Your web presence is the “home base” of your marketing efforts. Even if patients don’t initially hear about your practice online, they are likely to go online to learn more about you. For that reason, it’s important to optimize your web presence to ensure patients are able to find you and get the information they need.
1. Get a website to serve as a central hub of information about your practice.
According to Pew Research Center, 72% of U.S. adults have searched for health information online. This means that if you want to attract new patients, you’ll need to market yourself online. There are lots of different ways you can market yourself online, as you’ll see below, but all of those marketing efforts need to point to one central location, or hub: your website. Don’t have a website? You’ll definitely want to get one if you want to be able to compete with other practices in your area.
Your website is the one location that you can always drive patients to with any of your marketing efforts to give more information. Since it is online, it should also be fairly easy for you to update information about your practice as needed, either through a content management system or your web provider. Though a professional, well-built website is a more costly investment upfront, it will pay off in the long run.
High in the initial setup, but lower-effort after launch if you have the right solution in place.
Initial costs can be higher, but a future-proof website solution (like P3 Publish) can help offset future costs.
2. Make sure your website is mobile-friendly to attract patients on mobile devices.
Not only do you need to have a website, you also need to make sure it’s mobile-friendly. Is it easy to navigate your site on a smartphone or tablet? If not, it’s time to consider getting a responsive, mobile-friendly site. Google has been issuing warnings to sites that aren’t mobile-friendly, saying that these sites may not rank well in search results. We’ve built nearly 1,000 healthcare practice websites at P3 Inbound. Across all of our websites, we’ve seen an average of 40% of a practice’s online traffic come from mobile phones and tablets. This percentage is often higher in larger metropolitan areas. You certainly don’t want to miss out on that much traffic.
Depending on when your current website was built, you may already have a solution in place for mobile. If you aren’t sure, we definitely recommend checking with your web provider. If you’re considering redesigning or upgrading your website, you should also make sure that web provider has a plan for mobile. The best option is to use a web provider that uses responsive design, as this will allow your website to adapt to a wide range of screen sizes, auto-fitting the content so that your patients always get the best experience.
The amount of effort needed can range based on the age of your website and current platform. We recommend choosing a provider that understands responsive design to help reduce the effort needed to keep your website mobile-friendly.
A mobile-friendly design can be costly if you don’t currently have a good solution in place. Though it may cost more upfront, we recommend moving to a responsive website design to better “future-proof” your website as screen sizes change.
3. Implement SEO best practices to improve your ranking in search engines.
Search engines are constantly evolving, and in order to get a favorable spot in search results, you need to follow the best practices of search engine optimization (SEO). Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts to get to the top of search results, but taking the time to correctly implement SEO practices can pay off in the long run.
Weed out things like low-quality or duplicate content, and avoid using spam tactics like keyword stuffing and link scheming. A good SEO strategy should focus on quality content, local listings, and other, more technical optimization. To really improve your SEO strategy, it’s a good idea to work with someone who specializes in SEO. By working with an expert, you can improve SEO and develop a plan to keep your website optimized as you add and update content.
The amount of effort can really range based on what you need. Some SEO best practices are a quick fix, but others (like content writing) will require more in-depth work.
Costs for SEO work can also vary based on what you need. In general, the more in-depth the work, the higher the cost.
4. Create custom content for your website to attract patients seeking specific procedures & services.
Quality custom content should be a part of your SEO plan. You can create custom content to inform patients about your practice, qualifications, procedures, and services. Some practices write this content themselves, but you can also pay a content to help you put content together. Quality content is an important factor in search engine ranking. It shows that you are knowledgeable and an expert in your field, which improves your chances of ranking for relevant searches. For example, a page that explains your expertise in hip replacement and answers common patient questions will improve your chances of showing up in search results when local patients search for a hip replacement surgeon.
Don’t try any of the “shortcut” tactics we mentioned in #3, though–they could actually hurt your chances of ranking. Instead, create content with your patients in mind; what information do they want and need to know? Search engines are now intuitive enough to figure out whether or not you are providing quality information, so stuffing the content with the keywords you want won’t work. However, if you have well-written content with accurate, descriptive information, search engines will recognize it and award you with better ranking.
If your practice plans on writing the content, you will need to dedicate at least a few hours per page to make sure the information is thorough and easy-to-read. Hiring a content writer can reduce the amount of effort needed on your part.
You can keep costs down by writing the content yourself. If you want to hire a content writer, an experienced content writing service is more of an investment. For example, our content writing packages start at $4,500 for four pages. However, if you are going to pay, it’s paying more money to invest in a content writing service that understands medical practices and the latest SEO standards so that you get an end product that will actually help you achieve your goals.
5. Claim your local listings to help patients find your practice.
Once a patient has decided to schedule an appointment with your practice, he or she will need to know where to find you. This is where local listings come in. If you claim and verify your local listings in search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo, these search engines will display that information when patients in your area search for you. If your listing doesn’t show up, or your listing information is incorrect, your new patients may have a hard time finding you and get frustrated.
This is something that your practice can manage in-house, if desired. It does take some effort upfront to get all of your listings claimed and up to date, but maintenance is fairly simple once you get that done. You’ll really only need to check in if you need to change something, or if you get a notification about a user-submitted change. Although many listing services are free, you can also use a paid service if you don’t feel your office has the time to keep up. Automated services like Moz Local and BrightLocal allow you to make changes in one place, then push those changes out to several major online directories at once. You can also have a marketing company completely handle management of your listings. This is a service we offer for all of our client on our P3 Publish platform.
If you’re managing your listings in-house, it will require some ongoing effort on your part, but listing maintenance will generally not require much of your time. If you use a paid service for listing management, your required effort will be even less.
Most listing services like Google and Bing maps are free to use. Automated services like Moz Local and Brightlocal can start as low as $99/year, depending on how many locations you have. Paying marketing companies to manage your listings will typically require a monthly fee, but you’ll get more personal attention to your listings if you go this route.
6. Optimize your local listings so patients can quickly find the important details about your practice.
Once your listing is claimed and verified, don’t stop there! Fill out as much information as possible to make your listing stand out and improve your chances of showing up in search results. Currently, Google only shows 3 map listings on the first page of search results, so it’s important to optimize your listings as much as possible to get that prime placement in the map results.
Add photos of your practice, fill out hours and specialties, and add a short description about your practice. The more information you can give, the better. Google My Business is also constantly rolling out features like user-submitted Q&A functionality, so make sure you stay on top of the latest online listing features so that you can be prepared.
It will take a bit of effort to optimize your listings and keep up with responses to user-submitted features like Q&A. However, you can also outsource some of this work to a marketing company to ensure your practice stays on top of the latest features.
If you do this in-house, it won’t cost your practice anything. If you outsource this work to a marketing company, you can expect to pay a monthly fee.
7. Regularly update your website so patients can always get the latest information about your practice.
If your website contains old, outdated information and potential patients can’t find the information they are looking for, they may get frustrated and move on. It’s important to check for updates periodically to avoid this frustration. If your website has a content management system, it should be relatively easy to make updates to your content. If you aren’t able to make updates on your own, you may have to pay your web developer to make those updates.
In addition to keeping your website content up to date, you also need to keep your site up to speed with the latest technology. If your site is very old, it may not be up to date with all of the latest security and functionality standards. This can create more frustration or distrust among your patients, and may eventually cause you to lose search engine ranking. In fact, Google Chrome has started marking non-secured websites as “Not Secure” in the browser bar. We suggest going with a website platform that regularly rolls out updates so that your practice’s website always utilizes the latest technology available.
If you haven’t updated your website in a long time, it may take a good deal of effort to get it up to speed. If you regularly check for updates, you won’t need to spend as much time making updates all at once.
If your practice’s website has a content management system, updating your content shouldn’t cost you any additional money. If you have your web developer make changes, that will likely incur some type of fee. If you need more technical updates, like an SSL certificate or other security features, your costs could be higher, depending on what is required of your web developer to make those changes.
8. Start a blog to share helpful tips and information with your patients on your website.
Blogs are a great way to continue adding content to your website on a regular basis. This content should differ from your other website content. Rather than explaining your procedures and services, you can give health tips, talk about innovations in healthcare, give injury prevention tips, or any other relevant topics your audience would be interested in.
Blogging is more of an advanced strategy we’d recommend trying after tackling things like mobile-friendliness, SEO, and improving other content throughout your website. In order for your blog to be successful, you’ll need to tackle these things first.
A blog can take a considerable amount of effort for your office to maintain. You can hire content writers to help you write your blog content, which would reduce the amount of effort required.
If your website doesn’t currently have a blog or an easy way to publish content, you may need to budget more upfront to have that functionality added to your website. These costs can range quite a lot depending on your website platform. Hiring content writers will also add to your costs.
9. Help your patients find your website so they know you have an online presence.
This one’s pretty simple: If you have a website or are on social media, let your patients know! They won’t know to look for you if they don’t know you’re out there! Put up “Find us on Facebook” or “Visit our website” signs in your office, and include that information in your marketing materials, too.
This is a fairly low-effort, easy way to remind patients about your web presence.
Unless you have to reprint marketing materials or redesign ads, this is a low-cost way to let patients know about your website.
10. Use review sites like HealthGrades and RateMDs to establish your reputation online.
Review sites like HealthGrades and RateMDs are becoming increasingly popular among patients. Current or former patients can leave reviews about the quality of care they received at your practice, and new patients will often look at those reviews when researching to find a new doctor. Online reviews are even becoming more prevalent in search results, and may also factor into your search ranking.
If you don’t have time to solicit reviews from patients, you can use a service like our Reputation Marketing offering to collect reviews from patients in-office and post those reviews to key review sites.
If your office manages your online reviews without the help of any outside tools or companies, you’ll need to put in a considerable amount of effort to keep up. Services like our Reputation Marketing offering can greatly reduce the amount of effort on your practice.
Claiming and maintaining online review profiles is free. If you choose to use a Reputation Marketing company to manage your online reviews, your budget will be commensurate to the number of providers and locations your practice has. However, if online reviews are an issue for your practice, it’s worth budgeting for a professional service to help you.
11. Respond to online comments & reviews to show patients that you care about what they have to say.
Review sites and social media pages allow other users to leave reviews and comment on your posts. Don’t just ignore those comments! This opens up the door for you to engage with your patients. It could be as simple as thanking a patient for a positive review, or you could engage in a conversation.
You shouldn’t ignore negative reviews, either. Respond in a professional, well-thought-out way, and provide a way for the patient to resolve the issue with you offline. Even if you have some negative responses, if other potential patients see that you have taken the time to address those concerns, it could help to quell some doubts about your practice. Our Reputation Marketing service even helps you keep track of negative reviews, so that you can respond right away.
Depending on the amount of responses you get, this could be a high-effort undertaking. However, it’s worth the effort if people are responding to your posts–it means you’re doing a good job with your social media. Also, responding to negative reviews shows patients that you care about their experience.
Responding to posts and reviews won’t cost you anything.
12. Get patient testimonials to reinforce your marketing messages.
Patient testimonials are a great addition for your website. Testimonials show the success stories of patients under your care, which can be reassuring to new patients. You can make it easy for patients to submit testimonials via a form on your website. We also recommend placing relevant quotes from your testimonials throughout your website and marketing materials to reinforce your marketing (just make sure you have the right permissions in place with your patients before doing so).
You’ll need to monitor your testimonials and take some time to find the right quotes to use in other marketing content, but overall, this is low-effort on your practice’s part.
If your website doesn’t have the capability to allow for testimonial submissions, you’ll probably need to pay your web developer to get that set up. However, it’s typically the most cost-effective and time-conscious way to collect and share patient testimonials on your website.