Search engines such as Google provide us with instant information right at our fingertips. As a result, we turn to them find all types of information, from movie times to in-depth research about our healthcare options. According to a hospital study by Google and Compete, 77% of patients use search engines prior to booking an appointment at a hospital. There are also plenty of other stats that show why search is so important in the healthcare world.
Is your hospital doing everything it can to improve its search engine presence? Chances are, it could be doing more.
Below are a 5 things your hospital can do to stand out more in search engines.
Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising
Paid search advertising is a great way to get your hospital prime placement in Google, Bing, and Yahoo search results, even if your organization isn’t in the top organic results. In Google, pay-per-click (PPC) ads can appear in the top 3-4 spots on the search engine results page (SERP), as well as in the 3 spots at the bottom. You can use PPC to advertise various service lines (such as cancer treatment or orthopedics) and drive more traffic to specific landing pages or areas of your website.
In fact, the Google/Compete study showed that after seeing paid search ads, 35% of patients search for more information, 29% start the research process, 28% visit the advertised hospital’s website, 21% consider that hospital, and 5% contact the hospital.
Another great thing about PPC is that it can lead to fast results, and it’s easy to track your progress. Also, with this form of online advertising, you can control which keywords your ads are linked to, which geographic areas you want to target, when you want to show your ads, and more.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
This is search engine strategy an oldie, but a goodie. Even with all of the changes that search engines have been experiencing in the past several years (such as paid search ads and map results now dominating the top of the page), your organic (unpaid) search results are still a major factor in your hospital’s online presence. Research shows that 75% of online searchers will not scroll past the first page of results, so it’s clear to see why getting a high ranking in search results is so important for your Intenret marketing strategy.
Search engines such as Google use numerous factors to determine your website’s value to its users and whether it is worth listing at the top of search results. Yes, making sure your website meets search engines’ best practices is a time-consuming process, but it pays off with a longer-term presence in organic search results (not just when you are paying to run ads).
You know those local listings that show up with the map in the search results? Those are the local search results, and they definitely stand out on the SERP—especially since they often feature online ratings and review snippets. There are several strategies for getting into Google’s “Local Pack,” which features just 3 local listings. These strategies include managing your hospital’s online reviews (getting a lot of positive ones), properly setting up your Google My Business page, ensuring that your hospital’s listings on directory sites across the web are consistent, and more.
Blogging & Content Marketing
Blog posts are a great way to reach online users who are searching for different health-related search terms. For example, you can blog about common childhood illnesses in order to get in the results for searches related to pediatric care. Or, you can feature stories of cancer patients survivors (with their permission, of course) to get in results for cancer treatment. In addition to blog posts, you can also boost presence in search engines with other forms of content, such as online articles, press releases, e-books, and social media posts.
But remember… this strategy only works if you are providing relevant, high-quality content that will actually interest and help online users. Yes, you will want to optimize your content with the keywords you want to get ranked for, but the main focus should be educating your target audience and answering their questions. Google can tell when you are trying to be a resource to patients and when you are just trying to scam the system.
Get Others Talking About Your Hospital Online
In addition to producing your own digital content, you can also get more online exposure by getting others to feature your organization. Reach out to local and digital media outlets to get stories published about your hospital (such as stories about facility renovations, unique patient programs, special awards and certifications, etc.). You can even write guest blog posts and articles for other websites. With these stories circulating on the web, you have yet another opportunity for your hospitals to steal some of the spotlight in search results.
To learn more about hospital marketing, check out free social media guide!