We have become ADD web users. We want instant results. We demand instant page uploads. It’s getting increasingly difficult to capture an audience for more than three seconds.
So, if your website doesn’t impress clients they are likely to move on to your friendly competitors. How can you compete in this crazy virtual world? Here are 10 simple tips to help you shine.
1. Is My Website Mobile Friendly?
Over half of all searches are performed on mobile devices, yet many websites are still not mobile friendly. WhiskerCloud, an up-and- coming website-design company, studied 500 random veterinary websites. Out of those, only 90 sites, or a dismal 18 percent, truly were mobile friendly.
How can you tell if your site functions well on all devices (computers, tablets and smart phones)? Simply type “Is my website mobile friendly?” in your favorite search engine. Pick one of the test sites, enter your clinic’s website address and watch the results.
2. Is My Site User-Friendly?
Some websites shine by their simplicity. Others bore you to tears. Still others are overwhelmingly complicated—too many tabs, too many options, too many ways to get lost, too much clutter, too much brain damage. Is your website truly easy to navigate? Are your opening hours clearly visible? Are your fonts easy to read? Not too big, not too small, not too weird?
3. Do We Look Friendly?
The internet can be a sterile, unfriendly world. On top of that, many websites offer little to no personal information about the clinic staff, or only about the doctors.
Clients, like it or not, enjoy learning about their pet’s caretakers. They want to feel that you are friendly, trustworthy, competent, experienced and honest. They want to know that you have pets. They want to know that you love animals. They want to be reassured that you have feelings and passions and hobbies. So get over the “I hate my picture” syndrome and showcase yourself and your staff.
4. Do My Links Still Work?
It’s shocking to see how many websites contain broken links. It is not your fault that links seem to change all the time on other websites, but it is your responsibility to clean things up regularly for your clients’ convenience.
Here is a practical example: A potential client tries to obtain information on anesthesia safety for her pet, but your link does not work. She goes to your competitor’s website, which has a link that works instantly. Who do you think she will call?
In addition, you don’t need 6,000 links that are not specific to your practice. Be selective.
How do you know if your links all work? Type “broken link checker” in a search engine. Enter your URL, and the site will identify any broken links. The analysis may take time, but it’s worth it.
5. Are We Easy to Contact?
Some website designers seem to hide your phone number and address in the strangest location. Don’t play hard to get. Make sure your contact information is easy to locate. This doesn’t only mean on your “contact us” page. Your phone number and physical address should be at the top of every page.
In addition, wherever your phone number is listed, it should be clickable so clients can call easily from a cell phone. And make sure to include directions to your hospital. It’s safe to assume that few clients still use a physical map.
6. Is My Website Secure?
WhiskerCloud’s research showed that only 25 percent of all websites are secured. This makes unprotected websites vulnerable to hacking.
“These numbers are scary, but they helped us refine our offer to veterinarians,” says Adam Greenbaum, CEO of WhiskerCloud.
Make sure your website people secure your site. And for that matter, make sure your IT person safeguards access to your client and patient database.
7. Is My Website Ugly?
Visual appearances are extremely important. Obnoxious colors look unprofessional. Use easy-to-read fonts and colors. Choose photos that reveal your practice’s personality. Don’t illustrate your website using boring, aseptic stock photos that have been posted to 50 other websites by a cookie- cutter website designer.
8. How Fast Is My Website?
The average website tested by WhiskerCloud loaded in over 10 seconds. Most of the time, it takes that long because of bulky pictures. Ideally, your site should load in under three seconds.
Think of it this way: In our age of instant everything, a one-second delay in page load time can result in a 7 percent reduction in conversions.
To see how your site performs, type “How fast is my website?” or “Pingdom speed test” in a search engine, and see the results for yourself.
9. Is My Website Coded for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Analytics?
The WhiskerCloud study showed that only 22 percent of the websites investigated had both SEO metatags and a form of analytics code on their website. In this day and age, every practice website should be coded appropriately so the clinic is at the top of web searches.
What about analytics? Your website and your online presence, like your practice, can be analyzed through key performance indicators (KPIs). In the online world, this includes time spent on a given page, the bounce rate, unique visitors, keyword searches, etc.
A good website provider will explain what all this mumbo jumbo means and, even better, what can be done to tweak your site to make it even better.
10. Do We Have a Blog?
As you’ve surely heard, everything revolves around content these days. Content marketing, or content, in short, is all about information and communication. It allows you to educate your clients about a variety of topics: the services you provide, important news and entertaining information, for example. A blog is a great way to share content.
Countless websites have a blog page, but more often than not the last blog was posted months, if not years, ago. The jury is out on the ideal blog frequently, but a monthly posting is a good start. Then strive to publish weekly.
Keeping up with your blog will boost your SEO because Big Brother Google loves new content. And you will be rewarded for it.
Sure, some website professionals enjoy making things complicated. They sound like they speak a foreign language. They talk about encryption. They talk about Google’s Penguin update (or was it Panda or Pigeon?). They talk to you about SEO, but then it suddenly changes to SEM (search engine marketing) and MEO (marketing engine optimization).
If you take a step back from the madness, things are pretty simple: Be visible and user-friendly. Showcase how competent and caring you are. Offer a genuine service, online and offline. Pet owners will notice.
Dr. Phil Zeltzman is a board- certified veterinary surgeon and serial entrepreneur. You may visit his website at www.DrPhilZeltzman.com or follow him at www.facebook.com/DrZeltzman.
AJ Debiasse, a technician in Stroudsburg, Pa., contributed to this article.
Originally published in the February 2017 issue of Veterinary Practice News. Did you enjoy this article? Then subscribe today!