Over half of the patients looking for a new physician consider reviews to be either an important or very important aspect in their evaluation. In our recent post, Millennials Pushing Healthcare Providers to Embrace Local SEO, we talked about how healthcare providers must adapt to a new generation of patients and their approach to the healthcare system. Today’s post expands on that, explaining the most important steps healthcare providers should take to increase their local search rankings and drive more patients into their facilities.
Note: Healthcare providers must always ensure they are acting in accordance with HIPPA regulations
Today’s patients are out of patience. If you’re not using Local SEO to improve your rankings and get on page 1, they’ll never find you.
With 70% of appointments starting on search engines and 90% of patients having no healthcare brand in mind when they begin their online search, Local SEO and review management will be a fundamental component for driving those patients into your practice. Healthcare is an inherently local industry with the majority of healthcare providers relying heavily on the local population as their patient base. There is a huge opportunity for those healthcare providers ranking at the top of local search results when prospective patients search for services, treatment plans and medical care providers in their local area.
Here is a brief explanation of the best practices and strategies your healthcare practice should employ in order to improve your local search rankings and online reputation:
At almost 50% of what search engines look for when ranking your business, having accurate and consistent listing information is the single most important factor for ranking higher on Google’s SERPs. Google has finally answered the highly debated topic of whether or not Healthcare Facilities should allow their providers to have their own online listings. The healthcare industry was the first industry where Google decided not to punish, but even recommend individual practitioners like doctors, dentists, pediatricians etc. that work under an umbrella organization, such as a hospital, to create their own listing dedicated to themselves. Even though this technically means there will be multiple listings under the same address (which Google usually penalizes a business for), this allows public facing professionals-who are seen as their own brand-to appear in the local search results with their own personal reviews and ratings.
Another important practice regarding listing management is to ensure your business’ name, address, phone number, operating hours and website are properly listed across all search engines, review platforms and social media site. Without this accurate and consistent listing information across all sites, your business’ local search rankings will drop dramatically.
50% of Gen-Xers and 50% of millennials are using online reviews when evaluating healthcare providers. Prospective patients are shopping around for a provider with promising reviews and high ratings, meaning that if you aren’t managing your reviews, you are leaving the fate of your practice in the hands of the internet. Managing your reviews by generating positive reviews and replying to both positive and negative reviews left by patients will go a long way towards improving your online reputation and bringing in more of the local patient base. Another benefit of using a review generation tool is preventing negative reviews from going public and tarnishing your online reputation. When you reach out to your customers or patients for feedback, if you do get a negative review, it will stay internal. You can take action on the negative reviews without it going public and encourage your satisfied consumers to share their story online.
When replying to reviews, healthcare practitioners need to follow HIPAA guidelines or they could face legal trouble. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) was created to help protect patients privacy and it states that doctors or healthcare companies are not allowed to discuss diagnosis’ and patient information online. Even if a patient writes about their own diagnosis in review, it is best to have a short and sweet response and suggest continuing the conversation over the phone.
Replying to reviews isn’t just important because it shows your patients your listening, but of those who received a response to their negative review, 34% turned around and posted a positive review and another 34% deleted their original negative review. That is HUGE for both your online reputation and local search rankings!
Studies found that 74% of internet users engage on social media. 80% of those internet users are specifically looking for health information, and nearly half are searching for information about a specific doctor or health professional. Another study saw 60% of users trusting doctors social media posts. Social media is alive and well in the healthcare industry. Patients use social media as a means to learn about your practices culture, as a source for relevant research or news and as a platform to interact with your brand on a more personal level. Social Media drives word of mouth among your patients and it should become a fundamental part of how you interact with them. Check out this link for more ways patients are using social media unique to the healthcare industry.
(Stay tuned for a more in-depth explanation of these strategies and more with our upcoming article “Best Practices: Healthcare Industry”)
How to use Local SEO & Reputation Management to Win More Patient’s Appointments
Nearly 80% of patients use online tools to research hospitals before booking an appointment. With stats like this, It’s clear that practicing local SEO and review management strategies will lead to greater online visibility and contribute to increased local search rankings. As Medical Families of America, one of Chatmeter’s partners in the health field will attest, with the right tools and strategy in place, amazing improvements in search rankings can be made.
“We were amazed to see that by following simple Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices, our search ranking increased nearly 3,600%. We started with only having about 60 keywords on page 1 of the different search engines, to nearly 1,000. Chatmeter’s platform helped us devise a clear strategy to improve our online visibility, and report on our progress as it happened.” Erika Lovegreen, Communications Manager for MFA
There is no getting around it, local search is an integral tool for patients seeking out healthcare providers. In order to capitalize on this trend, healthcare providers must properly employ strategies for managing their online reputation and optimizing for local search.
Having the best practices when it comes to local SEO and review management can go a long way, but without the right tools in place the positive results you see won’t last long. Schedule a FREE demo today and see how Chatmeter’s dashboard can help you continuously improve and maintain your local SEO and online reputation.