In my work with therapists and other healthcare professionals I see a lot of websites. Some are OK, some are appalling and occasionally I see a website that is outstanding- but not very often.
A lot of helping professionals have the attitude of “If you build it, they will come” (a catchy phrase from the 1989 Kevin Costner movie Field of Dreams), which implies that if you build a website that is attractive, looks appealing and conveys a professional image then the clients will start flooding through the door.
Nothing is further from the truth. I’ve seen some healthcare professionals spend thousands of dollars on a website (and it does look attractive), yet it doesn’t work for them because they don’t understand the importance of internal and off-site link-building, social media, SEO, copywriting or blogging.
You might be wondering what they have to do with a website. Well in today’s culture of the web 2.0? Everything.
No longer is it enough to have an attractive website that has beautiful images and good navigation (though that’s part of the mix). If you can’t drive traffic to your website and if the Google spiders can’t crawl your website in a logical way, it’s a complete waste of time AND money.
Here are some of the most common mistakes I see in website development by helping professionals:
#1 Your website has no clear niche
I say this until I’m blue in the face, but it’s worth repeating. If your website has no niche, it will suffer. It’s as simple as that- take it or leave it.
Google likes a niche, clients like a niche and marketing a niche is overall just easier.
When you have a clearly defined niche- or niches- (I don’t recommend more than 3) everything works better.
It’s more likely you will rank for the keywords that people searching for your services are using. What’s more, over time you become an trusted authority in your area of speciality.
#2 Your website lacks SEO copywriting
I strongly believe getting copywriting support for your website is one of the best investments you can make in your business.
Copywriting is an exact science that is based in extensive research over decades that has shown the power of words in making people take action.
Add in the need for search engine optimisation (SEO) and this makes the words you use on your website even more essential so your pages get indexed by the search engines.
I studied copywriting myself because I realised what a valuable asset it would be to use in my business. And at the core of my business is my writing.
By the way, I have lost count of the number of people that have said “I read your website and thought you were writing directly to me and my problems”. Are you getting how important this is now?
#3 Your website lacks internal links
Internal linking is more of a technical issue, but important none-the-less.
I won’t go into all the theories of how to effectively link within your own internal pages, but just know it’s important.
While you might not understand the complexity of internal linking, just know that it’s important and it doesn’t hurt to have links between your pages using the anchor text related to the page your linking to. (Anchor text is the word or words that are the hyperlink to the other page).
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, time to do some study at the University of Google.
#4 Your website lacks inbound links
If you build your website and then do nothing after it’s complete, it is unlikely you will do very well with ranking in the search engines. Of course, this depends on how much competition there is for your keywords, but you do need to do more.
Inbound linking is the process of getting other websites to link to yours. This is part of how Google works out what your website is about and how relevant (read: popular) it should be in the search results.
There are many different strategies for increasing inbound links, but my favourite is to do guest posting. When you write for another blog or website, you will get a small bio at the end where you can have a link (or two) back to your website.
Another good way to get valuable inbound links is to list yourself on counselling directories. The bigger and more popular the site, the more Google juice you get for your link. (And if you’re an Australian therapist, check out my own counselling directory, Australia Counselling.)
Building these links over time are important as part of your long-term website strategy.
#5 You have no social media strategy
Well maybe you don’t want to be on social media, but then again, maybe you didn’t want a website a while back. But then they kind of became essential.
Social media is becoming more and more important as a factor in your website ranking.
Also, social media is a great tool for driving traffic to your site. Try it. Start with Facebook. It won’t bite.
#6 Your website has no articles or blogs
I know a lot of people don’t like to write, but writing articles or blogs on your website has many benefits. These include:
- You establish yourself as a trusted authority within your niche
- You build relationships with prospective clients who return to your website over time
- Google indexes your ongoing fresh content and increases your ranking over time
- You’re continually increasing the size of your website each time you write a blog or article
There are lots more benefits, but these are the big ones.
If you don’t like to write, my advice is to suck it up. Sit down at the computer and write some short and simple articles that are helpful to your target market.
If you survived [insert length of degree] amount of years at university, it’s likely you do have the skills to write. Just do it.
#7 You have no long-term plan to grow your website
I’m a fan of having a plan. You don’t get into your car at the start of your road trip without a map do you? The same applies to your business. You need a plan for long-term website growth and development.
Start a plan that includes the strategies above and give yourself time frames to learn about these strategies. Once you educate yourself, then start to implement them.
Having a plan for growth is not only sensible, the chances of you actually making it happen are increased significantly.
What’s your experience of developing your own healthcare website? Would you add any website mistake to this list? Add your comments in the box below.