Birth Professionals

What I learn from hosting a web directory – five things you should change

If you have never looked at the Natural Childbirth Directory, you should.  This portion of the website is truly a labor of love.  While the rest of the pages need little work but annual review, these pages get updated often because the links change and people submit new websites.  It takes a lot of work and is part of the reason I regularly ask myself if all the work I put into the website is worth my time.

Keeping the directory gives me a chance to look at many childbirth professional websites.  I get to see what people are doing that is good, and what people are doing that they should probably change.  I thought I would take a minute to give you my top five things you should change about your website. They are all variations of the same theme — websites that give useful information build trust in the reader.

1. You don’t list your location

This is probably the most common problem I see with websites, and potentially the biggest.  Potential clients will be searching for childbirth professionals on the internet using the location in their search.  If your website doesn’t list that location, you won’t show up in search results.  This means your website isn’t working to bring you people who are actively searching for your services in your area.  Worse, families that search on the internet know links go bad.  If they are directed to your link from another website, but don’t find the service area listed, they may not be willing to contact you to verify you provide services in their area.  Websites that can tell the reader where they work build trust in the reader.

2. You don’t list your services

Just because you are a doula doesn’t mean I know what you do.  It doesn’t mean I know what I am purchasing if I hire you. If you teach childbirth education classes, can I tell from your website what your classes are like?  Does your website let me know I can participate in your classes without hiring you also as a midwife? This is especially a problem in areas where families have multiple choices for service providers because the other providers probably give me this information.  Providing this information builds trust in your business and prevents potential clients from walking away just because it was easier to get information from another provider.  Websites that can tell the reader what they do build trust in the reader.

3. You don’t list your availability

Your website should in some way let readers know if you are able to provide the services they need when they need them.  Why?  The first question your potential client has is if you are available when they are due. Midwives and doulas may want to add a blanket statement such as “Now Accepting New Families.” Or you may want to provide a more specific information such as, “Openings for families due in January and beyond.” This saves you time responding no to people, but also increases the likelihood someone who fits your time frame will contact you. One caveat, make sure you keep your availability updated or it will work against you (people will think you no longer work in that capacity). Websites that answer the most common question build trust in readers.

4. You don’t list a calendar of events

This is especially important for businesses that provide education.  A reader should be able to tell when your next class or series of classes begins and what will be covered in that class.  If you do drop-in information nights, be sure these are listed. This information needs to be easy for readers to find and understand, so give full date, time and location — remember, only the most invested will call or email to get more information. Websites that provide current information build trust in the reader.

5. You don’t give good contact information

Having a contact form may prevent your email from being spammed, and you may think it protects your phone number, but it doesn’t give a good impression of your business. It increases the chances you won’t get good contact information from the potential client (even in the submissions for the Natural Childbirth Directory people mis-type their URL and email address — and these submissions are for people trying to advertise a business which means a high investment in establishing contact). Readers expect legitimate businesses to have a legitimate email and a legitimate phone number to ask questions.  Websites that portray services as a legitimate business build trust in the reader.

 

OK, now go make any necessary changes to your website.

Jennifer Vanderlaan (Author)