Many audiologists are unsure about whether they need just a single website or multiple websites. They are concerned about being able to get noticed and often think that having multiple websites will get them more attention. Sometimes they are even encouraged that their services are so unique that they should each have a separate website.
In nearly every situation, we recommend to our Audigy members that they have a single website. I will outline exactly why we believe that leveraging all your resources into a single website is the most efficient and effective way to build your brand’s presence online.
Building Website Authority
Before we discuss the benefits of having a single website, it’s important to understand the concept of website authority. Website authority is established with Google when websites follow their recommended best practices. There are an incredible amount of factors that Google considers. For the sake of brevity, I’ll discuss the impact of only a few best practices, like keyword-rich content, user experience, and inbound relevant links.
Google sends crawlers to websites across the internet to find content that the search engine’s users will deem useful. Google’s search engine organizes this content and serves it up to users. It seeks to answer users’ questions by connecting them with the best websites. Google tracks what users think of these websites: Did they seem to find what they were looking for? Did they quickly leave the website? Did they not click on the link? When websites provide positive results for these questions, Google awards them with authority.
Frequently, we see users just trying to understand basic information about hearing loss, what hearing loss treatment will entail, and what types of solutions are available. In this discovery stage, they may only know that they are experiencing hearing difficulties and may not know to search for terms like “tinnitus,” “conductive hearing loss,” or “invisible hearing aids.” Providing answers about all of these topics and helping assign them names builds your value with each user. This is likely a user’s first interaction with audiology, so we want to present our best selves.
A Single Hub of Content
The more relevant content on a website, the more likely it is to be awarded authority. I’ve always thought about this in terms of gravity; I once saw a visualization of gravity using a sheet that helped me understand that the greater the mass of an object in space, the greater the gravitational pull on surrounding objects. Content and authority can work in a similar fashion as mass and gravity. More relevant content on a website can lead to an increase in website authority. In the same way that gravity pulls in surrounding objects, website authority draws in more users to a website.
It is much easier to increase the authority of a single website than to increase the authority of multiple websites, as each requires that investment in its content. Content creation is work that is demanding of both time and money. Writing blog posts consistently, improving existing content, recording helpful videos, and sharing knowledge requires a significant amount of time. If that time investment is too burdensome, then content development has to be outsourced. Audigy’s digital team works with many of our audiologists to provide affordable audiology content-development services.
The goal of this content development is to make your website the hub for answering any user’s query related to hearing. Achieving this goal is much more realistic for most of our private practices when they leverage their time and resources on a single website instead of spreading themselves across multiple websites.
Better User Experience
Poor website experiences are like potholes: They happen all the time and they are very, very frustrating. Have you ever been reading something on a website only to be interrupted by a full-screen ad? Or had audio start playing automatically when you entered a site? These are major frustrations, but the little frustrations can be just as detrimental. Too many calls to action can leave the user feeling confused. Content that is too technical, broad, or unaware of the audience can leave a user feeling neglected. The goal of every website should be to make the user’s day.
User experience is something that should always be tested and improved. Authoritative websites have smooth interfaces that guide users to their answers without overloading them with irrelevant information. Audigy’s digital team employs A/B testing, heat mapping, and user journey tracking on our websites to test effectiveness. This type of testing can be time consuming and requires a large sample size to give us statistical confidence in our results. Splitting your inbound users between multiple websites decreases the sample size and requires that testing be performed differently on several websites.
There is no such thing as a perfect or finished version of a website. It has to be constantly evolving or it won’t have a competitive edge. Focusing efforts into a single website makes testing much more streamlined and effective.
The Recognized Local Expert
Another way Google determines authority is by how many relevant websites link to one specific site. If hundreds of websites use a specific site as a reference, that site is seen as an authority on that topic. Back in the dark ages of search engine optimization (SEO), companies used to try to trick Google by buying and selling thousands of links or spamming websites so they linked back to their own sites. We call these incorrect practices “black-hat SEO.” Google’s crawlers are now too smart for these tricks and will frequently penalize websites if they find this behavior.
Where our audiologists see the greatest competitive edge is in becoming the recognized local experts. Having local businesses, newspapers, blogs, and sources link to a website in relevant ways builds your authority on that topic locally. Locality and authority are weighed separately. You can be an authority but not have a local presence. WebMD is a great example of an authoritative site with little local presence. You could also rank for topics that aren’t local optimized; for example, one of our members’ most successful blog posts was on the topic of “Why Are My Ears Wet in the Morning?” This blog brings her traffic from across the United States.
Let me share a quick example of building your reputation with links from local, credible websites: If the local paper was writing about the effects of hearing loss, and I was quoted in the newspaper, the newspaper article could link to my website. In the eyes of the crawlers, this is hearing related, it is a credible source, and it’s local.
Practices with multiple websites have to achieve this in several parts instead of having a single website to focus on. Building that reputation with local businesses, newspapers, and blogs is much easier if they are linking to a single website.
Beware of Cannibals
One of the biggest concerns about having multiple websites is cannibalization. This is a marketing term we use to describe when you have an existing product at market and you introduce a new product that eats into its marketing share. Each individual website for your brand could potentially be competing with the others unless they are very carefully segmented. Some of our members have been encouraged by different associations to have a separate website for tinnitus. This goes against SEO best practices. Although tinnitus and hearing loss treatment may be two separate services, there is plenty of overlap in the type of content one writes about hearing loss and treatment methods. Plus, in most cases they are treated in the same location by the same brand. Google would be scoring these websites against each other. Practices expend so much effort to get their brands marketed that cutting into that should be a major concern.
Another concern is having two websites that refer back to each other. We’ve seen some practices choose to refer only to another of their own sites, and this way they can build thousands of links with their own websites. This is also something to be wary of as Google could penalize both websites for creating a false affiliate network. This is a common practice that black-hat SEO companies will use to boost the number of inbound links and inflate their website authority. While it may provide a short-term boost, once identified by Google, it will lead to penalties for both websites and undo any progress.
One final consideration is about other digital marketing efforts outside of websites and SEO. Cannibalization can occur with paid search, display ads, and social media advertising. Running a paid-search campaign for one website and a different paid-search campaign for another website using the same geo targeting, similar copy, and same keywords will lead to internal competition. These types of paid digital efforts would need to be separated neatly by location, ad groups, and differentiation in audience in order not to overlap.
The Case for Multiple Websites
There are times when having multiple websites does make sense. The most obvious is multiple brands; some audiology practice owners may own several practices with unique brand names. In those cases — where the marketing, patients, and communities refer to them as separate identities — it only follows to market them separately online. However, if the locations are close enough together, we recommend that your long-term strategy be to merge the brands and websites under one.
The other instance would be having a completely distinct and niche service and product. For example, Coca-Cola owns several brands including Sprite, Odwalla, and Minute-Maid. Each brand is very distinct with a different market, audience, and product. Within the audiology industry, we see these more frequently with ENTs who market allergy treatment, hearing loss treatment, and general ENT services distinctly. In these cases, it would be worth considering multiple websites, but in nearly all of our websites, we have found single websites to be more effective.
Focus & Deliver
We recommend to all our Audigy members that they focus on building single strong and effective websites. By leveraging their teams’ resources and Audigy’s digital marketing team’s knowledge and services, we are able to deliver an incredible website to their patients and prospective patients.
If you want to know more about how Audigy can help improve your website and digital marketing strategy, visit our digital marketing services page.