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Organic, referral, direct: Understanding doctor website traffic sources

Learn about the four primary healthcare website traffic sources.

Doctor uses laptop to look at website

You invested a great deal of time and resources into building a beautiful doctor website. However, your website is only effective if patients can find it.

Knowing where your web traffic is coming from is important because it helps you better tailor your marketing efforts. Here’s a look at top web traffic sources and how to maximize visitors.

4 doctor website traffic sources and how to increase visitors to each type

1. Organic traffic

When prospective patients find doctor websites through non-paid search results — i.e. not paid ads — they’re considered organic traffic. For example, this occurs when someone types [Los Angeles dermatologist] into Google and your doctor website appears in their search results.

Nearly two-thirds of marketers (61 percent) cite improving search engine optimization (SEO) and growing their organic presence as their top inbound marketing priority, according to HubSpot. This makes sense, as a BrightEdge study revealed 53.3 percent of all web traffic is organic search.

Chances are, you’re competing for web traffic with several other physician websites in your local area. You want your website to rank higher than other practices, so here are a few tips to boost your organic traffic.

  • Regularly publish engaging content on your blog.
  • Use search engine optimization strategies to update your content.
  • Run a co-marketing campaign with another company — i.e. a pediatrician might host an event with a pediatric dentist.

These activities will require extra effort, but you’ll be rewarded with a higher website ranking that drives more traffic into your office.

Read: Understanding Google search ranking factors for healthcare websites

2. Referral traffic

Patients referred to your site by another web source — i.e. they clicked the link to your website from a directory profile — fit into the referral traffic category. This is important to know because these websites are guiding patients to your site.

For example, 80.4 percent of social media referral traffic to e-commerce websites comes from Facebook, according to Statista research, as of the first quarter of 2019. Another 10.7 percent of referral traffic originates from Instagram.

Knowing where prospective patients spend their time online allows you to better reach them. Here’s some advice to help you drive more referral traffic to your healthcare website.

Getting in front of your patients is a great way to reach those who need your services but aren’t sure where to look. A little prompt can be all it takes to get them to visit your healthcare website and schedule an appointment.

Check out: 7 signs it’s time to upgrade your healthcare website

3. Direct traffic

When patients navigate directly to your website, they’re considered direct traffic. This means they typed your URL into the address bar, clicked on a bookmarked link, or clicked on a link to your site through an email or other non-web location.

It’s important to monitor this traffic source because it highlights brand recognition and a devoted patient base. This can also indicate the success of any offline marketing campaigns you’re running — i.e. direct mail, billboards, print ads — that promote your website.

Patients who head directly to your website have a specific interest in your practice. Increasing this type of website traffic is great for brand recognition, so here are a few tips to help you accomplish this.

  • Choose simple website URLs that are easy for patients to remember.
  • Make sure your offline marketing activities include a push to visit your website.
  • Fill your doctor website with useful resources, so patients have an incentive to keep coming back.

Direct traffic is flattering because people are so captivated by your practice, they’re seeking you out. This is important, as it indicates a solid brand loyalty.

Also see: The 10 most common doctor website mistakes — and how to fix them

4. Paid traffic

When prospective patients click on an active paid search campaign that leads them to your website, they fall into the paid traffic category. Also known as a Pay Per Click (PPC), you pay every time someone clicks on this type of ad. 

Paid search ads can connect you with local patients seeking the services you provide. In fact, nearly half of small businesses (45 percent) invest in at least some pay-per-click advertising, according to Clutch.

Here are a few examples of paid search campaigns that could benefit your practice.

  • Search engine text ads.
  • Social media ads.

Paid search can be a great tool because it’s another way to drive traffic to your website. Committing part of your marketing budget to increase paid search traffic to your website can give your practice the exposure needed to seriously boost your patient roster.

When used properly, websites for doctors are excellent marketing tools. Understanding the different types of traffic to your site will help you tailor your marketing strategies to boost each one.

Want more doctor website content? See the blog post “What is an optimized medical practice website?

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PatientPop is the leader in practice growth with the only all-in-one solution that empowers healthcare providers to improve every digital touchpoint of the patient journey. As experts in the healthcare technology space, PatientPop makes it easy for providers to thrive in the consumerization of healthcare and promote their practice online, attract patients, and retain them for life.

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