At Advice Media we’re often approached by prospective clients who find their website isn’t ranking in search. They’ve tried using every conceivable keyword, even if they don’t really match their practice’s offerings. They’ve plopped keywords throughout copy in an obvious ploy to use keywords, rather than to provide interesting, helpful content.
And then they tell us they had their nephew, the computer whiz, build their site.
Website design and optimizing those sites for organic search is our mission at Advice Media. We’ve been doing it longer and more successfully than just about anyone out in the digital marketing realm. And, while we have nothing against nephews as a whole, we’re not fond of them designing poorly performing websites.
Here are some areas where website design matters for your search ranking, and for the happiness of any visitors hitting your site.
Once upon a time, most potential visitors to a practice website did their research on their home computer or at work. Desktop search reigned, partially because wireless quality varied in the world outside the office.
That was then.
Today mobile search is king. Over 60 percent of all organic search is done on mobile devices, and this includes medical searches. But your nephew designed your site for the wide screen of his home computer, not for a phone or tablet. Visitors have to try and enlarge unreadable type. Photos load at glacial paces. Headlines run off the screen.
And visitors flee your site as quickly as possible.
At Advice Media, our website designs are mobile-friendly from the first day. When our sites load on mobile they are far different than the site that loads on a home computer. You can instantly tell the practice is the same practice, but the mobile site is streamlined and made for use on a smart phone. Menus are concise. Page flow is much simpler. Load times are fast. We make contact information readily available so the user can instantly book an appointment or call with questions.
For mobile design to be effective, you have to think like a user searching on his or her phone. Expansive photos don’t work on phones, as the screens aren’t exactly expansive. Even if potential patients aren’t likely to book their appointment for a major cosmetic surgery or other medical procedure on their phone, it is increasingly the first point of contact.
And don’t think Google doesn’t know. Google punishes websites that are not mobile friendly. It is a confirmed ranking factor. For over three years, Google has also used the mobile version of the web as their primary search engine index.
How fast do your pages open?
Another area we focus on is how fast the pages on the sites we build open. Users aren’t known for patience. Plus, despite claims to the contrary from mobile providers, there are still plenty of areas without great coverage. This can mean slower data speeds. A page that loads relatively quickly on a Wi-Fi network may not be so speedy on a mobile data network.
That can mean pages hesitate when opening, rewarding visitors to your nephew’s site with the dreaded spinning wheel. As you would assume, they will soon be closing that site in search for greener pastures…your competitor’s website.
Again, it comes down to keeping mobile design streamlined and efficient. This is paramount in modern SEO-friendly website design. This involves enabling compression, optimizing images, leveraging browser caching, and other technical improvements.
Does your nephew know about all of these?
How is the usability of your site?
Web usability is really nothing more than having your website design be intuitive. Visitors to your site shouldn’t have to do much pondering to get where they want to go. Unlike retail-oriented websites, medical websites usually serve as information sources for patients and potential patients. It’s important that a site’s usability is intuitive for these people.
There are a series of factors involved with usability:
- Design — Design matters in helping the visitor navigate your site. It has to be a pleasing mix of content, photos, graphics, videos, and contact forms.
- Page layout — Important elements need to be prominent.
- Visual hierarchy — The visitor should see what you feel is most important first.
- Home page and site navigation — Menus need to be right there, so visitors can easily get to the content they’re looking for.
- Contact — Establishing contact when the potential patient is ready is critical. This seems obvious, but your nephew hid your practice phone and the contact form down at the bottom of the page. And he didn’t consider setting up a chat box.
Google made content king a few years back when it found that the keyword system for ranking organic search was being abused. Now it rewards rich, constantly evolving content. This is especially important for medical practices, where patients are looking at possible procedures and treatments.
At Advice Media, we have a stable of professional writers that create content for our practices. Our practices don’t have to use our writers, but we highly discourage having your same “designer” nephew become your “writer” nephew.
You can consider your content through a typical marketing funnel. This breaks it into the goal of each step of your marketing: awareness, consideration, and conversion.
Your site design and its overall content are instantly judged by your visitors in the awareness section. Maybe they found you through a blog link or an FAQ question answer.
Now you move into being considered for their procedure or treatment. At this point, your visitors want detailed content about the procedures and treatments you provide. What makes a person a good candidate for a dental implant instead of a bridge? Should acne scarring be treated with chemical peels or laser procedures? Videos can help here, as long as they have value and aren’t simply hype.
Armed with the information they sought, the visitor is now ready to schedule a consultation or call for more information. Reviews, testimonials, before-and-after galleries, doctor profiles and credentials, and free consultations make this as risk-free as possible. A free consultation for a facelift allows the potential patient to get the final information they need about the doctor, the practice, and the procedure without spending any money. That makes it easy.
But your nephew didn’t include a testimonial section, your before-and-after gallery has two images, and your consultation policy is nowhere to be seen.
There’s more to design than fonts and photos
At Advice Media, we’ve been designing the web’s most beautiful, engaging, useful medical websites for two decades. We were at the forefront of optimizing those sites for search long before anyone had heard of the acronym SEO. We know what’s needed for your practice website to be mobile friendly, search engine friendly, and user friendly. And isn’t that why you have a website in the first place?
If your nephew’s design isn’t working out so well for your medical practice, give us a call or open a chat and let’s talk.