There are three key channels that successful organizations focus on when it comes to improving their online ratings: their websites, third-party review sites, and Google My Business. These platforms increase the volume of digital data about your physicians and provide ample opportunities to maximize search engine optimization (SEO), which in turn helps increase your ranking on Google search results.
1. Optimize your website for SEO and lead generation
Are you driving traffic for the terms for which you want to be found? Effective use of common search terms will help you rise in search rankings and will provide a better user experience for people who find your site from Google. A 2016 study published by Marketing Dive indicates that 82 percent of marketers report that SEO effectiveness is increasing, with 42 percent of them stating the increase is significant.
The key is to provide content that is relevant to healthcare consumers and that strikes a balance between clinical terms and consumer-friendly searches, such as common names for conditions or even physician names. For example, if you operate a cardiovascular care center, it’s important to use words that average people use if your main audience is consumers. Doing so will make it easier for patients to find, connect with, and act on your content, which will encourage sharing of your content and referrals to your website, increasing leads. Effectively optimized content also will cause your site to rise higher in search rankings for consumer-friendly terms.
You can research topics that people in your market are interested in and terms they are using with tools like Google Trends that let you compare search frequency for terms you’re considering using in your web content. For example, Google Trends data shows that “heart attack” was searched 10 times as often as “myocardial infarction” over the past five years.
2. Third-party sites build content volume, raise search rankings
Third-party sites have dual importance: They offer another avenue to raise your rankings in search, and they give you a public showcase for your physicians and customer service skills.
Patients tend to search for physicians by name rather than by organization. The more high-quality reviews your physicians compile, the greater the chance that those reviews will rise to the top of search rankings in Google.
And as potential patients research your physicians online, they will read reviews from past and current patients, as well as your responses to those reviews. Today’s healthcare patients seek not only superior healthcare but also a positive patient experience. Your management of physician and patient relationships online provides an indication for how they can expect to be treated in your clinics.
Healthgrades and Vitals are two of the largest healthcare-related third-party review sites, and their reviews rank high in Google due to their relevance to searching patients. But retail-oriented review site Yelp has a fair share of physician reviews as well. In fact, a 2016 Nielsen survey commissioned by Yelp suggests that review sites drive more conversions than social media platforms like Facebook.
3. Use Google My Business for SEO and customer service
Most people are not going directly to your website to find health information or learn about your physicians. They’re using Google to conduct research, a large part of which includes searching for your physicians by name, and the results are full of third-party review sites such as Google My Business.
Google My Business is a robust and increasingly more important platform when it comes to building a repository of high-quality physician reviews. To do that, you must claim and complete the profiles for your practice and your physicians. This will help you show up on local search results, which is important for being found when your potential patients are in research mode.
In the Google My Business platform, you can monitor and respond to patient reviews of your physicians. Along with an opportunity to gather and respond to feedback from patients, Google My Business is another platform to include SEO-optimized keywords to help increase your search ranking.
Healthcare marketers may feel overwhelmed at the volume of work it takes to organically build SEO-rich content to increase search rankings. As with all marketing initiatives, we recommend you start with the physicians in the most important service line in your organization in relation to your marketing goals and patient needs. Once you’ve covered the three platforms for this service line’s physicians, move on to the next.
Improving online ratings is a marathon, not a sprint.You won’t see results immediately, but the effort over time will positively affect your organization’s search rankings and patient volume.