SEO, SMO, Google, OG tags, social feeds, CMS or static. Are you overwhelmed yet? Websites today are like letterhead and envelopes of 20 years ago – they are just part of the corporate ID package for any successful practice. Many times, your online presence is the first impression most people have of your practice (and you), so taking the time to get it right just makes sense.
There are websites that are pretty, websites that are word-heavy SEO (search-engine optimization) machines, and then there are websites that are just right: websites that reflect your brand, contain relevant content and generate revenue. In the end, that’s what it’s all about: attracting patients and generating a profit to compensate you for your services. Here’s how to get to website nirvana without breaking the bank and losing your mind.
Use the Power of CMS
CMS stands for content management system. A CMS website is easy to create and easy to update. Could you do it yourself? If you have some web savviness, sure. However, we strongly advise hiring a marketing expert to do it for you. You should be taking care of your patients, not trying to be a web guru.
What platform is best? Well that’s up to you. We like WordPress. Tip: CMS sites are prone to hacking, so they need to be updated regularly – another reason to employ an expert.
Take Time to Strategize
Have a marketing strategy in place before you sit down to design your website or update your current one. As mentioned above, your online presence is like a first responder. If you don’t get it right, your potential patients and the referrals they can provide will evaporate. Who are you? Why should someone “buy” from you versus other providers (your competitors)? What is your secret sauce? What are your services? Who comprises your team?
Know Your Target Patient Profile
You should speak to your audience and make sure the content you are writing is relevant to them! Gone are the days of verbose SEO-laden pages. Today’s readers want to be engaged. They want images to tell stories. They want content (blogs) that speak to them and that aren’t selling to them.
Focus on Mobile and Secure
Google has cracked down and is now giving high priority to sites that are mobile responsive. Next up – security. Google is pushing to have security certificates for all websites – that’s the
https:// acronym before the
www. Google rules aside, being mobile responsive and secure is just smart business. In today’s fast-moving environment, users are on their phones and tablets more hours than on desktops. You need to be where your viewers are.
Have a Channel Plan
You may have a great website, but if no one knows it’s there, the site serves little purpose. Sure, SEO is still important, but the competition is huge. To play the SEO game, you need full-time folks testing keywords, updating copy, looking at competition all the time. Is there an easier way? Create channels that push people back to your website. Share links via your emails and social feeds.
Yes, You Need a Blog
There is a ton of controversy over blogging. Do people still read them? Are they worth the effort? We say yes and yes. People won’t read all of them, but they will read what is relevant to them. Blogs also help your branding by making you a trusted advisor and expert in your field. Oh, and they help SEO.
Back to the marketing strategy: Make sure you create an editorial calendar so you know what you need to write, who’s going to write it, and when you will post and then share on social. It’s a process that should be mapped out.
Create a Call to Action
You need to prompt potential patients to call you. It’s more than a “Contact Us” page. Have a call to action on multiple places by identifying “pain points” and offering a solution. Tip: You don’t want to do a hard sell – but you want to get your potential patient thinking you are the answer! They need to feel you are speaking to them one on one.
Don’t Overthink It
You don’t need a 100-page website to be successful. In the end, you just need to tell your story, highlight your services and your team, and have some engaging content (blogs, white papers, etc.) that is relevant to your patients and prospects. You can always add and subtract.
Don’t Set It and Forget It
For your site to be a revenue generator, it needs to be updated regularly. The easiest way to do this is via your blog. We recommend weekly postings, but if you can get two posted in a month, we consider that a win.
Creating an online presence is vitally important to branding your practice. Invest the time and money needed to make it happen. Be ready to spend a minimum of 2-3 months working with your web / marketing team to get your site up with some good basic content. Prices obviously vary by vendor. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. On the flip side, you don’t need to spend $20,000 to have a website that works.
Rob Berman is a partner at Berman Partners, LCC . He also has held a variety of marketing roles during his career.
Cindy Donaldson is president and CEO of Red Barn Consulting, a strategic marketing, sales and business operations consulting firm.