With 77% of patients looking for their next medical provider on the internet, you need to be sure you’re where they can find you. Here’s how optimize your site.
In the last five years, more and more consumers have turned to the internet when seeking healthcare information. Potential patients use search engines to help identify conditions, evaluate treatment options, and choose their health care provider.
Search engine visibility plays a key role in gaining new customers.
When your potential patients go online to find the health care they need, will they be able to find you?
What is Search Engine Optimization?
Search engines employ powerful algorithms to choose which information consumers find when they search online. The purpose of these algorithms isn’t to pick winners and losers in the digital advertising race, but to select quality information that enhances the search user’s journey.
Industry giants such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing analyze their customers’ needs and design these algorithms to meet those needs. To keep their online users satisfied, search engines seek out information that answers users’ questions.
Investing in advertising for your medical practice helps you reach potential patients. But if your website doesn’t grab search engine attention, your investment will be in vain.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the language your website uses to tell search engines such as Google and Bing that you have the answers consumers want and need.
Why is Medical SEO Essential to Your Digital Marketing Strategy?
- Patients are looking online first for healthcare information. The number of consumers seeking health care advice online has been trending upward for several years. Over 55,000 searches are conducted on Google in a period of just one second. According to Google, approximately 1% of these searches relate to medical symptoms. In response to increased consumer demand, Google has even partnered with Harvard Medical School and the Mayo Clinic to improve its search results.
- Consumers are finding their next doctor using online search. Following an initial search about symptoms and conditions, a Pew Research Institute survey indicates that the next step for many consumers is to seek medical attention. Those individuals who decide to seek medical treatment will search online to find a doctor. Mobile search users, in particular, may book their appointment via the internet after finding an acceptable provider. Potential patients use the internet to search for a doctor who is nearby, accepted by their health care plan, and recommended by others.
- Health care providers are increasing online advertising. Healthcare marketers have responded to this uptick in the use of search engines by increasing their digital spending. Statista reports that the healthcare and pharmaceutical industry spent $1.43 billion in digital advertising in 2014. Digital spending for the combined industries is expected to top $1.8 billion in 2016 and $2.32 billion by 2018. As healthcare marketing becomes increasingly competitive, quality medical SEO practices are a necessity for every doctor.
- Potential patients pay attention to providers’ online reputations. Not only will your potential patients look for you online, but they will also look for reviews about you online. Your presence and rating on services such as Yelp and Healthgrades now play a major role in your ability to gain new patients. Great reviews can help boost your search engine visibility and conversion rate. On the other hand, the openness of the internet means that a negative review can have far-reaching impact. Strategically managing your online reputation requires strategic use of SEO principals.
For all of these reasons, SEO must be a core element of your digital marketing strategy.
The Dangers of SEO Done Wrong
When done correctly, SEO demonstrates to Google and other search engines that your site is worthy of presentation to consumers. When done wrong, SEO attempts can do the opposite—telling the search engines that you have nothing to offer their users and are trying to cheat the system.
Ideally, top-ranked webpages earn their position organically through genuine, proven performance. However, some companies invest their time and effort in attempting to find shortcuts to success in search engine optimization.
These “black hat” methods include activities such as link buying and keyword stuffing. For instance, rather than provide useful information on a topic, a website may just repeat a key term related to that topic multiple times. Or, in an attempt to look more authoritative than it actually is, a website may pay to have other sites linked to it. John Rampton details these and many other improper SEO tricks in his article, 25 Back Hat Techniques That are Killing Your SEO.
Using these techniques may make it look like a website is useful temporarily, but the effect won’t last.
Google and the other search engines regularly adjust and update their algorithms to detect these and similar activities. Once caught, websites trying to use improper shortcuts or tricks to raise their site’s rank are penalized. And a website that has been penalized by Google or another search engine for bad SEO practices will face a long and arduous recovery.
That’s why it is important for doctors and other medical services providers to ensure that they only work with real SEO experts who understand the industry and its rules.
How Doctor Identity Services Can Help
The process of optimizing your medical website for search engines requires skill and attention to detail. At Doctor Identity Services, we don’t use shortcuts; we deliver results. Our experts are well-versed in both search engine and social media optimization practices for doctors. We cover every detail of your web presence from online reputation management to converting potential patients into new patients.
Because our team is regularly reviewing and updating your content and performance, you can rest assured that you’ll get the right kind of attention from the search engines. When your search engine ranking rise, it will be because we’ve employed best practices to demonstrate your website’s worth to search engines and provide your potential customers the information they need to choose you as their medical service provider.
SEO is critical to your medical practice’s online marketing success. Don’t risk your reputation or your online presence working with someone who isn’t committed to doing your healthcare marketing right. Trust the experts at Doctor Identify Services.