Unlike a yellow page ad or more traditional forms of marketing in which you trade money for exposure, a website is different. Many tasks can be outsourced to others (the basis of our website service). There are other aspects of a practice website which can only come from the individual practitioner.
Here are seven things that you or your support team can do to improve the performance of your website:
1. Supply Enough Original Content
When you set up your Perfect Patients website, we supply stock photos and generic text as “placeholders” to give you and your team an idea of what could go on pages reserved for describing your practice. It’s pretty good. Since other practices have chosen to use that content, and you don’t replace it with your own original practice-specific content, we have to “hide” that page from Google to avoid your site from being penalized for “duplicate content.” (For the same reason we ask Google not to index the 700 pages of general chiropractic content on your site. Visitors see it, but Google doesn’t.) Thus, one reason why a site may not be performing well is that in Google’s eyes your site is just a mere two or three pages! All things being equal, sites with more original content rank better than sites with little original content.
Action step: Provide more original content describing your procedures, services, personnel and practice philosophy.
2. Show Patients What to Expect
Not including photographs (or videos) of your practice won’t diminish search engine performance (traffic) it can lessen the number of site visitors who pick up the phone and call your practice to being care (conversion). The Internet is a visual medium. Prospective new patients visiting your site who are the slightest bit apprehensive want a peak inside your front door. Does your practice look busy? Do patients look like they’re enjoying themselves? Does the doctor look likeable? These days, with digital cameras so common and inexpensive, even built into cell phones, visitors to your website are justifiably suspicious when you don’t include photos of you and your practice.
Action step: Supply photographs of you, your team and your practice. Follow the suggestions in our Photo Guidelines.
3. Reveal Your Authenticity
Many report that writing about themselves is difficult. Apparently when describing why they chose chiropractic as a career, their education, practice location choice and personal health habits, they find themselves in high school English composition class. The result is often a stiff press release without soul or personality. Many of these biographies are so politically correct, so boring and emotionally safe they make it difficult for a prospective new patient to make a buying decision.
Action step: Lighten up! Reveal your doubts when you consulted your first chiropractor. Share your addiction to almond M&Ms. Explain what you love about practice. Confess your greatest failure, proudest achievement or biggest challenge. Express energy! Be authentic. Get real.
4. Using a Brand New Domain Name
If you’re just now getting your practice on the Internet and your domain name is brand spanking new, you have a problem. Especially if other practices in your area have been around for many years, earning and cultivating the trust of Google and the others. They have a “head start.” And remember, search engine rankings are dynamic. As you enter the fray, other website owners respond. And so it goes. (One more reason why you want a website service, not just a website.)
Action step: The way to dislodge a website that has been around longer than yours is to prove to Google that your site, while newer, deserves greater authority. We know of only two ways to do that. Both are difficult, but possible: 1) increase traffic to your site without relying on search engines (such as email campaigns) or, 2) increase the number of inbound links from local, high quality, trustworthy websites (your dentist’s website, MRI facility, state association, etc.).
5. Add More Website Members
Besides the patient education benefits of the monthly newsletters, eLearning and health interest articles that Perfect Patients sends on your behalf, adding members to your site increases the number of visitors to your website. These visitors are showing up to read your newest content without relying on a search engine. “Whoa! Something’s going on here,” reasons Google, pushing your website ranking higher. You’ve probably heard the old adage, “Everybody goes there because everybody goes there.” That’s true here as well. Traffic begets traffic.
Action step: Add more patients as members to your website. If you’ve had a staff change since you launched your site, communicate the importance of this procedure in your staff training.
6. Getting More of What You Already Have
Simply put, if patients weren’t inclined to refer their friends and family to your practice before having a website, they aren’t likely to start when you do. In other words, a website doesn’t necessarily guarantee you’ll get new patients. If patients perceive your adjustments as rough, your personality cold, your communication style bossy, your care plans excessive or any one of countless other factors, a website is unlikely to dramatically change your new patient flow. A practice website tends to merely amplify what is already true about your current practice.
Action step: Hold some patient focus groups and uncover patient perceptions of your tableside manners, practice procedures, report of findings and other aspects of your practice. Find out how current patients describe what you do to others. Master all 12 referral principles.
7. Improve Your Front Desk
The weakest link in the marketing strategies of far too many practices is at the front desk. An inexperienced or poorly-trained individual who serves as the “gatekeeper” to your practice has a far different set of demands than even five or six years ago. Can your frontline representative provide reassurance to skittish, apprehensive prospects on the phone? Does she understand chiropractic, its nervous system focus and potential whole body effects? Is she persuasive, or merely an “order taker”? Does she rigorously ask if new prospects have been to your website?
Action step: Train your staff and role-play. You can no longer afford a mere receptionist. If, due to the research prospective new patients have done on the Internet, they sense they are more knowledgeable about chiropractic than your front desk assistant, they move on to the next practice. All this while you’re out of earshot in the back.
A practice website is merely a tool. It’s not a secret weapon to acquire new patients. Maybe that was true when only a fraction of chiropractors had one, but not today. Prospective new patients are far more sophisticated. They pick up on subtle clues and nuances revealed in the word choices and pictures on your site. Will it be a good fit? Is the doctor sensible? Do I trust her? Is he forthcoming? Does he give me confidence? Answers to these questions dramatically affect the performance of your website.