Want New Patients?
Strengthening your online presence is the best way to attract them. Here are some basic strategies that many practices miss.
These days, a strong online presence is an absolute must if you want to maximize new patient acquisition and, therefore, is vitally important to the success of your practice.
Who Needs the Internet?
You do. This is true for three reasons.
1) First, in the minds of your potential patients, prominent online visibility equates to quality of service. It does in your mind as well, if you think about it. Let’s say you’re traveling to Boston and a friend recommends an Italian restaurant there. When you arrive in Boston, you search a few terms to learn more about the restaurant, such as “Italian restaurants in Boston” or “Back Bay Italian restaurants.” If the recommended restaurant does not appear in the search results, you immediately begin to question its quality, even though, in reality, the restaurant’s Google rankings have nothing to do with its menu. This is exactly the way consumers view your practice. In other words, if you don’t have good online visibility, consumers question the quality of your services. It’s not fair, but that is the world we now live in.
NOTE: Google doesn’t care how long you have been in practice, how much training you have received or how many procedures you have performed. It only sees and cares about what is online and only evaluates what is online. In your quest to appear in the search results, remember Google does not rank surgeons or dentists, it ranks websites. That is the bottom line. Therefore, it is important that Google likes your website. Your online image and by extension, consumers’ impression of your practice depends on it.
2) Secondly, consumers believe what they read online. In fact, results from PEW Research found that 73 percent of Internet users said the information they find online is accurate and trustworthy. The reality is, if a consumer finds one of your competitors’ websites before yours, your competitor can say anything about his or her expertise, procedures, or skills, and three-fourths of consumers will believe it.
3) Finally, because consumers trust the information they find online so much, they are more apt to refer their friends and family to you if you have a strong Internet presence. Even when consumers hear about you through word-of-mouth, they still go online to check you out before contacting your office. They’ll be checking out your competitors, too, so it’s important that they like what they see on your website.
We’re All Privy to the Search Engines
For better or worse, all of this depends on the search engines. According to the same PEW study, 77 percent of online healthcare seekers start their research on a search engine. Obviously, if you want to reach these people, it needs to be easy to find you on the search engine results pages.
How do you get Google to rank your website well? This, of course, is the enduring question. Hiring an experienced medical SEO firm is a good place to start.
Acquiring New Patients Online
Achieving a prominent presence on Google does you no good unless your website appeals to prospective patients. There are a few basic rules to attract the attention of patients and get them into your office.
Your Name – Shoot for No. 1 rankings. If nothing else, your website must rank No. 1 for your name and practice name, including any variations of both. This is your real estate, and you need to own it. In doing so, you can control what consumers read about you when they want to learn more about your services and search for your name or your practice name. Again, ensuring No. 1 rankings requires the services of an experienced medical SEO company.
Communicate what’s in it for the patient. Ultimately, what patients want is an enhanced lifestyle, so focus on this, not the treatment itself. To consumers, reading about the details of surgery is like watching paint dry. And descriptions of the equipment in your office are even less interesting. Instead, focus on the patient and what they will get out of receiving surgical or non-surgical treatment from your practice. Placing a picture of a piece of equipment or of your office on the home page of your website is a major gaffe, because prospective patients want to connect with other happy patients, not with medical equipment or office decorations. Pictures of happy patients with enhanced lifestyles are much more compelling and better convert website visitors to consultations.
Develop a good review strategy. It is imperative that you have patient reviews on your website. These days, consumers expect it. They use reviews to make important buying decisions, including healthcare decisions. According to a study by Revoo, sales can increase by as much as 18 percent when reviews are combined with product or service information. So, make sure you have a strategy for generating good reviews, and for sending patients to places online where you have good reviews. Place procedure reviews right on your site where consumers can use them to make buying decisions (e.g., place veneers reviews on your veneers page, LASIK reviews on your LASIK page or rhinoplasty reviews on your rhinoplasty page). Don’t be afraid to use reviews to sell!
To learn more about how you can acquire new patients online, contact Ceatus today.
Ask the experts
Q How do social signals impact my search engine rankings?
A It’s well-known that Facebook and Twitter will not drive hordes of track-able sales to your practice. However, this doesn’t mean your practice shouldn’t have an active social media strategy. Why? Because both Google and Bing/Yahoo use data from social sites to determine how high to rank your practice website.