When orthopaedic surgeons get the real benefit of treating their practice like a business, they are ready to charge ahead at full steam with online marketing. The question is, where should they start?
Too many options can lead to decision-paralysis, so we like to help people cut through the noise.
To establish an online presence and get your practice noticed, you need to handle 5 main elements:
- Get a modern website.
- Add great content.
- Work on local search engine optimization (SEO).
- Have a responsive reputation management plan.
- Have a go-to method to evaluate your return on investment (ROI).
Let’s take a look at how these pieces fit together into a helpful, effective online marketing platform.
A Modern Website
What do we mean by “modern”? For starters, we mean a website that works well on any device. More patients are on mobile devices than ever before, and they don’t want to wait until they get home to read your website content. That’s not how people behave anymore. If they see that your website doesn’t suit their needs immediately, then they’ll leave to find a site that will.
You may be thinking, “Not my patients. My patients are older, and they don’t use their cellphones for that type of research.” Or, “My area isn’t all that tech-savvy. That may be more of an issue in more metropolitan areas.”
The answer is, you’d probably be surprised.
We currently work with more than 500 surgical practices around the country. On average, we’re seeing anywhere from 30 to 40% of a practice’s web traffic coming from mobile devices or from tablets. This is true in small communities and for orthopaedic surgeons who mainly treat older patients. People’s behavior has already changed, and you need to make sure you’re ready.
Websites are more than just mobile compatibility. There’s the actual content, too. What are you saying about your specialties? Do patients understand what it is that you do? When they visit your site, does your online presence help you stand out from other orthopaedic surgeons?
One of the primary goals of your website should be to answer those types of questions as quickly as possible. Regardless of the device chosen, Internet users do not want to spend time hunting for these answers, and they shouldn’t have to. You need them to be able to find these basic answers so they can book an appointment. Good content can get patients to your website. Search engines comb through your website on a regular basis in order to index your content. They’re looking for the subject matter of your pages.
Ideally, your website should have as much original content about your specialties as possible. However, that doesn’t mean you should drop your patient education content. Patient education supplements your original content and helps you explain the more in-depth aspects of complicated procedures. The problem is, it’s not specific to your practice, and since many other orthopaedic surgeons have access to the same content, it is usually counted as duplicate content by search engines. Original content, on the other hand, can improve your search ranking. Original content and patient education work hand-in-hand to keep your patients informed.
Local patients need to know where they can find you and how they can contact you if they are going to book an appointment. Does your website make it easy for your patients to find your name, your address, and your phone number? These are the essentials, and they need to be visible on every single page.
You also need to focus in on local listings. More than likely, a high percentage of your patients are finding your phone number and office location through an online search. If they can’t find your phone number or use the GPS on their smartphones to locate your practice, they may get frustrated.
Good local SEO work also helps search engines better understand your location, which allows your website to show up more often in geographically-relevant searches. Work on managing your listings, making sure they are completely filled out and accurate, and you should reap the benefits of a better online presence in local searches for your practice.
Your website probably won’t be the only site that’s talking about your practice, unless you’re a relatively new practice. Patients are increasingly turning to review sites like Yelp and RateMDs to leave their opinions about their doctors and read other patients’ thoughts before booking an appointment. It’s important to be aware of what patients are saying about you online. You may have a modern website with great content, but negative reviews can still stick with potential patients more than the positive content you put out.
You need to take a proactive approach to your online reputation to manage these types of problems. If you regularly check online review sites and respond to reviews regularly, it can be very helpful to your online reputation. Thank patients for positive reviews, but more importantly, respond to negative reviews. Be careful not to discuss any private patient information in your responses, but try to do what you can to resolve the issue and have the patient contact you offline if necessary. It won’t make the negative reviews go away, but it shows other patients that you care and will do what you can to make it right.
It’s also important to do what you can to avoid negative reviews in the first place. Be attentive to patients’ concerns and resolve any issues you can. Sometimes, patient feedback can bring issues to your attention that you were not aware of. The happier you keep your patients, the more likely they are to spread positive comments – both through their network of online friends and through online review sites, thereby attracting more patients.
Measuring Your ROI
It’s important to know whether your marketing platform is worth the time and money you put into it. If you aren’t getting a good return on your investment, it’s a sign that you need to adjust what you’re doing. There are several different ways to determine your ROI.
Good ranking and site traffic are certainly factors in the success of your practice’s marketing platform, but they’re not the only thing you should be looking at. You could rank in the top spot for the keyword “orthopaedic surgeon” in your area and have a lot of people visit your site, but ultimately it means nothing if patients aren’t booking appointments.
You might want to start tracking the number of calls you get to see how many of those calls result in an appointment. You can also ask new patients how they found your practice. Try including the question on your sign-in forms and include “online” as one of the options. Call tracking and patient surveys will help to give you an idea of which patients are finding you online.
That’s the basic concept of a strong online presence for an orthopaedic practice. Great content and local SEO lead people to your optimized website where they can learn more about your services and book an appointment. Reputation management can give you valuable insights into patient opinions and, when done right, can help to solidify a patient’s confidence in your practice. Measuring your the effectiveness of your efforts will help you adjust your strategy along the way. When all of the pieces work together, they strengthen one another.
If you’d like to learn more, be sure to check out our brand new ebook: A Beginner’s Guide to Online Marketing for Orthopaedic Practices.