Effective Website Marketing
Marketing a podiatry practice on the internet starts with a choice:
- Rely on “free” options – Yelp, professional association listings
- Create your own web – Do it yourself, make it a staff responsibility, outsource web development
Although option one is cheaper, free webs demand consistency which makes it difficult to differentiate your practice. If you think internet listings are today’s equivalent of the yellow pages with name, address, phone number, and a few messages about you, this may seem good enough. If patients are closer to you than other practices and proximity is the most important deciding factor, you are likely to get the call.
But, if you suspect today’s websites need to do more to attract patients who have closer podiatry office alternatives, having an internet presence you control is important.
Internet users ask questions
- Which doctors say they can treat my issue?
- Is my concern something the doctor claims as a special focus?
- What does treatment require?
- What do other patients think about the doctor?
- Is the doctor’s personality a good fit?
- What should I expect when I come to the office?
- Does the doctor take Medicare?
- I’ve been told my toenail fungus is not treatable. Is that right?
- Are orthotics from a doctor better than from a drugstore?
- Can I schedule an appointment after work?
A podiatrist’s web page that has detailed answers to questions from nearby web users will rank higher in displayed results. But, if your site can’t answer a specific web user’s question, it may be listed much lower or not at all.
Develop your own website starts with answers to two high level questions:
- What information (content) should be on the website?
- What should the site look like?
Before developing PodiatryNET we reviewed podiatry sites around the country. In examining dozens of sites, we found large differences in content and appearance:
The basic content is usually similar including doctors’ CVs, practice philosophy overview, and basic practice information for patients. Although many have some information about a few specific treatments and may talk about results, most say very little about all of the issues podiatrists treat. It seems that sites that include a lot of information often don’t do a good job handling complexity. This makes it difficult for visitors to find what they are looking for. Other sites have no patient endorsements and few video clips, significant factors in search engine preference.
Podiatry site web designs are often very different, with some based on free templates that restrict options. Others don’t support different form factors (tablets/phones), a major issue with Google indexing preference. Dichotomy? Some podiatry site designs look like other websites while those that seem more medical can appear less inviting to potential patients.
- Learn More about PodiatryNET visual design
Presenting more information often helps answer additional site visitor questions which increases search engine preference and suggests your site has more substance. However, information on a web is only helpful if it can be found by site visitors, making careful arrangement and consistency of presentation important. Design-wise, the best options are ones that convey “medical” but also stress personalized care, treatment, and patient comfort.
Most webs feature either the name of the practice or the doctor’s name. Web hosting services can help you find what’s available and help you register a site name. Site names that end in the most popular “.com” suffix are sometimes difficult to acquire. Many are in use and other popular names are held by “cyber squatters”, investors who profit from reselling popular site names. Recent additions to the suffix options have expanded options for site naming, but these suffixes are not as recognized by web users.
Although it is possible to host a small web on a dedicated server or even using Google Drive, most webs are hosted by systems owned by one of several dozen web hosting services. If you decide to use a web developer, we recommend checking to see which services he/she knows and prefers.
Determine what you want to achieve and how much you are willing to invest in developing AND maintaining a site. Also, you need to decide whether you or your staff will be able to create the site or whether you should plan to hire someone to develop it for you.
This should be a requirement. Regardless of who develops the site, you should have the ability to make changes to it, particularly for areas where change is most likely. These include updating staff pages, adding patient reviews and changing treatment information. Because some changes may require outside assistance, having an option for ongoing support can be helpful.
Cost depends on service options, but basic web hosting and related services are likely to average from $150 per year to $250 per year. Additional service options can increase the cost to $1,000 or more.
Support for Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), a computer networking protocol that protects data transmissions to and from a server is important because browsers increasingly warn users if sites don’t use secure connection and search engines are likely to favor sites with more secure communication.