There are many good reasons to refresh your website; rebranding; moving to a new content management system (CMS); your site is underperforming or it just looks like tired and old. There’s no short-cut to redesigning your website, it’s time-consuming and the process can be laborious but your website is often the first impression you’ll make on prospective new patient; that’s why it’s so important to get right.
The following checklist should help to avoid some headaches primarily because it doesn’t focus on design alone. Your website needs to be part of your wider marketing strategy and linked with your email marketing; lead generation; brand awareness; social media and sales strategies.
1. Benchmark current metrics
Analyse your existing site over its history, including:
• Number of visits/visitors/unique visitors per month
• Bounce rate
• Time on site
• Current Google rank for important keywords
• Domain authority
• Number of new patient leads/referral forms
• Total number of new patients generated.
Adding Google Analytics to your site will provide all the above information.
2. Determine your goals
Be clear about why you’re redesigning your website and link reasons to measurable results listed in No. 1. Communicate these goals to your web developer/agency. E.g. increase traffic to website by 30% over 6 month.
3. Don’t lose what you’ve built
Your existing website may contain many benefits built up over time that need protecting. Losing these during a redesign may harm your marketing. Website assets accrued over time include:
• Most-viewed content
• Most-trafficked pages
• Best-performing keywords your website ranks for
• Number of inbound links.
Common mistakes including removing pages with inbound links. This harms your search engine optimisation credit meaning your website may rank lower than before.
4. What’s the competition up to?
It’s important to keep an eye on what other orthodontists and dentists are doing with their websites. Remember, patients use the internet to shop for information so you want your website to make it easy for them to choose you. Agencies like FooCo will run your existing website through software that compares your website with the competition. Data showing the strengths and weaknesses of your website versus the competition is invaluable when determining how to direct a new design.
5. Identify your unique selling points (USP)
List what it is about your practice that patients really appreciate. Put yourself in their shoes and consider what information they want from your website. You need to immediately address what a new or existing patient wants from your website and make it clear and easy for them to find what they want.
The key for orthodontists is to keep the visitor on the site and not watch them bounce off and visit your competitors. The ‘stickier’ you make your website and the more time a patient invests in your site the more likely they are to call for an appointment. Video is the perfect way to convey what’s unique about your practice. It also provides instant ‘stickiness’ for your website. On average patients spend five times longer on sites with video than text-only.
6. Design your site around different patients
It’s not all about you! Patients want to know what’s in it for them and you can help by identifying different groups and designing your site around patient personas.
Think of this as slicing your patient base into segments. Create fictional (or use the real thing) representations of your ideal patients; teens; mothers; fathers; over thirties; brides; young professionals; the retired etc… Use a mix of real data with educated speculation on their personal histories, motivations and concerns.
Consider the following when building your patient personas:
- Segment by demographics. Flesh out individuals by researching your current patients. Who are they, what do they do etc.
- Identify their needs. Why do they want orthodontics, what information do they need most, what’s influencing their decisions?
- Develop behaviour based profiles. What do they do online, are they active in social media, what questions do they want answering?
7. Optimise your website for Google
You can have the best looking website in the world but if you’re not being found there’s not much use. We see lots of websites that are for information-only. That’s to say they’re for existing patients who already know about you. Your site should also be on the frontline of your marketing strategy.
- Document your most search valued pages
- Ask your agency about a 301 redirect
- Do your keyword research.
- Find out what search words your patients are using on google and then optimise the site accordingly. Agencies like FooCo will do this for free.
8. Identify calls to action
These encourage visitors to the site to take action. Always think about opportunities to convert visitors into patients. Ideas include:
- Contact us
- Request an appointment
- Dentist referral form
- Ask a question
- Email newsletter
- Free consultation
9. Create an ongoing content strategy
On average, the more content you have the more visitors to your website you’ll have. A 50-page website will beat a 10-page website 99% of the time. Build a strategy to build more and more content over time.
Start a blog. Companies that blog have 55% more visitors to their website on average than those that don’t.
PR helps, use. Press releases/news items.
Consider outsourcing. If you lack the required time there are agencies and authors who specialize in creating content.
10. Be responsive
Websites take time to get right but it’s worth it. We live in a digital age and at present there are over 130 different screen sizes on mobiles and tablets alone! That means a responsive website that adapts to how it’s being viewed is crucial. Depending on who you listen to your website has between three and eight seconds to make the right impression. If you think of every visitor as a potential patient and what that could mean to your bottom line, it makes sense to get it right.
Malcolm Counihan is the founder and MD of FooCo Video & Marketing. Launched in 2007 FooCo now helps over 400 healthcare clients with their marketing and communications. Orthodontic clients benefit from an array of products and services including; website design; video production for websites and waiting-rooms, brace care video and other design services.