Filling Up Your Waiting Room
Every doctor inwardly groans when a new patient arrives laden with articles from Wikipedia. The last thing that most doctors want is for patients to be researching symptoms and trying to diagnose themselves. Not only does the average person have a lack of medical knowledge to be able to determine what the actual problem is but studies have shown Wikipedia is often incorrect and written with knowledge deficiencies lacking the information needed to be used as medical resources. Providing bite-size nuggets of specific information in your field of expertise is a way to draw people needing medical care.
Why provide information to users
People want to learn about conditions before asking questions to a healthcare provider. No one wants to feel like a fool. Patients often research symptoms or ask friends before contacting a healthcare professional. Learning about a condition prior to meeting with a doctor has become standard practice for anyone born after 1970.
Who is searching for information
In 2003, 16 years ago, a comprehensive study showed that 80% of adults have searched health topics online. How many people today research medical conditions online? Studies vary on the exact percentage of how many people are searching online but what all research agrees on is people in the 25-34 age group are the highest demographic with 35-44 as a close second. More than 60% of all these searches are performed on a mobile device. These people are often higher educated and have higher household incomes. In short, these could be the types of patients every physician strives to have as these demographics tend to be more proactive and healthier than other demographics.
What is being searched for
People go online for healthcare research to become informed. When searching for medical conditions, people also go online to prepare for appointments or surgery, to share information with a community focused on a medical condition and to seek support or provide encouragement.
While turning to a monolithic entity like WebMD or Wikipedia can sometimes be a useful resource, without the right educational background, training and knowledge base, this can be overwhelming. Providing very bitesize articles for potential patients who are looking for a specific answer helps with SEO. This type of useful information is called content marketing which is basically providing regular, high quality updated content that is useful and informative.
Most people want to alleviate fear or anxiety and to understand what to expect. Commonly researched areas are learning what to do before a procedure, what type of downtime to expect or what to expect when seeing a specialist. Providing information that answers common questions, will help with SEO but also raise reputation. Being seen as an expert with trustworthy information, free of popup ads and gimmicky calls to action will lend an authoritativeness to a brand.
Types of searches
When a person is going to be visiting an orthopedic surgeon for a potential ACL surgery typical topics researched will include what is an ACL surgery, what type of recovery time to expect and pain level expectations. While every person is different and all injuries are not the same, providing that kind of information in a broad sense is very helpful and comforting to patients.
Providing useful content to the public has been an effective way to advertise without advertising for decades but with blogs, podcasts, videos and social media this information can spread rapidly. The majority of people prefer to learn about a doctor or hospital remotely, whether via website, social media or some other medium, people are researching before ever making contact. Providing high-quality content that is useful and informative on a consistent basis is a long term strategy that works.
Google Medic update
In August 2018, Google pushed out a major algorithm update that has since been dubbed the Medic update. This update broadly affected the health and medical space pushing trustworthiness as one of the most important attributes Google searches for. Google’s mission has always been and will continue to be to provide the highest quality results for consumers and trustworthiness is an important component of these search engine result pages.
How to make the most of Medic
One of the most important ways to improve trustworthiness is by consistently providing quality content that covers the three areas Google is looking for which is Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness (E-A-T). The general consensus is providing high-quality content on an on-going basis is the best way to get consistently high rankings in SERPs.
Google looks at the content that is provided and the links that it references for studies and confirmation that the information that is being provided is actually useful information. Websites need to convey expertise in the field by providing useful and helpful information to users. The days of stringing a bunch of keywords together to rank high in SERPs are long past.
Websites today need to be an authority in order to get high ranking in Google, especially in the healthcare sector. Physician and hospital websites must be providing regular content in order to keep a digital web presence fresh.
Although especially important with eCommerce sites, trustworthiness is a key factor in Google ranking. People need to know the content and the creator is trustworthy. Also having a secure site is critical here as well. The https:// tag is critical for the healthcare industry.
Combining expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness is the only way to be able to gain domain authority within search engines in a quick manner. E-A-T works very closely with Google’s YMYL (Your Money Your Life). YMYL relates to any sites that deals with health or financial advice.
Stagnant, outdated sites
The days of just setting up a website are long gone. Websites need to be updated on a regular basis and providing regular, high-quality content is the best way to do this. Creating short helpful content well create recognition among potential patients because the information is coming out is constantly being provided and it is fresh and new.
In summary, the best way to market a practice or hospital today is with content marketing. This is a particularly important way to differentiate from competition that could potentially siphon away existing or new patients.