Content marketing is a way to guide your patients to the information they need, thereby establishing trust in the process.
If you have looked into online marketing for your practice, you’ve probably heard the words “content marketing” quite a bit. Don’t blow this off as just a fad, though; content marketing has long been a factor in search engine ranking, so it is here to stay. So, what does all of this mean for you and your website?
Simply put, content marketing is creating and distributing content that your target audience would find useful. These days, most people tune out advertising like banner ads, once considered the gold standard for online marketing. Your content needs to be informative. If it sounds more like a sales pitch than an informative article, search engines, and more importantly, potential patients, will skip right over you.
How does content marketing work for a medical practice? Here are some pointers to consider when adding content to your website.
Create content for people, not search engines.
This has always been one of our mantras at P3. People used to try to get into search results by stuffing as many keywords as possible into their content, even when the end result didn’t read very well, just to try to increase their ranking. These days, search engines are smarter than that, and they can tell when you’re trying to game the system. You won’t be rewarded for excessive keyword use if the content as a whole isn’t very good or useful.
Think less about trying to get as many keywords in as possible, and more about what information your patients might want. When people search for something online, they are looking for information on a particular subject, not schemes and advertisements.
If you want to rank for a particular procedure, add content explaining it.
Let’s say you want to attract more patients who want hip replacements. The best way to start is to add content to your website that details the procedure and answers common patient questions.
“But I already have patient education on my website,” you say. Unfortunately, that isn’t going to cut it here. While patient education links are still very useful, other doctors have access to the same information, so it ends up being duplicated on several websites. If you rely solely on that content, you won’t get the ranking you want. This brings us to our next point…
Make it original.
You need to have your own, original content, rather than content that could be found on several other doctors’ websites. This gives you the opportunity to provide more detail on how your practice performs a particular procedure or treats a certain condition. You can also showcase what makes you stand out from other practices. Are you the only doctor in the area who performs a certain procedure? Does your practice have a state-of-the-art physical therapy center on site? Say so!
Patients can find general information about a condition and treatment options on several different websites. What they need on your website is information that helps them decide whether or not your practice is the right fit for their needs.
Tailor the content to your audience.
Creating original content gives you the opportunity to cater to your target audience and “speak their language.” For example, if you are a sports medicine doctor whose practice is located in an area where skiing and other winter sports are popular, you can write content about common skiing injuries. Writing about the things your patients care about with regard to their recovery helps to build trust because it shows that you understand their needs.
Write content that the average person could easily understand.
Easily understood content is especially important for marketing a medical practice. Medical procedures and terminology can seem quite complicated and confusing to most people, so you have to be able to take these complex ideas and simplify them. You might use medical jargon when talking to colleagues or scholarly work, but your website and other marketing materials require a different type of language than a medical journal. You want patients to feel confident in your recommendations, and they won’t if they don’t understand the concept.
Get ideas from your patients—what do they want to know?
Are there certain procedures that patients inquire about more than others? If so, that would be a great place to start planning your content. Frequently Asked Questions, or FAQs, are a great way to add content to your website, while also answering common patient questions. You can also add schema markup to your website that helps Google better “understand” FAQ content, and Google could potentially show that content as an FAQ featured result directly on the search results page.
The more content, the better.
You want to establish yourself as an expert in your field. The best way to do that is to add good content and keep it updated. The more quality information you can give your patients, the better.
Consider starting a blog.
A blog can be a great way to keep putting content out on a regular basis. With a blog, you can cover a wide range of topics outside of what you would put on your website. Your website content should cover the procedures and services you offer, but blog posts can cover other related areas that your patients might be interested in, like injury prevention, pre-workout stretches, or diet. Also, if you have social media pages for your practice, a blog gives you content to share there.
Content marketing isn’t just text.
Yes, written articles and blog posts are an important part of content marketing, but don’t feel like you have to limit yourself to just that. If you think that something would be better explained with visuals, try a video or an infographic. An infographic combines images and text, allowing you to explain a topic at a glance, without a lot of reading. Videos can also be a way to engage with patients, giving the content a more personal touch, while still allowing you to explain a topic and provide images if needed.
These are just some guidelines to get you started. When it comes to content marketing, the bottom line is to keep your patients in mind. Put yourself in their shoes: if you were a patient, or researching to find a new doctor, what would you want to see? If you create content with that mindset, you should see positive results.
P3 Practice Marketing has helped orthopedic, spine, and neurosurgery practices market themselves online since 1998. Our focus is on helping practices expand their reach through increased patient recommendations and provider referrals.