First impressions can make or break any budding relationship. And when it comes to the relationship between physical therapists and their patients, that first impression often happens online when a patient initially lands on a clinic’s website. For that reason, it’s crucial that physical therapy practices put their best foot forward online—and that means they need a killer homepage that not only looks good, but also converts website traffic into new appointments. With that in mind, here are some essential dos and don’ts to consider when building a PT clinic website:
Do make your website aesthetically pleasing and on-brand.
This probably goes without saying, but your website should not only be aesthetically pleasing, but also on-par with current trends. (Basically, avoid everything the sites on this list do.) That means you should:
- stick with professional-looking fonts (e.g., helvetica and arial) and avoid overly stylized ones (e.g., papyrus and comic sans);
- use a color palette that’s pleasing to the eye;
- avoid flashing images; and
- skip the stock images.
Also, however your website looks, it should match the theme and culture of your practice. For instance, if your clinic’s atmosphere is fun, laid-back, and colorful, your website should reflect that. But if your culture is more streamlined and professional, that should come across in your website design as well.
Do make your website mobile-friendly.
According to Google, as of 2017, more than half of all search queries occur on mobile devices. (Some sources place that number as high as 60%!) And that ratio can actually increase depending on what people are searching for. For example, this report from comScore found that 82% of healthcare searches were completed on mobile platforms. That means your website needs to be compatible with smartphones and tablets in order to get that sweet, sweet mobile search traffic. Hint: DIY website builders like Wix, Squarespace, and Wordpress all offer the ability to make your website play nice on mobile.
Do include an “About Us” section as well as a list of conditions you treat and services you offer.
These days, patients are surrounded by choice. And thanks to the fact that people in all 50 states now have some form of direct access to PT services, patients have even more freedom to seek out the providers they want. But with so many options, it’s easy for those patients to be overwhelmed by decision. After all, figuring out which provider is best suited to meet your specific needs can be, well, a lot—perhaps even to the point where patients throw their hands up and let their physicians make the decision for them. So, make it super easy for patients to find out who you are, what you do, and who you serve by including the following sections on your site:
- About Us (including your mission statement)
- Staff Bios
- Treated Conditions
- Service Offerings
Do post a list of your accepted insurances.
This is a biggie, and make sure you include a disclaimer explaining that even if you’re credentialed with a patient’s payer, it doesn’t necessarily mean his or her insurance plan covers PT services. Furthermore, if you offer cash-pay options for those patients who wish to pay out of pocket, then be sure to mention this somewhere near your list of accepted insurances.
Do employ clear calls-to-action.
Once people know what you have to offer, the ball is in your court to direct them on what they need to do to obtain those services. That’s where calls-to-action (CTAs) come into play. In the context of physical therapy marketing, CTAs are short directives that urge a potential or current patient to take a specific action (usually, to book an appointment), often in the form of clickable links or buttons that take site visitors directly to the page where they can complete that action. Your CTAs should be clear and concise, and they shouldn’t leave any room for interpretation. For example, short phrases like “Get Started,” “Book an Appointment,” or “Schedule Your Free Consultation” are powerful, action-oriented directives that paint a much clearer picture of what’s next than “Click Here” or “Call Now.”
Do link to your social media pages.
Once people find your website, you want to make sure you remain top of mind. And a great way to do that is by getting those people to follow you on social media. So, be sure to include CTAs to follow your clinic’s social pages. That way, they can get all of the news and updates about your practice delivered straight to their social feed.
Do make it super easy to book an appointment online.
Speaking of booking appointments, as long as people are visiting your website, why not make it crazy-easy for them to schedule a visit? According to research from GetApp, 70% of consumers surveyed said they preferred to book appointments online. Furthermore, 31% of survey respondents said they’d be more likely to choose one business over another if it meant they could book their appointment online. With respect to booking appointments via phone, 56% of respondents cited frustration with hold times and the inability to reach a clinic representative outside of office hours. So, consider using an online scheduling software or adding a form to your website that people can fill out to request an appointment at a specific time.
Do research your options before hiring a web developer.
In many cases, hiring a freelance web developer is a little more costly to start, but for some folks, that initial investment is worth every penny if it means not having to mess around with site design on their own. While Wix and Squarespace allow even the most novice of web designers to build a decent website, some folks simply don’t have the time to do so. But before you enlist the help of a pro, be sure to research local cost averages and, ideally, ask your peers for recommendations. (You should also check out our guide on hiring and managing freelance marketers.)
Don’t make your site too complicated.
If hiring a web developer isn’t in the budget, this is where using templates can come in handy. While your site may not be overly fancy—and you’ll be stuck within the confines of what your chosen template offers—most templates offer a simple, attractive, and easy-to-navigate design.
Don’t neglect your site’s SEO value.
Of course, having a beautiful and easy-to-navigate website won’t mean a thing if people can’t find it on Google. That’s where search engine optimization (SEO) takes center stage. In some cases, it may be beneficial to hire an SEO expert to keep track of your search ranking and provide recommendations on how to improve it—thus making you more visible to online healthcare seekers. (Additionally, tools like WebPT Local automatically identify and capitalize on opportunities to boost SEO to help practices rise to the top of search engine results pages.) But, some things you can do right now to improve your SEO are:
- make sure your clinic name, address, and phone number (NAP) are in the same spot on every page of your website (typically the very top or very bottom);
- ensure that your NAP is consistent everywhere else it appears online (e.g., social media pages and review sites like Yelp); and
- include keywords in your website copy for things you wish to rank for (e.g., if you want to appear when people search for clinical massage in your city, be sure to mention clinical massage somewhere on your site).
Don’t overlook your page titles, URLs, and meta descriptions.
URLs, page titles, and meta descriptions are everything a person sees when a website appears on a search engine results page. For that reason, it’s important that all three of those things look good and accurately convey the message your website is trying to deliver. The page title is the hyperlinked text that displays at the top of the result, and it declares to all searchers what that page is about. Ideally, your website’s title should be your clinic’s name, city, and state. When you find a page that needs a new page title, consider the following:
- Keep your page titles 50-60 characters long so that Google doesn’t cut them off in the results page, and
- Try to include a keyword that you want to rank for.
As for URLs (a.k.a. webpage addresses), you’ll want those to not only be nice and neat, but also accurately describe what each page is about. For example:
- A messy URL: mydomain.com/9whfuwh498j/98328-939399u
- A clean URL: mydomain.com/contact-us
Next, take a look at your meta descriptions. (That’s the block of text that appears below the page title and URL on search engine results pages.) These should quickly and clearly inform the searcher of what is on each page. And put some thought into them, because they’re basically your initial sales pitch.
Don’t forget to use patient reviews and testimonials.
While testimonials aren’t a must-have for your website, when you receive a glowing patient review, consider leveraging it on your homepage to demonstrate and reinforce your value—and effectiveness—as a provider. Highlighting this type of positive feedback could be just the thing that convinces a potential patient to set up an appointment.
Don’t ignore your competition.
Scope your competitors’ websites for ideas. When you see something you really like—something that makes you think, “Dang, I kinda want to be a patient here!”—use that as inspiration on your own website. (Within reason, of course. You don’t want to be accused of plagiarism!)
Don’t forget to conduct regular audits.
Maybe this sounds familiar: you look up a restaurant menu online, see that the restaurant’s happy hour starts at 3:00 PM, and rejoice! But when you arrive, the wait staff informs you that not only does happy hour not begin until 5:00 PM, but also the item you’d been looking forward to all afternoon is no longer on the menu. Depending on how bad the offense is, it may even prompt you to do happy hour elsewhere in the future. Now, imagine how much worse it would be if your health were on the line. That’s the feeling patients get when practices don’t keep their websites up to date. To prevent these kinds of mishaps, conduct a website audit at regular intervals. The more information you have on your site, the more often you should review and update it.
But audits aren’t only good for patients; they also help you ensure your site’s SEO is up to snuff and that it’s bringing in the kind of traffic you want (i.e., your ideal patients) and convincing those website visitors to book an appointment. For physical therapy practices, we recommend conducting a site audit whenever you can. But if you don’t have a lot of extra time to devote to that, a good rule of thumb is two to three times a year.
So, there you have it: the dos and don’ts of physical therapy websites. Looking for more ways to up your marketing game? Check out Reach, WebPT’s premiere marketing software made specifically for physical therapists. And if you have any questions about PT websites, drop us a line in the comment section below!