Welcome to part three of the Complete Beginner’s Guide to Getting Online for Healthcare Professionals series. In this installment, I will discuss how you can get visitors to your website using the most effective, and sustainable methods.
In case you don’t have your website set up, be sure to read The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Getting Online for Healthcare Professionals Part 2, which discusses important components that every health provider website should consist of.
Once your website is ‘live’ as we say, the next step is to get visitors (your potential patients) to it. Unfortunately, getting your website live is just part of the game, and rarely does a new website just start receiving visitors.
In part III of the series, I will share with you multiple ways that you can bring potential patients to your website. Keep in mind that none of these methods is ‘the holy grail’, and all are designed to get you sustainable results over the long term, not to simply get you some quick rankings or traffic that is unlikely to stay.
So here we go. Let’s look at 6 ways to get visitors to your website.
1. On-Page SEO: Before you invest your time, money and efforts into anything else, make sure your on-page SEO is spot on. I covered on-page SEO in part two of the series still, however it is so important, I feel it’s worth it to cover it again.
In a nutshell, On-page SEO is improving the readability of your website. On a regular basis, the search engines send out their little ‘bots’ to check out the millions of different websites in the world so they can determine who to show up in the search results. That’s how we get our search results.
When they land on your site and to see what it is about, the readability of it greatly affects what those bots report back to the search engines. As an example, let’s say you are a dentist in Las Vegas. Ideally, you’d like those bots to report back to the search engines that you are:
- A dentist
- A dentist in Las Vegas
- A dentist in Las Vegas, NV
- A dentist in Las Vegas, NV offering cosmetic dentistry
- A dentist in Las Vegas, NV offering teeth whitening, invisalign, veneers, etc.
- A dentist in Las Vegas, NV that also offers restorative dentistry services, etc
If your website is poorly optimized (coded, whatever you want to call it), those bots may report instead of reporting back to Google that your site is about ‘medical stuff’ or maybe that you are ‘a doctor’, neither of which will help you with your search engines placement results.
On-page SEO refers to factors that you can add or tweak on your website to optimize for the search engines. These factors will help search engines like Google and Bing determine what your website is about, what key words and phrases your website is trying to rank for and help determine how it should rank.
A few key factors you need to define on your website are the title, header tags, balance of key words and phrases in your content, images and meta tags. For instance, if you are trying to rank for the key phrase “best dentist in Las Vegas”, then your title, header tags and meta tags should reflect that. Also, when defining these factors, you should use synonyms and variants of the phrase “best dentist in Las Vegas”. Instead of using “best dentist in Las Vegas” several times, you should use variants of the original key phrase such as “So, why do our patients consider us the best in dental services in Las Vegas, NV?”, “best Las Vegas dentist” or “reviews of top Las Vegas dentists”.
One thing that you should always be mindful of is overusing your key words and phrases. Doing so can lead to your website being penalized by the search engines; these penalties can range from losing rankings or your site getting completely de-indexed (not found at all in the search engine). A good general rule of thumb to follow is to craft your content for human readers and then tweak it smartly for the search engines.
Solid on-page search engine optimization will do wonders for your rankings; without tackling this step, you will be fighting an uphill battle.
2. Citations: Citations are references online that contain your business name, address and phone number (NAP). Google and other search engines consider citations as an important factor when determining rankings for your business website.
One key thing to remember when filling and submitting citations is to remain consistent with the information (NAP) you’re submitting. If your address contains a suite number, don’t fill out “suite #1200” for one citation and simply “1200” for another. All information should be consistent.
Here is a list of ten citations that EVERY healthcare professional should have are:
Consistent information submitted to these citation sites will help Google and other search determine your geographical location and hence, your website rank.
3. Social Media: The most popular platforms for communicating with patients and potential patients are: Facebook, Twitter, and Google.
Create business profiles for each social media platform and wherever available, enter your website URL and details. Many healthcare professionals create the accounts but don’t do much with them, often because of time constraints.
I recommend setting aside 5-10 minutes a day to discuss social media with whomever you assign to manage these accounts. You can assign one person to update these accounts at least 5-7x a week, if not several times a week. Also, there are tools such as Buffer and Hootsuite that can schedule your updates ahead of time, making them easier to manage.
Typically 5-10 posts per week work well, allowing you to connect with your patients. These posts shouldn’t only consist of “boring” facts; engage with your patients. You can ask questions, post helpful tips, relevant videos and even funny, entertaining content. People love social media when done right; when done with excellence, your content gets shared, liked and commented on, exposing your services to tons of new people. Making it personal, and sharing your staff, your office, and your personality can work wonders!
4. Partnering Up with Local Businesses: This one is easy. After all, you are surrounded by established businesses and most of them probably have a website. Go the “old fashioned” route; get out there, shake your neighbors’ hands and network with them. Additionally, you can join the Chamber of Commerce and work with other business owners that way. You can cross promote each other’s services by creating campaigns and also list each other’s websites on your own sites (mutually benefiting each other by getting backlinks).
5. Guest Blogging: Guest blogging is basically getting an article placed on another website or blog, preferably one that is related to your niche. For example, if you are a dentist, you can contact relevant local or national dentistry related websites and ask them if they’d be interested in an original article you’ve written (these websites seek out solid, original content which takes time to create). In exchange, you’ll possibly get a citation, but almost always you’ll get a ‘link’ or ‘backlink’ to your website, which is an important part of SEO, and if targeting traffic, can bring additional website visitors. Websites like The Blogging Doctors are a great start.
Lastly, you benefit from people reading your article on an established site and landing on yours (by clicking on your website link in the author blurb). This is also good for a long term search engine optimization strategy to rank your site.
6. Email List: An email list isn’t an immediate strategy but a smart long term strategy. You can easily add a form to your sidebar that asks for the visitor’s name and email address. Once they give you this information, they will be added to your email list.
There is a lot of power in collecting email addresses. You can stay in touch with all of these potential patients at any time. You can send newsletters or direct them to a new article on your website whenever you want. This strategy comes in handy especially when things are going slow. You can always strategically send out an email offering a limited time discount, remind your patients about vaccinations, seasonal tips, and much more.
Usually what you want to do is to set up a ‘lead magnet’ meaning a free offer in exchange for their email address. Once they enter their email address, they’ll get periodic pre scheduled emails from you on whatever topic you choose.
These six methods of attracting visitors and potential patients to your website may seem overwhelming but they are completely worth your time, money and energy. If you have any questions regarding setting up websites and targeting potential patients, feel free to contact me via my website (info below).
In the fourth part of this series, I will specifically discuss setting up social media profiles, optimizing them, and how to run effective social media campaigns to retain your existing patient base and attract new patients.
Tyson Downs it the owner of a Salt Lake-Based Online Marketing Company for Healthcare Professionals, Titan Web Agency. He is a graduate of Brigham Young University and father of five children. He specializes in working with healthcare professionals to set up their websites and get them to the top of the search engines, utilizing the latest and most effective SEO strategies. He recently started a podcast called The 10 Minute Healthcare Marketing Podcast. You can listen to it on his website, or iTunes. You can connect with him on Facebook, Google +, LinkedIn, or Twitter.