Webinar: How Orthopedic Practices Win with Today’s SEO

Patients are increasingly turning to online sources when looking for an orthopedic surgeon. To get in front of those patients, you need to have an effective online presence. That’s where SEO (Search Engine Optimization) comes in.

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Slide 1: Welcome

Hi and welcome to today’s webinar: “How Orthopedic Practices Win with Today’s SEO”. Before we get started, I just wanted to thank you for taking your time out of your day to join us and just to also let you know that on the left-hand side of your screen you should see a chat bar where you’ll be able to ask us questions at any point. We’ll also have a Q&A at the very end of this presentation so that if we didn’t get to any questions there, we’ll be sure to answer those.

Slide 2: About P3 Inbound

Let’s go ahead and dive in. My name is Michael Roberts. I’m the marketing director here at Mudbug Media and we’ve created a platform called the P3 Inbound platform. The reason we called it P3 is because there’s three P’s: patients, pathologies, and procedures. We want to help practices attract the right patients, attract the right pathologies, the procedures. We don’t want to just get somebody in there that has the wrong condition for you. We’re trying to find the patients that are the right fit for your practice and if you’re–again we’re specifically aiming this webinar today at orthopedic practices–so if somebody actually needs a hip replacement, we’re making sure we’re getting those patients.

There’s a lot of very specific challenges that come into marketing an orthopedic practice as opposed to something like a dental practice or something like a plastic surgery practice. There’s a much different time frame that you’re dealing with, so any kind of marketing advantage that you can get is very critical and SEO is one of those critical advantages.

Slide 3: How SEO for Orthopedic Practices Has Changed

Let’s dive right in and talk about how SEO for orthopedic practices has changed. We want to make sure that we’re taking time to define all our terms so that we’re not just speaking in abbreviations all the time. SEO means search engine optimization. That refers to how you’re ranking, how your website is coming up in search results. In the past, that was really all there was to SEO, was just making sure that you showed up well in Google and that was it. You didn’t really have to look to too many other places.

Slide 4: How SEO for Orthopedic Practices Has Changed (cont’d.)

So you’d find keyword that you wanted to rank for, then you’d go out there and you’d send out, you’d probably get on some different directory sites and different things like that, and try to add as much of that in as you could, and then you were set, you were done. To an extent, this is still a part of the process, but it’s a much different process these days.

On the right-hand side of the screen here, there’s a screenshot of a common search for anterior hip replacement surgery. Before I get too far into it, just to take a note here–and I don’t know how well you can see this on your end–but the top four results there are ads and that’s something that has actually changed already, even as we’re just starting about this first example. Google’s really starting to push a lot of ads into this space, so the number one search result is all the way at the bottom of the page. This is a big shift from how things used to be. Another big part of the changes that are implemented from how Google’s handling all this, is that you used to get these analytics keyword reports, and there’s a free product out there called Google Analytics–and if you’re not using it yet, I recommend it, at least having some type of analytics report that you refer to on a monthly basis.

Google Analytics used to supply you with this really in-depth report that would give you everything that people used, every term that people used to search for your site. So you’d see something like anterior hip replacement surgery and you’d know exactly how many people came to your site because of that keyword. You’d know exactly which page they landed on, you’d get this really in-depth view, and then Google stopped sending out that report. They don’t send it anymore. Part of that reason is because of mobile.

Slide 5: Patients Have Options

Mobile has drastically changed the landscape, and not just from the perspective of having a website that fits for all these devices and all that good stuff–and we’ll talk about that a little bit later on–but people are searching differently now. They’re not going to Google all the time and typing in something. Even if you just take a moment to see how people type on their phone versus how they type on a desktop computer, it’s a much different type of search query that goes into Google.

Then you have these options like Siri. If you use an iPhone, you’re very familiar with Siri. If you’re more of an Android device person–I’ll confess to being an Android geek–I use Google Now. Then, I know there are people that use a Windows phone. I don’t know that many, I’ll be honest, but there are people out there that use it, and they’re using Cortana. Even if you aren’t using a Windows phone, Windows had added Cortana to desktop computers as well, some of the latest versions of Windows.

People are getting used to using voice search, but voice search doesn’t translate very well into a keyword report, so analytics can no longer supply the same kind of information it used to because people are changing. It’s not just Google trying to be tricky. And the other part of this is that as these new systems are coming out, they’re not always rolling out perfectly. One of the key examples over the last few years–if you’re an iPhone user, you’re probably aware of this–is that Apple rolled out their Apple Maps and at first, they weren’t great. They had a lot of weird little glitches and there were a lot of jokes online about the quality of the maps, but Apple didn’t back down from that. They’ve only increased their efforts and they’ve got their product up to speed very, very quickly. There are a lot of systems out there–Apple of course being one of the primaries, but even Microsoft to a degree–where people are trying to rely on Google much less than they used to, and they’re also trying to build up their own systems to take that place. They would rather be the one that serves you information instead of just Google.

Slide 6: Patients Are Using Different “Search Engines”

Then there’s the fact that patients are just using different “search engines”–and I put this in quotes because this used to be what you’d think of as maybe directories in years gone by–but people are going to these kinds of sites first to do their searches, rather than just starting in Google. If you think about, just to step outside of healthcare for a second, if you think about finding some kind of decorative item for your home, you may not go straight to Google. You might search on Target’s website, you might go to some kind of boutique shop that you think of and look there, you might go on Etsy and see what they have.

There’s a lot of different ways that we’re not starting in Google anymore and this is definitely true in health care. When you think about how people go online and they’ll ask their friends, “Hey, do you know a good doctor that I should see?” They are looking for patient reviews–and we’ll talk about patient reviews more in a second as well–but HealthgradesVitals, all these different kinds of sites that are out there now to serve up this kind of information. As we get more Amazon-minded, I’ll say, thinking about how many reviews are there, how many stars this provider has, that kind of thing, people are used to that kind of shopping or kind of information gathering, and they’re only going to continue to do this more.

I will take one moment to stop and say, if you haven’t checked Facebook in particular for your practice’s name, it’s definitely worth stopping and looking, you should make a quick note just to go and check there. We had one client that we worked with, that they were unaware that they were already on Facebook. People were going and at some point, Google and Facebook had set up an unofficial page so that people could check into this unofficial page. The patients of this particular practice were very unhappy about some recent changes that had happened, and so they were voicing their complaints very loudly online, and it was going completely unmonitored. This practice in particular was able to turn it around. All they had to do was just be aware that it was a problem and they were able to jump on there and fix it.

But your information is out there in a variety of systems, on Healthgrades, on Vitals, Facebook, many others. Take the time to look and see how people can find you, that’s a big part of keeping up with these conversations.

Slide 7: Expand Beyond Traditional SEO

All of this, and this is really kind of the key idea from this presentation, is that practices have to think beyond–and there’s almost air quotes that should go around the phrase “traditional SEO”– to capture the attention of patients. Patients aren’t just using Google anymore. They’re looking at a lot of different sources. There’s a lot of different kinds of needs that we now have to address in order to communicate properly.

Slide 8: Update Your SEO Strategy

Let’s start with the basics. If you haven’t reviewed your SEO strategy in a while, this is where I would start, and this is how we advise clients to always think through the process. What we do is start with a site, then start moving up to some map listings, which are called local SEO, and then starting to branch out even further in those types of online systems like Facebook and Yelp and all of those good things.

Slide 9: Start with Your Website

Let’s start with a website. What do you need there? What should you definitely have? On the left-hand column we have those. These are the things that you’ve just got to have–it’s essential to having a decent website. Make sure that your location information is on there, contact information. Can people easily find out how to call you, how to contact you?

This seems like it should be obvious, but I can’t tell you how many times we have to review sites and tell people, “Where’s your phone number? How does somebody go through the process of getting in touch with you?” Instead, patients are expected to select a drop-down menu and find the fourth item down under the About Us section or something kind of crazy like that. Make it easy on patients, handing out the hours of operation, listing off all your specialties. All these kinds of things people generally know that they should have on their website, but it’s worth taking the time to go back and making sure it’s actually there because it’s one of those things that you can kind of get blind to something once you’ve seen it so often.

Moving beyond those basics, do you have in-depth content about your specialties? Your practice performs anterior hip replacements–are you really talking about it and explaining it to patients in a way that matters? Are you personalizing that information, so you talk about the surgeons at your practice and how they like to do that surgery? Moving on from there, do you have basic things like frequently asked questions?

Doctor bios are, this next item here, one of those things that can be very bland. People can just write, quickly throw on, “here’s where the doctor went to medical school, here’s all this good stuff,” and it comes off very dry. But there’s a really great opportunity to go more in-depth with doctor bios, and if you have a video team that can put together a quick minute or two of the doctor speaking to the audience, that’s great. But even just having some basic information about the doctor’s beliefs about how he or she practices, the doctor’s concerns for his or her patients. Let that show through and that will go a long way towards creating a relationship with the patient before the patient even arrives.

Then, stuff like the pre-op and post-op instructions. You could probably save yourself quite a bit of time by having this kind of information online. People will definitely still call. They’re still going to get worried about making sure that they’re completely prepared or something happened after the surgery that they weren’t expecting, but you can help alleviate a lot of those concerns by providing a lot of information online. Make it, again, make it as easy as possible for patients to be able to find the kind of information that they need.

Slide 10: A Mobile-Friendly Website

A mobile-friendly website. So, still kind of keeping on this first point of how to update that SEO strategy. Having a mobile-friendly website is becoming increasingly important because people are using internet devices so much more, and then Google’s also giving a lot of preference to sites that are mobile-friendly. We deal with a lot of orthopedic practices here in the States, so hundreds of practices, and we get a chance to see a lot of their Google Analytics reports. One of the stats that you can pull out of an analytics reports is how many people are coming on mobile devices. Some of the practices that we talk with just say, “Look, it’s not that important for us to have an updated site in terms of the technology behind it because we have older patients. It’s not really a big concern for us.” But we’re finding up to forty percent, and in some cases up to fifty percent, of traffic that are coming to these websites are actually on mobile devices.

People probably aren’t making their final decision on which surgeon to see on a mobile device, but they’re going and they’re doing that preliminary research, and that preliminary research gets your practice in the running or knocks it out very quickly. The better that you can do it, addressing that audience, the better off you’re going to be.

The other fact about this–if you’ll take a look at the search result that we’ve put on the right here–this is a search result from a mobile phone. If you’ll look under, there’s a line of grey text there. So you’ll see the blue text, it says, “Hip Replacement Surgery”, and then in green text you’ll see the website name, and then there’s that next line that says, “Mobile-friendly”. This is from Google search results and they’re showing people which sites are friendlier to their devices than others, and they’re going to rank those sites accordingly. This is again, becoming a more and more important factor.

Slide 11: Move on to Local SEO

Once we have the website itself locked down, we’ve got all the information on there we’re supposed to have, we’re ranking for the right kinds of things that we want to see, then we start moving into what’s called local SEO. This refers to a lot of the map listings that you’re going to see. If you do a search in your area, you’ll probably see, for a lot of different types of terms, you’ll probably see a map pop up in those search results. The maps in Google are obviously pulling from the Google Maps system, but one of the key factors in how your practice does with those kind of local SEO listings, is how consistent your information is across the board.

We listed off several different systems here, Citysearch and Superpages. Some of the ones that you may not even heard of like Factual and Neustar, these are ones that–and Infogroup as well–aren’t ones that you would necessarily go to their website to look up this information, but they are the providers of map information for a large number of sites that you do frequent. This is where we try to help practices make sure that they’re set up in all of these different directories so that the information is correctly kind of trickling down through the web, is kind of the easiest way to say it. If you get your information correct and consistent across all of these spots, you can know that that information’s going to carry through.

Slide 12: Move on to Local SEO (cont’d.)

What kind of information do you need there? Making sure that you, again–this kind of goes back to some of the basics–but taking the time to make sure that this information is all there and is all consistent. Obviously, your practice address, your phone number, hours of operation, but taking the time to make sure that you’re adding in the particular procedures that you want to be found there, the certain pathologies that you want to be known for, having all that information in there. Then give people a website link if that particular directory allows it. Give people the chance to go and find out more instead of just having to rely on what those directories will provide.

Slide 13: Monitor Your Online Reviews

Then, your online reviews, the third point of that SEO plan, is an extension really of some of these listings. Patients are leaving reviews on sites like Yelp and Healthgrades and Wellness and UCompareHealthCare and many more. And we actually have some resources on our blog, which we will send to you at the end of this presentation, just to give you an idea of what all is out there. In the same way, you want to make sure that your information is correct across all these systems, but then you’re also taking the time to respond to what patients are saying. We’ve mentioned here, respond to good and bad reviews. And this happens both on some of your map listings and on some of these health review websites as well, it can be a lot to keep up with.

There are paid tools to help with this. We have a paid tool to help with this. And then there’s also just, maybe once a week, go through, maybe once a day, whatever your practice can handle to be able to keep up with this kind of information. But it’s definitely worth keeping up with because this is again, how patients are getting used to finding this kind of information. But taking the time to respond and be careful. You know HIPAA compliance better than I do, I’m sure, so be careful on how you’re responding to people and what kind of information you’re mentioning. Try to get the patient to contact the practice, that sort of thing. This is an active part of that search engine optimization. This kind of information shows up in Google, and it also shows up, of course, in all these other sites.

Slide 14: Diversify Your Website Traffic

I’m very quickly going to touch on this topic, because I do want to keep this presentation lean. We’re giving you a lot of facts and not dwelling on any one thing for too long. Focusing on these different methods of communicating with your patients helps diversify your site traffic. Without getting too far into the process, Google every once in awhile changes how it sets up its search algorithm. It just changes its mind on how it’s going to rank sites. This is usually because people change their mind on how they decide to search, so when mobile devices got a lot more popular, Google made a lot of changes.

There’s a lot of that kind of stuff that’s going to keep rolling out and the better job that you do to make sure that you’re current and that you’re responding to people and that you’re communicating with people across these different platforms, that’s going to help your website and your practice continue to attract the right people and continue to be able to communicate effectively.

Slide 15: Google’s Search Results Have Changed

Google search results have changed, which we’ve mentioned quite a bit here. We’ll get right into some of what this actually looks like.

Slide 16: “Dr. Google” and Health Information in Search Results

Depending on how often you search for these sort of more generic terms–and you may not as much because this is stuff that you deal with everyday in your practice–but if you search for a term like arthritis, and you’re on a desktop computer, you’ll see something like the search result that we have listed on the left here. This has kind of been dubbed Dr. Google, because I’m sure it was referred to that way for a while.

But now that they’re actually giving you a lot more information on there, this is becoming something that patients are relying on more. You can search for a term like arthritis, you can search for a term like tennis elbow, and you’ll get illustrations–and we had to cut these results off to be able to include it to where you can see it well enough. But if you go and do a search like that, you’ll be able to see information about, “here’s what the condition is like, here’s what you can expect.” You can see a tab there where they have symptoms listed out and you have a full list, what kinds of treatments can you get.

All of this information is provided by the Mayo Clinic, so this isn’t just somebody with an opinion on Google kind of throwing this information in–this is very solid information that’s supplied by a reputable source. Some of the ways that practices approach SEO has had to change because it’s harder to rank first for those more generic terms. You can’t just rank for something like arthritis because Google wants to keep the user there on something that broad, they want to provide the answers that the patients need in that particular case.

Slide 17: Think About “Patient Intent”

With that happening, that means that we, as we’re trying to market practices, have to switch how we’re thinking about it as well. There’s a phrase that comes up a lot in SEO called the “searcher’s intent” and for our purposes, it’s the patient’s intent. If you perform a search like “total hip replacement,” and you think about why a person would actually search that way, they’re really just looking for that sort of broad, generic information–how does it happen, what’s involved in the process, how long is it going to take me to recover, all of the kind of information.

You can see on the left there, Google’s actually provided an answer box of sorts, and that’s what all of those different health kinds of boxes–and you’ll see this across a lot of different types of searches–but Google supplies an answer box in this case and they give you some very good information. Here’s an illustration, and then the top result after that is the AAOS.

It’s very, very hard to outrank those two sites, so the strategy again, as we mentioned, has to change. If a person is just trying to get that generic information that they can get from a lot of different sources, that’s not going to be a very good fit for practices anymore. But if you take a look on the right, we typed in “total hip replacement Baton Rouge”. Once you’ve added a city name, a geo-modifier to your search phrase, well that means that the patient’s probably looking for something different at that point. They’re not just looking to learn something generic about hip replacements, but they want to know, ‘who does this in my city, where can I go and found out this kind of information here?‘ This is where practices have a lot of opportunity.

And there are ways to be able to research this kind of information, to be able to figure out what kinds of terms are relevant for you. But as you’re thinking about what kind of content you would want to add to your website, it goes beyond just thinking–again, that sort of generic thing–but thinking of very specifics.

The more specific you can be in a way that’s still very easily understandable by a patient–there’s that qualifier there–but if you can be very specific about how your surgeons perform the different kinds of operations, and getting that kind of information on your website, that equips your patients more effectively. Putting the city name in your headlines, putting that kind of information there can help patients identify that they’re in the right place. It also helps Google identify that you’re the right practice for the kind of information that the patient’s seeking.

Slide 18: Advanced Strategies

Those are all of the ground work, and before even looking at this last section here, we’re going to kind of quickly go though this because I want to again, keep the presentation lean for you guys. But all of this stuff that we’ve talked about before, the focusing on your website, focusing on your local SEO, focusing on your local listings, and then keeping up with how search engines are changing in general, those are all the core strategies and those could keep you busy for quite a while. If you’ve already got all that covered, congratulations, you’re doing really fantastic. If not, that’s where a lot of people are. Make sure that you’re focusing on those first core strategies.

Slide 19: Task Completion Review

Very quickly, some advanced strategies to look into. Task Completion–can a patient easily accomplish, we mentioned this earlier when we were talking about being able to find the phone number very quickly for a practice. Review your website to take a look to see if patients can do something like book an appointment easily, can they get in contact with the doctor, can they download the forms that they need, is it obvious to them how they should go about doing that?

Just a very quick story, we were talking to a friend of ours that mentioned that someone had recommended a particular doctor to her and she was still on the phone with this person while she was hearing about how great this particular doctor was, and as she was talking, she did a quick search on her phone. So she pulls up Google, types in the doctor’s name, pulls up the website–and again, she’s kind of holding the phone in front of her face as she’s doing all this kind of stuff–but she was able to find the doctor, find the doctor’s website, and go ahead and book an appointment while she was still on the phone call. This is a very common story of how patients are behaving now. They don’t have to write down the name and then go home and get on their computer or go home and pull out a phonebook or something to that effect. People are making these decisions instantly. They’re making decisions as soon as they hear information sometimes.

Search engines are actually aware of some of that kind of information as well–and again, I won’t worry you with the geekiness of it–but sometimes if you will go to a website, and this is something that’s probably happened to you, if you are looking for a specific type of information and you click into that first result and it doesn’t give you the information you need, you jump back to Google pretty quickly. Google knows that you left their site for a while and then came back, so they’re going to start to factor in, “well maybe that first search result wasn’t as good as we thought it was, maybe we should try some of these others instead.” Make sure that your practice answers questions as best they can.

Slide 20: Branch Out into Social Media

Branch out into social media. Social media is not one of the first things that we recommend to people, even though it is very popular because other than, again, other than the fact of going and making sure that you’re responding to patients that are saying anything there. But social media as an ongoing marketing strategy is very time consuming. If you’re ready to engage patients and that’s where your patients actively are and you have the man-hours to be able to dedicate to it, it really is a great way to interact with patients.

We do work with some people on that side of things, but again, it’s not the first thing that we recommend, but it is a great place to connect with your patients, to be able to do things like sharing health tips. Don’t share pictures of your surgeries, don’t share that kind of stuff, that’s just going to, for most of your audience, drive them away. There are people that are very interested in that kind of stuff, but it’s not the majority of your audience. It’s also the place to share your blog posts, that kind of thing. Again, that’s kind of this advanced strategy.

Slide 21: Build Links with Credible Sources

Also, building links. Again, I mentioned at the very beginning of the presentation that building links is a great way to show search engines that your site is important, there’s people online that are vouching for your website. Make sure you’re getting credible sources, though, don’t look for really outdated websites, really outdated directories, that kind of thing–look for the people that you want to vouch for you. If somebody was going to recommend your practice, you’d hope that person would be a knowledgeable person, would seem respectable in the community, that sort of thing. It’s exactly the same thing online.

There’s a lot of ways to go about that. If you have local businesses that you work with on any kind of basis, if you do anything like sponsor a 5K, or sponsor some kind of local event, something like that, that’s a great way to earn a very reputable link. It’s a local link to your community. There’s a lot of value behind that, but look for those kinds of opportunities instead of just trying to get links on a bunch of places.

Slide 22: Focus on the Entire Patient Experience

All of this is to say really that, we’re trying to engage the patient everywhere that they’re at. We’re not just looking at Google search results, we’re not just looking at social media, we’re not drilling down on any one of these things, but looking for where your patients are. Really the first step with all of this is writing down all these different places that you can go and check, and we’ll have this presentation online by the end of the week and we’ll e-mail you to let you know how you can access this recording so that you can go back and check some of that information. But going online, looking to see where your practice information already is–are patients engaging with you there, are patients trying to engage with you there–and responding to people there.

Then, looking strategically on how you can continue to not only answer potential complaints or answer people’s praise of you, but also to strategically grow that level of influence that you’re exhibiting online. How can you go and find the things that will make the most impact? And if you focus on those key things, those three things, focusing on your website first, focusing on your local SEO listings, your map listings, make sure that they’re updated, that they’re current, and then branching out into these online reviews sites, that way you can really engage the patient where they’re at, and that’s what we’re really after with all of this stuff.

Slide 23: Questions?

That’s going to be the end of our presentation for today. Again, we will have this information online by the end of the week. If you do have any questions, you can always e-mail us, info@p3inbound, or you–again we’ll take a few minutes to allow for any questions to come into the chat channel–but again, we will have this information online. I do implore you to go–the one take away that I would make out of this presentation–is to go look up your practice name, go into Google, go into some of those sites that you would normally look for this kind of information, go on Facebook. I’m not a big fan of Facebook search, but people are starting to use it more, so be aware of what kind of information is there. Again, if you e-mail at info@p3inbound, we’ll be certainly happy to respond with any of those questions. Thank you so much for taking your time out today. It means a lot to me that you would tune in with us, and we look forward to continuing to serve. Thanks so much.