By Josiah Young, OD, MS
Rebranding an outdated web site and increasing site visibility can energize an older practice. Whether you go DIY or seek design help, starting fresh pays off.
KEEP ONLINE PRESENCE FRESH. Eliminate outdated holiday messages or monthly updates; update daily or at least every few days.
MAKE EASY ADJUSTMENTS. Simple changes like a new logo, a link to your Facebook page and additional photos can make a big difference.
USE GOOGLE+ FOR MAPS. Connects to Google Maps making it easier for patients to find you.
When I took over the management of our practice web site, we were using a well known design service that specializes in building web sites for eyecare providers. However, as I wanted to make changes to our site, I found that the online site building software we were given by the design service was clunky and didn’t always do what I wanted it to do. I would call customer service and request changes to be made, but many times what I wanted to do couldn’t be done by the company either. The site builder software did not allow me to add content anywhere I wanted. For example, I wanted to place keyword content in the footer of my practice’s web site homepage. The current version of the site builder software did not do this. I also wanted to build a custom form that could be filled out prior to a patient’s appointment So, ultimately, I decided to build a web site for our practice from scratch. That way I could have access to make all of the changes that I wanted to make.
During the re-building of our web site, I also did a re-branding of our online presence. I created a new logo in Photoshop. I created our office Facebook page and began posting to it and linking to the web site. I linked our web site to my Twitter account, so that new tweets would post on the web site, as well. And when Google+ came around, I immediately verified our office locations and linked to our web site. Doing all of these things helps tell Google that your web site is somewhat important. I then focused on optimizing keywords in our web site that included commonly searched terms for local eyecare like “Newport, Kentucky eye doctor.” Lastly, I created a blog-type platform that makes updating our web site much like updating a blog. When we post new and interesting content to our page regularly, it helps with SEO.
Make Time to Address Practice Web Site
Since I did all the changes to our site myself, it essentially only cost me time. When I was new to our practice, I didn’t always have a full schedule of patients to see. So, I would work on the web site and social media in my downtime. Once I had our newly designed web site built, we were able to cancel the previous web design service. So, these changes actually saved us money.
Now we just pay the domain and hosting fees, which are very minimal. I continue to update the site often, but now I often do it at lunch or after hours. The most noticeable impact of the changes to our web presence came in the second or third year of having the web site.
Attract New Patients
We started seeing many more new patients, and at this time we were evaluating whether or not to continue with Yellow Pages ads. We were asking every new patient how they found our office. We had one new patient that entire year find us from the phone book. We had many more new patients find us online. When asking the new patients who found us online why they chose our office, almost everyone said they chose our office because it was close to where they live and because they were impressed by the web site–i.e. it was professional and inviting. That helped validate for me that making these changes helped with our online visibility. I continue to modify our keywords to match search trends, and we have seen no slowing down in the number of new patients we see per year.
Prior to the redesign of the web site, our new patient exams would fluctuate yearly–up a few percentage points one year, then down just as many percentage points the next. In the five years prior to the web site re-design, the average percent change in new patient exams was down 4 percent per year. In the five years since the web site redesign, we have averaged a 4 percent increase in new patient exams per year.
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