In this day and age, your medical practice needs an online presence to get found. As an expert digital marketer, I know this well. Showing up in a potential patient’s search results gives you a huge advantage over other doctors in the area. And in today’s world, about one in five patients search for a doctor or hospital online.
But where do you start? If your practice is like most, you probably don’t have a huge marketing budget or a dedicated marketing staff. You don’t have time to research and master the intricacies of things like SEO, SEM, and paid advertising. Plus, the Internet filled with the listings of thousands of other physicians. How can you stand out?
Luckily there are a few things you can do, and you don’t need to be a marketing expert to do them. With these five tips, you’ll improve your medical practice’s online footprint and attract new patients.
Bonus Tip: To give yourself some context before taking these steps, do a few test Google searches of your practice’s name, your name, and keywords for your specialty (e.g. primary care, family doctor, general practitioner) in your city or area. This will give you an idea of where you’re coming up in searches now, so you can set goals to increase your practice’s online exposure.
Use Keywords on Your Website
By now you know that it’s essential to not only have a practice website, but to have a website that can be found via search engines. One way to do that is by including relevant keywords in the text of your website. These are keywords you want to appear for when patients search for your services. For example, if you’re a primary care physician based in San Francisco, you may want to include “San Francisco primary care doctor” or “San Francisco doctor’s office” on your website. Make sure to include them within the actual text on your webpages, in the meta descriptions, page titles, image alt tags, and any blog posts. If you need a little more help with this step, check out Hubspot’s basic guide to keywords.
Google Maps / Google My Business
Patients usually search for physicians in their local area, so having a listing linked to Google Maps is crucial. If you’re listed on Google Maps, when someone types in the name of your city and “doctor” or your specialty, your practice’s name and location should appear on the map. Patients can also find you by doing a “Search Nearby” on Google Maps for doctor’s offices in the area.
Being listed on Google Maps is not only helpful for getting found. It’s necessary in this day and age when everyone uses their GPS to get around. Not being listed could make your practice seem lower-quality or behind-the-times.
To get your Google Maps listing, sign up with Google My Business. You’ll be able to edit your listing’s details, track where patients are coming from, and see reviews patients post about you.
Listings in Online Directories
You can submit your practice’s information to hundreds of online directories. Much like Google Maps, these listings can help increase your web traffic and search engine ranking. Some of these directories are more valuable than others. I would recommend starting with these doctor-specific directories:
- Doctorfinder (American Medical Association)
- WebMD Physician Directory
- Find A Doctor
A few other general directories include:
- Yahoo! Local
- Bing Places
Doctor Reviews Websites
When patients are searching for a new doctor, they’re likely to look on review sites to vet their options. According to research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association last year, about one in five people say that doctor rating websites are “very important” in their search for a physician. For some patients, if they can’t find reviews written about you online, they may not bother calling for an appointment.
It may feel risky to open yourself up to reviews, but it’s worth it. The best thing to do is operate your practice at its best and be confident that patients will appreciate their experience.
Some of the directories mentioned above, such as ZocDoc, Yelp, and Angie’s List, have review components as well, but other major reviews websites for physicians include:
You can even encourage patients to leave reviews for your practice online to beef up your online reputation and hopefully bring more patients to your website—and office.
Social media can be a tricky area if you haven’t ventured there before, but it’s worth it if you’re working on your online presence. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr—there are so many places to be at once. And many people on any of those sites could be potential patients.
When it comes to physicians’ practices, one of these social media networks really stands out: Facebook. Facebook is probably the most popular social network that patients will use to lookup doctors. Set up a Facebook page with all your practice’s details – don’t forget to fill in your location, your website, and a few pictures of your staff and office. Try also to update it at least once a month or so with practice news or interesting content to keep patients coming back.
You can also encourage followers to share your page with their friends, to increase your Facebook page following.
Work your way through these five best practices for online health. With these tips you’re likely to see results in your practice’s online presence. In today’s competitive healthcare space, help your practice stand a cut above the rest by making your practice more accessible to patients searching online. Your current patients will likely thank you too.
What have you done to boost your practice's online presence? Let us know what's worked in the comments section below.