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Why a healthcare marketing strategy should include online directories

Optimizing your profiles on popular healthcare directories is strategic healthcare marketing.

Doctor optimizes online directory as part of his healthcare marketing strategy

Patients have no shortage of options when it comes to searching for their healthcare providers. While some rely on word-of-mouth referrals, others may use online directories and doctor reviews to help them narrow their search.

You may already have listed your practice on local business directories, but a strong healthcare marketing strategy should also include profiles on healthcare directories such as WebMD and Vitals. In this blog, we’ll explain why strategic healthcare marketing includes having a profile on these healthcare websites.

5 reasons it’s important to have healthcare directory profiles

1. Prospective patients use directory profiles to evaluate providers

It’s important to have listings on websites such as WebMD and Vitals because people use them to make healthcare decisions. About 50 percent of patients say information found on third-party websites such as these contribute to their decision when choosing a doctor, dentist, or other healthcare provider, according to PatientPop.

Creating profiles on healthcare directories gives you an opportunity to show patients what it’s like to visit your practice. Beyond your name, address, and phone number, include a bio that describes your experience, expertise, and bedside manner. Show off pictures of your waiting room and the exterior of your building, so patients know what to expect.

How to: Grow your practice with a great healthcare provider biography

2. Having a profile on healthcare directories expands your web presence

One of the key components of a healthcare marketing strategy is meeting your ideal patients where they are. By creating a profile on healthcare directories, you’re expanding the number of places where patients can find your information.

According to PatientPop, three-in-four people have looked online to find out about a doctor, dentist, or medical care. This means the majority of patients are relying on the internet not just to find new providers, but to also research their symptoms or look up treatments. The healthcare website WebMD, for example, had 82,000 total unique visitors in October 2018, according to data from Comscore. By having your information on a site such as this, you also have the opportunity to attract patients as they’re learning about health conditions or treatments.

Related: 4 questions doctors should ask themselves about their web presence

3. Healthcare profiles help elevate your online reputation

It may sound obvious to say that patients expect to find physicians and other healthcare providers to be listed on healthcare directories. But this simply underscores how important it is to have a presence on these sites. People trust the information on these websites and by having your profile included, you get positive brand association as part of a collection of reputable doctors.

In addition, these websites often contain online reviews, which patients list as the most influential decision-making factor when choosing a new provider, according to PatientPop. In fact, 59 percent of people say online reviews contribute to their decision when choosing a doctor, dentist, or other healthcare provider. Additionally, 32.8 percent of patients say they read patients’ physician reviews on WebMD and 21.8 percent said they do so on Healthgrades.

By claiming or listing your profiles on healthcare websites like WebMD and Vitals, you can monitor your online reputation, stay on top of patient feedback, and quickly address any negative feedback you receive.

How to: Respond to negative patient reviews and other feedback

4. Google and other search engines find directories highly reputable

When Google and other search engines return results for a search, they rank the listings based on which are most likely to satisfy a searcher’s request. Key factors that help determine search rankings include whether a site is reputable and authoritative. Because healthcare directories have a lot of web traffic and satisfy searches for symptoms, treatments, hospitals, and providers, search engines consider them reputable.

This means that your profile on these websites can sometimes rank higher than your own healthcare website. Thus, this provides an opportunity for you to direct traffic to your website from your healthcare profiles. This also sends signals to Google that your healthcare website is reputable and contains accurate information.

Learn more: Understanding Google search ranking factors for healthcare websites

5. Claiming your profiles helps stop misinformation

Even if you’ve never created profiles on any healthcare directory, it’s possible they already exist. If they exist without your input, it’s possible they contain inaccuracies. Knowing that patients rely on these websites to choose their providers, it’s a good healthcare marketing strategy to claim and update them, if necessary.

If you’re trying to attract new patients to your practice, the last thing you want is for them not to be able to reach you.

Check out: 3 most common online directory listing mistakes

If you’re looking to expand your healthcare marketing strategy, you may want to check how you look online. A simple Google search of your name and your practice name can give you a quick idea of where you’re listed and what your profiles look like. Claiming and optimizing those will give your healthcare marketing a boost.

For a more comprehensive look and a free analysis of your online presence, web profiles, and online reputation, enter your information in the PatientPop competitive scanner.

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