- Posted by Nigel Edelshain
- On May 29, 2014
There’s a lot of noise about social media but it’s almost certainly still Google that will help you most to market your medical practice.
Take a look at the traffic reports to your website. If your site is like the sites I’ve managed, you’re going to see something like half of your traffic coming from organic (free) search.
And apparently my experience is not unique (at all). Research from Conductor found that over a spectrum of websites organic search contributed 47% of the traffic.
By comparison the traffic sent your site by social media sites is probably quite small, 5%?
Google is key
Google’s share of the search engine market is large, depending on which research firm you believe, Google owns between 65% and 85% of the organic searches. So out of that 47% of your traffic coming from organic search 31%-40% of that is from Google’s search engine alone.
It’s likely this is the biggest chunk of your website traffic outside of people typing in your web address directly. The people who type in your web address presumably already know you (or have seen you in a non-digital setting like a print ad or conference).
The people that are most interesting from search are potential patients typing in “non branded” terms, i.e. they are not searching for your business name. People searching for your business name are just “looking you up” as they might in the phone book. But people that find you for other search terms such as symptoms or “best OB/GYN in Red Bank” are likely hearing about you for the first time.
Put your practice on the map
As I’ve written before, the biggest current opportunity in search is local. Now is the time for your medical practice to “stake out its claim” in your surrounding community.
Data from Chikita shows that 24% of all Google searches today have “local intent”, meaning that people are searching for local resources like local businesses. This number is much higher when you consider just mobile searchers (those using their smartphones and tablets), Google says this number is closer to 50%.
Also, the searches with “local intent” tend to have a lot of “buying intent”. Research from Ipsos MediaCT found that 18% of local searches made on a smartphone resulted in a purchase within a day of the search being made (vs. 7% when the search did not have “local intent”). 50% of the consumers that conducted a local search on their smartphone showed up at a business within the next day.
To show up on page one of these local searches you need to take care of your “on page” and “off page” search engine optimization (and 92% of the traffic goes to page one.)
“On-page optimization” is what you likely think of when you think SEO. On-page optimization involves making sure your web pages contain the keywords that your patients are searching on.
If you want to be found locally make sure you have pages that contain your location. If you want to be found in other towns outside of your own make sure you have pages with the names of these towns on them.
Also if you want to be found for patients searching by condition (e.g. “asthma”) you need to have these words on at least one web page on your site. A tip: Don’t assume patients know the names of the conditions–have pages that cover symptoms like “I’m having trouble breathing after exercise”.
To make it easy to add these keywords to your website, you need a blog or content management system. To find out how to most effectively use a blog on your site grab a copy of our free ebook below.
Off-page optimization is primarily about building links to your site. Each link from another site to yours is like a vote.
The best kind of links you can get are actually ones you do not ask for. The ideal in the Google world is you are producing such great content (from blogging etc.) that others are referencing you and linking to you without you ever knowing or asking. In most cases this can kind of linking takes a long time to happen. The best way to get a foundation of links in the short term is to get listed in some of the major directories.
The most obvious directory to get listed in is Google’s own. To do this set up a Google+ Local business page. Since this is Google’s own directory this inevitably shows up in search.
Over and above Google’s own directory, get listed in Bing and Yahoo’s local business directories. Then make sure you are on Yelp, Superpages.com, Yellowpages.com and Manta.
There are actually hundreds of local and industry specific directories and being listed on these is still a “kosher” way to build your “authority” on Google as a local business. This could change some day but as of now it’s still a good strategy for local SEO.