In online marketing there is one ultimate goal: the first page search engine return. The website with the top spot on Google search gets 30 percent of all click-through traffic.
The chance that a potential patient makes it to the second page of Google? A lowly 8.5 percent.
If you’re on the second or third page, the chances a new patient will schedule an exam at your practice are slim. Our next two columns are devoted entirely to building your search engine optimization (SEO) ranking to bump you to the top. On your office’s website, you can build SEO by properly organizing and coding it to maximize engagement from both human beings and the ‘crawlers’ or bots search engines use to read and codex your page. This is called On Page SEO, and here are the keys to success:
The Power of Your URL
Free hosting websites can be appealing, but search engines favor websites hosted on their own domain. Buy your own URL from sites like GoDaddy — the investment is often under $10 and it’s essential to getting your website off to the right start.
When creating the URL for each clickable page on your website, think about the keywords that will drive patients to your office. For example, let’s say your site has a “Meet the Doctors” page. If your URL says something generic like www.yourcityeyecare.com/about it will have less search engine pull than www.yourcityeyecare.com/oureyedoctors. Use keywords about eyes, optometry, doctors, eye exams, glasses, contact lenses, etc. in your URL names whenever possible to increase the chance search engines pick you up when someone searches for these eyecare topics.
Keep Traffic on Your Site
Search engines don’t just track how many clicks your website gets, they also track how long users stay. Longer engagement means better SEO rankings so have engaging and easy navigation that keeps patients clicking from item to item. Coders refer to well-made navigation coding as “breadcrumbs” so visitors can easily get around your website. All websites need a primary navigation system in an easily seen bar across the top of the site that link to your home page and the major topics you want patients to see, like appointment scheduling and locations. If you have pages within pages, that’s where breadcrumb links come in handy; they show the patient a trail that links them to other associated items they would be interested in, keeping them on your page for the maximum length of time.
Humans are predictable and research shows a basic recipe for website formatting produces maximum engagement. Make sure your website follows these general rules:
- Use headings and sub-headings to clearly define each page’s topic.
- Highlight key topics or headings with bold, underline or italics.
- Use a user-friendly size font, at least 12 pts in size.
- Use a professional and legible font — not Comic Sans. Arial continually scores high on readability.
- Use small paragraphs. Each one should be no more than four to five sentences.
Clear, high quality images are a key to grabbing reader’s attention. It’s always best to create your own image, but if you do use an image from another source make sure it is properly referenced. When uploading the image from your computer to your website, make sure the image is named in a way that describes what it is. Search engines will use the image file name to drive image search traffic, which is why your own unique images are best. Don’t name anything “image1.jpg.” Fully describe the image in its name. For example, a picture of your office would be “yourcityeyecareoffice.jpg.”
High quality images are important for aesthetics, but a large file size can affect website loading times. Forty percent of visitors will leave a site if it takes more than three seconds to load. You can shrink the size of your images but preserve the quality by using free online tools like tinypng.com, which compresses both .png and .jpeg images.
This article originally appeared in the January 2017 edition of INVISION.