In today’s competitive healthcare landscape, patient referrals are not only critical for a medical practice’s success they are necessary for survival. Subsequently, one of the most underutilized methods of marketing and opportunities for practices to gain new patient referrals is through their website. In fact, research suggests that nearly 80 percent of Internet users have searched for a health-related topic online, making health information one of the most searched topics on the web.
So, if your practice isn’t capitalizing on nearly 290 million internet users, isn’t it time to start considering a more strategic marketing approach? One that focuses on increasing patient awareness of your practice online, bringing more leads to your website, and growing the number of patients that come to your healthcare facility.
How to Get More Patients Online
Having a current, up-to-date, and informational website is the first step. Although it is not necessary to be a technical guru, it is, however, important to understand and implement a few of these simple strategies:
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Search Engine Optimization
According to a study by Pews Research, nearly 77% of patients search online before booking their appointments. So how can you reach these patients? SEO or search engine optimization is the process of optimizing a website to maximize ranking in search engines results such as for Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
Why is this important? Because about 75% of internet users never scroll past the first page. So, if you are a Primary Care practice in Houston, TX and there are hundreds of other Primary Care providers in the area, it is important to have your website show up among the first page of search results.
How can this be achieved? There are many factors that determine website rankings on search engines, but to keep it simple a practice should start by placing their focus on page optimization and content marketing.
By utilizing the right keywords and content your website will rank higher in the organic search results. Therefore, when choosing keywords and terms, consider what a potential patient might search for when looking for healthcare services similar to yours. The idea is to find keywords that have a high search volume and low competition, and use them throughout the content of the website.
According to Google, local searches lead 50% of mobile visitors to visit stores within one day. This means ranking in local search has a direct impact on in-store traffic. Which is why it is so important for practices to get listed on all of the online local business directories including Google My Business, Bing, Yelp, WhitePages, HealthGrades, Vitals, HealthLinks, etc. Ideally, a practice should be listed on as many directories as possible because they rank very highly in organic search.
Content is king. Create fresh, original, relevant and informative content often. Include information about your expertise, services, and industry to attract new patients and remind current patients of your continued value. Content creation helps boost SEO efforts, brings value to current and potential patients, and provides them with the opportunity to share your content with others. Blogs are an effective way to keep content fresh while including valuable keywords on search terms. Also, consider utilizing whitepapers, studies, eBooks, articles, photos, and slide presentations. Video content such as interviews with doctors in the practice and or testimonials from patients can also be extremely effective.
Social Media can be a very valuable referral source for medical practices. Patients can share recommendations and blog posts with family and friends through sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
Email can also be a very effective and budget friendly way to strengthen relationships with current and potential patients. Request the emails of existing patients to send them reminders of their upcoming appointments, as well as the option to sign up for a newsletter. Utilize an email service provider like Campaign Monitor or MailChimp to create a monthly newsletter for your practice. It can contain content from your blog, healthful tips for patients, or updates and news on your facility. For patients, it can be a valuable resource for information, and another way to recommend your practice to friends and family.
Understandably, medical practices today are trying to do a lot more with a lot less. Which may be why the thought of implementing an online marketing campaign may seem like a daunting task. However, even with limited resources, some of these strategies can be easily and effectively implemented.
About the Author Anne Carrie
Anne Carrie holds a BS in Marketing and an MBA in Healthcare Management. Her experience includes over 10 years of business development and marketing in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries. She has extensive healthcare writing experience with special interests in healthcare marketing and business development, physician relations, medical practice management, hospital management, patient satisfaction, patient experience, and patient safety. Her work has been published multiple healthcare related publications.
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