthcare website may include a contact us form, an appointment request form, patient intake forms or newsletter sign-up forms. Test the forms by filling them out yourself. If the forms are required to be directed to an internal member of your practice, make sure that it directs to the appropriate office email address.
5. Check the social buttons – If you have social media buttons on your website, make sure they link correctly to your social media accounts. If you don’t have social media accounts for all the social buttons listed on your website, remove them.
6. Location, location, location – Have you moved? Did you add a new clinic location? Has your phone number changed? It’s very important to have current location and contact information on your website. Many of your patients will be using GPS or some type of navigation app to find you, so be sure to include your current address, zip code and a suite number if you have one. Nothing will do more to turn-off a patient than if they pull up to an empty building or wrong office suite because you still had your old location information on your website.
7. Keep it fresh and relevant – If you have outdated or non-relevant content on your website, now is the time to refresh it. Search engines regularly check websites for relevancy and will not promote a site that is not regularly updated. Plus, it’s a total turn-off to visitors to your website. If your website isn’t relevant, maybe your practice isn’t, too. Website content comes in many forms. Informative blogs, patient FAQ’s, staff bios, whitepapers, videos, infographics or downloadable hand-outs are all different types of website content. Healthcare practices should use a combination of content that will appeal to their specific target markets. For instance, a pediatric speech-language-pathologist may offer a downloadable infographic on feeding and swallowing disorders while a physical therapist specializing in sports medicine may offer a special report on gait analysis. The goal is to keep your website content search engine optimized, relevant, current and informative.
NEED HELP WITH YOUR TUNE UP?
While many of these tips can be easily accomplished by you or a staff member, you may not want to tackle all of it. Depending upon the amount of effort and resources you can invest, you may want to consider some help from a freelancer. You’ll find content writers, SEO consultants, online marketing help and technical gurus on a number of freelance sites including UpWork and Fiverr.
Make 2018 the year your practice makes a great first impression by creating the best tuned-up website showcasing the abundant talent and services your clinic provides!
About the Author:
Carol A. Wilcox is the staff writer and head of marketing communications at PREFERRED Therapy Providers, Inc. You can reach Carol here.
This article is brought to you by PREFERRED Therapy Providers Inc. PREFERRED is the nation’s leading payor management services network. Our expertise is working with physical, occupational and speech therapy practices – from single clinics to multiple clinic locations.