Your website can do so much for you — streamline communication at your practice, introduce your practice to new patients, answer common questions, improve patient education, and more. How can you tell when you’re succeeding? How can you prove that your website is doing its job… or fix it if it’s not? This is the first in a series of posts on how to move the needle on some common medical website goals. We’re starting with a basic goal: increasing patient visits.
If your patients come to your website, they can get in the habit of downloading and filling out forms, requesting appointments, and looking for answers to their questions at your website, instead of over the phone. They can learn to get answers from you before they turn to Dr. Google. They’ll get more value from your website, and you’ll reduce the amount of time your team spends doing repetitive tasks.
How can you encourage patients to visit your website?
Site architecture is an important decision. However, if you have a WordPress website, it’s not a permanent commitment. Have your web team watch your analytics and make sure that people are traveling through your website as you expect them to. You might need some additional signposts besides your main menu, or you might need to change the items in your main menu.
Second, encourage patients to visit the website. Just saying, “That’s a great question. We have an article about that at our website, and I’ll send you the link,” or “Did you know you can request an appointment at our website?” can help get patients in the habit of visiting your website.
Make sure your website is worth visiting. Some practice websites have few pages, appointment request forms that don’t work, and outdated information. Others have fresh content every week, answers to common questions, and information about the practice. Which kind of website will patients visit most often?
Make sure your website is findable.
We often think of SEO in terms of reaching out to new prospective patients or clients. But it’s important for patient education, too. You know that patients look online for information between doctor visits. They also look online to decide whether or not they need to see their doctor.
You want your website to come up for those searches.
Do your patients ask how to help their baby sleep? They probably Google that question, too. Have the best possible answers to your patients' questions on your website. It's good for your patients and for your online presence. Click To Tweet
Adding fresh, original content to your website on a regular basis makes it show up better in search. What’s more, people who have visited your website already are more likely to see it in search in the future. These two factors help your answers to your patients’ questions show up when they are looking for answers.
Help patients benefit from your site search.
When your patients are in the habit of visiting your website to get information, book appointments, and find out about new events and other practice news, they’re more likely to search for answers there. That allows your patient to look for “flu shot” and find whether you offer flu shots at your practice as well as other basic info they need — instead of calling your office or getting mired in controversy online. Make sure that there’s a convenient search box they can use.
Again, you can encourage your patients to use that search function when you see them in person.
But you should also make sure that search works well at your website. The typical search box just shows every instance of the word you type in. Try your search box out and see how well it works.
- Do you have enough content to make searching useful? If most searches give you a “not found” message, you just don’t have enough content. Increase it, or get rid of the search box to reduce frustration for your visitors.
- Is your content written with search in mind? If the wrong articles come up, think about rewriting to communicate better with your search engine.
- Do you need a Google custom search box instead of the one you have right now? If you’re just not happy with the way your search box works, ask your web team to change it. There is likely to be a cost associated with this, but it might be what you need.
Check your Google Analytics to find out what people search for on your website. This can give you great ideas for your blogger as well as showing you whether people are generally able to find the information they need at your website.
Getting your patients in the habit of making good use of your website helps you serve your patients better. It can also cut down on the time you have to spend answering common questions.