Content marketing has for many years been one of the main pillars of search engine optimization. In today’s landscape, content marketing isn’t optional if you want to rank well in search results when local patients search for key procedures and services.
Often, practices ask us about blogging as a method of building up search engine ranking, especially if they have worked with marketing companies that don’t specialize in healthcare. While blogging can be effective for many businesses and even for healthcare in some cases, it is often not the most important or effective type of content marketing for a medical practice.
We frequently talk to practices that have focused so much time and effort on blogging, but are lacking in content on their key procedures and services–the information patients need to make informed decisions about their healthcare. These practices often don’t get the results they want from content marketing because they have not focused on creating the right content.
Let’s talk about why procedure and service content is different from blog content, and how medical practices should use each.
Procedure & Service Content: The Foundation of a Practice’s Marketing
Patients come to your practice because they are looking for a particular procedure or service. More than likely, you aren’t the only practice in the area offering this particular procedure or service, so it’s common for patients to do some research online before deciding where to go.
This is where procedure and service content comes in. If you want to convince patients to choose your practice for a particular procedure or service, you have to give them enough information to make that decision. That means you have to do more than simply put a list of all of your procedures and services on your website–you have to provide more information about the procedure/service and what to expect.
All too often, when we do see practices that have procedure/service content, it’s just generic content that any practice could have, on par with that of WebMD and similar sites.
However, WebMD is not your competition–other practices are.
While it’s helpful to patients to give them some basic information about the procedure/service, patients want to know why they should choose YOU. What can they expect from your practice in particular? What sort of training, expertise, and experience do your doctors have relative to this procedure or service? This lets patients know why you specialize in this procedure/service and is why we call this a practice’s Specialties content.
This type of content also tends to perform very well in search engines because it is considered more “evergreen.” It is the foundation of what your practice does and how it can help patients. If your practice starts blogging before you have this key procedure/service content in place, you likely won’t get the patients you want because you aren’t really answering their questions.
Why Isn’t Blogging a Top Priority for Medical Practices?
Blogging certainly has its place in the world of content marketing, but it doesn’t tend to be the best strategy for new patient acquisition. It isn’t evergreen, and you have to keep at it to retain any value you might get from blogging. Also, both in our own experience and after numerous audits of other practices, we’ve found it is rare for blog content to rank on the first page of search results when local patients search for a particular procedure or service.
Medical practice blogs tend to cover new trends or tips for staying healthy. That’s all great and can be very helpful for people seeking that information, but it’s usually not what converts them to patients. We’ll often see blog content that talks about at-home exercises for arthritis or ways to manage or prevent a condition at home, but then the practice is lacking in content that explains how they can help if those at-home methods don’t work. The patients who tend to read the blog content are typically not the ones who most immediately need your help, and for that reason, blogs tend to have a low conversion rate. They can be great for keeping your current patients engaged and informed, but don’t solve your problem of getting new patients in the door.
Finding the Right Content Mix
Most doctors go into practice because they want to help patients. Blog content can be helpful for patients in providing advice on how to manage or prevent certain conditions or learning about new treatment options. With that said, it is important to lay that foundation of your specialties–your key procedures and services–so that patients (and search engines) understand why you are an expert in this treatment area.
We understand that some doctors feel a bit uncomfortable discussing why a patient should choose them. It can feel a bit like you are selling yourself and your services as a product when you are really providing an essential service. However, patients are behaving more and more like consumers in other industries. They want to know more about your qualifications, your treatment philosophies, why you recommend certain treatments, and what other patients are saying about you. People do much more extensive research when choosing a doctor than they used to, and the process is very similar to how consumers make any purchasing decision. In a sense, you do have to sell yourself to patients because there are other options out there.
If you start blogging without having that foundation of your specialties in place, you could be missing out on opportunities to build trust with potential patients. Show patients that you are the expert in your key service areas. Make it easy for them to find the information they need to know about your practice, and do it in a way that is search engine friendly. Once you have that foundation in place, then you can consider blogging if it’s something you think would be helpful for your patients. It’s like building a house; you wouldn’t start putting up the walls and decorating before you’ve laid down a solid foundation. The procedure/service content is the foundation of your online presence, and everything else you do builds on top of it.