By Josiah Young, OD, MS
January 14, 2015
Take a digital assessment quiz to see if you are optimizing your online presence—so patients readily can find you.
MAKE YOUR WEB SITE EASY TO USE. Make it easy for patients to make an appointment, find your phone number, address and insurance plans.
ADAPT FOR MOBILE DEVICES. Test out how easy your practice web site is to read and use on a mobile device, and get help to make changes if necessary.
FREQUENTLY UPDATE FACEBOOK. Update at least weekly, include photos and videos.
The internet is today’s phone book, with patients Googling you, or an eye doctor in your area, before making an appointment, as they may have looked you up in a phone book years ago. Here is a digital assessment quiz that will show you how you’re faring in the online world–whether your practice’s presence online is barely being maintained, or whether you are doing all you can to catch–and hold–prospective patients’ attention.
For each of the items below, award yourself one point for each box you check as being true of your practice’s online presence, and no points for the boxes you don’t check.
QUIZ: ARE YOU OPTIMIZED?
? My practice web site ranks somewhere on the first page in a Google search.
Important: Statistics show that most people don’t click beyond the first page of results to find what they are looking for. Make sure your web site is on that first page of search results for your primary search terms. (example: “eye doctor near [Anytown, USA]”)
? My business listing ranks on the first page in Google Maps.
Important: Google is the search giant. Make sure your web site can be found on Google. In 2013, Google was used as the primary search engine on 91 percent of all mobile devices. Google returns map listings in its primary results. Local businesses that are found in the first page of map listings are more likely to be clicked for directions.
? My Google business listing is claimed and verified (Google Plus Local, Google My Business, etc.).
Important: Google has developed an online network or businesses similar to what the Yellow Pages was in the last few decades. This online listing is your key to more exposure online. Claim your page to make sure the information presented is up to date and accurate.
? I have uploaded photos to my practice Google+ page.
Important: It’s a fact that “pics get clicks.” Make sure you upload some photos of your practice to your Google+ page. The nicest feature is to utilize a trusted Google photographer to do a virtual tour of your office.
Web Site Analysis
What is the look and feel of your web site?
? Is there an updated landing page with high-definition graphics?
Important: Don’t have an outdated look to your landing page. This is essential to making that first impression. Studies show that consumers make up their mind about a company within the first 50 milliseconds (yes, milliseconds) of viewing their web site!
? The office phone number is prominently displayed on the main page.
Important: If the goal is to get someone to call your office, don’t make them work to find your phone number.
? The information presented on practice web site is concise and accurate (all of the basic information is up to date – hours, doctors, address, etc.)
? The web site is easy to navigate.
? The web site is compatible with major internet browsers.
Important: Despite what browser you use, Internet Explorer is still the most popular browser, although its share has diminished over the last three years. Make sure your site displays well in all of the major browsers, including Firefox and Safari, and that it is easy for patients to find what they most need–ability to make an appointment, phone number, address, information about doctors and services, and the insurance plans you accept, quickly after getting to your home page.
? I update my page at least once a quarter.
Important: More frequent updating of your web site tells Google that your site is more relevant or important to search results. This helps in getting you on that first page of results.
? My web site has a mobile version or utilizes responsive skins, so that it can be easily viewed and used on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets.
Important: Mobile search will overtake that of searches done on a PC by the end of 2015. As more and more people access your web site from their smartphone, it is important to know how your site will display on mobile devices. Test it out, and get help from an online services consultancy if necessary.
? My web site is compatible with touch displays.
? The display and navigation of my web site is user friendly for mobile devices.
? A user can click and call my office directly from their smartphone without having to dial the numbers.
Why important: Why make the patient work harder to call your office? One tweak to the HTML can enable your visitors to call your office with one touch from a mobile device.
Social Media Engagement
Consumers expect a local business to be active in at least one social media outlet. Part of appealing to potential new patients is showing that you are actively engaged online with your current followers.
? I have a Facebook business page for my practice.
Important: A Facebook page for business serves as an online directory and a place to engage with current and prospective patients.
? The information on the Facebook business page is accurate and up to date.
? Our office posts on Facebook at least once a month (minimum).
? Our office participates in other social media platforms.
Important: If your practice is fully and effectively participating in Facebook, Google+ is a great second social network to be involved in. You can’t go wrong if it has the name Google in it!
Scoring (out of 18)
If you scored 1-6: You keep the grass mowed and the hedges trimmed outside your office, but your web site hasn’t been updated since 1999. The problem here is that a new patient who moves into your area is likely going to search for a local eyecare provider online. You get one chance to make a first impression online. If you don’t get the call from the patient, your competition will. Update your practice web site immediately with correct information about how to make an appointment, practice phone number, location, along with information about doctors and services, and the insurance plans you accept. Also launch a practice Facebook page with information about new products in your optical, promotions such as second-pair sales, photos of special events in your office, and interesting eye health and vision facts. Update at least once a week, but preferably more, with photos whenever possible. Your practice web site should be updated at least once a month, and certainly after any major change has a occurred such as a move to a new location or the departure or addition of a new doctor.
If you scored 6-12: Your practice is up-to-date with all the latest information and is in the first 10 listings on Google when a prospective patient types in “eye doctor” and the name of the city where your practice is located, however, your mobile presence and your presence on social media could be improved. Consider more frequent updates to your practice and Facebook pages, and any other social media you participate in, such as Instagram. Also, see if you can improve how well your practice web site renders on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, and that patients can tap an icon on the screen with a finger to dial your office or make an appointment, rather than having to dial.
If you scored 12-18: Your management of your practice’s online presence is stellar. You not only have a frequently updated practice web site that makes it easy to find important information, like how to make an appointment, but you also have an effective Facebook page, and possibly another social media page like Google+. Your updates to your social media pages are also probably rich in photos to enhance its listings in the search engine results. On top of all this, your practice web site is fully functional and easy to use on mobile devices like smartphones. You’re well positioned, but to take it to the next level, you could launch an additional social media endeavor such as a practice blog in which you comment on a recent eye health- or vision-related news item, offering recommendations or guidelines to patients, or maybe if you have a Facebook page and a Twitter account, you could consider launching an Instagram page, which would make greater use of the photos you already use on Facebook and your practice web site.
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