Every medical practice should have a website. Recent surveys show that virtually everyone, even older patients, use the Internet to access health care information and discover providers, reports Physicians Practice. “Websites are your new front door. This is the first impression people will get of you,” said Derek Kosiorek, principal with the Medical Group Management Association’s (MGMA’s) consulting arm.

But just having a website isn’t enough anymore. Your practice’s online presence may be the key to attracting more patients and generating more revenue—if you’re being smart about it and not making costly mistakes. Here are some do’s and don’ts to help you make the most of your practice’s website.

DO keep it simple and mobile-friendly.

The best web sites are fairly basic: a header at the top with a navigation bar below it, the content in the middle, and a footer on every page. Your site should also be easy to navigate on any device. According to Pew Research Center, 52 percent of smartphone owners have used their phone to look up health or medical information. Keys to a mobile-friendly website include making it easy to view on a smaller screen and making contact info easy to find for on-the-go visitors. Make directions, parking info, and what type of insurance you accept prominent on your site.

DON’T go crazy with templates and graphics.

Because of the trend towards mobile, fast-loading sites are a must. “There are a lot of funky different types of websites out there. Don’t get into that,” advises Kosiorek. A mobile site must be able to be accessed quickly. “This means eliminating any bells and whistles that will prevent or slow the site loading,” states an article on Vision Monday. This means no background colors or large images.

DO use video.

While video can add a few seconds to load-time, it’s well worth it since video can improve your website’s search engine optimization (SEO). A key metric used by Google to rank sites is the length of time visitors stay on a page. Incorporating videos throughout your content is a good way to keep visitors on your site longer. Be sure to include a text description of your videos to help Google’s web-crawling software better understand what is on your website. Here’s an article that explains how to boost SEO for short videos using transcripts and captions. And here are some examples of practices that are successfully using Rendia videos on their website.

DON’T send people away from your site.

A common mistake practices make is inadvertently sending visitors away from their website by linking to other sites in their content. It’s better to embed videos into your pages. Rendia makes this easy. For Rendia customers or prospective customers trying out our free trial, here are the simple steps to walk you through embedding video. If you do link to other websites, make sure to include the code to open a new browser window instead of loading the new site in the same window. This is as easy as checking a box in most content management systems.

DO offer online scheduling.

We’ve said before that online appointment scheduling is one of the easiest ways to improve patient satisfaction and boost your practice’s bottom line at the same time. According to a recent Accenture study, while currently only 11 percent of all U.S. healthcare appointments were scheduled online (due to a lack of doctors offering this option), by 2019, 64 percent of patients will book medical appointments online, generating $3.2 billion in value. Doctors who jump on this now will be ahead of the curve. Online self-scheduling tools are widely available; your current EHR or patient portal may even offer this feature already.

DON’T cling to outdated systems.

Similarly, doctors who don’t offer online bill-pay and appointment reminders by text and email may also be missing out on patient-satisfaction and revenue opportunities. Providing patient registration forms on your website can save patients time in the waiting room, suggests the liveClinic health care blog. Again, depending on your EHR or patient portal, you may be able to easily offer these things on your website right now.

DO keep content fresh.

Keeping your website current is a must. First, it builds patients’ trust by showing that their doctor is up to speed with technology and industry news. And it’s good for SEO, too. “Refreshing your site with recent news and updates will help build an online presence… It will also help your practice rank higher in search engines, making it easier to find,” according to liveClinic. Having a blog on your site is one way to keep your content fresh, but only if your practice can keep up with a regular posting schedule. Outdated content (like holiday promotions in July) sends the wrong message.

DON’T hire an SEO firm.

If you do what we’ve suggested above, you won’t need to hire outside help. “Search engine optimization is not that difficult. When trying to bolster your practice website’s Google ranking, don’t bother hiring some outside firm,” said Kosiorek. “It’s as simple as whether your site has relevant content and if it’s popular.” For specific tips, check out Google’s SEO Starter Guide.

Need help improving your website’s offerings? Want to learn how to integrate video into your website and social media pages? Contact us today for a demo and a free trial.