5 Search Engine Marketing Tips for Medical Practices

September 12, 2017
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As medical marketing competition continues to heat up, healthcare organizations need to up their digital advertising game if they want to see a solid ROI.

The ever-increasing role of digital media in the patient path to treatment represents a huge opportunity for medical marketers looking to generate new revenue for their practices while reducing overall costs — Google processed more than 28 billion healthcare-related searches last year, generating more than seven billion impressions and 1 billion clicks in the measure. However, as more and more patients turn to search engines as their primary resource for medical information, the level of competition has increased substantially.

This increased competition, paired with stringent HIPAA regulations and Google’s ban on medical remarketing, has made the medical adspace a difficult one to break into. According to recent data, the average cost-per-click (CPC) for medical ads is $3.17, a full $0.85 higher than the average across all industries. At the same time, the average click-through-rate (CTR) for medical ads is 1.79%, 0.12% lower than the average CTR across other verticals.

With competition this stiff, medical practices must optimize their approach to search engine marketing (SEM) to stay competitive. If you’re unsure of how to get the most out of SEM, these five tips will help you get your footing.

Landing Pages for Information-Hungry Patients

A commonly overlooked aspect of digital campaigns is building high-quality landing pages. If your content isn’t relevant, informative, and digestible, your online audience will likely move on to the next search result.

When it comes to optimizing your landing page, the first step is making your copy as legible and scannable as possible. Avoid overly complex explanations and make use of headers and bullets to immediately direct your readers to the most important information on the page. You’ll also want to make sure that each page includes a clearly defined call to action (CTA), making it as easy as possible for prospective patients to request additional information, contact you directly, or even better, book a new appointment right then and there.

Targeted Marketing Makes for Top-Notch Campaigns

One of the major factors contributing to medical keyword competition is the sheer diversity of organizations that typically get lumped into the same categories. Just look at the top five U.S. healthcare search queries: Walgreens, FitBit, CVS, PubMed, and WebMD — very different companies with very different clientele.

You should try center your keyword targeting strategy around more resource-driven phrases, rather than symptom- or diagnosis-centric ones. For example, if you’re a practice specializing in cardiology, it’s best to focus on transactional search queries like “heart surgery” or “heart disease treatment options,” rather than more general queries such as “cardiovascular disease” or “high blood pressure.”

Mobile Matters

62% of smartphone users report having used their devices to search for health-related information, and perhaps even more importantly, more than half of the aforementioned annual 28 billion healthcare-related Google searches now occur on mobile. Clearly, mobile advertising is more important than ever, and medical marketers must capitalize on this trend if they want to remain competitive now and in the future.

A good first step is checking whether or not your landing pages pass Google’s “mobile-friendly website test.” You should also target certain ads for mobile by including mobile-friendly language.

Clear, Consistent Contact Information

When it comes to running a successful campaign, the consistency of your N.A.P. — shorthand for Name, Address, and Phone Number — is key. If a prospective patient clicks on an ad and arrives at a landing page only to discover there’s no clear indication of how to book an appointment or contact your practice directly, there’s a good chance they’re not going to end up converting.

Moreover, you should take advantage of Google’s ad extensions for all of your campaigns. In addition to extending the real-estate of your ad and making it easier for patients to actually convert, extensions have also been known to improve ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs).

Keep an Eye on the Metrics

Perhaps most importantly, you need to establish a high-level metrics and analytics strategy at the outset of any campaign. SEM success demands flexibility and constant optimization in accordance with updates to Google’s algorithms, changes in consumer preferences and habits, and changes in your own service offerings over time. By tracking web users as they transform from prospects to leads to new patients, you’ll be able to determine which channels are performing best and allocate your spend accordingly.