Consumer expectations know no limits. It is not just the retail sector that needs to embrace the digital world to be seen—it's the medical sector as well. Privatized healthcare has bred competition that pits clinics against each other in true capitalist fashion. So medical practices that want to stay in business need more than a good location; they need a great strategy to manage their digital presence.
Healthcare consumers are online and looking; all you need to do is make sure your practice shows up in the right search results. According to Google, 5% of all searches are for healthcare-related questions and often lead to booking appointments with a provider.
What is an SEO Strategy?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is more than a buzzword in digital circles. It is a marketing strategy that businesses and medical providers use to influence the position of their websites in search results. And as search engine algorithms change, SEO strategy adapts.
How Medical Practices Can Leverage SEO Strategy
An effective SEO strategy begins with a hard look at the data on current traffic patterns and keyword performance. From there, your practice can focus on setting data-driven goals and then building a strategy to achieve those goals.
Keep It Personal
Healthcare is deeply personal. Injuries and illnesses are intimate, affecting every part of the patient's life. And seeking treatment requires a foundation of trust with a doctor that can effectively diagnose and treat the condition. When it comes to developing an SEO strategy, medical practices should use that same level of personal connection to build and target patient personas. For example, you might create content funnels for:
- Millennials with little healthcare experience.
- Patients who suffer from chronic conditions.
- Young females of childbearing age with general health questions.
Focus on Local Search Results
Healthcare caters to a regional market. When possible, patients prefer to see doctors in their local communities. However, the internet defaults to a global—or at least national market. As user behavior fuels the need for local search results, SEO is adapting to target local keywords and geographical data. This is a perfect opportunity for medical practices to position themselves in front of a cherry-picked audience within their local communities.
More than half of searches are performed on mobile devices and target local options, including healthcare providers. As a provider, getting your slice of the pie means optimizing your content to work well on mobile devices and to include geotags. Geotags let search engines know what geographical market you are targeting. They plug into the "near me" search functions so that when someone searches for "primary care doctor near me," a listing of relevant results can be shown.
Embrace Informed Care Choices
The digital age puts a pocket-size computer in the hands of every patient. It is just as easy to search the web for information on healthcare as it is to pay hundreds of dollars to see a doctor and get a referral. Medical practices should accept that patients are going to conduct their own research to make informed healthcare decisions. Instead of fighting it, providers can embrace it and develop a content strategy to reach these patients that funnels them right to the front door of their practice while simultaneously contributing accurate and trustworthy information.
Cater Content to the Immediacy of Care
This is the medical provider's version of understanding search intent. The majority of healthcare-related searches are performed by healthcare consumers who have upcoming needs and are gathering information about provider options. Or, in other words, the perfect time for your practice to introduce itself by providing timely, relevant, high-quality content.
Behind upcoming healthcare needs, which should make up the bread and butter of your content types, is immediate care needs. A modest number of users search for speculative care information and comparatively few search for emergency care. What this means is that the biggest returns on investments will come from content that caters to the highest search volumes.
The Bottom Line
Boosting your medical practice's online visibility takes a plan and consistent effort. By understanding healthcare consumer behavior and tailoring content to address needs, medical practices can make the most out of search engine algorithms to connect with prospective patients in a digital world and translate them into new patients in the real world.
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Robb Fahrion is a Co-Founder and Partner of Flying V Group. He is passionate about helping businesses grow using the power of the internet. Robb graduated from Chapman University in Orange, CA and currently resides in Costa Mesa, CA. Robb enjoys writing about digital marketing, helping his clients turn their dreams into reality, and he is a HUGE Mike Trout fan.