Did you know that if a visitor stays on your site for two minutes or more it is considered an “outstanding” metric? Hard to believe, right? While statistics are somewhat muddied by a bunch of technical factors that I won’t get into here, most experts agree that ideal “dwell times,” defined as the period between the click-through to your site and the return to search engine results, are one minute or more. Not very much, is it?
Before you start panicking about how your visitors can possibly learn anything valuable about you in that short a time, please read through this post. There are a whole host of very simple things you can do — using a professional web expert, if necessary — to ensure that as many people as possible will stay on your site for as long as possible moving forward.
Here are seven common pitfalls you need to avoid when reevaluating or redesigning your healthcare website. They are fairly basic, in truth, but they can serve as your ground rules before moving forward with more sophisticated retention techniques.
1. Your site is hard to read.
If your website has not been redesigned in a few years, get moving! Today’s modern web designs are clean, simple, fresh, minimalistic and simply more attractive than past design standards. You are in a field where you must convey that you are up-to-date with technology — implying that your medical knowledge and practices are state-of-the-art too.
2. Your site is hard to understand.
Your field is chock-full of technical jargon that only experienced practitioners can grasp. Be sure your site employs simple language that clearly communicates the benefits of working with your practice. A marketing professional can be extremely helpful in fleshing out content and ensuring that the language is relevant, compelling and easily digested.
3. Your site is hard to navigate.
In reviewing your current site, or planning for your new one, you need to be sure you are thinking like a customer. This is not always easy to do from an insider’s perspective, so be sure to spend some time asking others to review your navigation structure and make recommendations before beginning any redesigns. Your navigation structure should be intuitive and simple, with as few clicks as possible to reach a given destination.
4. Your website is lacking calls to action.
Sufficient calls to action, which invite customers to further investigate your services online, are absolutely imperative to include. Remember — many of your visitors, particularly the younger ones, are conducting all of their research online before making the first phone call (all the better if they never even have to make a call). For example, they want to be able to click through to a “make an appointment” option and schedule online and then click-through an address to program their GPS.
5. Your site response times are too slow.
Fast response times are the name of the game. If your site is so graphics-heavy or technologically challenged that it is slow to load initially or when navigating your site, visitors will go elsewhere. It really is that simple. This is where you need to call in expert help to ensure that your technology is optimized for split-second loading.
6. Your site is not mobile-friendly.
Do you have a site that is specifically designed for visitors using tablets or smartphones? The number of people perusing sites on mobile devices continues to grow and you need to make sure that your site is welcoming and efficiently designed for this population. You may decide to package only a portion of your site for mobile devices with a clickable option to visit the full site instead. These days, having a mobile site is essentially non-negotiable.
7. Your content isn’t up-to-date.
Check out the story below for example of how this kind of lapse can literally threaten your practice. Don’t let this happen to you! It should be someone’s role in your practice to incorporate new content, update existing content and regularly peruse the site for mistakes, broken links and omissions.
I recently had a disappointing experience while trying to book an appointment with a new doctor I had seen through a Facebook ad. I had been shopping for a new primary care physician for my daughters in an effort to “graduate” them from their pediatrician. When I saw a smiling, friendly-looking, female face look out at me from that ad, I thought I had hit the jackpot. I quickly visited the practice’s website to learn more about this physician. When I went to the website to take a closer look, this physician was nowhere to be found. The practice’s website was simply not kept up to date, leaving visitors frustrated and, understandably, quick to leave their site. This is an example of something that would have been so simple to update, but that led instead to the practice losing two potential new patients.
Getting visitors to come to your site and settle in for a while is a challenge, but doing so can lead to a whole host of secondary benefits. When users stay on your site for longer, this signals to Google that your site has value relative to other similar sites. While none of us regular folks are privy to Google’s exact algorithms for calculating your site’s value, a higher dwell time leads ultimately leads to higher search engine rankings, enabling patients to find you more easily. Who wouldn’t want to be on Google’s first page of results rather than buried somewhere in the middle of no man’s land?
One basic caveat: the attention and resources you devote to improving these basic aspects of your website will pay off in spades down the road. Increasing rankings and improving metrics take time, however, so be patient in evaluating the results of your changes and don’t lose steam along the way.