How to Objectively Assess Your Weight Loss Practice Website for Optimal Performance
— By Karol Clark, MSN, RN
While helpful, you don’t have to be a webmaster or SEO expert to objectively assess the effectiveness of your website. You simply need to be able to determine whether or not your website is helping you get the results you desire and if not, make the necessary changes.
The primary reasons weight loss practitioners have a website is to attract new patients, streamline patient care with digital documentation and communication, provide patient education and sell products and services. The predominant goal for most is to grow their weight loss practice by increasing the number of new patients.
For acquiring new weight loss patients, it is important to recognize the five important phases they usually go through before becoming your new patient. These include finding you, learning about what you offer, liking you/what you offer, understanding the next step, and following through on taking the next step. Prospective patients will proceed at their own pace based upon their mindset and sense of urgency. Your website is a great way to facilitate (even automate) this process. However, as you can imagine, it is easy to complicate each phase or worse, exclude addressing one of the phases altogether.
Most website audits include three components: search engine optimization (SEO), user experience (UX) and website content, design and accessibility. This is so that you evaluate content as well as technical performance. For purposes of this blog, we will primarily address the last critical component with some integrated tips for the other two.
Step-By-Step Weight Loss Practice Website Audit Guide
1. Review Your Current Website Analytics
If you have never reviewed your website analytics, now is the time to obtain this data from Google. Typically, whoever built your site set up your Google Analytics account and optimized your site so that it is friendly to search engines. If not, Google has many free resources for setting up your account.1 Google also has free online courses to help guide you.2
Your Google analytics account is full of information such as how many visitors your site had, where they are coming from, how long they stayed on your site, what pages were viewed most, top keywords searched and much more! This information helps you with your organic (non-paid) efforts as well as paid traffic. You should review this data monthly with your webmaster and/or independently, track important data and identify trends so you can modify your organic and paid marketing efforts as well as your site content appropriately.
2. Understand SEO Basics & How It Relates to Your Content
Search engine optimization (SEO) includes efforts to improve the quality and quantity of website traffic to your site. SEO can be considered a frustrating moving target because it seems as if the search engine algorithms are constantly changing. However, a good rule of thumb is to focus your efforts on your ideal clients first and then for search engines. This means knowing who you want to attract to your website the most, exactly what they are asking about and searching for, then delivering on that promise with a clear path to take the next step in your patient acquisition process (i.e. opt-in, online inquiry or direct purchase).
Once you have that accomplished, you want to make sure that most of your social media posts and other public facing media you create or are a part of such as interviews, videos, reels, podcasts and graphics include the keywords your patients are searching for and link directly back to your unique platform owned by you — your website. Blogs are another great way to provide on-page SEO and improve your organic ranking/searchability.
3. Objectively Review Your Website Design & Accessibility
Your website should be branded with your colors/logo but more importantly, be professional and easy to navigate. When patients are confused or overwhelmed, they tend to take no action. Your website also needs to be friendly on mobile devices since up to 70 percent of web traffic takes place on mobile devices.3
Take the time to review every page of your website from a consumer view. Can you find what you are looking for? Are all of the links functional? Is it a clean design or crowded? Do the graphics stand out? Are photos professional? Is the information easy to read or too “medical?” Ask someone you know that is not involved in the practice and understands the needs of your ideal weight loss patients to do the same. Bottom line — you want to attract your patients, not deter them from taking the next step.
4. Ensure You Have These Important Website Pages
Sometimes less is more, so don’t feel as if your website has to include lots of pages. This will simplify your life, simplify the patient’s ability to find what they are looking for and is a much better strategy than creating webpages simply because that’s what everyone else has on their site. Here are some important website pages to include:
- Homepage: Of course, you have a homepage, but does it make that great first impression and is it clear what your primary goal is on the page? Do you want them to contact you? Download a free resource? Sign up for your newsletter? Watch a webinar? Register for an event? If you send regular e-newsletters, be sure to provide a way for them to enter their e-mail so you can keep them engaged with valuable information/news/recipes and moving along towards becoming a patient and/or sharing your information with others.
- ‘About’ Page: This is one of the most visited pages on websites. It is a time for sharing why you created your practice, your credentials, your experience and what you enjoy most about helping your patients. Be sure to include key team members and a friendly/professional photo of everyone who is highlighted on the page.
- Contact Page: Allow people to make inquiries about you and your services. Be sure to make it a simple form and include various ways to reach out to you such as phone, e-mail or text.
- Services Page(s): From your homepage, you want to highlight the services you offer. You can provide easy navigation from a top navigation bar and/or perhaps three side-by-side boxes on the homepage with a photo and brief description of your primary services that links to the same page within your site. On the page, use appropriate photos and succinct description. Highlight the benefits of the service along with any initial information about how to get started (i.e. link to contact us, call your office, watch a webinar). This is a great place to include success stories as well.
- Frequently Asked Questions: If you get asked the same questions over and over, a FAQ page can be very helpful. It can also help with SEO efforts. List the commonly asked questions along with a brief answer.
5. Consider Adding These Additional Features
A few other common pages weight loss practitioners often include are:
- Testimonials Page: Especially in the field of weight loss, patient testimonials should be included on your site. They can be integrated as a separate ‘Success Stories’ page and/or integrated on your services pages and homepage. This showcases your patients and your ability to help your patients meet or exceed their goals.
- Product Sales Page (or link to your e-store in the top navigation bar on your website): This is very helpful for direct sales even if the product and services are obtained at your office.
If you don’t feel as if your website is helping you meet or exceed your desired goals for having one, the first step is to do an audit. Often you may find some simple fixes on the front and back ends can make a big difference! As with anything, metrics matter so reviewing the metrics for your website is also critical for success.