Is It Time for a Redesign?

What pushes most organizations into a redesign? It could be for internal reasons, like a brand change or an acquisition. Or, you’ve simply realized that your current site isn’t delivering value anymore.

Regardless of what is driving change, a website redesign offers your organization the opportunity to improve your online brand image, engage and connect with site visitors, and put them on a path to conversion. This popular guide, now in its second edition, will help you determine if it’s time to redesign your website and how to get started if a new CMS is in your future. Download it today, and learn:

  • Common redesign triggers of a full website redesign
  • Why an iterative approach to redesign might be the answer
  • How to better understand your website’s lifecycle
  • How to tell if you need to re-platform alongside your redesign
  • What to consider in a CMS beyond content management, including transactional, personalization, and optimization considerations


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Web Writing for Healthcare

All your top content questions are answered in this eBook. You’ll learn the fundamentals of writing good content for the web and how to develop a successful content marketing strategy. You also benefit from updated insight given that the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted expectations of healthcare marketing.

In this eBook, you’ll learn how to:

  • Define voice and tone
  • Attract new website visitors
  • Tell your story and build relationships
  • Lead visitors to take the next step
  • Promote your services
  • Manage content with inventories and audits
  • Structure information architecture
  • Leverage the right call to action


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Web Content Voice, Tone, & Style

Voice, tone, and style may sound like the same thing, but they’re not. They work together to define what your brand sounds like and how it’s perceived. So what’s the difference?

  • Voice – Consistent brand personality your organization uses in its communications, includes word choices, pronouns, punctuation, and more
  • Tone – How you communicate and the attitude you convey depending on the topic or situation—similar to your speaking tone—and the impression it leaves on your visitors
  • Style – Guidelines to ensure you present a uniform brand experience using defined language choices and writing mechanics

If you already have a voice, tone, and style guide, make sure you use it consistently because these elements make a difference in a user’s engagement on your website. They help your organization’s content connect with your website audiences by:

  • Making you stand out from your competitors
  • Building trust through shared values
  • Delivering relevant messages that convey your understanding of their needs

Discover & Use Your Brand Voice

Voice is your health care organization’s brand personality. Your voice helps you establish a relationship with your website visitor and should be consistent. If you don’t have a documented organizational voice, you can start discovering it by examining your brand standards. Don’t have brand standards? Then consider your organization’s mission, values, and key messages. These provide the foundation to guide you and your stakeholders as you create a well-defined voice that connects with your audience.

Hospitals and health care systems often use variations on authoritative, conversational, or supportive brand voices.

    • Authoritative – Formal language that carries a sense of professionalism, experience and persuasive thought leadership.

Benefit Health leads the Midwest in the diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disease. You can trust our cardiac and vascular teams—composed of highly trained heart, vascular and thoracic specialists, nurses, and technicians—to provide comprehensive care.

    • Conversational – Informal language with a more natural, familiar approach that seems caring, informative and respectful.

Stay close to home while benefiting from exceptional heart and vascular care. At Benefit Health, you gain access to highly trained specialists and the same advanced treatments available at the nation’s most elite medical centers—all in a caring, comfortable community hospital setting.

  • Supportive – Casual language filled with personality, enthusiasm, willingness to help, and sometimes slang that seems relaxed, like talking to a trusted friend.
    Put your heart in our hands. If you need a heart care doctor, call on Benefit Health’s heart and vascular specialists. You’ll have access to the latest technology and experienced staff who will be with you every step of the way.

Review these three organizations to see the impact of voice on content about the same condition – depression.

  • Mayo Clinic – Uses an authoritative, somewhat formal, matter-of-fact voice in its health information to describe depression. Content functions similarly to an encyclopedia entry. Even though the content is written in second person (“you”), it’s serious and projects little personality. The advantage of this type of voice and defined structure is that it’s easy to create and update. The disadvantage is that the voice may seem too clinical and detached for the readers looking for a more personal, compassionate touch to patient care and health information.
  • WebMD – Reflects a casual magazine-like feel. Depression content is straightforward and respectful, but written in second person for a more conversational and personable voice. The advantage of this type of voice and content is that it’s credible, but with a more casual approach that invites the audience to develop a relationship with the organization. The disadvantage is that to achieve the brand voice, the writing style must maintain a careful balance between communicating information that’s medically accurate and understandable to a patient audience. This consistent balance can be hard to achieve.
  • – Adopts a supportive voice with sympathetic and friendly content. The depression information is informal, yet courteous, avoids jargon, and answers consumers’ questions about the condition. The advantage of this type of voice and content is that it’s enthusiastic, warm, and encourages interaction. The disadvantage is that this voice may sound too casual or unprofessional for some readers looking for a more formal voice.

For many health care brands, a conversational voice written in second person is appropriate because it can convey empathy and respect, and it’s able to be more or less enthusiastic or emotional as needed for the subject. Decide which voice best conveys your organization’s personality and then commit to using that voice consistently across all communications.

Your Tone Matters

Tone is a part of your brand voice. Voice, however, stays the same in speech, while tone changes naturally depending on the person or situation. It’s the same principle for written communication—your tone may differ depending on the type of message you want to convey. Tone is more than just words. It’s the way your organization communicates about what it does and who it is. If your tone is right, it can influence patients and prospects to feel the same way you do about your health care brand.

Just how important is tone to creating valuable content? Consider an experiment by Nielsen Norman Group (NNG), a leading user experience research group. NNG found that “different tones of voice on a website have measurable impacts on users’ perceptions of a brand’s friendliness, trustworthiness, and desirability. Casual, conversational, and moderately enthusiastic tones performed best.”

The experiment’s findings also suggest that those perceptions “significantly influence users’ willingness to recommend a brand.” That means the tone is important.

Put together a brand identity with a well-defined voice and tone, and you have a powerful message. Here’s an example of these elements working together:

Benefit Health Brand Messaging:

  1. Together, we’re taking good care of you.
  2. The right care, in the right place, at the right time.
  3. Access to high-quality care close to home.


  • Approachable clinical expert


  • Straightforward, warm, welcoming, easy to understand

Sample Copy
As the largest employer in the region and its leading healthcare provider, we interact every day with people we know and care deeply about—neighbors, friends, and family. The thread of Benefit Health is woven through the fabric of eastern Iowa. Our patients feel the personal connection and extra compassion from being cared for by a neighbor or friend.

Now that you’ve seen what voice and tone can add to your copy let’s look at style.

Why Do We Need a Writing Style?

Content represents your health care organization best when written with a consistent style. Your writing style guide helps your team use your brand voice, tone, and editorial style uniformly across all communication channels. This consistency can aid your organization in becoming an identifiable, credible leader in your health care market.

Your organization’s writing style guide should include:

  • Reference to a preferred common style manual, such as The Associated Press Stylebook or another resource, and dictionary along with notes about your organization’s exceptions
  • Industry-specific terms, for example, do you prefer robot-assisted surgery, robotic-assisted surgery, or robotic surgery?
  • Organization-specific terms, such as department or location names
  • Voice and tone, with examples of sentences that do and don’t match it
  • Formatting guidelines, such as when and how to use bold text and bulleted lists
  • Guidance on meeting accessibility and readability standards
  • Web writing practices to help maintain user focus and engagement

Document Your Brand Voice, Tone & Style

If your healthcare organization does not have a voice, tone, and style guide, it’s worth your time to develop one. You’ll benefit from creating and using brand voice, tone, and writing style because it makes it easy for anyone working for your organization—internally and externally—to communicate consistently with your website visitors. These standardized elements will help your team:

  • Align messaging in all content
  • Increase productivity as they find answers to their questions quickly
  • Produce quality communications with fewer drafts
  • Strengthen your brand through content that engages your audience

Make sure you’re helping your patients and prospects get to know your organization’s personality, so they feel comfortable getting services from you. Use your voice, tone, and style guide consistently across all communication channels.

Need Help?
If you need help shaping your organization’s voice, tone or setting up style guidelines, contact the writing experts at Geonetric. We’re here to work with you!

10 Must-have CMS Features for Healthcare Organizations

Changing CMS platforms

Selecting the right CMS for your organization is an important decision. The platform you choose can either help or hinder your internal team’s efficiency. Its ability to integrate can make or break your other martech-stack investments. And at the end of the day, the features and functionality it offers changes the experience your site visitors have on your site.

According to Geonetric’s recent 2020 Healthcare Digital Marketing Trends Survey, 25% of healthcare provider respondents indicated they recently completed a platform change, are in the middle of a change, or are in the planning stages.

In that same survey, the respondents listed core capabilities such as a provider directory along with conversion opportunities in the form of bill payment and appointment scheduling as the most important features of healthcare websites. Video visits and other features that enable telehealth continue to gain importance. Up-and-coming capabilities — such as chatbots, mobile apps, and Alexa Skills — are not currently seen as important components of healthcare digital experiences.

10 must-have features for hospitals, health systems, and medical clinics

Let’s review some of the must-have features that are the foundation of impressive digital experiences in healthcare, looking deeper at capabilities survey respondents mentioned, as well as the administrative features that make doing the work easier.

1. Intuitive content editor

How important a content editor is to your team may depend on the skillsets of your individual team members as well as how many different teams will be adding content. Choosing an easy-to-use content editor makes it stress-free for any content administrator — from novice to expert — to find, author, edit, preview, and publish web pages. Be sure your solution allows you to easily create pages on the fly without extensive HTML knowledge.

2. Strong workflow features

Governance is key to a successful CMS platform. Content needs to be reviewed for accuracy, and organizational protocols need to be respected in terms of reviews, approvals, and change notifications. Be sure to find a CMS that offers sophisticated workflow management and permissions that allow you to share the work of creating quality content while maintaining control over brand standards.

3. Robust provider directory

There’s a reason the provider directory was the number one feature listed in terms of importance in the Healthcare Digital Marketing Trends Survey. According to McKinsey & Company, 84% of health consumers view digital solutions as the most effective way to search for a doctor. If you can select a CMS that already has a built-in provider directory with all the necessary features, you’ll be one step ahead. If not, you’ll want to ensure you are integrating with, or building from scratch, a sophisticated provider directory.

Regardless of whether it’s built-in or being built, be sure your provider directory: integrates with your credentialing system; offers provider search; allows you to build engaging provider profiles that display insurance accepted and other important details consumers use in making decisions; adds markup to profiles; and, of course, offers ratings and reviews integration.

4. Other healthcare-specific modules and directories

Although provider directories top the list of must-have features and functionality, a good web experience helps consumers find the content they need regardless of how they start searching. That why other core directories such as locations, services, and calendar and events are also important. Outside of directories, be sure your CMS solution also offers other modules and functionality, such as wait-time indicators and clinical trials.

5. Dynamic content and personalized experiences

Creating customized experiences is a popular trend among healthcare marketers, but according to our research, personalization on the web still lags behind email and print as an area in which marketers are actively investing. Although only a small percentage of respondents said they are personalizing content — predominantly around geography-based personalization — those that are doing so are finding it successful.

As you evaluate solutions, you’ll want to ensure they will support your needs if you decide to offer personalization based on geography or user behavior. What’s most important is that your CMS offers a way to put site visitors on a path to a conversion point (schedule an appointment, etc.) through the use of dynamic content. For example, Geonetric’s VitalSite platform offers personalization panels that connect provider, service, location, and calendar and events directories — as well as any other pieces of structured content on your site — and cross-promotes the information your site visitors need, regardless of how they navigate your site.

6. Flexibility and scalability

The makeup of your organization today might look a lot different in the future — mergers and acquisitions are on the rise. Healthcare mergers and acquisitions had a record year in 2018, up 14.4% from 2017. 2019 and 2020 were also very active years in terms of merger and acquisition activity, although the disruptions caused by COVID-19 certainly impacted the second half of 2020.

Regardless, today’s healthcare marketers need a platform that will accommodate the acquisition of a new medical clinic or hospital on the fly. From easily adding new doctors to the provider directory to folding in new facilities into the location directory to managing multiple sites under one platform with one login, make sure your CMS is scalable and offers multi-site support.

7. Healthcare-level security — in forms, too

Healthcare organizations are held to high standards when it comes to security due to protecting personal health information. Make sure the solutions you are evaluating incorporate high-level security that controls access to content, uses a role-based security model, automatically encrypts sensitive information, and meets HIPAA compliance standards.

Forms are another important aspect to consider when looking at your CMS solutions as they are the critical conversion point for site visitors indicating they’d like to engage with your organization. Make sure your CMS offers a way for you to easily create, manage, and deploy online forms and enable workflows that follow HIPAA-compliant submissions best practices.

8. Integrations

Your website is only one piece of an ever-evolving martech stack that usually includes a customer relationship management (CRM) system, eCommerce solution, and marketing automation or email platform — all of which are likely big investments for your organization. Make sure your potential solution integrates with your existing technology stack to ensure you can deliver the best possible experience on your site and share data between systems.

9. Built-in SEO

Some optimization efforts are on-page — how you develop content to align with searchers’ queries. But some of it is technical and comes down to how your CMS is built. If you’re not careful, the platform you choose could hold you back. Look for a solution that aids your efforts with built-in search engine optimization (SEO) functionality such as physician and location markup, canonical URLs, and metadata. Just the way your site is coded impacts page speed, a ranking indicator, so be sure you choose a CMS that is thoughtful about SEO.

10. Evolving platform

Too often, after a large investment in a new platform, it can quickly become outdated. Be sure to invest in a system that is being invested in, especially in this fast-moving digital world where small changes to a Google algorithm can have big impacts on your rankings if your platform doesn’t comply. ( markup, anyone?)

Although Geonetric builds websites on multiple platforms, our own propriety system, VitalSite, regularly gets new features and functionality, and our clients receive those at no additional costs.

Choosing the right platform for your organization

There’s so much more to think about as well when it comes to choosing a platform, including accessibility and analytics, but evaluating your CMS options by these 10 features (at a minimum) will help set you up for success today and in the future.

If you’d like to learn more about our VitalSite CMS solution, be sure to schedule a demo, or contact us to learn about how we can help you on other solutions such as WordPress, Drupal, or Sitecore.

If you’re still not sure what platform is right for you, reach out. We’ve helped healthcare organizations pick the right CMS for them based on their unique needs, team skillsets, and technology stack — and we’d be happy to help your organization evaluate potential solutions.

Healthcare Website Design Portfolio

You can have a hospital website that achieves an amazing user experience and embraces the latest trends in design. Download this eBook and see examples of how healthcare organizations like yours:

  • Build designs that cater to new technologies and mobile devices
  • Tell their brand story with the latest design trends
  • Keep user experience top of mind at all times, while still executing award-winning and eye-catching designs

Want to see more? Be sure to check out our latest design case studies.


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6 Big Content Strategy Considerations When Choosing a CMS

Today’s healthcare marketers demand more in a CMS. It needs to not only house hundreds of pages of content about services, doctors, and providers, but it also needs to offer governance tools to keep content up-to-date and provide an appropriate engine for hosting content marketing and marketing assets.

And managing these throngs of marketing opportunities becomes a bit more complex as you start to weigh all the CMS options in the marketplace. If your current platform is giving you headaches and draining your team’s human and financial resources, it might be time to see what’s on the market.

But as the guardian of your brand’s marketing, what should you look for when it comes to content strategy inside a CMS?

Here are some areas where you can start to bring content strategy considerations into the mix once you start comparing CMS options.

1. Site navigation

Site navigation is essential to any user experience (UX), including healthcare, and managing public-facing navigation is a big task.

An ideal CMS should make it easy to create, update, reorder, or restructure any navigation element to properly maintain the hierarchical browsing experience of your site, from global navigation to the footer.

Healthcare websites often comes with complex structure, many of which require deep parent/child relationship pages to exist. But without the ability to properly build these pages or move or restructure navigation as needed, you’re doing your UX a disservice.

In the same breath, the CMS should let you easily update domain information and set proper redirects as necessary. At the end of the day, the question of “where stuff lives” should be easy to control by you and your team without jumping through hoops to get there.

2. Taxonomy and dynamic content

What is taxonomy? Taxonomy is a branch of science concerned with classifying things, often in groups. In healthcare, that’s often things like services, doctors, locations, and more.

Taxonomy that’s built into the CMS can do a lot of the legwork for you by eliminating planning and implementing your own classifications. But you should also want a CMS that gives you the freedom and flexibility to create additional taxonomy configurations if you need them, such as those used for content marketing hubs.

When taxonomy is executed well, it delivers one-stop experiences for potential patients, displaying related information throughout your site without too much manual work by your team.

3. File storage and management

Whether you’re building an intranet or a public-facing website, having up-to-date files — such as images and PDFs — available for patients and web visitors to download with ease is a must. Extra points go to the CMS that allows you to easily overwrite and version control your files so that you’re using the most current version available.

If you need to protect your files, check for public and secure file options so you can control their release.

Most importantly, a single asset management “home” in the CMS means you can easily link to files when and where it’s appropriate rather than having to upload them uniquely to each page where it’s referenced, saving you time if you need to update the file in the future. Publish once, link everywhere!

4. Content strategy & author experience

Content is a big word. It can include everything from writing and placing copy on a page to building the design layout of the page with callouts and images to structured content and taxonomy that allows admins to “write once, publish everywhere” across the site.

While you may be solely responsible for content strategy and authoring, some organizations have multiple team members with admin access to edit and publish pages or content. Choosing a CMS that streamlines the access but controls the quality is a worthwhile consideration.

When reviewing the authorship experience, check if the CMS allows:

  • Ability to easily edit content and see live or preview changes
  • Ease of uploading and linking to or embedding files, including images or videos
  • Access to version control, including republishing previous versions, or noting version changes to share with other administrators
  • Control to adjust pages and templates at will, including placing related and dynamic content on the page, adding callouts or feature content, and more
  • Ability to adjust taxonomy to dynamically display related content across the site

When it comes to structured content, see what the platforms you’re reviewing have to offer. In healthcare, some prebuilt structured content, like location directories and provider profiles, can lift a heavy load off your shoulders and give you a leg up with a fully integrated system and manageable governance going forward.

It’s possible you and your team would prefer a blank slate — even a CMS that isn’t built specifically for healthcare. This puts you and your team in the development driver’s seat, giving you full control over the taxonomy and structured experience you build. It might take more strategic planning and implementation considerations, too, so you’ll need to think about the kind of time you have to devote to it.

If you’re allowed a lot of freedom in the content experience, see if your CMS allows you to build example templates in the back-end so your team can reference them as they continue to build and edit pages across the site. Voice, tone, and style guidelines can also help keep your team rowing in the same direction when it comes to your content experience.

5. Search and findability

How a page is searched, both via search engines and on-site search, is vital to UX.

Keyword research that identifies common terms and phrases used by your audience or communities should drive how you write copy and control search components. Seek a CMS that allows you the ability to:

  • Craft unique, page-specific page titles
  • Develop unique, appropriate meta descriptions to influence search engine users
  • Apply keywords to pages of content or taxonomy to engage the on-site search experience
  • Insert proper redirects when pages are moved throughout your site’s structure

If your current CMS is automatically configuring this information for you, it could be doing more damage than you realize. Having the power to control your search engine optimization experience is an important factor in any website manager’s role.

6. Governance tools

Your team members have various skills, roles, and responsibilities. Those roles may have a wide reach or a narrow, specific purpose. But keeping your team working together means knowing who’s capable of what and when — also known as governance.

Choose a CMS that has pre-structured governance workflows and permissions to keep your site healthy. As you’re CMS shopping, check for:

  • Permission settings, such as the ability for a page to be “saved” but not “published” until a specific person or role approves
  • Workflow status, which can send pages to various people in the organization for final approval and publishing rights
  • Version control and the ability to republish or revisit a previous version
  • Notes and open communication spaces built-in so team members can communicate with one another within the CMS

Document your team’s roles, responsibilities, and capabilities, too, as these lay an important foundation and shared understanding among your team’s operation.

BONUS: The right CMS partner

You need a partner who understands your needs and can bring experience and expertise alongside your new system.

Maybe you have a team of dozens supporting your site but need strategic guidance to stay ahead, or you’re a team of one and need assistance with the day-to-day operation of your website. No matter the case, it’s important to understand both the abilities and availability of your internal resources and find the right partner to either complement those skills or fill any gaps.

Whether you’re choosing open-source solutions like Drupal or WordPress, or proprietary, healthcare-specific software solution like VitalSite®, it’s essential that you have a team who can support you.

But what’s the difference?

Proprietary software teams likely live within a company, but as owners of the software they take the task of ensuring compliance with PCI and HIPAA off your plate. They’re also responsible for software upgrades and bug fixes or patches.

Open source gives your team an array of freedom and control on the final product, but often leaves it in your hands to ensure compliance. You’ll also be responsible for finding reliable plug-ins that are trustworthy, secure, and updated regularly to deliver expected functionality.

No matter what CMS you choose, you’ll want to have access to experts who can provide troubleshooting and upgrades while keeping your CMS running efficiently and delivering the best possible web experience across a host of devices.

And don’t be afraid to ask potential partners about skills beyond CMS expertise, too. Digital marketing skills — including content development, paid advertising services, design assistance, and more — can be helpful additions to even a robust marketing team.

Let us help

Contact the Geonetric team today if you need helping selecting the right platform or want to learn about the CMS platforms we support.

7 Tips for Google My Business Success

Online listing management can seem like a daunting task. Many healthcare organizations have hundreds or thousands of location and provider listings that require ongoing maintenance. Inconsistent or inaccurate data can misdirect patients and consumers, which can hurt your reputation and your revenue.

But, intimidating though it may seem, online listing management is critical today.

In 2019, Google reported that 63% of mobile searches were no-click searches. This means that Google answered the search query themselves without users clicking through to a website. Through various featured callouts, structured snippets, knowledge panels, and most often, Google My Business (GMB) listings, Google can deliver the information that searchers are looking for without ever sending them to a website. Assuming that 63% of people will not be clicking through to your website, do your business listings give users what they need?

Consumers have come to expect accuracy with everything we find online. Patients looking for care are no different. Ensuring that all of your locations and providers are claimed, verified, and accurate in GMB is a significant first step to addressing this. However, it should not be the last step. It is essential to understand that managing your online listings is not a one-and-done task. Ongoing optimization and management are just as crucial to ensuring your information is accurate for patients, both existing and potential, who are searching for care.

So if you’re looking to invest more in business listing management, here are seven tips to optimize and help your listing rank in Google:

1. Work with internal stakeholders

If you are in charge of creating and maintaining your business listings, reach out to the key people at the different locations or within your organization. Let them know the importance of having accurate data in your listings. Request that they let you know when a provider leaves or if information changes for their location. Let them know who to contact if they receive comments or questions based on inaccurate information. They are the ones who hear the patient feedback most: “Google says you open at 8:00 a.m.” or “I couldn’t find the building,” etc. Encourage them to pass that feedback onto you so you can resolve the misinformation online. Or, consider creating an internal ticket system to request changes to establish an efficient flow of information.

2. Choose the right primary category

Google is going to show listings that are most relevant to the user’s search query. Although you can add multiple categories to your listing, the primary category should best represent your location or provider as it is the only one that users can see on your listing. Look at your listing insights to see what terms users are searching for when they come across your listing. For example, if you use the primary category of “Medical Center” when “Urgent Care” would be a better fit for that location, you may be missing out on potential traffic or rankings. If your category isn’t an option in the GMB dashboard, you can reach out to GMB Support and request it be added.

3. Make sure your website is the source of truth

One of the top foundational ranking factors for Google listings is that there is synergy between the name, address, and phone number (NAP) and the corresponding GMB listing. If necessary, create a web governance checklist so that when people make changes to a name, address, phone number, or hours on the website, they also make them on the Google listing or notify someone of the changes.

4. Drive the user to the right page

Imagine this scenario: a user conducts a Google search for “urgent care near me.” Your listing shows up first in the local 3-pack, the prominent map listing in search results that presents users the three businesses that Google considers most relevant to their query and location. Great! The user sees that the location is nearby and clicks the website link to learn more about provided services. If this links to a service line page that doesn’t include location information, the user can become frustrated. It is good to remember that every search is really a question and every click should be an answer to that question. The information on your website must match the listing so that it can most accurately answer the searchers’ question. If you have a listing for urgent care, there should be information for urgent care locations. If you have a listing for a cardiology department and you link to a cardiology service line page, you should ensure that page has location information in sync with the corresponding business listing.

5. Add photos and videos

According to Google’s own data, “Businesses with photos receive 42% more requests for driving directions to their location from users on Google and 35% more clicks through to their websites than businesses that don’t have photos.” It is essential to upload your own, professional photos to each listing so that your images have a better chance of displaying over images that Google users can upload. If you have videos of your providers or virtual tours of a location, consider adding them to the appropriate listings. Photos and videos encourage engagement with your listing, and that is a key ranking factor on Google.

6. Check for updates regularly
Take the time, preferably on a weekly basis, to check your listings for updates in the GMB dashboard. These updates could be based on user-suggested changes or Google’s crawl of your site. Often times, these updates can be a change to the business hours or website URL. If this task is left to Google’s automation, you may find incorrect, inconsistent, or outdated information on your listings. This leads to frustration and poor user experience but can be avoided with a regular maintenance task.

7. Use UTM Parameters

Also known as Urchin Tracking Module (UTM) codes, UTM parameters are snippets of code that are appended to URLs to track different sources of traffic to your website from various advertising and marketing channels and tactics. While having UTM parameters won’t affect your local listing ranking, they will allow you to get a better understanding of what listings are driving the most traffic to your site and how users are engaging with your site from there. You should use UTM parameters for both your website and appointment URLs, if applicable. There are several tools to help you create your UTM tracking code, such as the Google Campaign URL Builder. You can also use an Excel spreadsheet to build and keep track of all your UTMs. Make sure you’re using a consistent naming convention for all of your online listings, so your data aggregates as accurately as possible in Google Analytics.

Take control of your data

Maintaining an active and ongoing role in your online listings management is important. While the first initial time investments can be significant, ongoing maintenance may just take a little bit of time every week or every month. That continuous pruning and care can make all the difference in preventing issues from coming up and snowballing into more significant problems. Plus, it helps ensure you are meeting the needs of the 63% of people who inevitably don’t visit your site.

If you need help getting the ball rolling or locating the most substantial pain points, we can help you. We work with healthcare organizations around the country to manage their listings and can use our insight to help you optimize your listings. We can perform a business listings audit and help create a plan of action for addressing any problem areas that we find as well as create an ongoing maintenance strategy.

Remember, Google and other listings providers rely on automatic algorithms and user input to provide information. Do not leave your information up to that process. Take control of your data and maintain it for ongoing digital health.

Redesign Connects Patients to a Growing Health System

Like most healthcare organizations face at one time or another, North Mississippi Health Services (NMHS) had outgrown their web presence. Not only was it not responsive, but it was also too focused on their flagship hospital North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo, MS. The organization, whose volumes have grown tremendously over the last few years, includes community hospitals in six locations throughout north Mississippi and northwest Alabama, as well as a network of more than 45 primary and specialty clinics. Their site wasn’t adequately presenting the services available at the system level or representing that new brand.

They turned to Geonetric to help them build and design an updated site on a new content management system (CMS) that solved their current user experience issues, and also set the growing system up for success in the future.

Create Unified and Patient-Focused Strategy and Design

Many of NMHS’s goals centered on creating a more patient-friendly web experience that makes it easy for users to navigate the site.

Geonetric’s content strategy team helped the NMHS team bring their user-focused goals to life throughout the entire site. Starting with a content inventory, the team documented every piece of content on the current site, identified gaps and created a plan for the new site.

This in-depth work helped NMHS understand missed opportunities when users can’t see the full breadth of services available at the system level and solidified the benefits of taking a system-centric approach with the new site. From there the team defined primary, secondary and footer navigation using intuitive labeling. They also developed a content matrix to give NMHS detailed, page-by-page guidance and structures to make sure the content on the new site addressed users’ needs.

With an information architecture in place, Geonetric’s design team collaborated with content strategy to build on their foundation with a new, user-focused design. Beginning with a wireframe, the design team was able to map NMHS’s vision with proven design and development best practices.

The responsive design breaks content down thoughtfully on different devices while keeping top transactional conversions at site visitors’ fingertips. It was also important to keep their system brand front and center at every opportunity while adhering to brand guidelines. Working to bring NMHS’s tagline and brand promise of “What connected feels like” to life, our designers thoughtfully selected images that give an immediate feeling of connectivity and warmth.

Increasing online interactions around top transactional paths was also an important objective in the redesign. Content strategy and design worked together to develop eye-catching task navigation that puts top tasks front-and-center, including NMHS’s recent Epic integration.

Support Growth with a Scalable CMS

With VitalSite, the NMHS team has the power of a healthcare-specific CMS at their fingertips, as well as the ability to easily add content, images and different page layouts.

VitalSite’s four core directories helped bring NMHS’s transactional goals to life, offering user-friendly provider, services, locations and calendar directories that interrelated, creating a personalized and intuitive conversion path for visitors regardless of how they navigate the site.

The NMHS team saw VitalSite’s scalability firsthand when just weeks before launch the growing health system acquired a new hospital and clinics that needed to be woven into the site by go-live. Together the teams easily accommodated the new facilities in the information architecture and the provider, locations, and services directories, making the go live date without worry and truly bringing a new, bigger brand to life online.

Deliver Results

Since launch in late February 2019, organic traffic to landing pages has increased by 57%, with most organic users landing in the locations and medical services section. Overall organic page views have increased by 18%, organic clicks in Google have increased by 24% and their average position in Google has improved by 35%.

With 48% of users visiting from a mobile device, the organization was thrilled to see mobile bounce rates decrease by 15%. In fact, they now enjoy mobile bounce rates lower than the industry average.

User engagement is better across the site, as evidenced by a 47% increase in pages per session and a 21% increase in the average session duration.

Best Practices for Writing Online Location Profile Content for Hospitals & Healthcare Systems

When to Create a Location Profile

Creating individual location pages is good for SEO because it localizes your services to a particular area. Make a location profile if the facility has unique information in one or more of the following categories:

  • Address, including suite number if applicable
  • Hours of operation
  • Phone number

Locations Within a Larger Location

Sometimes, you will have a location within another location that provides specialized services to a distinct audience. For example, an emergency room, outpatient therapy office, pharmacy, or gift shop may be located inside your hospital, or a medical home supply store may be located inside a clinic or doctor’s office. Make an individual profile for a specialized location if it has a unique suite number and different contact information or hours of operation than the location it resides within.

How SEO Fits Into the Equation

Learn strategies that can guide users to what they’re seeking and help search engines like Google understand a location profile’s content and rank the page accordingly.

What are Your Location Strategy Goals?

Before you start writing, understand your location strategy and ask yourself the following:

  • What do you want to accomplish with your location’s web presence? How will you measure success?
  • What do you want users to learn when they come to your location’s webpage?
  • What should they do after visiting your location’s webpages – make an appointment, pick up the phone, download a brochure, or visit?
  • What services does this facility offer and what do you want to highlight?
  • What certifications or accreditations does your location have? What awards has your location received?
  • What does your current online presence do well, and what could be improved?

What to Include in Your Location Content

Your location content should describe the particular facility, distinguish it from competitors, and answer user questions. Consider including the following, when applicable, if they’re unique to the location:

  • Accreditation, awards, and/or certifications
  • Admission criteria and what to bring and expect during admission and discharge
  • Amenities (gift shop, dining options, etc.)
  • Appointment and preregistration information
  • Contact information
  • Hours of operation, including holiday hours and special circumstances
  • Insurance and billing information
  • Interactive map that indicates the location’s address—and, preferably, links to directions. You may also consider adding written directions (“Take the I-380 exit”) and onsite wayfinding details (“Turn right at the front desk”).
  • Parking information
  • Patient forms and information about how to prepare for your visit
  • Photos, videos, and virtual tours
  • Provider team members and their approach to care
  • Proximity to additional services patients may need
  • Wait times
  • Visiting hours

This information improves your SEO and gives users with a better online experience with your location and brand. Google values informative, user-focused content, because it provides web visitors with the information they need and engages them on your site longer. This translates to higher search rankings and more traffic to your site. Valuable content can increase conversions because it makes users feel more confident choosing your facility for care.

User-Focused Keyword Targeting

Through effective keyword research and content development, you can write unique content for your location pages, even when they offer similar services. Research what terms users search for in your area. Then, strategically choose keywords related to your location, and include them in your copy. Use these keywords to build out content about those subjects, answering users’ questions.

Highlight Your Services

List the services you offer at the location. Briefly explain each one to help users who may not be familiar with a procedure or treatment. Strategic, SEO-focused phrasing is important to promote what you offer in a way that attracts users searching for care. For example, if a location offers immunizations and people in your geographic service area are looking for “flu vaccine,” include exactly this phrase. (Just take care to exclude any search terms that don’t accurately reflect your services.)

In-depth information about services and treatments should live outside of the location profile, in the website’s main service-line content. Avoid duplicate content – cross-link to that information from the location profile. This helps users learn about all the relevant services available throughout the health system or organization as a whole and navigate your website more easily.

What “About Us”?

If the location has unique “about-us” information, such as their own mission, vision or history, consider featuring it on the profile. But it shouldn’t take prominence over user-focused content. As always, keep the user in mind, and only present information that’s informative and may help your audience take action or further understand your brand.

Location Profile Conversion Points

Make it easy for users to take the next step and accomplish their goals with actionable links. Featured links may differ depending on a location’s needs, but could include:

  • Appointment scheduling
  • Billing
  • Medical records
  • Patient forms
  • Wait times

Provider Profile Content

Most information about your providers should live on their profile pages. But you can help users get provider information they’re looking for without multiple clicks. Include certain provider content—such as names, photos, and specialties—on relevant location profiles, and then link the photos to the provider profiles for more in-depth information. Geonetric’s software, VitalSite, makes it easy thanks to dynamic content population of related providers or relevant pages of your site.

Get Started Today

Whether you’re creating one robust hospital location profile, three urgent care clinic profiles, or hundreds of medical group office location profiles, find expert help building your strategy and writing keyword-rich, user-first content from Geonetric.

How to Write Alternative Text and Improve the Accessibility of Your Hospital’s Website

The good news is that Geonetric is here to help. Let’s start with the basics.

What is alternative text and why do I need it?

People who have low vision or who are blind typically use assistive technology called screen readers. A screen reader does exactly what it sounds like: It reads what is on the screen. Proper HTML markup is important so that screen readers announce things properly.

When a screen reader encounters an image, it says a phrase like “graphic,” followed by whatever text is added as the alternative text, also known as alt text. If this alt text does not exist, some screen readers will try to guess what the image is by reading the file name.

By applying alternative text to your images, you’ll help people with low vision or blindness understand the context (and content) of the page. Often in healthcare marketing, we add images to pages to elicit an emotional response, or tie the content together in a visual way. For people who can’t see the content or pictures, an alternative text description can help fill that gap.
Alternative text is necessary for screen readers, but it also:

  • Displays if a person disables images from loading
  • Displays if a path to an image is broken
  • Helps web crawlers understand what your image is about so it can be properly indexed

How do I add alternative text?

There are multiple ways to add alternative text to images, but the most common method is to use the alt attribute. In HTML, you’ll find the alt attribute looks like this:

<img src="image.gif" alt="This is alternative text" />

When using a content management system (CMS) like Vitalsite, WordPress, or Drupal there is typically a field to enter alt text when adding an image to a page. Then, the CMS generates the HTML markup.

How do I write good alt text?

Writing good alt text is a bit of an art form. Your goal is to write a description that gives a blind user an equivalent experience to a sighted user—not more, not less. It’s also important to take into consideration the context of why the image is on the page in the first place.

For example, a page about a birth center may have an image of a sleeping baby. In this instance, “sleeping infant” may be all that’s necessary to describe the image.

Now let’s take that same image and put it on a page titled “Safe Sleeping for Infants.” This time, instead of “sleeping infant,” you may need to say “Infant, laying on her back in a crib,” so the image has more appropriate detail on context with the topic.

Example of infant in a crib as previously described

Alternative text best practices

When it’s time to add images to your page or website, or you’re ready to go back and fill in all your missing alt attributes, keep these best practices handy:

1. Don’t include “This is an image of…” in your alternative text. Screen readers will announce “image” or “graphic” before reading the alternative text. Adding “Photo of…” is redundant and clunky to the user’s experience.

However; an exception to this rule applies if you’re describing a work of art and its context is vital to the experience. You’ll see alternative text for art such as, “Sculpture of David by Michelangelo” or “Lithograph by M. C. Escher titled Drawing Hands.”

2. Describe only what you see. Avoid attempting to interpret feelings or emotions, or provide more information than a visual user would receive.

Example image, described in the following paragraph

Take for instance the above image. This image’s alt text could say, “Nurse talking to an elderly couple at Benefit Health Cancer Center.” However, this is providing more information than a visual user would get. Why? Because the image doesn’t explicitly state where this scene is taking place. This couple could be at home, or in an assisted living facility. We also don’t know if this is a “cancer” discussion or just an at-home visit. Remember: If it’s not obvious to a sighted user, don’t include it in the alt text. We’re aiming to deliver an equal experience to all by allowing the user to interpret images based on their journey and emotions.

3. Don’t keyword stuff your alternative text. Alternative text, like the other text on your site, should be realistic and human, and simply describe the image. Keyword stuffing is a black hat practice and won’t get you any points with the search. In the end, it just delivers a poor experience to people using a screen reader.

4. Avoid abbreviations or technical terms. Again, like other content on your site, you should be considering the health literacy and experience of the real people using your site, particularly patients and healthcare consumers. Medical jargon and abbreviations might mean something to your doctors, but they’re not so clear to a patient or someone with lower health literacy. Aim for clear, people-friendly terminology that’s easy to understand.

5. Keep the alternative text concise, approximately 250 characters or less. Use a character counter in your word processor or through tools online to check the length and stay within best practices. You won’t be penalized if you go over this amount, but it will likely annoy people using a screen reader.

6. Complex images may need more consideration. Detailed and complex images, like charts and graphs, may require more than the “best practice” 250 characters to adequately describe the image. In these cases, it’s best to give a brief description in the alt text, followed by a long description. There are several different ways to accomplish this, but the easiest is by adding a few paragraphs of text describing the chart directly on the page.

Your alt text may be something like “Bar chart of procedures for the year. A detailed description follows.” Then, after the chart, you would add as much text as necessary to accurately describe it, listing each month and the number associated with it.

<img src="/images/chart.png" alt="Bar chart of procedures performed in 2019 by service line. Detailed description to follow." />

Example chart. Detailed description to follow

In 2018, Benefit Health performed 1,660 procedures and surgeries. This data represents a breakdown of seven critical departments responsible for these procedures. This data is captured through daily statistics throughout the healthcare system. The surgeries performed are as follows:

  • Bariatric surgery, also known as weight loss surgery: 91
  • Births in the birth center: 336
  • Cardiovascular (heart) surgery: 212
  • Colorectal surgery: 173
  • Emergency and trauma procedures: 632
  • Ear, nose, and throat surgeries: 129
  • Joint replacement (knee, shoulder, etc.): 87

Not only does this help people who are blind, but it also helps those patients or healthcare consumers who may have a hard time understanding charts.

7. Avoid using images of text. However, in rare instances (such as logos or word art), the alternative text should match the text in the image.

8. For images that are buttons, the alt text should describe the action. For example: If you have a form that uses an image of an arrow as the button to submit the form, the alternative text for the image should say “Submit,” rather than “arrow pointing right.”

9. For images that are links, the alt text should describe the destination. Do not include alt text that says “link to…” because screen readers will announce “link graphic” before the alternative text.

One common example is using Facebook’s “f” logo as a link to your organization’s Facebook page. In this instance, the alternative text should not be “Facebook logo” but instead “[Organization name] Facebook page”.

Does every image need alternative text?

No, not every image needs alternative text. If the image is purely decorative or redundant to the content on the page, then the alternative text is unnecessary. In these cases, keep the alt attribute empty.

How do I know if an image is decorative?

If you’re using our VitalSite CMS, most instances of decorative or redundant images are handled at the template level. This means your developers at Geonetric already did the hard part for you.

The majority of images you’ll add to your pages will need alternative text. If you’re ever questioning whether or not an image needs alternative text, the W3C has a handy decision tree that can help.

In the end, we’re here to deliver a good user experience.

Yes, alternative text can help you rank images in search. But more than anything, it’s important to deliver a website experience that’s equal for all. Failing to add alternative text only puts walls around content for real people and makes them question what they’re missing.

While alternative text falls parallel with other topics on “accessibility,” these guidelines and tips for best practices really are more about inclusive design—design for all. If you’d like help writing alternative text for your site or talking about other accessibility best practices, contact us.