A few decades ago, the word “competition” wasn’t used among healthcare professionals. But there’s now no denying that running a practice is a competitive venture.
You now need to have a marketing plan and online presence in order to remain competitive in your community and maintain your success. Your website, content, business listings, and online reputation are among the most valuable assets to your growth.
Here are the basic elements you need to have in place to help your practice thrive online.
Page One of Google Search Results
If you’re not showing up in Google search results, your practice might as well be invisible. Even if you have the best website out there, it won’t do you much good if visitors can’t find it. But how do you climb the search result ladder?
The best way is to remember that search companies want to be helpful to their users. If your online presence and content are created to help people, you’ve already done 80% of your job.
There are many hundreds of search ranking factors, but a few are especially important and do most of the heavy lifting. They include:
Fast Loading Times: Many people will leave a website if it doesn’t load within four seconds (and two seconds is ideal).
Relevant Content: If a visitor loads your page, but doesn’t find contact information, insurance plans, doctor and staff biographies, and key information about your practice, they might click somewhere else.
Modern Website Design: Having an outdated or unprofessional website design will distract visitors. This is especially true in the healthcare field, where a high degree of professionalism is expected.
Mobile Responsive Design: Most of your visitors access your website from a mobile device. If they have to scroll, pinch, and zoom, they’ll get frustrated and go somewhere else.
Clear Next Step: Visitors should be able to quickly determine the next step after loading your website. Often this will be contacting your practice for an appointment.
It’s also vital that you optimize your practice for local search. Many visitors often contact a practice within a couple hours of finding it in a local search result.
The best way to do this is to claim your Google My Business profile and complete as much information as possible on your profile page.
Secure and Mobile Responsive
About 51% of all your website visitors come to your website from a mobile device. These include smartphones and tablets. Modern websites account for this by using mobile responsive website design.
This is a type of website design that automatically adjusts itself for the screen size and technical capabilities of the mobile device.
If you’ve ever had to pinch and zoom while using a website on your phone, that website was likely not mobile responsive. Usability is important, but so is security.
Google has been making changes to help its users understand the need for a secure internet. A secure website keeps personal information safe while it’s being sent through the internet.
Many web browsers and search engines have begun to label websites that don’t use secure communication as “insecure” in search results and in the browser.
If the first thing visitors see when they visit your practice website is a prominent warning that your website is not secure, many will not continue forward.
Engaging Online Content
Many visitors look up healthcare information on their smartphones. And tech-savvy practices know to take advantage of this — it gives visitors a reason to keep coming back to your website and share it with others. Some of the most helpful content is online patient education.
Online patient education makes your website engaging, improves your search rankings, caters to visual learners, and is easier to update than print materials. It may also help your patients to be more likely to stick with your recommended treatments and procedures and reduce any anxiety related to treatment.
You can also develop content about your practice, like the services you provide, relevant news and updates, office tours, insurance information, and blogging.
Accurate Practice Listings
Besides your website, visitors use online directories and reviews to find a practice and schedule an appointment. These are among the top channels in the decision-making process. There are some positive and negative aspects to consider in relation to your online directories.
Inaccurate Information: There’s a good chance your practice appears in many online directories, even if you didn’t create them. This is because much of the data in those listings are filled in by automated “bots.” Keep your information accurate for a positive patient experience.
Quality Means Better Search Results: Accurate information signals to search engines that your practice has a higher level of credibility than one that has not maintained its data.
Accuracy Affects Online Reviews: Many online directory listings let patients leave an online review, but inaccurate online listings may result in duplicate practice listings being created. Patients may leave reviews in scattered locations, instead of your genuine practice listing.
The result is that you may experience a drop in search results because your best online reviews point everywhere except your primary listings.
A Positive Online Reputation
91% of visitors read online reviews for local businesses, even for healthcare practices. In fact, medical and healthcare ranked only slightly behind restaurants in terms of how important visitors consider online reviews to their decision process.
When a patient writes a great review of your practice online, it says volumes about your standard of care. Praises and compliments about your staff, cleanliness of office or treatment outcome will provide your existing patients even more reason to continue coming to your office.
One of the greatest ways to retain existing patients and secure new referrals is to proactively monitor your online reputation and encourage existing patients to review you on popular review sites and online directories.
Online reviews from real, genuine patients are just as influential as an in-person referral from a friend or family member. They can become one of your most powerful marketing assets and a valuable tool for driving new leads to your website where they can learn more about your practice and schedule an appointment.
To Sum It Up
A thriving online presence has:
- A website and content that are optimized to climbs towards page one of search results.
- A website design that is mobile responsive and easy to use on all devices, in addition to being secure and protecting personal information.
- Engaging content about both your practice and healthcare information that patients can access and share any time.
- Accurate information everywhere patients search for you, even outside of your website.
- A positive online reputation with online reviews and patient testimonials.
If you have any questions about the status of your online presence, contact Officite. We’d be happy to answer your questions and work with you to build a thriving online presence.