Your patients meet you online before they meet you in person. When they need a doctor or an allied health professional, their first instinct is usually to search online and find your website.
An eye-catching, easy-to-use, responsive and content-rich website adds immense credibility to your practice and sets the standard of quality that patients can expect when they come to see you.
Who and what is your website for?
Your website is there to convert prospective patients into real ones. It should provide everything necessary to convince someone that you’re the right person to help them with their health needs, whether that’s a short course of physiotherapy or long-term care from the local GP.
You convince them subtly rather than through heavy-handed sales patter. People are drawn to authenticity so they want to see an accurate reflection of your practice. They want a healthcare professional whose advice they can understand and trust. And they want their healthcare to be as easy as possible – so make sure they can easily find whatever information they seek.
Remembering your audience helps you to create an effective website. It’s primarily there for current and prospective patients and should meet their needs and lead them to book an appointment (thus meeting your needs).
Ensure your website is an authentic reflection of your practice
Your website should be in keeping with your practice branding – not only in the colour scheme and logos but also in its tone and messaging.
Branding is not just for large corporates. It’s essential for every healthcare business because it’s the process of defining who you are, what motivates you, which values guide you and what you offer to patients.
Branding lays the foundation for marketing. It enables you to tailor your messages to the right audience and create the right look and feel to appeal to them.
Learn more about the importance of branding with our blog, Express yourself: Why corporate identity matters to healthcare practices.
Ensure your website provides a great user experience
Pretend you’re a new patient interested in your practice (or ask a friend to do so). Go to your website and look at it through that lens.
What might a patient want to know? It could be:
- Reading up on a health condition, such as gestational diabetes – so begin creating content to make a connection
- Finding out about the skills of your team – so provide their bios, including photos, qualifications and special interests
- Practical information such as opening hours, how to get a repeat script, how a telehealth appointment works or where to park – ask your reception staff about the questions they’re commonly asked and then provide the answers.
Work hard on your homepage
The homepage is usually the first page your visitors see. It’s usually less text-heavy than other pages, designed mainly to create an immediate sense of connection, prompt people to book an appointment, and direct them to other pages with more information.
It needs to have a high visual appeal and not be cluttered.
The area above the fold is particularly important. This is the section someone sees on their computer before needing to scroll down. It should include compelling imagery, your key message and a very clear call to action (like Book Now).
Offer online bookings
These days, every practice needs to offer online bookings to capture bookings whenever a patient is ready to take that step.
Imagine a patient has read your new blog on neck pain at 11 pm and is impressed by your expertise. Right then, they’re motivated. If they can click an obvious link and book an appointment, they will. If they have to wait until tomorrow and remember to call you, they’re likely to forget and you’ve missed the opportunity to convert them.
Nowadays, patients are used to doing nearly everything easily online – ordering food, booking a ride share and banking to name just a few things. It needs to be just as easy to engage with you.
Create visual appeal
You watch a movie, you read a book – and you do a bit of both with a website. The words matter certainly, but visual elements like imagery, white space and navigation buttons greatly enhance the experience.
Large, striking images on your home page help to make a great first impression and capture your prospective patients’ attention. Use effects and animations sparingly to avoid distracting people from the content you want them to focus on.
Stock imagery can give your website a very professional look but, to create connection, it needs to be balanced with professional photos of your healthcare team and premises.
Issue regular calls to action
What action do you want a site visitor to take? You might want them to sign up for a webinar or download a guide – so give them regular prompts to do that.
Most commonly, though, you want them to book an appointment. That means you need regular ‘Book an appointment’ buttons throughout your site and a permanent header that includes your phone number and a link to your online booking system.
Write clear and convincing copy
Healthcare professionals are often great a talking to patients but more used to writing to one another. It’s easy to slip into medical terminology when writing so pull back, go for a more conversational tone and express yourself in plain English, not jargon.
Go back to your branding to remind yourself of your ideal patient’s characteristics and interests and to remember the key messages you want to communicate.
Aim for a friendly, professional tone. You want to sound warm, relatable, capable and knowledgeable.
On condition-related pages that might have quite a lot of text, try to:
- Use headings and sub-headings to create structure, break up the copy and make it easier to find information
- Include relevant keywords to boost your Google rankings
- Avoid long, waffly sentences
- Keep paragraphs short – aim for 3-4 sentences each.
Read our blog on 10 copywriting tips you need to know.
Stay on the right side of AHPRA’s advertising guidelines
As a registered health professional, you must ensure your marketing complies with AHPRA’s advertising rules, which exist to protect patients from misleading or deceptive information.
These rules affect the way you describe yourself (are you a ‘specialist’ or do you have a ‘special interest’?) and the claims you can make about the treatments you offer. Generally speaking, you need to use various caveats to avoid the impression that you’re guaranteeing a successful treatment outcome. You also need to use credible evidence to back up any claims you make.
Pay attention to the technicalities
Certain things make a website easy to use (and legal).
Your website needs to:
- Use a mobile-first design – most people now search from their smartphones, not their desktops
- Have a good site speed – if it doesn’t load within 3 seconds, your visitors will get bored and go elsewhere
- Be easy and intuitive to navigate so people can find the information they seek
- Have an SSL certificate – Google uses this to rank your website. If you don’t have a security certificate, your visitor will see a huge warning sign about your site safety and hit the back button immediately.
Learn more with our blog on 10 reasons your website isn’t converting.
Optimise your site for SEO
Once you’ve created an incredible, eye catching, easy to navigate and content-rich website, its time to think about search engine optimisation (SEO). After all, a great website is not much use if no-one can find it!
The goals of SEO is to raise your ranking so that, when someone searches for a service you offer, you appear in the top few search results. This makes it more likely that a prospective patient will click on your link and explore your website.
Google mostly cares about relevancy in its page rankings. It’s trying to deliver the best results to match the searcher’s intention.
You can help Google see your page as a good match by:
- Using relevant keywords in your copy in a natural way (don’t stuff your page with them)
- Creating meaningful title tags for your page, e.g. Physiotherapy for Back Pain Brisbane | Business Name.
Investing in SEO is a mid- to long-term marketing strategy but it’s vital to ensure your prospective patients can easily find you when they search for specific keywords related to your service offering. It’s often worthwhile hiring a medical SEO expert to analyse your site, as small SEO tweaks can make big ranking impacts.
Learn more about How to increase patient leads with SEO.
Because websites are visual tools, it’s often helpful to see a few examples of imagery, navigation and messaging.
Here are some websites that Splice Marketing has built recently:
- Touchstone Life Care
- Act Right Now Counselling
- Full Circle Obstetrics and Gynaecology
- Nest Birth and Wellbeing
If you’d like help building your website or improving your SEO, please book a free 30-minute consultation with our CEO, Ellie.
All information is general in nature.