web metrics

How doctors should read web metrics

Web metrics are a business lifeline for your private practice as a business. Let me put it differently. If your competitor is more visible for the treatments you offer, when patients are doing a Google Search, it’s time to read your metrics and act on them. Let’s unpack what needs to be done, can be done and is often not done.

marketing agencies for doctors

What are web metrics and how to read them as a doctor?

Kris Borgraeve - Co-founder Digital Practice

Kris Borgraeve

March 17, 2023

The first step to clarity about your performance

website performance

Do you regularly check your website performance as a doctor in private practice? Or perhaps your focus is on GP referrals and you have yet to be convinced about the effectiveness of online marketing.

Fair enough.

Bear with me and I will guide you through some of the key insights, taken from our daily work in digital medical content marketing. These four words each have their key role in the story as you will see.

The first step to gaining more clarity is to inspect if you have created unhealthy marketing habits. For example, you might just be looking at clicks and visitors. Why is that unhealthy?

Kris Borgraeve - Co-founder Digital Practice
Kris Borgraeve | Co-founder Digital Practice

"It’s unhealthy because these web metrics are not necessarily supporting your business development if they don’t convert into additional GP referrals or direct patient enquiries. You want to make sure your metrics are interpreted by someone who knows your private practice."

On the other end of the spectrum, I meet surgeons and specialists who don’t look at what they are missing out on, in the digital space. Their only point of reference is the number of GP referrals.

The sweet spot for a successful private practice is to take the in-between approach: connecting your web metrics and your patient numbers is what we are talking about. So that is why we are unpacking and reshuffling the whole concept of web metrics today so you are longer at risk of wasting time or money in the digital space.

web metrics

The world of patient search behaviour

measuring behaviours

Measuring behaviours of patients and referrers in the digital space is essential when we discuss web metrics in healthcare. As you will find out, once you learn how to analyse, measure and map patient behaviour in your niche, your digital marketing will never be the same.

Thousands of people perform online searches for health-related content every day in Australia. Their search behaviour has been the topic of what we have baptised Patient Search Behaviour Data in a unique Australian program that we have been running since 2016.

Kris Borgraeve - Co-founder Digital Practice
Kris Borgraeve | Co-founder Digital Practice

"When it comes to understanding your own web metrics and performance data as a doctor, there is a massive pitfall. If you are unclear about what you are measuring and why you may be looking at useless data."

Many agencies will talk happily about clicks and visitor numbers but are not keen to have the conversation about the patient’s search intent, the way your content answers questions and the connection between traffic and patient numbers.

That is why we have created our programs here at Digital Practice, with a total focus on doctors in private practice.

There are three types of patient search behaviour that are relevant if you want to grow your private practice:

  1. Before you publish content: What are patients generally googling for, what are the common search terms they use at different stages of their healthcare journey?
  2. Once your content is live: What types of content create visibility for your practice? For your competitors? What needs more attention and which topics need reinforcement to create more visibility?
  3. Once you are adding new content on a regular basis: What type of content makes patients stay on your pages for longer? What leads directly to more enquiries or referrals? How engaging is the content when you mention your website in your consultations or when the patient refers to your articles?

Measuring all that is a serious job and your web metrics are a good indicator of your business development capacity in your private practice.

The link with content marketing

data-driven marketing

Content marketing is a general term to indicate the use of content rather than ads.

Why? Because in medical, we are not necessarily looking for ads that bring us to a promotion. We are reading up, doing our research as a consumer, checking out profiles and getting familiar with medical content, the specialist as a human being, and the treatment options that are available in our local community.

Here at Digital Practice, we pride ourselves in being Australia’s only data-driven marketing agency for specialist doctors in private practice. We map Patient Search Behaviour across a wide range of medical specialty areas, and link the data back to the choices we make for our content strategies.

What you get as a customer is content marketing on steroids. Not only do we know that every piece of content we produce is actually an answer to the most common online patient searches. We also organise the information so Google can immediately validate the pages and articles that we publish. It means Google is now aware that this is great quality content and that it can start ranking those pages higher when the next patient does an online search in this local area.

We have several articles that talk about the connection between understanding your Google Analytics and planning new content on your website.

Why you need less advertising…or none at all


Most of us have heard of doctors who are blogging. The first wave of blog enthusiasts started doing so because everybody was talking about the benefits. What you see is that many doctors have written a few articles and then given up.

Blogging is vaguely related to web metrics but is often misunderstood.

When we add additional pages – which is basically what blogging is – we don’t just write about a topic for your clinic that someone saw as important. We dive into the patient search behaviour data, we see what aligns with your business goals, and we work together on a piece of content that answers additional questions by patients.

Then we measure the page’s performance and add another one. Month after month.

After a while, your organic visibility covers the essential searches that patients do, and you no longer need advertising or pay-per-click solutions to support your lead generation.

The myth about AHPRA compliance

remaining compliant

Remaining compliant with AHPRA Advertising Guidelines is obviously one of your key priorities as a surgeon or specialist doctor. We get that.

The myth about remaining compliant, which has long been the excuse to ignore digital growth, was this: We can not advertise because of AHPRA.

Kris Borgraeve - Co-founder Digital Practice
Kris Borgraeve | Co-founder Digital Practice

"The myth was an oversimplified summary of the fact that you can not be seen to make unsubstantiated claims, promoting unnecessary treatment or communicating in any way that goes against the interest of the consumer/patient."

Now that more doctors have become aware that you can publish content to educate and inform patients, to describe the treatments your clinic offers, to inform the patient about specific conditions and their symptoms…we see an increase in high-quality content that Google can choose from.

Remaining compliant is obviously a key focus when you work with a medical marketing agency. Producing data-driven content updates and using your web metrics to add more relevant and effective pages and articles, is the key to a successful private practice strategy.

You can see amazing live strategies in action in our portfolio, with a brief summary of the work our team has done, and a link to a live Digital Practice portfolio case study.

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Take the first step today

web metrics

Can you see that web metrics are only one component of the bigger picture you want for your practice? The data to set up your content in the first place can be extracted from Patient Search Behaviour analysis and we are the only medical marketing agency in Australia that specialises in this advanced type of customised market research, for surgeons and specialists in private practice. Book a free 1:1 Strategy Session to explore how you can create predictable, sustainable, and future-proof growth, using your online presence.

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