We’re on a quest to help PTs develop the very best online presence. This month, we’ve already covered healthcare website design and copy strategies. Today, we’re taking all of that a step further to address the specific questions that your practice’s website must answer. While every good website covers the basics, every great website uses that information to convert perusers into customers. And having a great site is especially important for anyone in health care, because—as this PatientPop guide reports—39% of patients perform extensive online research about their potential healthcare providers before booking an appointment (that number jumps to 50% when we’re talking about millennials).

With all of this in mind, let’s talk about excellent healthcare website development—specifically, going beyond the basics to answer your who, what, where, why, and how in the most impactful way possible:

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1. Who are you?

Make a connection with potential patients.

While the answer to this question may seem like a no-brainer—you’re a rehab therapist, of course—it can be deceptively simple. Beyond providing your name and specialty, there are other questions to think about—the most important being: what information about yourself do you want to provide in order to connect with potential patients? In many cases, this is the only chance you’ll have to make a first impression—and if that impression isn’t a good one, then it could be your last. So, what makes you special? Why did you go into practice? What’s your treatment philosophy? You don’t need to write a novella—in fact, please don’t—but you should at least provide some details that differentiate you from the therapist down the road.

Include photos.

The PatientPop guide also recommends including a photo of yourself: “Preferably a professional portrait, but even a few well-taken personal photos, when relevant, will go a long way to make the prospective patient feel like they already know you.” The same article also quotes Byran Kramer, author of the book, There is No B2B or B2C: It’s Human to Human, who said, “Businesses do not have emotion. People do. Your prospective patients will be trusting you with their most valuable asset, themselves. They don’t form a relationship with your brand or your building, but with you.”

Looking for an example of a healthcare provider who’s doing it right? PatientPop recommends Dr. Amersi’s site, because she “incorporates family photos into her website. The end result is a page that introduces you to her as a human, as a mom, and most importantly, as a doctor.”

2. What do you do?

Devote one page to each specialty.

When discussing your specialties, focus on being descriptive—and comprehensive. PatientPop recommends dedicating one full page to each of your specialities, because “you never know which specialty or procedure your prospective patients are searching for, so describe everything you offer.” This is important from an SEO perspective, too, because it allows multiple opportunities for search engines to match your keywords with the phrases that prospective patients are searching for, thus increasing your ranking and relevancy. “By giving rich, detailed information about each service on its own page, you increase the chances that search engines will find [your site] useful for local searches,” the article explains. “Plus, you can [use that space to] discuss your unique qualifications (e.g., certification or training in that procedure).”

Write about the symptoms and conditions that you treat.

Here’s one more piece of advice when it comes to describing what you do: this Points Group article recommends focusing on the symptoms and conditions that you treat—rather than just the technical aspects of your services. That’s because “people search for symptoms and conditions significantly more than they search for treatments and procedures.” And ultimately, you want prospective patients to find what they’re looking for—as long as you really do specialize in treating that symptom or condition. Remember that no matter what you include on your site, it must be accurate, honest, and well-written. No one’s going to make an appointment with a professional whose site is anything but.

3. Where are you located?

Include your NAP—and your social media real estate.

Okay, we can keep this one short and sweet: make it incredibly clear where your potential patients can find you. In addition to providing your name, address, and phone number (a.k.a your NAP, which should be consistent everywhere your business is listed online), you should include your social media locations (e.g., your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram URLs). Also, if your brick-and-mortar building is tucked away or difficult to find, you may want to consider providing a map or clear directions on how to get to you. A high-resolution photo or two of your lovely—and clean—facility won’t hurt, either (according to PatientPop).

4. Why should someone choose you?

Answer the FAQs.

You already addressed part of this question when you answered number one above. However, there are several more things you can include in your website to further demonstrate your value (i.e., why a prospective patient should seek out your services). For starters, Points Group recommends including a detailed FAQ section where you provide comprehensive answers to the questions you receive most often. They say do it because it’s good for SEO; we say do it because it’s demonstrates your expertise—and it can help you build rapport with patients. We humans tend to struggle with uncertainty, so simply being able to find the answers to our questions—especially those related to what we should expect during a new procedure or treatment—can help alleviate anxiety.

Provide valuable content.

Speaking of demonstrating your expertise, there’s no better way to do so than providing valuable content for your readers on the topics that they’re most interested in—and that align most with your breadth of knowledge. Blog, anyone? As WebPT’s Charlotte Bohnett explains in this article, “Your patients will appreciate your advice, but more importantly, they’ll trust you. And trust not only strengthens your position as the musculoskeletal expert, but it also fosters loyalty, which is essential. Patients have a lot of choice when it comes to rehab therapy, and you want them thinking of your practice—your brand.” Once you’ve got great content, Points Group recommends using it to promote traffic to your website: “Don’t sit back and wait for search engines to index it and slowly start trickling traffic your way. Get it out there! Boost it on Facebook, share it within relevant niche communities, blast it to your email lists, etc. Your work isn’t done when you click ‘Publish.’”

Craft meaningful stories.

Finally, Points Group also recommends crafting “meaningful patient stories.” In other words, how have you helped other patients achieve their goals? You can provide the stories yourself—think case study-style—or request that patients provide testimonials and reviews for you to include on your site. Just remember to always request permission from patients to share their stories, and never post any of their protected health information online. Doing so is not only a huge HIPAA violation—one that could result in a hefty fine and/or jail time—but also a big-time violation of patient-provider trust.

5. How can your website visitors get in touch with you?

Guide your audience to where you’d like them to go.

Your website absolutely must provide potential patients with a clear means of contacting you to schedule an appointment—that is your end-goal, after all. And that goes beyond simply providing your phone number. As Chloe Lopez explains in this article, “It’s important to structure your site in a way that points users [in] the direction you’d like them to go. If you give your users free reign to all of your links and pages by placing them [all] on the homepage, you’re going to have confused and frustrated users on your hands.” So, what should you do instead? Lopez recommends putting only important links on the homepage—with the most important ones toward the top of the page. This type of prioritization will help you guide your audience through your content, thereby providing them with a “better experience and potentially [garnering] you more patients.”

Now, what about those bonus SEO tips we promised? Here are four we’ve adapted from the PatientPop guide:

  1. Be sure your URL makes sense. The last thing you want to do is to send your patients—or the all powerful Google—on a wild goose chase trying to hunt you down on the interwebs. In this case, straightforward really is better for everyone (e.g, nycpainspecialists.com/services/back-pain-management instead of nycpainspecialists.com/?p=29503).
  2. Choose a descriptive title. “The best titles for medical practice websites are those that anticipate the way potential patients would search for your service,”explains PatientPop. Often, that includes the service they’re seeking and their location (e.g., physical therapy in Palo Alto). And your title “isn’t just the name of your web page...Your title is displayed as the link in the search engine results page as well as the title of the active tab in your browser.” That’s a lot of real estate you could be using to your advantage.
  3. Write a solid meta description: You can think of the meta description as an extension of the title; its purpose is to “tell the search engine what keywords are most important.” While it’s not visible on the site itself, it does appear beneath the link on a search engine results page. Therefore, it’s important to use relevant keywords in full, precise sentences so potential visitors know what your site is all about. “The best thing you can do,” PatientPop explains, “is to accurately describe your specialties and service area.” Don’t fall into the trap that is keyword stuffing—it’ll only turn off potential patients and land you in hot water with the search engines.
  4. Adapt your site for mobile: According to the guide, in April of 2015, Google discovered that more than half of all searches were performed on a smartphone. As a result, the Google powers that be decided that “a site had to be ‘mobile-friendly’ if [Google was] going to rank it for those searches.” Thus, if you want to be found—and not thoroughly annoy potential patients—your site must be optimized for mobile. That means it doesn’t require smartphone users to pinch, zoom, or scroll in multiple directions as they peruse your site. (Good news: if you’re using either Wix or Squarespace to create your website—as WebPT’s Courtney Lefferts suggested here—mobile functionality is automatically included.)

There you have it: the top five questions your clinic website must answer—and four bonus SEO tips. Have any tips of your own? Share ’em in the comment section below.

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