Traditionally, medical marketing has relied on word of mouth, Yellow Pages ads, and not much else. In today’s increasingly competitive market, however, doctors are heading online to carve out a name for themselves. Search Engine Marketing (SEM) can be intimidating for beginners, but there are some easy things you can do to help your practice stand out from the crowd.
Do a content audit
A content audit may sound like an intimidating term. However, all it means is taking stock of what sort of content – pages, blog posts, articles, and information – exists on your website, as well as what isn’t on your practice’s website. To get a feel for this, don’t be afraid to take a look at your competition’s website and see what content they have on their site and if there is an offering your practice has that isn’t clearly being conveyed to prospective patients.
Whether you do it yourself or bring in an expert, the very first step is to find out how your site is doing now, and how it could improve. A content audit may sound scary, but just think of it as a routine “checkup” for your website. It can be as simple or detailed as you like. If you have the time and inclination to run your own content audit, the internet is full of checklists which will help you identify the basics of what goes into a content audit.
You’ll make an inventory of all the content on your site, and check that things like title tags (the title for your website that appears when someone searches on Google for your practice or a doctor’s office in their area) and meta descriptions (a brief, 155-character description that appears beneath your title tag in search engine results) have been optimized to make it easy for search engines to find you. Making sure your bases are covered on even the smallest items can go a long way in terms of expanding your practice’s reach across the web.
Expand your website
The average practice website has just a few pages that offer users basic information such as contact info, an “About Us” page, and a list of services. This is a mistake. When it comes to getting your site noticed by search engines, the more unique pages you have, the more chances you get for Google to recognize you. Google rewards websites that offer rich, unique content that imparts value to readers and people who are searching the web for knowledge. By populating your website with a blog or linking to other pages on your site with valuable, unique information for your community (for instance, a back-to-school check-up checklist or a “going on vacation” check-up checklist), you’re sending a clear signal to Google that your practice’s website is worthy of appearing on the first page of its search engine results.
Clear links from one page to another make it easier for search engines to “crawl” your website for information. Think of links as “votes of confidence” for other pages on your site. By linking to other, relevant pages within your site, you’re providing “votes of confidence” for the quality of that content. As for Google “crawling” your site, links play an integral role in that process, too. Think of Google as a spider that’s attempting to feed information back in the form of search engine results. By making a web of pages that logically link back to each other in a common-sense hierarchy, you’re making it easier for that spider to crawl across the web of your site and deliver information back to results pages the next time someone looks for a doctor in their area.
Ultimately, expanding your website and by creating links to make it easier to may give you a boost with potential new clients who find your site on the first page of their Google search. Even better, a healthy website with well-organized, specific content gives you the opportunity to appear in the search results for a much larger number of search terms. Be creative with your website content.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) for doctors is a bit different than it is for your average e-commerce website. You don’t need traffic from halfway across the world: you need to make a splash in your hometown. There are a couple of simple steps you can take to improve your local online marketing.
First, list the areas you serve by name on your site, so that your site turns up whenever someone searches for a local doctor. You might even consider building out separate pages for each local town, with the name of the town in the title tags.
Next, put your practice on the map – literally. Sign up for “Places for Business” on Google, and make sure there’s an official entry on Google Maps. Not only will it be easier for your patients to find you, it’ll improve your search ranking.
Local online marketing is also one place where it can pay to invest in PPC (Pay Per Click) marketing. Local competition can be fierce and cluttered, with many practices vying for the same few spots under the same few search terms. PPC is quick and easy, and gives you a better chance at being seen.
By enrolling in a PPC marketing program, you can choose (or “bid” on) on a list of keywords that are appropriate for your practice. Some terms or keywords are more competitive – and costly – than others. However, depending upon your budget, you may be able to decide which keywords yield new leads when plugged into a Google search by prospective patients.
These days, it’s not enough to have a great website. Without promotion, it can be lost in the online clutter. It’s worth taking a proactive approach so that patients can discover everything you have to offer. These tips are only the beginning. The more you learn, the more ways you’ll find to promote your practice online. SEM is an ongoing process, but the rewards are huge.
Let us know if you have tried any of these techniques for your practice in the comments section below. For more tips to attract new patients subscribe to our newsletter!