Partner, Chief Strategy Officer at RUNNER Agency.
How long has it been since you updated your practice website? Most doctors struggle to make enough time for marketing, but your practice website is the foundation for almost everything else you do in marketing. As such, it deserves special attention. Here are five signs it may be time to update the website for your medical practice.
1. Your practice website hasn’t been updated in the last two years.
It’s a common best practice to redesign your site every few years. But in my 20-plus years of digital marketing experience, it’s rare that brands redesign that often. This is because most businesses don’t want to pay for the expense of redesigning the site—which can be pricey—or spare the time needed to align internally with other stakeholders on things like design and copy.
Medical practices tend to delay even longer, as physicians are busier than most other executives. But you shouldn’t delay. The longer your site has been around, the more issues it will likely have. This could be from outdated plug-ins and other technology used on your site that may not have been maintained properly, or from changing design standards that will make your site look outdated.
If you’re not sure how recently your site has been updated, you can use a tool like the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, which allows you to compare the current site design to historical snapshots.
2. Your website doesn’t reflect your reputation as a physician.
This one’s hugely important. Your website is the new front for your practice. Potential patients that have stumbled upon your site or referrals from other physicians are all using your site to research and evaluate your practice.
The design of your site, how easy it is to use, the content—they all tell a story about your knowledge, empathy, patient experience and more. I can’t tell you how many times the sites I see from physicians fall short in this task.
If you’re not proud of your website, if you don’t show it off to colleagues, then it’s probably not living up to your reputation.
3. Your practice website doesn’t display properly on a mobile phone.
If it’s been a while since your site was redesigned, it’s likely that it doesn’t display properly on a mobile phone. This is important for most practices because the vast majority of visitors will be on a mobile phone.
Despite this fact, many websites are still designed with the desktop experience in mind and not optimized for mobile. This means that visitors to your site using mobile phones may have a less-than-ideal experience. Common issues with the mobile experience if your website is not optimized for it include hidden navigation items, buttons that are too small for fingers or text that’s unreadable, and forms that don’t function correctly. All of these issues not only reflect badly on your reputation but put barriers in the way of potential patients accomplishing what they’ve set out to do, which is research your practice and schedule an appointment.
But the impact is on more than just the potential patient’s experience. Sites that have mobile usability issues are now being flagged by Google and can impact your search engine rankings. This is because Google is prioritizing the mobile website experience since the majority of website traffic is now from mobile devices.
One of the best ways to figure out if your site is mobile-friendly is to visit it on your mobile phone and put yourself in a potential patient’s shoes. The challenges are often easily apparent. You can also use the Google Mobile-Friendly Test tool to evaluate your website and see if it’s friendly to mobile devices. This free tool looks for critical mobile user experience errors.
4. Your practice website doesn’t load quickly.
Similar to the mobile experience, a slow-loading website can cause many problems. The most important is that potential patients will leave your site if it takes too long to load. According to Google research, 40% of site visitors will leave if the page takes longer than three seconds to load.
Key website performance metrics suffer when your site is too slow. Less time is spent on the site, fewer forms are submitted and fewer phone calls are made. In fact, we often see a big increase in both forms and phone calls when only the site speed is improved.
In addition to impacting the patient experience, page speed is also critical not only for SEO but for Google Ads as well. Google is “rating” the landing pages you send potential patients to when they click on your ads. Slower websites translate to a higher cost-per-click, which means page speed can have a real financial impact on your practice.
Making your site friendly to mobile devices will often also mean improving page speed, but you can use the Google PageSpeed Insights tool to evaluate how fast your current website is.
5. Your website content doesn’t reflect all the treatments you provide.
The content on your site is where education happens. One of the biggest mistakes I often see practices make is not clearly representing all the key conditions they treat or the treatments they offer.
Patients will seek out this kind of information, and if they don’t see their specific condition or the treatments they’re researching, they may assume it doesn’t exist. Don’t roll the dice; make sure you have individual pages for both the conditions and treatments that are the most important to you.
Don’t put off redesigning your practice website.
Your website is arguably the most important element of your marketing strategy. You must get it right. If you feel like your site is suffering from any of the challenges above, don’t wait. While the site design process can be lengthy, you’re paying a cost in lost revenue or reputation.