There are a whopping 3.5 billion searches on Google each day, according to Smart Insights. Many of those searches are to find local businesses like healthcare practices. In fact, Bright Local has found that 27 percent of people used the internet to find a local business every day in 2018.
Unless they’ve heard of your practice before, new patients won’t search your business name. It’s significantly more likely they’ll research symptoms or services to find the local provider they need, and search engines will match their queries with an answer — ideally, your practice.
If search engines aren’t finding your practice, it’s not because your new patient marketing efforts are lacking. Rather, you’ve likely neglected necessary optimization tasks. Keep reading to uncover five reasons new patients aren’t able to find your practice when they look for care online.
Online optimization mistakes that are hurting your ability to attract new patients
1. Your medical website design is poor, or your site is missing crucial information
In addition to reflecting the services you offer and the mission of your practice, a medical website needs quality design and thoughtful site structure so that search engines can better understand what you do, and thus, why it’s relevant for new patients.
Some updates that will make your site more easily indexed by search engines include:
- Site optimization like title tags, metadata, unique URLs for each page, and alt text for images
- Mobile optimization, which has become increasingly important as more new patients begin their health research on a mobile device. Make sure your website is mobile friendly, meaning it loads quickly and displays properly on a device.
- A clear, intuitive site map. Search engines will prioritize user-friendly sites, so make sure your navigation drives visitors to the information they’re seeking and also prompts them to act.
Check out: 5 tips to get the most out of your medical website design
2. Your website content is low quality
Offering new patients website content that informs them about your services and also answers their health-related questions will help boost your position in search rankings.
It’s important to include relevant keywords in your content, but you’ll also want to ensure your site content is accurate, informative, and possibly even timely. Here are a few more tips to elevate your medical website content:
- Create original content; don’t duplicate from other online sources.
- Define and speak to your target audience (e.g. patients).
- Include details that emphasize what distinguishes your practice from the competition.
- Be brief and avoid irrelevant information.
- Avoid complex medical jargon that patients won’t readily understand.
- Add fresh content — such as blogs — regularly.
3. Your online directory listings are inaccurate
Many practices think how to get new patients begins and ends with their medical website. Although much of your focus should be on optimizing your site, you should also update online listings on local business and healthcare directories.
Why? Search engines find online directories highly reputable, and providing accurate information about your business on important directories can improve your rankings.
First, you’ll want to make sure you have a current listing. Second, make sure your practice information — especially your practice name, address, and phone number — are up to date. You should also ensure there are no duplicate listings for your business, and, if there’s an opportunity to do so, provide high-quality photos of your practice.
Check out: 3 common online directory mistakes
4. You haven’t claimed your Google My Business profile
To ensure your practice shows up higher on the search engine results pages (SERPs), you’ll want to update your Google My Business (GMB) profile.
Google is the most used search engine on desktop devices by far — about 90 percent in October 2018, according to Statista — and will often reference information in search results from a GMB profile claimed by a business. A GMB profile is also among the top 4 factors named to influence local search rankings, according to Moz.
When updating your GMB profile, make sure your contact information, business description and business hours match the information on your website and other online listings. It’s also important to include images to give new patients a sense of the office. Include an eye-catching cover photo, which will serve as the first impression of your practice.
5. Your practice is lacking online reviews from patients
Online reviews are an important part of your new patient marketing efforts. Not only are reviews a way to establish trust with new patients, they’re also a valuable tool search engines use to quantify the relevance of search results.
Positive online reviews and testimonials can help your practice gain authority, which can mean a higher spot on results pages. The importance of information gained from reviews — including the diversity, quantity and frequency of reviews — on local search rankings has increased 43 percent since 2015, according to Moz. Plus, consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation, according to Bright Local.
So, encourage patients to leave reviews about their experience with your practice to help make you more relevant in the eyes of search engines.
Once you’ve corrected any online optimization errors, you can try your hand at other new patient marketing ideas. To learn more, check out the blog post “How to get new patients using social media.”