A lot has changed in the landscape of content marketing and SEO for medical practices, and it’s important to keep up with the latest best practices to have continued success with online marketing. Continuing our discussion from Part 1, our marketing coordinator Ashley Hohensee joins us to talk about how practices can ensure that their content meets the needs of their patients, what kinds of results to expect from content marketing, and what else practices need to look out for in their SEO strategies.
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Michael: Welcome to the Paradigm Shift of Healthcare, and thank you for listening. I’m Michael Roberts, here today with Scott Zeitzer. So, a lot has changed in the landscape of content marketing and search engine optimization for medical practices, and it’s important to keep up with the latest best practices to have continued success with online marketing. So, we’re continuing on our discussion from part one, and our marketing coordinator, Ashley Hohensee, the writer of practically thousands of articles, for both us and for our clients. She’s joining us today to talk about how practices can ensure that their content meets the needs of their patients, what kinds of results to expect from content marketing. And that answers has, I think, changed some, or the timing of that answer, at least, has changed. We’ll talk about that in a bit. And everything else that practices to look out for in their search engine optimization strategies.
Scott: Yeah. This was supposed to be one episode, and then we’d get into it in episode one, and we’re going, “No, yeah, we’re definitely going to have a second episode.” It’s something that a lot of my good friends, customers talk to me about. It’s so critical to the success of online marketing. And so, Ashley, last time we discussed the importance of providing content that answers patient questions, so that they can better understand what’s happening, have better expectations. And that’s a real win right off the bat, but do you have any tips on how a practice might do, when they’re writing their own content, what they need to focus on?
Ashley: Sure. My number one tip, if you’re writing your own content, and that goes for anything, wherever you’re going to publish it is, don’t ever try to edit yourself or review yourself. I’ve been doing this for so many years, even before professionally, even all the way up through high school. You never want to edit yourself. Just because there’s certain things, there’s either an inferred knowledge or something that you may have, or a phrase may make sense in your head, but when someone else reads it, it doesn’t always translate as well as you think it does. Even if your grammar’s great, all of that, I mean, of course have someone check for that as well. But beyond that, just do people understand what you’re writing? And it’s important that you always have another set of eyes on it, at least. Multiple, if you can.
Scott: Yeah. Especially, I’ve spoken to so many surgeons, and when they write their content, number one, don’t write content for another surgeon. Write the content for a patient. And then that comment about inferred knowledge, we all deal with this. Whether you’re a surgeon in a practice, or in any field, there’s this inferred knowledge where it’s like, of course everybody knows that.
Scott: And then you read it to somebody else and they’re going, “What?” That kind of thing.
Ashley: Exactly. Yeah. So, and even better, after you think you’ve got it at a place where you like it, if you know anybody in your demographic, whether that is an actual patient or just a friend, family members, someone that you know, have them read it. See if it makes sense to the people you’re actually trying to write this for.
Scott: I really think that’s a critical component of the win, so to speak.
Michael: This is actually something that we dug into when we were doing some of our website designs that we’ve got now, is that we had put together, just going along this line of having somebody else kind of review your work. We had put together a menu, a navigation for the website, that we thought, “This makes sense. This is totally going to work.” And then we got it in front of the right demographic, so specifically for us, the people that may need a hip replacement, that we’ll say from 60 on up. It’s that age group. And watching how they looked for information, and watching for where they were expecting that information to be. Like, where’s insurance information supposed to live? Well, it could be here, here, here, here, here, and here. And we’d only had it in this one place. And so, just goes to show that, hey, we’re professional in the space. We know that we need to be thinking about our audience, and still we weren’t thinking about our audience enough.
Scott: It’s funny you mention that, because I always tell people, “Yeah. The sites do look clean and attractive, et cetera, but we actually tested the heck out of this.” I remember another one of those things, where the inferred conversation, we were inferring that the, there was one page where we had, where all the doctors were listed. And we thought, “This is a great page. Everybody’s going there.” It’s like, no, they were annoyed that they had to go there. They just wanted to go to their doctor. They didn’t want to see [crosstalk 00:05:12].
Michael: Right. They couldn’t find that specific example. It was a listing of all the doctors, but no specification of what that doctor did.
Michael: So, it was like, “I want a hip replacement surgeon.” Well, here you go. Here’s a list of 20 doctors. Go [crosstalk 00:05:25].
Scott: Oh and by the way, it’s not even an alphabetical order because we put it in when they joined the practice. And it’s like, no. No, I get it, man, that you founded it and your last name starts with a Z. I deal with that all the time being a Zeitzer. But yeah, that’s not helpful. But yeah, so guys, really, write it for your patient and test it. And you’re right, Ashley, on those two different pathways. One pathway being the inferred knowledge pathway, are you getting this, mom? You getting this, dad? That kind of thing. And then of course, you’re not going to see your own errors in typing or whatever. It’s just, we’re not editors by, I think that’s great.
Michael: Another test that you might actually be able to do, depending on how your practice is set up and that kind of stuff, so let’s say that the practice writes their own content, whether it’s the physician or somebody in the office. Hand it out to few patients that are sitting in the waiting room.
Scott: Great idea.
Michael: Is this something that they’re here to learn more about, especially if you know that a patient’s been referred to potentially talk about the procedure you’re trying to write content about. Hand that content out. See what questions the patient comes in with. Let them go through and start marking up, and start asking questions as well.
Good idea. Yeah. Especially, look, I would hope that at this point, most web developers, like our platform is obviously on a content management system, so you can log in and add, edit, delete. And that kind of tweaky changes, after you’ve written it, you’ve posted it up there, and you’re printing it out for people, and you’re asking, “I’ll just log in and make a little tweak and I’m done.” And I think that’s really helpful for everybody. Another question, a common question. I get this a lot, everybody, is “Okay. I added content a month ago. Why am I not number one now?” And I don’t care how many times I’ve prepped this. I forgot who it was, and I would had never call them out anyway, but I think we once got, we posted it and then two days later it was like, “It’s not showing up in Google.” And they were like, “Oh, my God.”
And believe me, everybody, I am the king of setting good expectations. So, I did not imply or ever infer. I even try to talk, I actually talk about how long it takes to get found on Google, so to speak, from the perspective of how orthopods inform their patients about when you’re going to get back to normal, setting good expectations. So, Ashley, hey, I added content a month ago. Why am I not ranking number one for this procedure now?
Ashley: Right. Yeah. That it is a very common question. And so, the answer is, maybe 10, 15 years ago, that’s why that expectation is set, because that could have been the case, where you could have added content, or content marketing in medical practices was really a newer thing. There weren’t a lot of people doing it. So, it was very easy to get where you wanted to be, because, frankly, you didn’t have a lot of people competing with you to do that. And now we’re in a place where the market is just saturated. Content marketing is just not a new thing. So, here’s a good analogy. You guys know how I love baking. I love that. So, remember 10 years ago when the cupcake bakery was the thing? And it was the new hot thing, so all you really had, you were the new guy in town. Everybody would flock to you.
You look at it now, there’s five-plus cupcake shops in every town. So, it’s not just enough that you’re, it’s not a novelty anymore. It’s not enough that you’re just, that you make cupcakes. Cool. I have so many options. You got to, now it’s about, what are your flavors? What is your quality of your product like? How are you decorating it? You got to push harder to get the business, and it’s very much the same thing here.
Michael: Let me jump in here, because this is episode 102, and somehow we got to episode 102 without a cupcake shop analogy.
Scott: You’ve done it.
Michael: This is the new standard. I love it. I love it.
Ashley: Yeah. Anytime I can talk about baked goods.
Scott: I want to add into this conversation about the market being saturated, et cetera. It’s like, remember, Google does earn a living, essentially, selling ads. I mean, it does a lot of other stuff, like Gmail, and servers, and stuff like that. But when you’re talking about in the search engine business, you’re typing into Google, they make good money on ads. The content marketing is so critical, because it’s like, you wouldn’t go to Google unless you went to the right page. So, Google definitely wants to get it right, hence why content marketing is so important. But it’s not like they’re trying to figure out how to speed up organic search results. You know what I mean? They’re going, “Yay, thank you for all the money,” for the ad the money. And so, always put that in the back of your head.
I always tell people about this when I’m walking people through like, “Hey, it’s going to take time. Be prepared for up to six months, maybe.” And I always remind them, “Remember, Google makes a lot more money on ads. And I know you’re going to be mad at Google for all the, for a variety of reasons, we’re all mad at tech, but you may want to buy some stock at the same time, because they’re quite successful at what they’re doing.”
Ashley: Yeah. And I think a lot of it too is just, like I said, if you got on board early, you could get away with just okay content.
Ashley: Now it’s like, you need good content. Two paragraphs is not going to cut it anymore. And sometimes you’ll see, sometimes I guess a follow-up question is, “Well, these guys are ranking number one and they don’t have the content I have.” And it’s like, well, they probably got in on it early. So, there is a built up clout, or whatever you want to call it, so they’ve been able to hold onto it for years. They’ve been ranking in the spot.
Scott: Ashley, another big part of this, how quickly you get found, et cetera, it’s like, look, if you’re the sole practitioner, and I’ll just, I don’t know, North Dakota, South Dakota, the Dakotas, and you’re in downtown Manhattan, that’s a major difference, regarding market size, et cetera.
Ashley: Right. Yeah. That is another big part of the conversation, definitely market size, how many competitors you have in your market. Because yeah, to your point, a huge city, you’re going to be competing against several people, practices, probably larger practices, hospital groups. Whereas, where if you’re the single guy who’s on his own, I’m not going to say you can’t ever outrank, but it’s very difficult to ever beat the big hospital group. Because not only do they have the manpower behind it, they’ve got a bigger budget. They’ve got more of that Google momentum, like you say, because there’s a lot more, there’s a lot of weight behind an institution, versus an individual guy. Whereas if you’re the single practitioner, small practice, and you’re in a really small town, maybe you don’t have any competitors, maybe you have one, it’s a lot easier to add some content, anything that’s better than what your competitor is doing, and outrank them in a couple months. But that’s just, if you’re in a bigger practice, that’s really, it’s a lot harder. You’ve got to build up trust.
Scott: Michael, you and I have talked quite a bit to a lot of practices over the years. When we start, we always tell them, because they’ll say stuff like, “I want to be found for everything.”
Scott: No. No, you really don’t. And when you were talking about the hard battle that a single practitioner in the big city will say, I’ll stick with New York City, battling against hospital chains, et cetera, Michael, do you have some advice for them about, would it be just getting more niche with the content marketing? But what other advice would you have, Michael?
Michael: It’s a tall order.
Scott: It is. [crosstalk 00:13:15]
Michael: It really comes down to, it’s a tall order.
Scott: Setting expectations correctly for everyone I think is critical.
Michael: Yeah, for sure. So, I would definitely focus on something very, very specific. I mean, if you’re in a market that big, but you also have to look at it in terms of, don’t come at this as a search engine optimization only technique. What you’re really trying for, and this is the big shift, I think, that’s really happened in search engines over the past 10 years is, it’s not just about the right words in the article. To what Ashley’s saying, it’s not just about saying the right thing enough times, and keyword stuff, and all that kind stuff. You’re trying to build a brand, trying to build some sort of reputation, so that people know to search for your content.
Incoming links, the number of different sites, and number of different mentions, and all of that fun stuff that points into your site also makes a huge difference in how well that content’s going to rank. So, if I’m a single person, a single practitioner in Manhattan, and I’m trying to rank, I’m going to be the one person for this procedure, and getting super, super specific with that procedure, so that you can really lock into that differentiation.
P3 Pro Tip
Hey, it’s Michael here with your P3 pro tip for the week.
Is your practice introducing a new procedure or service, and trying to figure out how to attract patients online? A common problem that practices run into is that they lead SEO efforts with the name of the procedure or service. However, that strategy doesn’t tend to work well with new treatment options. If patients don’t know the name of your new offering, they won’t think to search for it. So, while you may end up ranking number one in Google for the treatment, you aren’t likely to bring in new patients for that because they aren’t searching for it. Instead, focus your SEO efforts on the problem that the new treatment solves. For example, if your practice is offering a new type of technology for knee replacements, focus on ranking for knee replacements, not for the name of the new technology. Once you’ve got patients’ attention for the thing they know they need, then you can introduce your new treatment option and explain why you recommend it.
Michael: Before we move on, guys, let’s take a quick station break here. So, this is the Paradigm Shift of Healthcare. I’m joined by Scott Zeitzer and Ashley Hohensee today. We’re talking about content. We’re talking about search engine optimization. We’re talking about the level of work that you have to do to go beyond your competitors. And Ashley, you’re absolutely right. It’s not enough to just slap up an okay article anymore. You have to be better than what’s out there, and you have to be able to be more aggressive about gaining attention around all the different factors that go into that.
Scott: I wouldn’t mind letting everybody know, when I talk about search engine optimization with our prospective customers, our current customers, we don’t just write an article. I think it’s critical. I get it. If you’re doing this on your own, you’re basically saying, “Hey, I want to be found for,” just to be silly, “tap dancing, and I’m going to write about tap dancing,” but we don’t do that. We don’t just write an article. Ashley, Michael, jump in if you want, what’s the process? We’re going to jump into a project and we’re going to do content marketing, walk us through the process that we as a company go through, so that I’m not doing this as an advertisement, everybody.
Scott: I’m doing this so that you have an idea about what you need to look for, whether it’s us, whether it’s yourself, whether it’s somebody else.
Ashley: Sure. So, once we get an idea from the surgeon, what they want to focus on, we’ll go and do some keyword research. Sometimes the surgeon will come to us like, “I want to have an article on this procedure,” and it’s a super technical procedure name that a patient would never use. So, I’ll go through and figure out, “Okay, what’s a more common term for that? What kind of terminology can we use that’s patient friendly?” And we’ll go back to the surgeon with that. And we’ll come up with some questions to interview the surgeon. And usually what I’m focusing on there is, so we talk about the procedure itself, of course, but I’m more focused on, in the interview, on the surgeon’s perspective. What is their philosophy? What is their training? What can we highlight about that?
And every surgeon, that’s where the differentiation really comes in. Every surgeon’s going to have different training. They’re going to have a different approach to how they do it. And really getting into how they take care of the patient is what’s most important, because you really, if you’re just looking for general information about a procedure, you can find that anywhere. It’s on the internet somewhere. So, we do touch on it, so that we make sure we really give a whole picture to the patient of what would be happening, but we really weave in throughout the surgeon’s perspective there.
Scott: I always tell the surgeon, “We’re not trying to compete with WebMD here.”
Scott: Really it’s very little conversation, actually, about the surgery itself, in a way.
Scott: And when you talk about, say, a hip replacement, and somebody says, “I do a direct anterior approach.” And you go, “Okay, why?” And man, the passion that comes out.
Ashley: Right. Or the other way, if that’s not what they like to do.
Scott: There is a passion for it. They do get into it, and getting that across in a way that a patient can understand is critical. That’s one part. But the other part of it, when you’re writing this content, again, I go back to, it’s very scary for a patient to do a total hip, or a total knee. It’s very scary, and there’s so many questions that you have about how quickly you can get back to normal. Is there going to be a lot of blood? Am I going to be in a lot of pain? I’m scared of getting hooked on opioids. I’ve seen a lot of that. What do you do? How do I best prep for this? What kind of information should my caregiver know? All of these things come into play.
We’re used to writing this, so it’s secondhand for us, but those are kind of things that get, that need to be in that article. Ashley, we touched on it last podcast, but I do want to remind people, no, you can’t write just a couple of paragraphs, but about how many words do you try, just to remind everybody?
Ashley: Yeah. So, I try to go for about 800 to 1000, give or take. Usually ends up being a little closer to 1000, especially if you can really get them talking in the interview. It’s always good to have more material than less, but you don’t want to be overwhelming. So, especially if you’re laying down a lot of information there, make sure you’re using a lot of headings, a lot of smaller paragraphs, lists where it makes sense—things that make it easily readable. Because it’s not also just having the information, but you want it to be able to be read it easily from any device. So, that’s another [crosstalk 00:19:54].
Scott: No doubt.
Michael: I think that’s one of the biggest things when it comes to somebody writing content on their own, versus working with other teams, and working with other people. Just because you can write, doesn’t mean you can write for the web. And it’s one of those things that it seems like it should just work, but you think of about reading a novel versus reading a news article. If they took those, it’s so funny because I’ll be reading, and I’m like, I get to a page and the entire page is one paragraph. I’m like, “Oh, my gosh. How can anyone ever read this much content all at once?” And so, that formatting and the way that you’re presenting all that information is critical to effective communication.
Scott: Yeah. There is an art to it. I really don’t think James Joyce would be a great content writer, as I’ve tried to get through Ulysses I don’t know how many times. But that being said, there’s a lot more to it than just content marketing. And Michael, you’ve hammered into my head over the years, I always tell people, there’s an ABCs to, I worked my way through colleges and EMT and in airway breathing and circulation, doesn’t really matter what’s going on with somebody’s big toe. Airway breathing and circulation, then we’ll get to the big toe, just to be silly. But the ABC’s in my mind, you need a good website. You need good content on that website. And we can talk about, we’ve talked about this, but then there’s that other component, the reputation marketing, which seems to be so critical.
And there are some other things that we can do out outside of that. So, first, Michael, if you wouldn’t mind talking a little bit about reputation marketing, and why you think it’s so important, and what else we can do on top of the search engine optimization to help in this overall organic win, shall we say?
Michael: You talk about the difference between 10 years ago and today, and we keep bringing this up because so many people that we encounter, and not just in medical practices, but just, I think, in marketing, in general, you very quickly run into “10 years ago” mindsets.
Michael: And so, “Well, hey, I said it on my website. I said I’m the best, so why aren’t they all ranking me as the best, and why aren’t people treating me as the best? And why aren’t they all?” 10 years ago, everybody was doing online shopping. Everybody was going down that pathway, but now it’s expected. If you go on, I’ll pick up Best Buy, and you don’t see reviews for a product, “Geez, that product must not be very good,” because nobody’s reviewed it at all. Or Amazon or any of them, and you look at these different systems, and Amazon is the king of perpetuating this concept of getting this idea out there. Yelp and all of those different groups that did this, this is the norm. This is how people shop. It’s how they make selections. It’s their decision making process.
If you don’t have reviews, you just don’t exist in so many ways. They just move right on, like, oh, not enough reviews, bad scores in your reviews, whatever it may be. These are the factors that legitimize or not. And that’s so frustrating to somebody that spent so many years getting their doctorate, and doing all of the practice, and doing all the things. One of the discussions we heard, it’s like being compared to an Uber driver, or being compared to a restaurant, or something like that, to just have these scores be the end all be all of your value as a physician.
And in a way it’s not fair, and in a way it really is, because it really does speak to the level of, I’ll say, customer service. And that’s a term that like always rings a little oddly in healthcare. But I think this idea of customer service is just becoming the norm, whether people want it to or not.
Michael: This is where so much of healthcare is going. And so, the different signals that come off of that do help search engines, do help all of these other kinds of entities know that this is a successful practice, or isn’t.
Scott: Yeah. And guys who are listening and shaking their head about reputation marketing, it really is just another word-of-mouth. I know every, most orthopods, they get out, they work at the ER. They’re trying to show that they’re good at what they do. They’re trying to show that they care. They’re trying to, so many things, trying to tell the other surgeons that are there, and the other docs that they’re there for them, et cetera, that they’re reliable. And that comes across without a survey, I get it, but hey, everybody’s checking you out, man. You’re in that ER, and you’re setting that bone, or taking them up to surgery, et cetera, it’s like, you’re showing what you’re about. You’re showing about how you get back to the, how you’re taking care of the patient, how you perform the actual procedure, how you’re interacting with the primary care physician, the rheumatologist, et cetera, et cetera.
And that’s you doing reputation marketing without the name around it. It’s basic word-of-mouth that’s been going on for hundreds of years. All that’s happening now is that they’ve come up with a technology that helps do it better, so to speak. So, I do say, “Everybody calm down. I get it.” All the things, Michael, that you said, but reputation marketing is not going away. It’s part of the process, shall we say? And those that ignore it, do it at their own peril, so to speak. So, I would strongly, there are a variety of different services out there. We happen to use the folks at Press Ganey, doctor.com, but there are other good services as well. Find somebody. And as you start, if you’re a working in a large practice or for a hospital, they’ve got some system that might be similar, but do not hide from that. Make it part of your thing. That’s my best advice.
Michael: Yeah. So, there’s online, the review process, or things like listings for your map, listings, all of that kind of stuff, getting all of that stuff consistent. Making sure that your website is fast enough so that you’re not frustrating people as soon as they come to see you, all of that stuff. We’ve talked about that in other episodes, so we’ll leave that for another conversation. All of this just goes to show that content, this process of trying to write for the patient, to write to the people that are going to come to see you in your practice, it’s something you need to spend a lot of time thinking about.
It’s not just the quick blurb that you always give out to somebody. It’s something that you need to think through, how you’re going to package it in a way that’s accessible for everybody, and is easy for people to understand. Ashley, thank you so much. Two episodes back-to-back. I really appreciate you joining us. Again, we’ve got the cupcake shop analogy.
Michael: [inaudible 00:26:34] 102. It’s done. It happened. So, that’s, I consider that a success. Everybody, thank you so much for listening and have a great week.
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