Think Locally, Act Locally
Most medical practices are concerned with attracting patients within specific locations, often their home town. This need to attract local attention closes some online doors, but opens others. Locally-focused health domains attract fewer visitors, but those users they do attract tend to be focused, targeted site users who are actively searching for the services the health domain offers.
Competition for medical practice keywords is high. Simply type in optometrist, chiropractor, dentist, or any other medical profession into Google and the search engine will return thousands, if not millions, of results. Few health domains can rank high in simple searches for common medical terms or practices; there is simply too much competition.
However, once a medical web site optimizes its keywords for a local audience, the situation changes dramatically. Type the same medical term into Google as before, but also type in the name of a state, and the number of results drops dramatically. Use more specific locations such as a county, district, or town, and suddenly you have a much more focused search.
Therefore, when optimizing a health domain, location is just as important as profession. The web site should contain keywords associated with the medical practice, but also include local references and key phrases that link the practice with the surrounding area. While "pediatrician" and "South Town" may be very broad search terms individually, prospective patients searching for "South Town pediatrician" are much more likely to find a South Town pediatrician's web site.
Health Sites on the Web: 5 Keys to Success
Certain elements of site design and content consistently appear on successful health domains. The difference between a popular health domain and a failed one often depends on how the web site owner interprets and implements the following ten success strategies.
- Learn From The Competition
Although there are thousands of medical centers, services, and wellness stores, and big name companies have extensive and well-established sites online, there is plenty of room for smaller health domains to carve out their own niche. While few health domains can hope to compete with the major pharmaceutical company sites and information sites, studying the major players provides clues to their success, and sometimes mistakes to avoid. A successful health domain has closely examined other health sites, with an eye to design, content, and services.
- Reliable, Accessible, Simple Content
Accurate information builds trust between any website and its visitors. For a health domain, such trust is essential. A health domain must explain complex medical conditions clearly and simply, without overusing the medical terms that describe those conditions. When specific medical terms are necessary, they should always be clearly defined and explained. A successful health domain also has to keep content as accurate and timely as possible. The site may wish to have a news section, where updated information and breaking medical stories are featured.
- Easy-to-Use Services
- Professional Style and Design
While accurate content is important to a health domain, site design has an immediate impact on site visitors. A study at Stanford University discovered that 46.1 percent of site visitors decide if a site has credible information based on the site's layout, color scheme, and font choices. A health site that matches a visually appealing design with accurate content is well on its way to being successful. While graphics should be limited, they can be very helpful to a health domain. Some concepts that are difficult to describe in writing can be portrayed easily as an image. Multimedia can also be used to show concepts that words alone cannot convey.
- Staff Profiles
Many customers searching online health domains are looking for a practice in their area, and featuring profiles of the doctors and staff will help potential new clients to feel more comfortable. Outline the staff's expertise and qualifications alongside a picture.
Alternative Medicine Practitioners: Successful Practice Promotion Online
A health domain can complement and support an alternative medical practice, as well as advertise the practice and educate the public on aspects of the medical discipline. Many people approach alternative medicine with misconceptions or skepticism. This means that an alternative health professional often devotes valuable time to refuting myths or correcting mistaken beliefs. A health domain is a useful tool for alternative medicine professionals who need to educate patients and dispel myths. Website content can cover realistic expectations of treatment, clear up common myths or misconceptions, and discuss the history of the medical discipline.
A well designed website can be of use to a larger audience than the practice's local community. Larger sites can offer a library of online articles related to alternative medicine in general and the health professional's discipline in particular. As you are building your site, keep in mind that search engines favor sites with regularly updated, relevant material. By periodically putting up new information or news articles related to your practice, you can help your health domain receive better ranking within search engines.
A number of alternative medicine sites sell products related to the health discipline, allowing the practice to extend beyond its geographic limits. A chiropractic clinic might offer braces, vitamin supplements, and other general products designed for healthy bones. A massage therapist could offer oils, books, and instructional videos. Health professionals who don't wish to run online stores can make affiliate deals with product suppliers they trust to link to their sites.
Alternative medicine practices don't need to restrict websites to contact information and office hours. A good health domain educates its visitors and benefits both the alternative medicine professional and his patients.
Promoting the Small Medical Practice: Ten Steps to Success
Small medical practices can promote themselves effectively online, increasing local awareness and bringing in more patients. Smaller medical practices don't need a widespread audience as long as they can reach online users in their local community. The following are ten steps that can help a small medical practice bring in more patients
- Local Keywords
Small practices should include local names among the keywords they target. A small site cannot compete with larger sites for the same medical keywords. A health domain will perform much better in search engine rankings when those same keywords are combined with the name of the local town or district.
- Local Directories
Submit your small medical sites to the large search directories, but don't neglect smaller local directories as well. Local city directories offer a number of services to the community, so are regularly used by local online users.
- Online Consultations
Small practices can offer online consultations, expanding their treatment range, and giving new clients a preview of their services and expertise.
- Online Stores
While not suitable for every health domain, online stores associated with a practice's website can sell medical products and living aides, increasing the practice's profits, and offer more reasons for web surfers to visit the site.
A blog, or online journal, can greatly improve a web site's search engine rankings. Medical practice blogs could include breaking medical news, medical staff's personal opinions of new treatments, and discussions of local events.
- Provide Content
The more relevant content a health domain provides, the better it performs in the search engines. Medical articles, descriptions of medical conditions, Frequently Asked Questions, and other appropriate content will all help promote a medical practice web site.
- Careful Linking
The more quality sites with related content that link to a website, the better the site performs in search engines. A small health domain and a local community services website could benefit by linking to one another, thereby allowing visitors to access other information they may be interested in easily.
- Biographic Information
Small medical practitioners should include a biographical section in their websites, including any medical training and areas of specialty. Not only does a biography page put a human face on the practice, it's a good opportunity to scatter more local keywords through the text.
- Contact Information
A health domain is of no use to a small medical practice if prospective patients can't contact you. Contact information should at least be easily visible on the site's home page, and ideally be on every page of the site.
Finally, patience is needed when launching any web site, especially one aimed at a local community. It can take time for search engines to attribute value and list your new health domain, and even more time for you to generate links and write content. With time, a health domain can be a valuable addition to a small medical practice.