Making the Most Out of Your Website: A Guide for Practitioners
In this NatPractice Session, we have the pleasure of introducing you to Michelle Martello, founder of Minima Designs. Michelle is just like us – she’s a helper. She’s working to make the world a better place. Lucky for us, it comes in the area of expertise that often (sadly) is not one of our strongest as natural medicine practitioners: business, marketing, and business strategy! She serves business owners of many kinds by helping them to use their websites to really connect with their audience.
In this hour-long interview, Michelle shares with us valuable insight that can be used to generate leads, drive traffic to your website, and bring those people searching for you from your website to your front door.
Gone are the days of stuffy and boring experts! Michelle, like many practitioners, wears many hats, including but not limited to web strategist, design extraordinaire, yogi, teacher, advocate of technology-assisted learning, and aspiring DJ. This is why we love Michelle because she knows what it is like to be a part of this unique global economy that the internet offers us. Not only is Michelle walking the walk and talking the talk, by using all of the tools you will learn about today in her own ventures, but she brings with her over 20 years of experience in website design.
In this interview, Michelle shares some of her Ninja Tricks with us, the Naturopathic CE community. Please check out the video above to hear from Michelle directly. We’ve also provided you some of our favorite takeaways from the interview for you to refer to below!
Your Website is Your 24/7 Virtual Assistant: Put it to Work!
Michelle begins by reminding us that our websites are our virtual assistants working hard for us 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. Your virtual assistant loves you… your virtual assistant wants to free you of admin work and empower you to do what YOU LOVE — help people heal! The first and most important thing is to simply have that assistant working hard for you on the world wide web. So, big or small, simple or complex, get that website up! Perfectionism is your enemy here, and keep it simple! “Here’s the beautiful thing about websites, it’s fixable! That’s why I hate doing print work, honestly because once it’s to the printer I can’t fix it. But with a website, if something is wrong, I can fix it that day!” explains Michelle. Remember “done is better than perfect!”
So great, your website is up, but now what? Well, we will get into the nitty-gritty of what will truly help you generate leads and convert those leads, but first, let’s just explore some basics. Just a like a real assistant your website needs maintenance and feedback. For many people, this can be a daunting task, so Michelle shared some ideas with us.
- Keep a running date with your website! Try to just dedicate a few hours per month. Spend that time fine-tuning your content or making incremental improvements. Carve time out from your busy schedule – and actually schedule it! Make it happen on a recurring basis!
- Testing your site is key! Get on your site and look at the user view. Make sure your site feels trustworthy! Glitches and bugs can affect the overall trust factor of your site, and as Michelle points out if you wouldn’t put in your credit card on a website, would you then trust that person with your body? Your website reflects you – and conveys your professionalism, expertise, and trustworthiness. So look on the computer, look on your mobile phone, and do what is in your power to remove barriers to people finding important information like your address or phone number, and make sure their experience with your site is intuitive.
- Don’t want to manage your site? Consider hiring someone who can do this for you and develop a relationship with them! The more they get to know you the more they can build and maintain your website to reflect the work you do. If you are able to develop a good relationship with that individual, they might be able to help you with further projects like materials for your business or running a regular newsletter for you. Just like with our patients and clients, we want to develop good rapport and long-lasting relationships with our web people!
Make Sure your Website Can Be Found on Google
You’ve probably heard the term, “Search Engine Optimization” (or SEO). As Dr. Miller points out, Search Engine Optimization is a fancy way of explaining that “there are strategies and techniques in place in order to allow your page or your website to rank higher in google and other search engine results pages. It’s what makes the difference between you being on page number one and the first thing, or on page one thousand. There may be users, going on to the internet and searching for you, but if you are on the second page you might as well be on the last page because people aren’t going there.”
Keywords are the secret weapon of SEO and they are easier to identify than you’d think. Just ask yourself, “what words are people using to search for your services?” A little research can go a long way here. A free easy way to find your keywords is to look at what others are searching for by typing into google and seeing what auto-suggestions it’s giving you. It’s recommending these keywords because they are what other people are searching for! You’ll notice Google will give you a recommendation for a string of a few words, like “naturopath in Ontario” for example, these are long-tail keywords. According to Michelle, you’ll want to integrate these keywords into the text or “copy” on your website. This will help you rank higher on search engine pages.
“What Google is trying to do is match someone’s query, their question to an answer,” explains Michelle. “This is the heart of SEO. SEO stands for search engine optimization and people make it this really complex thing, right? The heart of it is, someone’s got a problem, you’re the solution, and Google is the glue, it’s the middle part that is trying to connect the two things.”
Michelle explains the importance of SEO in telling a story of when she was working with a client who did yoga with weights. She said the website was up and it just wasn’t getting enough traffic. So Michelle did some keyword research and realized that everyone was using the term “yoga sculpt” to describe yoga with weights. So, what they did was they went in and just “retrofitted” the copy in the website to say “yoga sculpt” rather than “yoga with weights.” This made a big difference in the amount of traffic the site was getting.
As a passionate designer, Michelle didn’t focus on SEO at the beginning of her career as she was much more interested in the look and feel of a website but “The truth is, if Google can’t find you, then there is no point,” Michelle confesses.
Some other terms you might include in your copy include semantics indexing terms which are alternate terms and phrases people are using to search for the service you offer. Google helps us by creating a list of these terms at the bottom of the page after any search.
Michelle also shares about the importance of content writing, like having blogs or articles, on your website. It’s not the only strategy, but it definitely helps to create accessible content to your potential client base and gives Google more text (or “copy”) to find you. Michelle explains that it’s better to write more thorough and more comprehensive content a few times per year rather than posting every week on just whatever. Quality over quantity. Of course, if you can write comprehensive, high quality material every week that’s fantastic, but it’s important to be realistic and manage expectations.
Michelle recommends, rather than paying for Yelp, just join Google My Business. It’s free and it helps you to be found on Google, and people will leave you reviews! This is the tool you’ll use to be listed in that right-side panel of Google when people are searching for your business.
Make sure to have a contact page on your website! This will help you get found on Google. Learn more below about the contact page, as we explore Michelle’s design and strategy recommendations.
Which Pages Should I Have on My Website?
When designing your website, you want to keep it simple, clean, and clear. Make sure it is easy to navigate and free of errors. You want your website to be trustworthy. According to Michelle, these are some of the pages you want to have on your website. When creating your content Michelle advises you to create mindful content around what people are looking for that answers the questions people are asking.
1. A Landing Page/Home Page
This is the first page that people will see when visiting your website. Your users, as well as Google, want to know who you are and what you do as soon as they come to your website. Michelle recommends trying this simple exercise: fill in the blanks “I do (blank) for (blank).” Michelle reminds us, especially if you have a niche practice don’t be afraid to highlight how you specialize! Make sure you make it clear exactly what it is you do on that landing page. Make sure to let people know who you are, what you offer, and don’t forget to direct them where else to look on your website whether it is through words, intuitive navigation, or clickable buttons. Showcase your content and make it easy to find.
2. Consistent Navigation Menu and Footer
While this isn’t a page it is a highly important element that needs to be on every page. Your navigation menu is the yellow brick road to your website, telling your users what you want them to know and where they can find it. Michelle reminds us to use easy to interpret, common terms for our menu headings.
Your footer should have your address and contact information, and it also serves as a good place for social media icons and links. Michelle likes to put social media icons at the bottom of the page because they direct people away from your website, and when someone comes to your website you want them to stay as long as possible.
Check out this Ninja Trick! Make sure your address is formatted and written the same throughout your website, Google is looking for consistency when helping you to be found in a search!
3. Contact Page
Your contact page should be the last item in your navigation (this is important!!). Make sure to include your business address, phone number, and a simple contact form on your contact page. You may consider adding driving and parking directions and maybe even a map to your location. Keep in mind that if you are a physical location, the easier you make it for people to find you the better.
4. About Page
Your About Page is a good place to tell the prospective patient about why they want to come to see you. Who are you? What are you offering? Why are you qualified to offer such things? Tell the audience about your mission or the history of your business. Make sure to have a “call to action.” Something like, “Schedule a visit today,” with a link to your phone number or online scheduler.
5. Services Page
While not necessary, having a page for services can help rank your website higher on Google. Any opportunity to add more copy to your website that uses your keywords will help drive traffic to your site. For this reason, Michelle explains you might even make a separate page for each of your services. Make sure to talk about your specialties and make the language on your site as niche as your practice.
Michelle is a proponent of listing starting prices to prevent “tire kickers.” Choose to list your prices based on the strengths of your business. For example, do you have success converting leads on the phone? In this case, you might not list your pricing, or you might just list a starting price. Maybe you want to list your pricing because there is a lot of saturation in your market and you don’t want someone to pass you up as an option simply because your competition has their pricing posted.
Marketing: Build and Convert Leads with Your Website
One great marketing tool that Michelle loves is the good ole email newsletter. You can add a side bar email newsletter sign-up. Encouraging people to sign up for your newsletter by offering them something in return. Michelle would encourage you to develop some cool content that’s related to your practice. Maybe your specialty is botanical medicine. In this case, you might put together a PDF guide to common herbal sleep remedies. This is very simply how you can exchange something small for a new lead in your email list.
When you have the individual’s email, you can set up an automated welcome series of emails to come out sequentially and Michelle notes, don’t be afraid to email too much in the first 10 days. We all worry about bugging our potential patients, but in fact, if they are interested, it is more likely that they’ll appreciate the free content and an opportunity to further learn how you might fit into their plan. Again, the magic window is the first 7-10 days!
According to Michelle, you want to design the content series thoughtfully but know you may have content already that will make putting the series together easy! In the first email, you want to give them a heads up that they’ll be receiving some letters from you over the next week or two. Welcome them in your letter and let them know what to expect. In your next letter, you may take some time to tell them a little about yourself and what you do. On the third letter, try to provide them with some free content related to your services. On the fourth or fifth email letter, make sure to invite them to book an appointment, highlighting how you can be of service.
Email series can be good for new and returning patients. You can use this tool to keep your patients engaged, even if you just send out an email that highlights a new blog you write once a quarter. When Michelle writes her content, she writes like a friend and she knows she is reaching her people when one of her favorite audience members lets her know that she made her laugh. Michelle even recommends trading in fancy graphics for the “pen pal” feel because people will either not open or quickly delete emails that look like pure marketing.
Building an email list is key because it is way easier to convert someone who is already on your email list. So make sure to add places people can sign up for your newsletter on your website! As Dr. Miller explains “don’t be salesy, don’t be attached to the outcome, just go out and offer value.”
Michelle is a proponent of mindful popups. For example, sliding popups are a little cleaner than your average popup. Exit-intent popups will try to catch someone before they leave your site, making one last call to action before they leave, as if to say “Hey before you go, let me grab your email so you don’t forget about us.”
Besides email newsletters and a jammin’ website, Michelle recommends trying something called audience borrowing. As NDs, we are naturally pros at audience borrowing and we play well with others! Audience borrowing is especially important as you’re first starting out. You likely don’t have a community yet. But others do. You might audience borrow folks from a health food store community or local library by offering a free talk there. These are two examples of communities that already have been established; and you can “borrow” them.
Michelle is actually audience borrowing right now. It’s a beautiful mutually beneficial thing, audience sharing, that gives those watching a web of connections to explore and further meet their needs. Just like in this interview it usually comes with truly genuine service to the consumer. This is one of Michelle’s favorite ninja tricks. To start audience borrowing, look for people who work in fields related to yours who have cultivated their own audience and form a relationship with them. See how you can network and provide value to that community while making your presence and services known.
You Can Do It!
We hope you enjoyed this NatPractice session with Michelle Martello. We know you can convert those leads, and it doesn’t have to consume all of your time. Done right, your website can take so much work off your hands, but know it is absolutely ok to start small! With a little regular maintenance, your website can truly shine and help communicate to the people looking for your services that you are the right provider for them. Don’t forget that generating new content in the form of blogs, articles, and videos can be a huge boom to your business, especially when you use that content to plug in keywords or highlight interesting information in an email newsletter.
Even your current patients need a little nudge here and there, so don’t be afraid to reach out and build a community. Take advantage of free tools like Google My Business and audience borrowing! If you decide you need the help of a professional, give Michelle a call, she can be an instrumental strategist in helping you build your online presence. You can find her personal info and website below!
Thank you for joining us today here at Naturopathic CE, where we want to empower you to thrive in practice and never stop learning. Now get out there and give your virtual assistant some love!
One Last Gift from Michelle
These are the tools that Michelle recommends for getting started with Search Engine Optimization and identifying the best keywords to focus on.
Getting Started with SEO
Keyword Research Tools