Don't Just Redesign Your Web Site

October 21, 2010

Overall, physicians are becoming receptive to the use of the Internet. There is some acceptance to the use of the Web as a marketing tool and a potential method to grow patient volume, yet the actual way in which to implement this is quite fuzzy.

I just returned from the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) meeting in Chicago. I spent a lot of time getting an idea of how ophthalmologists were using the Internet. I expect that my observations of ophthalmologists are similar to those in other areas of medicine, especially sub-specialists.

Overall, physicians are becoming receptive to the use of the Internet. There is some acceptance to the use of the Web as a marketing tool and a potential method to grow patient volume, yet the actual way in which to implement this is quite fuzzy.

I met many physicians eager to have their Web pages redesigned and were confident that a fresh new look would attract more patients to the office. "That’s all we need to do, right? We’ll get more ‘clicks’ if we have a redesigned site."

No, you get more clicks if your pages are relevant to a Google search. Relevancy (a.k.a. Search Engine Optimization or SEO) is the only way to improve your Web page rankings and keep them there. Fancy new graphics, layout, and Flash add nothing to your Web rankings.

Most of the physicians with whom I spoke have a Web page, but these sites are mere reference pages and not proactively garnering new patients. These reference pages are passive, yet provide valuable information (ie. hours, location, insurance) to existing patients.

Your Web site has two purposes: a reference site where existing patients go to find more information about the office. The second purpose is more proactive and should attract new patients. Here are a couple common questions I get, and my answers:

If I just use social media, do I need a Web page?

Social media can generate interest in you, but without a viable Web page or blog, you’ll flop. Ultimately, you’ll need a Web page to connect your potential patients to your office. How else will they find you? Put another way, social media can drive traffic to your site, but if you have no Web page then that traffic is worthless.

What about blogging?

Using a blog, instead of the old fashioned Web site, to heighten your SEO and maximize your Web rankings - we ain’t there yet, but as I said on my blog yesterday, “physicians at least have their heads out of the sand and are looking in the right direction.” It is the only way to improve rankings and maintain them for a medical practice. We will see.

So, if you aren’t ready to invest some time into improving your Web site's SEO, don’t waste the money in rebuilding your Web site.