People who are new to digital marketing often believe that putting up a website and sprinkling in some keywords means they are good to go. If the keywords are part of some compelling and educational content, they might get a number of inquiries.
For healthcare sites, this broad approach may be undesirable; unless you are Doctors without Borders, WebMD or the Mayo Clinic. Your healthcare facility will not turn up within the first ten pages of a results page for an inquiry on dermatology services. Even if you do show up within the first ten pages, these results are nationwide and none of your hits will convert to real patients in your office.
What you need is a technique called Local Search Engine Marketing or Targeted Local Marketing.
Targeted Local Marketing (TLM)
A well-run TLM campaign has a terrific return on investment (ROI). The primary reason is that you only pay when someone responds to your ad and clicks through to your website (known as paid search or PPC (pay-per-click)).
To get the highest possible return for a hospital or physician practice, focus your digital presence locally. There is no reason for your facility to show up in search engine result pages (SERPs) for someone looking for a gastroenterologist in California when your practice is in Boston.
By strategically placing on your website and microsites/landing pages local information, such as “two blocks from Faneuil Hall Marketplace" or "near the Boston waterfront”, it will help increase your organic rankings and visibility in searches performed for Boston gastroenterologists.
How Important is Local Search?
Local Search is Common for Patients to Use
In 2012, every month there were 16 billion searches done on the Internet. One of three was searching for local products and services. In addition, more than 40 percent of all mobile device searches are for local business and service providers.
For people who use the Internet for finding businesses, nine out of 10 are searching locally. Moreover, 97 percent of them click on a provider that shows up on the first page of results.
Local Search is Affordable
There are two options for Local Search, free and paid. No business can sustain a marketing effort only on free sites, but they do bring the total investment in Local Search Marketing down and increase the ROI. For example, Google+ Local is a program by Google that allows a medical practice to write a brief description, include the address, phone number and a free link to the website. Bing, Microsoft’s search engine has a similar system.
Both of these search engines, which cover about all searches on the Internet, also have paid advertising programs (Google AdWords and Bing Ads).
You must check the results of your Local Search Marketing Campaign. There are programs available that give you metrics concerning the number of conversions, call tracking by phone number called, Web-Form submission tracking, and details on clicks per day by time of day, day of week, from which ad the click originated and more information that allows for the fine-tuning of your campaign.
Local targeted marketing can be more efficient than traditional marketing channels (TV, Radio, Print), as it only reaches people you specifically target based on: radius to a location, zip codes, keyword search terms, etc.... Not only are you able to target based on geography, but you are not waisting media spend on impressions (people who see your ad, billboard, commercial, etc...) that are not interested in your services. Think of it as targeting potental patients who are raising their hand asking for more information about your services.
A proper run targeted local marketing program offers many benefits that traditional marketing channels cannot, but the highest on the list for me is the ability to geo-target prospects who are in the moment of interest.