It should come as no surprise that Internet search engines, like Google and Yahoo! are quickly becoming the newest and most preferred means of finding local service-based providers. The Internet is saturated with local businesses, and doctors who once relied solely on phone book advertisements to generate new patient revenue are recognizing this fundamental shift from print to Web.
Just because your practice is located in a specific town, however, doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed a spot on the first page of Google for your location. Maybe five or six years ago, when the Internet wasn’t flooded with billions of websites, you could appear in the first few pages, but today you must take a series of actions in order to secure a prominent position in the search results and stay in front of your local competitors.
With the rapid growth and development of the Internet, there’s no denying that marketing has taken a significant turn. The following three steps can help move your practice forward into the age of digital marketing and online local search.
Build a website. If you build it, they will come. When it comes to launching a website for your practice, this couldn’t be truer. A website should function as the foundation of your entire practice marketing strategy and is the first essential step to earning top placement on major search engines. Websites developed with premium designs, keyword rich content, new patient forms, appointment requesting, easy navigation and patient education will be attractive for both the patients and the search engines’ ranking factors.
Optimize your Website for local search. You can have the most attractive, functional website, but if it’s not optimized for local search, you’ll have a difficult time ranking prominently in the search results. Search engines use complex algorithms when determining which websites rank at the top of the page for specific keywords, so requesting the assistance from a third party search expert may be a good option to ensure your website achieves a high natural search ranking. A local search engine optimization (SEO) strategy should include keyword identification and analysis; keyword rich website content; quality link building; Place Page set-up and verification; local directory submissions; and natural, patient reviews.
Keep your Website fresh. Keeping your website updated, timely and relevant is a key to online practice success. This is due in part because the search engines reward sites with high quality, updated content with a higher search ranking. To avoid a stagnant site and a decline in your search engine position, make an effort to update it regularly. This can include adding new office or staff photos; updating your practice information, services and forms; blogging; and upgrading your design with the assistance of your website provider.
As Internet technology continues to experience rapid growth and advancements, patients will continue to turn to Google and other major search engines to find information concerning their health. Search engines are the new phone books, and dismissing the power of the Web may result in a missed opportunity to market your practice and reach new patients like never before. Start by establishing your online presence with a professional, practice website. Optimize your site for local search, and then continue to refine and enhance your website for continuous, optimal performance.