Quick and Inexpensive Ways to Improve Your Natural Healthcare Practice Website

Practical tips for writing website copy that connects with your readers

By Deirdre Shevlin Bell

Printer Friendly PagePrinter Friendly Page

If you’re like most natural health practitioners, optimizing your website is on your priority list somewhere between “organize that old file drawer” and “compare and contrast scheduling systems.” It’s yet one more thing to do, and not one you feel particularly passionate about.

Plus, where do you start? You’re already spending your free time optimizing your expertise so you can provide the best care to your patients—going to conferences, reading journals like Natural Medicine Journal, and earning continuing education credits.

But trying to figure out how to build an online presence? That may seem daunting—especially if you assume it will require either immense money or time investments.

It's no wonder so many integrative practices have websites that have not been updated in years. The thought of yet one more thing to master—or several more things, if you think about the design, technical skills, SEO, and writing involved—is overwhelming.

But here's some good news: You can significantly improve the quality of your website without a major time or financial investment, and without needing to become an expert in yet one more thing.

Here's how: Instead of trying to write your homepage copy from scratch, you can do what professional copywriters do—start with a tried-and-true framework.

In this article, I'll share a homepage framework you can use to create an authentic online presence that connects you with your patients and attracts more of your ideal patients.

Homepage Template for Natural Healthcare Practices

I’ll preface this by saying that there are as many homepage templates as there are copywriters, but this is one that has worked well for me and my clients over the years. It's effective in any number of businesses, but especially businesses like yours—ones that depend on building trust and rapport, while reassuring your website visitors that you understand them.

1. The Welcome Mat: Header image with captivating headline

Think of your header image and headline as your welcome mat. They're the first thing your visitors see when they come to your site. You have only a few seconds to convince visitors to stick around rather than hitting the dreaded back button.

When choosing an image and writing your headline, you want your reader to think, "I've come to the right place."

That's why it's essential that your headline speak immediately and powerfully to your visitor's current state of mind. Connect with your visitor right away, and they'll keep on reading.

Easier said than done, right? But the good news is that formulas work here too—don't waste time trying to write them from scratch. Homepage headlines are different than blog or article headlines, since the homepage serves a more general purpose than an article or blog. Plus, it's higher stakes. But here are two that I like:

  • The “Get-to-the-Point” Headline. This straightforward approach to headline writing cuts all confusion and lets your reader know exactly what you do—quickly. Some examples are, “Holistic Care for the Whole Family” and “Houston’s Top-Rated SIBO Specialist.”
  • The “Straight From the Horse’s Mouth” Headline. With this approach, you use a short quote from a patient testimonial that sums up the benefits of working with you. Some examples, “I never knew a doctor could listen so well,” or “I had given up on finding relief, but then I found Dr. Jones.” Hearing about the benefits you provide from a patient lets your reader identify with your page immediately (more on that in #2).

Note: Headlines are usually the last thing I write, and I write around 20 of them before landing on the perfect one. You might find that going through the process of writing the rest of the copy first will help you find your headline.

2. What Can I do for You? Trust-inspiring website copy formula

You've hooked your reader. Nice work. Now it's time to dive into how you can help them.

Based on the hundreds of integrative practitioner websites I analyzed for this article, it appears most people think that means posting a CV-type history of who they are and what they do.

Sadly, that's a surefire way to lose people. The truth is that your homepage copy is not about you. It's about your reader.

Whenever you're writing web copy—or any words designed to make people want to place their trust in you—start by picturing the person you're looking to engage. If it helps, envision one of your favorite patients. I know, you're not supposed to choose favorites, but bear with me and imagine you're speaking directly to that person.

Now you're ready to connect with your readers in a genuine way that speaks to the reason they sought you out in the first place. To do that, you'll employ the PAAS (yep, like the Easter eggs) Formula:

Problem

Think of that favorite patient of yours. What brought her through your doors. Was it that conventional medicine had failed to fix her problems? Was it that she wanted to reduce side effects, feel more in control of her own health, or something else?

Speak to that problem, right off the bat. We'll get to you soon, but right now your reader needs to feel understood before she's ready to learn about you.

Agitation

After you've named the problem, you need to help your reader feel how that problem is affecting her life. This might sound like a mean trick, but it's not—it's just that people don't always see the depth of the ways their problems affect them. And if they don't really feel the problem, they're not as motivated to take action.

So if, for example, you're speaking to the problem "pharmaceuticals have failed to fix your problems," you might point out how your reader continues to waste time and money chasing after solutions through prescriptions, only to find herself feeling worse instead of better.

When your reader hears you speaking specifically to her problems and the effects they have on her life, she'll be more confident that you will truly understand what she's going through.

Advantages of solving the problem

Once that problem has been agitated, it's time to paint a picture of what life can be like when it's resolved. Think back to the feelings your favorite patient had when she finally started to see some progress. Describe those.

A good trick here is to write a bunch of sentences that start with "Imagine if …"

Imagine if you could hike with your dog again, without having to worry about that hip pain.

Imagine if your healthcare provider took the time to listen to you, instead of rushing you along so he could see 28 more patients that day.

Imagine if you had a way to cope with the side effects of your conventional treatment so you still had energy for your granddaughter's piano recital.

When you're putting these ideas into your copy, you don't need to keep the "Imagine if …" but it's a useful exercise mentally to illustrate how your patient's life may improve as a result of your care.

Solution

Finally, it's time to talk about yourself … with this caveat: You're still not going to talk about yourself the way you would on a resume. You want to keep the copy focused on the reader and how you can help her. Describe the solution you offer to the problem you addressed above.

3. The "Don't Take My Word For It" Section

Do you have any great testimonials? Degrees or certifications to highlight? Have you been featured in or written for any major publications? Now's the time to trot 'em out.

4. What Do I Do Now?

Get super clear on what you want your visitors to do on this page, and create a button that tells them what it is. Here are just a few possible actions you might want your visitors to take:

  • Schedule an appointment
  • Schedule a free consult
  • Download my guide to XXX
  • Learn more about our doctors
  • Call for more information

Tip: You don’t need to hire a graphic designer to make a custom button for you. Here’s a simple and free online button generator. If you want to get fancier, play around in Canva until you come up with something that works for you (also a great place to design header images, social media graphics, etc).

5. Here’s How to Reach Me

Don't make your readers jump through hoops to contact you. Use the footer on your homepage (and all the pages on your site) to list your contact information, including phone number, physical address, email, and any social media platforms you use. It's also helpful to have a "Contact Us" button displayed prominently in the top right-hand corner of the page.

The Final Pass

Now that you've crafted your homepage using this tried-and-true formula, it's time to fine tune. Read the copy over—out loud—and ask yourself these questions:

  1. Does anything sound unnatural, like you wouldn't say it out loud to a patient? If so, change it so it matches your conversational voice.
  2. Shift to "you" wherever possible. Whenever you come to a sentence whose subject is "I" or "we," see if you can shift it to make it "you" instead.
  3. Trim unnecessary words. Just because you're covering a lot of ground doesn't mean you need a novella to do it. Cut unnecessary language wherever you can. (Example: "I can show you how to get the very best results from your conventional medical treatments with the help of customized naturopathic principles" becomes "Get better results from conventional treatments with natural medicine.")
  4. Break sentences and paragraphs up whenever possible to improve readability. Writing web copy for consumers follows different rules than academic or journalistic writing, so you can toss most of what you learned in your research classes out the window.
  5. Choose clear over clever. Always. With short online attention spans, confusion is your enemy. It can be painful to chop a darling phrase or metaphor from your writing—especially if it came to you like a stroke of genius—but you have to do it. Write it down in your journal if you need to, to remind yourself of how clever you are. But on your homepage, clarity is king.

Get Started

Whether you're building a homepage from scratch or optimizing the one you already have, this trust-building copywriting template will help you hone your message and connect with your readers. Once your homepage is where you want it to be, you can work on improving the messaging across your site.

About the Author

Deirdre Shevlin Bell directs content for Natural Medicine Journal. She is a content strategist and copywriter whose company DSB Communications helps natural health and sustainability organizations tell their stories.