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Improve your local online presence to increase patient volume
The typical healthcare consumer’s journey often begins with extensive research. In fact, search engines drive 3 times more hospital visits than nonsearch visitors.1
Therefore, if you are not getting enough patients through your door, there is a good chance that your company has a poor local online presence. Not enough patients are coming—they are going to your competitors instead simply because they found them first while doing a local search.
But all is not lost.
With a well-designed health care search engine optimization (SEO) campaign, you can improve your medical practice’s digital presence and attract more patients.
Below are some of the best ways to leverage local SEO and get more patients through your door.
All local businesses, including health care providers, should claim their Google My Business (GMB) listing. Not only does GMB significantly influence search engine rankings, but it is also one of the first things that potential patients see (Google’s Local Pack) after conducting a local search query.
Fortunately, claiming your GMB account is easy and free.2 After signing up and claiming your listing, you will need to provide the following information:
• Name of practice
• Phone number
• Email address
• Hours of operation
• Photos of the practice
• Short description about the practice
The idea is to bring the GMB listing to life by providing complete information about the practice to potential patients. To optimize a GMB listing, make sure that you frequently update it and answer questions that people may have.
Even if you have a main phone line for answering calls and booking patient appointments, all office locations should have their own Google My Business listing.
Otherwise, when a patient searches for your secondary locations (satellite offices), they are likely to end up finding the Google listing for the main location. This can result in patients traveling to the wrong office or being confused about which office site they should visit.
About 89% of health care companies are using content marketing to engage potential patients and grow their practice.3 This particular trend comes as no surprise because when it comes to medical SEO, there is no substitute for high-quality, relevant content. It is also important that patients have access to accurate information.
On top of being valuable to your readers, relevant content pieces are a gold mine of information and keywords that search engines can use to rank your website. Plus, strong content will help establish the authority of your health care practice.
The simplest way to get your content marketing strategy started is a blog.
Create well-written long-form content such as blog posts, case studies, whitepapers, etc., that are important to your target audience. Research relevant topics that are getting the most traction using keywords that your patients use to find answers to their health-related questions.
For example, if you operate a primary care practice that frequently orders a lipid panel as part of routine blood work during a physical examination, consider have a blog post topic on “Why did my doctor order a lipid panel?”
Online reviews have become a non-negotiable part of healthcare marketing. When 84% of patients use online reviews to evaluate health care practitioners, you should encourage your patients to leave reviews about your practice.4,5
As mentioned earlier, the patient journey begins with online research because people want to find the right practice for their needs. Potential patients will check out the reviews about your practice to help them with the decision-making process.
Simply ask your current patients to leave feedback about their experience at your practice to start receiving reviews. Encourage them to leave reviews on your GMB profile, Yelp account, and so on.
Once you have garnered reviews for your practice, make sure to respond to them regardless of whether they are positive or negative.
Many practices use texting apps or email to communicate with patients about appointment reminders and other updates.6 These can be great tools for follow-up communication after a visit to obtain patient feedback and request reviews. Just make sure to share the link for the site you would like them to leave a review.
About 90% of visitors have abandoned a website that is slow to load, nearly 80% left for non-responsive concerns, and 70% left for poor navigation, among other usability challenges.7 Your health care website is generally the first point of contact for your brand for many of your patients. Therefore, it must be visually appealing and optimized for usability.
In terms of design, your website must portray professionalism and expertise, so invest in developing a user-friendly and informative website. Visitors must have a good experience while navigating your website and they must be able to find the information that they are looking for.
For example, your medical website should contain essential information like the clinic’s address, phone number, and hours of operation. In addition, your website must be optimized for mobile browsers by integrating a responsive design that automatically adjusts for the browser being used.
Local SEO can enhance your online presence and will help your practice attract more patients. The local SEO strategies outlined above will help you get started on the right track.
1. Think With Google. The digital journey to wellness: hospital selection. September 2012.Accessed September 7, 2021. https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/marketing-strategies/search/the-digital-journey-to-wellness-hospital-selection/
2. Google My Business Help. How to add or claim your Business Profile on Google. Accessed September 7, 2021. https://support.google.com/business/answer/2911778?co=GENIE.Platform%3DDesktop&hl=en
3. Skinner J. The State of Healthcare Content Marketing: The Era of Forced Evolution. September 8, 2020. Accessed September 7, 2020. https://truenorthcustom.com/blog/the-state-of-healthcare-content-marketing/
4. Online Reputation Management for Healthcare Professionals. Doctor & healthcare review statistics. May 29, 2021. Accessed September 7, 2021. https://visual.ly/community/Infographics/health/doctor-healthcare-review-statistics
5. Tornetta J. How to ask patients for reviews in person. July 8, 2021. Accessed September 7, 2021. https://www.physicianspractice.com/view/how-to-ask-patients-for-reviews-in-person
6. Tornetta J. Tips for texting patients. August 5, 2021. Accessed September 7, 2021. https://www.physicianspractice.com/view/tips-for-texting-patients
7. Fitzgerald A. 25+ web design statistics that are essential to know in 2021. December 2019. Accessed September 7, 2021. https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/web-design-stats-for-2020