It is 2017 and by now every podiatric physician and surgeon should have a website. There are no exceptions or excuses. If you do not yet have a website for your practice, stop reading immediately, call one of the reputable web companies in the field and solve that practice marketing problem right now.
For those who have already invested in a website for your practice, don’t think that you are done. In fact, many of you may think that your website is a nice convenience but it is not bringing new patients into your office. Others are frustrated that their sites don’t come up high enough in the search engine results. Others may feel like they wasted their money and should go back to advertising in the yellow pages.
Then there are those who know how their websites are performing, know that the sites are creating a steady stream of new patients into the office and know that their current patients are also being educated through the website about additional services provided by the practice. What do these high performing websites have that others do not? Most commonly, the answer is content.
The fuel you need for your website is content. We can describe content as anything that provides educational or even promotional information for your readers.
Many focus on the appearance and information on the home page of the website. The problem is that the search engines examine the entire site and will bring the user to the most pertinent page of your site. After all, the job of the search engine is to provide the information that the person doing the search is looking for. So, if someone is searching for information related to bunions, the search engine will most likely bring the user to an inside page of your website with a focus on bunions. If you don’t have such a page, you will not show up in the results and rankings for that search.
How To Feed Your Website
Websites now are not static pages that have a small amount of storage associated. That is ancient history. Today’s websites can hold a lot of information with virtually no cap to the amount of data you can provide. Not every website is built to add content easily. Some staffs may still have to email new content or changes to the designer to upload to this site. Again, that is an old-school approach.
A well-constructed, modern website should include a portal to go onto the site to easily add or change content. This portal should require no knowledge of coding or other “computer speak.” It is laid out easily in a format similar to your favorite word processing program.
There are no longer any tricks in how to use word titles or keywords to best attract the search engines. Google, for instance, has shifted to “semantic search.” In other words, the search engines want you to write for your website in the same manner that you would write or speak to your patients. Do not try to cater to the search engines by loading up keywords. Those days are long gone.
Why feed your website? The search engines are constantly examining your website to see what updates and changes you are making. The more changes search engines find, the more they will return to examine your site. This lets the search engine know there is fresh content and you are actively engaged in improving the site and experience for those who arrive onto the site. If the search engines do not find much change, the assumption may be that the site has been abandoned and your ranking in the search results will go down.
Insights On Providing Effective Content
The easiest way to add content to your website is by writing articles and blog posts. These educational and informational posts, ranging from 350 to 800 words, should provide information on a particular topic to your readers. Remember, you are not writing a scholarly article for your peers. You are writing in layman’s terms for a non-medical audience to understand.
Different web companies structure their sites in different ways. Some only have a “blog,” which can contain all kinds of articles. Others separate sections into “articles” and “blogs.” Again, this is an arbitrary distinction. In general, you can consider an article to be a more straightforward explanation about a particular condition or treatment. A blog may incorporate examples from sports, celebrities and pop culture. Even so, a blog should still educate about the condition that the patient may be suffering from.
If you are not one for writing, there are other options. You can dictate and have your thoughts transcribed by your service, a staff member, an online resource or even through the voice recognition function of your smartphone. Additionally, you can hire a writer to create that content for you although that could become expensive. One thing to remember is that copying and pasting content is never acceptable. One thing you can do, however, is read an article or post for the main idea, and restate it in your own words.
Adding Video To Your Website
Video is another medium for adding content to the website. Everyone learns and absorbs information in different ways. Some people like to read while others would rather be read to. This is where video is most helpful.
It is a fact that YouTube is consistently the second most popular search engine. People are searching YouTube for a variety of answers that they can hear and see. We can take advantage of that by uploading videos to our websites. One also should create a practice YouTube channel to house these videos.
The videos that you create can be professionally made or you can take videos on the fly using a small camera or smartphone. It is recommended that videos on your main pages be professionally created for ideal video and audio quality. One can easily find videographers in the local community. You may also find some video resources at your professional conferences that set up studios on site to record videos.
Videos that you record yourself are helpful for filming procedures, quick answers to frequently asked questions or taking video testimonials from your patients. Do your best to optimize lighting and sound quality in these situations.
The ability to upload videos directly to your website will vary from company to company. If uploading a video is not a possibility, you can embed the video from your YouTube channel onto your website. All of these additions should be simple and ones that you can do on your own.
Keeping Your Website Well-Fed
Adding content to your website may sound like a daunting task. Once you learn how to do it, however, you will find that it is quick and easy. If you do not have the ability to add or update content yourself, you may want to consider investing in an updated website technology.
When you start updating your website regularly, commit to doing so once a week. As you become more comfortable with creating and updating this content, you can increase the frequency. There is no limit to how much content you can upload. Just try to do so consistently.
While you will not see a change in your website traffic overnight, you should see a steady increase in visitors as you continue to feed your site. That will translate to more new patients in your office who tell you they came because of finding you online, many of whom will comment and thank you for the information you provide.
The world of Internet marketing is constantly changing. Google does everything it can to keep moving the target and it is up to your web provider to keep up with these changes. Through all of these changes, however, one factor has remained constant: content is (and always will be) king.
Dr. Schneider serves on the Board of Trustees of the American Academy of Podiatric Practice Management. He is in private practice in Houston.