To generate a steady flow of new patients, all you need is to capture the top spot on Google. Right?
Well, not exactly.
Considering that Google is the top source of new patients, rankings are indeed important. But page-one rankings aren’t everything. In some cases, they translate to little or no new patient results.
And tactics intended to artificially improve Google rankings can, in fact, devastate your website’s reputation.
The SEO Provider “Guarantee”
In the past, you may have received solicitations from chiropractic SEO companies about the importance of achieving “page one rankings.” Maybe, at one time, you were lured by these proposals.
There are still many SEO firms that will guarantee results. They’ve created a philosophy that indicates rankings alone will ensure new patients. Here’s the sales pitch: “If you rank number one on Google, you’ll become flooded with inquiries! And we’ll get you there in less than 30 days!” Such claims are intended to entice businesses with too-good-to-be-true promises.
The page-one rankings pitch has become a tagline that has corrupted the reputation of many SEO professionals.
Google warns against these sales overtures. In the search engine’s own words:
“No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google. Beware of SEOs that claim to guarantee rankings [or] allege a ‘special relationship’ with Google.”
Are Page One Rankings the Be-all and End-all?
Rankings, if misinterpreted, can be a trivial metric. Why? Because visitors don’t convert into patients by merely landing on your website.
Content, website design, the keywords you rank for, etc. – there are countless factors that determine the impact of your online strategy. After all, if the keywords you rank for aren’t bringing the right kind of visitors to your website, you won’t reach your end goal: to get and keep more patients.
If you have an SEO company on retainer, and they report strictly on rankings, ask them a few questions:
- What keywords am I ranking for and how many searchers use those terms each month?
- Am I attracting my ideal patients?
- Are my website visitors expressing interest in my services?
- Are they qualified prospects that live or work within driving distance of my practice?
- Is my website designed to engage visitors with a strategy to convert them into new patients?
The goal is to unravel the mindset of your target audience. This entails understanding their motivations and search behaviors.
Is Your Website Designed to Convert?
If your website is gaining web traffic, you know you have an audience. But is it a qualified audience?
The goal is to attract “new patient traffic” that consists of people looking for a chiropractor in your area. There are several things you can observe to see if you are achieving this goal. Ultimately, it comes down to visitor engagement. This includes behavioral metrics like the following (which most SEO consultants ignore because of their relative difficulty):
- Pages per visit: If visitors are navigating multiple pages, it shows they likely have an interest in your practice.
- Time on site: The more time visitors spend on your site, the more actively engaged they are.
- Bounce Rate: If your bounce rate is high, this means visitors are quickly leaving your site after visiting only a single page (the bounce rate is the percentage of people who land on your site and only view the page they landed on).
These metrics help you understand the quality of your website visitors. If people are quickly exiting your site, then you’re likely ranking for the wrong keywords.
Poor engagement can also be an indicator that your site visitors aren’t navigating, what we call, the “New Patient Journey” – or, the process a visitor goes through from the time they land on your site to the time they schedule an appointment.
Great website design isn’t just about aesthetic appeal. You can hire a great designer, have them build your website, and hope it produces new patients. But if there’s not a strategic purpose behind the design, then all you’re left with is a piece of digital art.
So what does constitute an effective chiropractic website design? There are four needs your website should fulfill:
- Differentiate your skills and expertise
- Establish yourself as an authority in the chiropractic industry
- Get website traffic and convert that traffic into new patients
- Retain patients and promote referrals
You must gain a visitor’s attention the moment they land on your website. A visitor should see on your homepage why you are the chiropractor they should choose. This means clearly stating who you are and what you offer.
Beyond your homepage, you must determine which pages will strengthen the New Patient Journey. We refer to these as the “money pages.” Here are the top five, in order of importance:
- Doctor[s] Bio
- Contact Us
- About Us
What else contributes to a patient-converting design?
- Your copy should be professional and persuasive
- You should have at least one image on each page (rather than using stock images, consider hiring a professional photographer)
- Your pages should be browsable, including headings, and bullets throughout
- Your pages should have calls-to-actions that encourage visitors to reach out (i.e. clickable buttons that say, “Schedule an appointment”)