Your hospital's ability to bring in new business is largely dependent on the quality and performance of its website.
Today, nearly everything we do is facilitated by digital technologies — communication, work, entertainment, shopping, even our love lives. And as these technologies came to dominate our day-to-day experiences, our expectations in terms of performance and quality have, quite understandably, steadily increased.
Of course, healthcare is no exception to this rule — in fact, a recent survey suggests that a website’s ease of use and accessibility may actually outweigh “reputability” as a determining factor for patients choosing between different providers. What’s more, many elements of user experience (UX) design are intrinsically linked with search engine optimization (SEO), meaning that how usable and informative your site is will likely have a direct impact on its visibility in the search results.
In order to ensure you’re maximizing the ROI on your digital marketing efforts, you need to make sure your site is aligned with current SEO and UX best practices. If one or more of the following applies to you, your hospital’s website may be in need of an update:
1. You Have a High Bounce Rate
Your site’s bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who click away after viewing a single page. For average sites, bounce rates tend to hover somewhere between 40% to 55%. If that metric surpasses 70%, it’s probably time to run some tests to identify the root of the problem.
Google Analytics (GA) makes this process relatively easy. You can monitor your site’s bounce rate in the “Channels” section under the “Acquisition” tab. The tool will actually break down the bounces by channel, enabling you to get a better understanding of where the bulk of your traffic is exiting your site so you can address the issue.
2. Your Website Isn’t “Mobile-Friendly”
Healthcare has officially entered the mobile age and, as such, mobile optimization is now a non-negotiable requirement — both from an SEO and UX perspective. In the past few years, Google has made multiple updates to its search algorithm to favor websites that are optimized for mobile, with an emphasis on visual layout, functionality, and performance.
Even if your hospital’s website looks great on a desktop, that doesn’t necessarily mean it will translate well to a mobile device. Small buttons, tiny text, non-responsive design elements, out-of-date media types like flash — all of these elements will likely result in diminished visibility in the search engine results pages (SERPs) and frustrated patients (i.e., lost revenue opportunities). If you’re unsure about whether or not your website is optimized for mobile, you can use Google’s free Mobile-Friendly Test to find out!
3. Your Load Times Are Slow
A slow-loading site doesn’t just make Google upset — patients (both prospective and existing) don’t appreciate it either. On average, consumers expect websites to load in two to three seconds, and 53% will simply leave if it takes any longer than that.
Google’s PageSpeed Insights Tool is a great (and free) way to ensure your site is up to snuff. Simply enter your URL and Google will record your load time, rank it against competitor sites, and offer suggestions for improving your site’s performance.
4. Your Site is Too Confusing
In general, you should always try to make it as easy as possible for your visitors to find the information they’re looking for as soon as they arrive on your site. That means optimizing for scannability and navigation. While the primary goal of your hospital’s site is to drive conversions, including too many flashing banners, pop-ups, and autoplay content typically has the opposite of the desired effect. It’s best to avoid such features entirely, or to make them as unobtrusive as possible.
You’ll also want to make sure that your site is structured in an intuitive way, with a clearly labeled navigation bar and key contact information featured prominently on every page. The key is striking a balance between flash and substance — you want your site to look sleek and modern, but if you take it too far, you run the risk of increasing your bounce rate and losing out on new revenue opportunities.
5. Hidden Technical Errors?
If your metrics start to crash and burn, your site may be suffering from a hidden technical error. Luckily, such issues are easy to fix — so long as you can identify them.
Technical errors in the backend of your site can hurt your search rankings and affect performance. Google’s Search Console can help you identify errors that prevent certain pages — or your entire site — from being “crawled” by the search engine bots and indexed. Regular testing and maintenance is the key to maintaining a healthy site and solid performance over time.
At the end of the day, your hospital’s website will likely be the first impression a prospective patient gets of your organization. By developing a quality site and then taking a more active role in its upkeep, you’ll be able to ensure a consistently positive experience for visitors, which in turn will help boost conversions and, ultimately, your digital marketing ROI.