How Physicians Can Examine Their Online Traffic

February 17, 2011

Traffic to your practice website comes from three distinct sources. Here are some tips to get online traffic out of gridlock and flowing smoothly.

Traffic to your website comes from three major sources for a medical site; search engines, referring websites, and direct traffic. A fourth source, traffic generated by “clickthrough” ads, is another potential source, but shouldn’t be too important for a medical practice.

Here are some tips to get more traffic flowing to your practice website.

Maximize Search Engine Traffic

Search engine traffic is that traffic coming from “searches.” For instance, after you Google something, the results of your search are displayed on pages of results. The viewer clicks on one of these results and is taken to a specific page.

Search engine traffic represents viewers that have never heard of your web site or medical practice. This is the biggest source of new patients. Your goal is to maximize the percentage of traffic coming from search engines.

SEO (search engine optimization) is that technique that gets your Web page ranked. The higher the ranking, the more visibility, and hence, more people flocking to read your website as your Web page ranks highly. By high ranking, optimally, you want your Web page to be ranked within the first 10 results, or “above the fold” (in newspaper terms).

I have said many times before, SEO ranking is the only method for achieving, and sustaining, high search page rankings.

Typically, a successful Web page has about 75 percent of its traffic from search engines. This is also known as “organic traffic.”

Referring Sites Increase Your SEO

Referring sites are other websites that contain a link to your practice website. A reader arrives at your site from another site by clicking on a hyperlink contained somewhere within the “referring” site.

Links from referring sites are called backlinks. Backlinks are valuable ways to gain additional traffic, but also can improve your website rankings; especially if the site is of a related topic to yours.

Guest blogging or leaving a comment are both great ways to establish backlinks from other, related, websites. For instance, I occasionally may create a link to my site on retinal disease or medical practice SEO. Each of these links provides a connection from this site to the others. This, in theory, can improve my traffic (by leading you there), but also increases my SEO and web rankings.

Direct Traffic Represents Existing Patients

Direct traffic is traffic garnered by a viewer typing your URL directly into their Web browser. In terms of medical practice management, this patient already knows you, already has your website location memorized, and is probably downloading a form, getting directions or checking a form.

This is mistakenly thought as the number of clicks a site receives. It has nothing to do with rankings or SEO. It does nothing for your rankings...or your bottom line. This type of traffic does not directly reflect your web rankings or practice growth.

What does this mean?

Take time to analyze your traffic patterns. To grow your practice, pay particular attention to the SEO traffic and referral traffic. These numbers will reflect how visible and relevant your Web pages are to your patient searches, that is, how easy your new patients are able to find you.