By Ann Rea Miller, OD
March 25, 2015
Help patients find your practice first when they search online. Hiring an SEO expert and following a good marketing plan can keep your exam chair filled.
START AT THE TOP. As soon as you open your practice, enlist help to ensure your practice is at the top of search engine listings.
ADD TOOLS & FEATURES. Add “long-tail keywords,” like “eye doctor in Lima, Ohio,” to your web site.
TRACK WITH GOOGLE ANALYTICS. Measure your site visits daily, then track how many new patients are added. Fine-tune your marketing based on response to messages.
When my solo practice first opened last year, I wanted patients, and prospective patients, to easily find me online. I knew I didn’t have the web expertise to do this myself, so I enlisted the help of a marketing firm that offers specialized digital marketing services.
I paid $3,000 (discount for being connected through international business network BNI) for my web site and branding kit. I believe the money spent was a good investment. I have not kept exact track of the number of patients who came to my office because of finding me online, but I do ask each patient how they heard about my office, and I have had many patients say they found me online. The services of the firm I use also pays off in the time it saves me. Since the completion of the site, I have not had to do any major updates of information or content myself. I spend less than an hour per week on digital marketing duties, primarily to update my Facebook page.
ROB EDITOR’S NOTE. The median amount spent on marketing among 1,900 independent practices in the Management & Business Academy (MBA) database is 1.2 percent of gross revenue.
Get Help Right From Start
As soon as I planned to launch my business, I knew I needed a web site, social media and an online marketing strategy–and that I’d need outside help with this rather than attempting it all by myself. I met with a local inbound marketing firm, NOW Marketing Group, to assist me with building and establishing my brand identity, goals and online presence.
NOW Marketing walked me through identifying the areas of my business that were unique and identifying my target audience. From there they made an emphasis on engaging content that would help attract new web site visitors. I think an online presence is a must given how much time people are spending on their digital devices.
The homepage of Dr. Miller’s web site. Dr. Miller says the outsource marketing firm she works with recommends including photo- and video-rich content to improve rankings in search engine listings.
Add Tools & Features to Facilitate SEO
NOW Marketing added SEO YOAST, an $89 SEO plugin available for WordPress, the web platform that hosts my site. It offered everything I needed to optimize my site including content analysis functionality, which guides us to write better content for our web site, and helps optimize our site’s titles and descriptions for Google.
NOW Marketing also helped me target long-tail keywords, long descriptions or tags for your practice like “eye doctor in Lima, Ohio” or “eye exams in Lima, Ohio.” In addition, they added a Google checklist of SEO tools and measurements, including Google Webmasters, Google Analytics and Google Places.
Have Outsource Firm Implement Changes
I focused on providing unique page names with clean/short URLs, quality engaging content, meta page descriptions, and we made sure to submit my pages to Google.com/Addurl after they were created, which is an easy way to directly let Google know that your have a web page that should be added to its index.
Since content rich with pictures improves SEO, every page on our web site has at least one relevant image and/or video with ALT text in them. Alt text (alternative text) is a word or phrase that can be inserted as an attribute in an HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) document to tell web site viewers the nature or contents of an image. The alt text appears in a blank box that would normally contain the image.
Get Trained to Do Simple Tasks Yourself
NOW Marketing offered a training session for me to be able to update my own web site. I can still call them for more complex updates, but haven’t needed to at this point.
I still have not personally made any changes to the web site. The little changes I needed updated were done by NOW Marketing. I would like to be taught how to make simple changes myself, but since I haven’t needed to do it so far, I haven’t been trained yet. NOW Marketing currently does everything needed to maintain my practice web site, and I currently spend less than an hour each week on my practice’s Facebook page .
Use Social Media to Drive Traffic To Practice Web Site
Facebook has allowed me to have an online conversation about my business and engage clients/potential clients on a more personal level. It allows me to drive traffic back to my site and also stay engaged with clients via sharing helpful articles, photos of new products or simply having a conversation with them on what’s happening at the office.
Map Out Future Needed SEO Boosters
NOW Marketing keeps telling me I need to blog more often and also start a Pinterest and Instagram page to highlight my new products, so I am considering beginning to do these things in the next year.