By now, you’re well aware that patients do their research, usually consulting Dr Google about their conditions before and after consulting someone with actual medical or surgical training and experience. 

Patients and referrers also do their research on you and your practice. After all, surgery is a big decision, incurring out-of-pocket costs, time off work and rehab afterwards. Patients want to know they’re in safe hands. Referring doctors want to know they’re sending their patient onwards to someone who will care for them well. 

What’s the purpose of a surgeon’s website?

Your website is the best place to convince patients and referring doctors of your credibility, skill, services and bedside manner. Anticipating likely questions (like fees) shows patients you understand their perspective.

A good website doesn’t just sit there waiting for visitors though. Once the visitors arrive (through good SEO and digital marketing activities), your website’s job is to convert them – to make them take an action you want them to take. That action might be phoning your practice, referring a patient or booking an appointment. 

Your website’s primary role is to convert people into patients. That’s how it contributes to sustaining and growing your surgical practice. 

The 7 elements of a high-converting website

Here’s how to improve your website so that you convert more visitors into patients, increasing your revenue. These are the strategies that the Splice Marketing team applies to our specialists’ websites that achieve great results.

1. Site speed

If your site loads slowly, people will give up and go elsewhere – in seconds. (Yes, we really have all become that impatient.)

A slow site speed can also affect your Google ranking. Google wants to send users to sites that give them a positive experience. A slow site fails this test.

If your site loads slowly, it might be due to large image files, embedded video content, heavy widget use, built-in apps or the efficiency of your web hosting service. 

Check how your site performs using Google’s PageSpeed Insights. Just enter your website’s URL and you’ll see how Google thinks you’re doing and what you could improve. 

2. Easy navigation

Ever tried to drive somewhere with a poor navigator desperately trying to read a map, figure out where you are and tell you which turn to take in time? Ever been told, ‘It’s left – I mean right!’ 

No wonder we’re all so grateful for sat navs. They make journeys so much smoother. 

Website navigation is an important part of user experience for similar reasons. Users want to find what they’re after quickly. They don’t want to have to dig around your site finding information that’s buried in odd places. 

Good website navigation involves:

  • A clear navigation bar at the top or on the side
  • Clear information architecture – just as your home is organised into rooms, your website should be organised into key sections, some of which will have other sections within them.
  • A design that works on any screen size (especially a smartphone)
  • Breadcrumbs, essentially a navigation trail that lets people see where they are in your site, such as

3. Clear conversion goal(s)

What do you want people to do when they visit your website? Book online, phone your office, refer a patient? All three? 

These conversion goals or calls to action need to be reflected in your website’s design.

If you want GPs to refer to you, then have an obvious ‘Refer a patient’ link in your navigation, leading to a form where a GP can add all the relevant details and attach their referral letter. 

If you want patients to register or book, then make it easy to do so. 

Think about your practice workflows here too. Your online forms are a good opportunity to gather all the information you need from a new patient so that it drops straight into your practice management system. That saves admin time and reduces data errors (it’s hard to read bad handwriting on a paper form). 

4. High-quality content

Very few people know what you know. You’re a highly trained professional with a rare skill set. Content marketing allows you to share that expertise, establish your credibility and show something of your personality too. 

Patients want to learn about their conditions and potential treatment. It’s far better that they learn from someone with your in-depth understanding than from other, less reliable sources. 

So, write blogs, upload videos, create explanatory infographics, share photos of the operating theatre or your consulting rooms. High-quality content builds your credibility and establishes a sense of trust. It’s wonderfully useful for patient education, reassurance and familiarity.

5. High-quality design & images

A large amount of your website’s appeal rests on its design and imagery. While it’s tempting to download a few stock photos, it’s far better to invest in a professional photoshoot of your staff and premises to use on your website. Seeing the real people and setting is far more persuasive than seeing standard stock imagery.

6. Tracking

Your website is a valuable source of data about your practice. Tracking tools enable you to measure and analyse how users are interacting with your website. You can then use that information to inform your decisions around conversion optimisation, the user journey and general performance.

Three of the most useful tracking tools are:

  • Google Tag Manager – a free tool to manage snippets of code (tags) on your website such as Javascript. Managing these tags well enables you to understand how your website is performing. 
  • Google Analytics – another free (and, frankly, essential) tool that tells you so much about your site to enable you to improve its performance. You can see:
    • Session duration (how long people stay on your site)
    • Pages per session
    • Bounce rate (how many arrive on your page, do nothing, then leave)
    • Which pages perform well
    • Which pages perform badly
    • How your visitors got to your site
    • Which geographical area your visitors are in. 
  • Call tracking – this captures data from inbound phone calls. When someone clicks your phone number on your website, call tracking records their phone number and their source (i.e. your Google ad or website).   

7. A unique personality that matches the business

Whether you realise it or not, you’ve cultivated a certain image over your surgical career. It’s shown in countless ways from your interactions with patients and colleagues to your choice of scrubs. 

Your website needs to reflect your corporate identity. You are not the same as the surgeon down the road. You have your own way of engaging with your patients, your own personality and your own particular areas of expertise or interest. 

If you’re not sure where to begin here, then think of a few adjectives that would describe you or your practice. Ask your staff too. You might be fun, engaging, knowledgeable, skilled, calm, caring, educational, innovative or many other things. 

Also ask yourself how you want your patients to feel when they engage with you. A paediatric surgeon has quite a different audience to a cardiothoracic surgeon, for example. 

That list gives you something to work with as you write material for your site. It’ll help you avoid sounding bland and start sounding real. 

So, there you have it – our 7 actions to work on to improve your website conversions and so increase your new patient numbers and grow your surgical practice. Which one will you tackle first?  

If you need some more help or would like a free website audit, book in for a free 30 min consultation with one of our growth specialists.