By Andy Hoover, Manager, Search Engine and Social Media Marketing.
Healthcare Marketing is Challenging!
Healthcare marketing is a very competitive digital marketing space. Even more so in the midst of a dramatic shift as the ACA (Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare) will be modified or replaced. Marketers in the healthcare industry need to proactively research and implement strategies to stay at the top of search engine search results. Below are some steps we implemented to help the Center for Elder’s Independence (CEI) increase their organic search rankings and therefore bring in new healthcare consumers.
The Center for Elders’ Independence (CEI) is an Oakland, CA- based PACE affiliated healthcare organization. PACE is a Medicare and Medicaid program that helps low income elderly people stay at home. They also have their care needs met in the community instead of going to a nursing home or other care facility. CEI gets most of their new patients through online inquiries and phone calls. We wanted to get their listing moved to the top of search engine searches for elder care in the Oakland and San Francisco East Bay. We implemented several steps on their website to increase search awareness and new patient registrations. These steps will apply to any healthcare organization.
First, Find The Right Language for Your Site Via Keyword Research
Your target audience finds your site through online searches using keywords or phrases. So, your first problem will be researching keyword or key phrases most frequently used by potential site visitors. In this case we were targeting a specific set of elderly healthcare patients. Start by reviewing both your website and your competitor’s sites. Talk to key stakeholders – the sales team, your product development team and, most definitely, your customers. Listen for key phrases that best describe the healthcare market niche you’re researching. Once you have a base of key phrases, then go to Google’s Keyword Tool, or SpyFu. Or, consider “Searches related to…” at the bottom of a Google search page to refine your research. Be creative researching the marketplace and the language your potential customers are using for both voice and traditional search.
One consideration for CEI was targeting clients in a small geographic area, the East Bay of the San Francisco Bay Area. Therefore, inclusion of geographic modifiers in key phrases was necessary to attract well-qualified local web traffic, i.e., “Oakland Elder Care Services” vs. just “Elder Care Services.”
The other consideration for CEI was potential changes to Medicare, so the best research information was found on government websites, such as www.medicare.gov or The Department of Health and Human Services.
Sources for reliable information are dynamic. So, don’t fall into the trap that what you knew a month ago still applies. It might, but be aware even subtle changes can add to the success of your campaigns. News sites are okay, but they mostly report what’s current for the day. Ultimately, you want to keep ahead of the game by following the data as it unfolds.
Secondly, Be Objective in Your Research, and Follow the Data
Opinion doesn’t matter. Whether your healthcare marketing target audience is local or national, as healthcare legislation changes appear you’ll need to objectively analyze the data. Start by setting a baseline search engine traffic measurement before you implement changes, then compare it to results post-implementation. Google Analytics is a great tool, and it’s free! As we rolled out changes on CEI’s website we closely monitored the search traffic generated by Google and the other major search engines. Were our changes to the language of the site demonstrating success or did we need to revisit our assumptions and tweak the copy more? Were we attracting well-qualified local East Bay traffic? Was the client satisfied with the results?
Third, Google’s Rules Rule
Google sets the rules on how it ranks a website for any particular search query, and we have to follow them. Understanding how Google analyzes your website is key to restructuring the content to get the broadest exposure within search results.
When writing META Tags (Titles, Descriptions) and headlines, front-load the target key phrase that best describes page content. Include the company name at the end of the Title, and with Descriptions be concise, close with a strong call-to-action.
Google uses Titles to rank web pages. Descriptions aren’t a ranking factor. But, they are critical in getting a viewer to click through for more information. Remember, they’re your sales pitch to get a click from well-qualified searchers.
Read details about Titles and Descriptions in Google’s Guidelines.
Content will remain king. A large part of Google page ranking is based on content focused on a topic, its authoritativeness, and the authority of links from other web pages to yours. It’s a vicious circle. To attract the best backlinks your content has to be among the best.
Lastly, maintain awareness of coming and current changes to Google’s search algorithm. Moz has a “Google Algorithm Change History” page. Also, run periodic searches for changes in Google’s search algorithm. While keeping up with digital healthcare marketing, you don’t want a surprise penalty because of a Google rule change.
Comprehensive Data Analysis Pays Off!
Changes we made to CEI’s META data (Titles, Descriptions, Headlines), along with on page content, resulted in an increase in monthly traffic of about 6,500 new users. Further, potential clients on average visited 3 pages, reading each page for over 2 minutes. Thousands of Bay Area site visitors per month found the healthcare services they were looking for.
How can Beasley Direct and Online Marketing, Inc.’s organic search marketing team expand your healthcare business? Contact us today and let’s get started.
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About the Author
Andrew Hoover has been a consultant in Internet Search Marketing, Web Site Optimization, and pay-per-click/CPM/Display for over 15 years. He has extensive experience with Google, Yahoo, Bing, Ask, AOL and was a beta tester for Amazon’s search engine. Andrew started a Network Consulting corporation in 1999 (GLT, Inc.), and a search marketing company in 2003, Lead Adrenaline: he has worked with medical, financial services, real estate, retail, entertainment and high-technology companies. His educational background includes degrees from both the University of California, Berkeley, and California State University, East Bay.
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