Just about every marketer knows that your visibility on search engine queries is the single most important factor in determining how easy it is for a searcher to find your institution. Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is essential for hospital marketers to master if they want to connect with potential patients. These five tips will help you hone your skills, improving the likelihood that patients will find the information they need and your hospital in the process.
Keywords are still the most essential part of SEM practice. The titles of websites, URLS, meta descriptions, targeted keywords, negative keywords and page content should all be crafted with your service lines in mind. Think about the searches a potential patient might perform who would seek care at your hospital. A hospital can greatly improve their relevance to patients in their area by including a location in their search terms. Google’s search tool identifies the location of a user and tailors search results to institutions in the area.
Links are a great way to integrate your digital marketing effort and to simultaneously boost your search engine ranking. Google uses links to determine relevance and authority by gauging how others use and share the information on your site. When others link to your site, Google determines that the information is useful and boosts the result in its search rankings. Hospitals can share links to their own website content through their social media offerings, which will not only increase awareness in social media, but will also have the added effect of improving the search result of your website. Blogs are another great way to create organically generated links back to your website. Often times members of the community will share your content; the more often your content is shared, the more of an authority your site becomes.
Paid ads are an effective and efficient way to deliver results utilizing search. When a potential patient searches for information on a condition, an ad based on their search terms may help them find your hospital. With approximately 80% of patients diagnosed with an illness turning to the Web as their first source of information, it is easy to see why paid ads work. For hospitals, in particular, the return on investment can be great since, in some instances, a single conversion can result in a five-fold ROI. With so many condition based keywords applicable within any one given specialty, it is nearly impossible to achieve a top ranking for all search queries. Paid advertising gives your hospital the chance to be visible no matter what the keywords are being used in a search query.
Recent estimates suggest that between 30% and 50% of Internet searches are taking place on mobile devices, depending on the industry. With so many people shifting to search on tablets and smartphones, it is important not to overlook search engine marketing for your mobile sites. While many of the same rules apply as desktop SEM, designers should be careful to reduce loading speeds by optimizing images and reducing redirects. Designers should also pay special attention to titles and meta descriptions and make them as concise as possible. Making sure you have features like "click to call", easy navigation features and integrated GPS will ensure a positive user experience. With Google's recent announcement that a website's mobile compatibility will play a larger role in your search ranking, it is even more important to optimize your website for mobile traffic.
The greatest challenge in the SEM game is keeping up to date with changes. Google is seemingly constantly updating their search algorithm, which can drastically alter search results. Google is also frequently revamping their paid platform, adding different extensions and images to keep the user experience up to date with user demand. Stay abreast of upcoming changes and be flexible. Providing useful, relevant information will naturally enhance your rank in search, regardless of Google’s ever-changing algorithms.
Observing these five techniques will not only boost your search rankings in Google, but will also ensure that patients can find the valuable information you are providing in their time of need.