The Practice Growth Podcast is an educational resource for doctors, dentists, and other healthcare providers about how to market and manage a thriving healthcare practice.
In Episode 4, host Lisa Christy is joined by Justin Harris, PatientPop senior manager of onboarding. The pair discusses essential elements of a medical practice website. Click below to listen.
Lisa Christy: I know you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but does the same apply for a website? I sure hope not because I’m pretty judgmental when it comes to websites. I want the websites I’m visiting to load quickly. I want them to look good on my cell phone, which is the device I use most often, and I want them to have a nice design and useful information. I’m quick to leave websites that lack any of these elements.
Now, think about your website, if I landed on your site, would I stick around? Would I even be able to find it? More importantly, would prospective patients? That’s the topic of today’s podcast.
Hello, and welcome to The Practice Growth Podcast, the doctor’s resource for marketing and managing a thriving healthcare practice. I’m Lisa Christy.
Today’s podcast is all about healthcare practice websites: how they can be found by search engines, how they should look, the information they should feature, and more. Joining me to discuss this topic is PatientPop Senior Manager of Onboarding, Justin Harris. Justin, thanks so much for being with us.
Justin Harris: Thank you so much for having me today.
Lisa: First, Justin, why don’t you briefly describe to our audience what you do at PatientPop.
Justin: My goal is to help doctors onboard their website. We build out their unique web profiles, as well as their web presence, and we do that through search engine optimization.
Lisa: Excellent, and you also help doctors get launched on the PatientPop practice growth platform and you launch their websites, correct?
Justin: That is correct. We build out their unique website and unique profiles on our platform so they can best optimize their online presence.
Lisa: So Justin, I know one reason why independent healthcare providers become PatientPop customers is that they’re concerned about where their practice websites show up in search results. How important is it to appear near the top of search engine results pages?
Justin: It is very important. Generally, when a patient is searching for a provider, they’re really looking for the person who comes at the top of their search engine result. And if you’re not in those top five or six results or the local pack, they might not even scroll further down the page.
Lisa: Yeah, sure. I just think about how I search for things and if it doesn’t show up at the top, I’m not going go to Page 2.
Justin: No. It’s definitely something that, as providers come to us and they are really looking to grow their practice, we let them know that the search engine is just similar to how they would search. When you’re searching for a restaurant or any other industry, you look at those top search results. That’s what we’re here to do and help them with.
Lisa: How does a healthcare provider optimize his practice website for search results? Can you just give me one example?
Justin: There’s a breakdown of how you want to do that. It’s between the title and the meta description. In the title, you want to have the practice name, the specialty, and the location that they work in. And in terms of the meta description, you want to consider, sort of pitch, on what that actually does. Say I’m a provider located in this area and this is my specialty. You actually want to have a breakdown of those areas of focus within your description of your practice.
Lisa: Excellent. So you’re referring to what shows up in search results. The title being the title of the website, and then the meta description being that kind of explanatory text that shows up beneath the hyperlink?
Justin: Yeah, that’s correct. It basically lets the search engines and Google know that you are a relevant practice and this is what you do. So, if you’re doing a semantic search around a specialty or a provider name, they’ll come up in search.
Lisa: That’s great information, Justin, because I imagine many healthcare providers think very little about the website snippet. I know one thing providers do think about is website design. Like any busy owner, they want their websites to look good. You have seen your fair share of website designs over the years working at PatientPop. Is there anything these websites have in common?
Justin: Yes, and I’ve definitely seen many websites over the years here at PatientPop. The great thing about our platform and what we really do is we create websites that are responsive. Responsive websites are very important to Google and all other search engines because when people are searching, most of them are searching on mobile devices. We create responsive websites for mobile devices, tablets, desktop so all platforms actually benefit from working with us since we do mobile responsive and responsive websites.
Lisa: That’s great. So no matter which device a prospective patient is using to find your practice, it will look good. Like, your website will just kind of fit on that device.
Justin: Exactly. And also something to note too as well is search engines actually penalize people who do not have responsive websites. When a lot of practices come to PatientPop, we’re able to help them since our sites aren’t going to be penalized like other sites that aren’t responsive.
Lisa: Oh, excellent. How could a healthcare provider tell if his current website is responsive?
Justin: Best way for a practice to do that is to pull up their actual website on their mobile phone or tablet and then put in their URL. When they put in their URL, if you can’t really actually see the full website and the scope of the website in a mobile responsive manner, it’s more than likely not responsive.
Lisa: Sure. So, sometimes the text will look very tiny or it’ll basically look like your whole homepage, but just shrunk onto this teeny tiny device.
Justin: Yeah, it just doesn’t look aesthetically pleasing. Our sites look aesthetically pleasing to the eye and patients love it.
Lisa: Great. OK, so we’ve learned that one website must have is responsive design. What is another necessary website component?
Justin: Another important component is an introduction to the practice and introducing themselves to the patient that lands on their site. When they introduce themselves, it’s also important to have a picture. Adding pictures to the website and especially the provider’s pictures, makes it more humanized, and it really allows them to know who they’re gonna be visiting. So, an important thing is a bio and a picture.
Lisa: OK, great. It’s almost like you’re kind of introducing yourself to your prospective patients before they even walk into your practice doors.
Justin: Exactly. You want to look at it as, if they’re walking into the door of your practice online, what is the first thing you want them to see? And a picture of yourself, and a nice picture, a professional picture, as well as a great bio introduction about yourself that’s brief and to the point, but allows you to introduce yourself to them.
Lisa: Great. You introduce yourself and your qualifications.
Lisa: Great. Excellent. OK, so for website must-haves, we now have responsive design and introductory photos and biography. What else?
Justin: Another important aspect of that is having full descriptions of the services you offer. When a patient is searching for a practice, they’re looking for specific items. Building out specific content-rich service pages is very important since, if I’m searching for say, something like dental cleaning. I’m going to be searching for that. You need to have information on that to be found in search, as well as you want to use something that’s a Q&A format.
If I’m searching for teeth whitening in Minnesota, I’m gonna be searching with a question of that. You need to have a question that’ll show up in the semantic search, and then the answer that will be spit out is by Google that, “Hey, this doctor site actually has this item.” So, it’s important that you use Q&A format, as well as you have a content-rich website.
Lisa: Great. For doctors who might have all of their services kind of concentrated on a single web page, rather than having individual web pages for their services, they could almost kind of confuse search engines like Google and Bing, and so that they won’t show up at the top of search results.
Justin: Very much so. It’s important that you have unique pages and identifiers. Putting everything on one page actually does you a disservice. Having unique pages creates a little landing page for Google and other search engines to find you. And I always say that if you have a specific service that you offer, that should have its own page so you can be identified by search engines.
Lisa: Excellent. And you did talk about kind of the Q&A aspect to it. I imagine in addition to helping being found in search engines, that also helps answer some common patient questions before they walk in the door so you can have more efficient time with that patient.
Justin: Exactly. And the best thing that you want to do is create a site that makes it easy so the patient wants to just book with you directly.
Another aspect that top on that is that, when people are searching nowadays, they’re using voice search. So, Siri and other items. If people are doing voice searches, you really want to make sure you have the correct information in Q&A format, because when you ask Siri anything it’s usually by a question. The same thing happens when you’re actually listing out content, you want to make sure it’s formatted for voice search, as well.
Lisa: Great. It’s all about the end user. You want to make sure your website really appeals to the end user.
Lisa: Got it. OK, so, Justin, one thing that we have not talked about yet that I know is very important is online reviews. You want to talk a little bit about that?
Justin: Yes. Online reviews are one of the most important aspects along with being found in organic search. And that’s something that shouldn’t be overlooked. When you see a good review online, it’s something that needs to be displayed in a prominent manner on the website. When we build out our sites, we actually make that our prominent factor at the top of the page. So, whether you’re on any device, you’re going to see that right when you arrive on the page. And it’s definitely something that patients will look at when they’re making a choice to go with a provider or not.
Lisa: Sure. Just like you want to go to the 5-star restaurant, you want to go to the 5-star healthcare provider?
Justin: Exactly. It’s just like any sort of thing that consumers are doing today, they’re searching online for good-reviewed practices, as well as for practices that have transparency. So reviews can’t be understated on their importance.
Lisa: And what about reviews, we talk about them on the website, but reviews elsewhere on other websites? You know, healthcare directories or local business directories are also very important.
Justin: Yes. So the main thing you want to do is start with your website but build out from there on the other different profiles and have distributed reviews throughout them. So if a patient does find you in a different manner, they’re able to see your reviews on all those different sites.
Lisa: Excellent, excellent. So you did touch on this a little bit, I believe you mentioned online scheduling, but one thing I know about attracting prospective customers or, you know, patients in the case of healthcare providers, is that you want to give them a clear indication of what they should be doing next once they land on your website. This is called the call-to-action or CTA. What should the CTA be on a healthcare practice website?
Justin: On a healthcare practice website, it’s pretty clear what that should be: It should be to request an appointment. The simplest way to look at it is that if you’re going to a website, you want to know what your end goal is and to send the same message to your patients. So, the clearest call-to-action would be to request an appointment. You can create other pages throughout the site that do other things, but the main aspect you want to have throughout the site is a call-to-action to book an appointment so they come to your practice.
Lisa: Excellent. Well, Justin, I found this very enlightening so far, but I did want to ask before we end it, is there anything else about healthcare practice, healthcare provider websites that, providers should know?
Justin: Yeah. It’s definitely one of the things that I definitely think it’s a multi-pronged approach when you’re marketing your practice online. The focus on having a call-to-action, the focus on being found in search and the focus on reviews are very important. And you want to have all those aspects working together so your practice will do good online.
Lisa: Excellent. Well, Justin, thank you so much for taking this time to speak with us today, and thank you, listeners, for tuning in.