The majority of patients are searching online to find information about their conditions and where they can seek treatment. If your practice does not have an effective online presence, you could miss out on those patients.
What exactly does an effective online presence entail? At a minimum, you need to have a website and listings in all of the major online directories and review sites. If you’d like to expand your online reach even further, you might also want to give social media a try. Let’s dig a little further into each of these elements.
Your website is more than just an online CV. An effective website shows potential patients what your practice has to offer so they can determine if your practice is the right fit for them. Your website gives you an opportunity to detail the treatments and services you provide and the conditions you treat. If done correctly, it is a chance to help your practice stand out from other practices in the area. Your website should include the basics like your location and hours, phone and fax numbers, doctor bios, and your specialties. To really make your website stand out, you might also consider adding content explaining your specialties, patient testimonials, and online appointment request forms to make appointment scheduling more convenient for patients.
Online listings help to reinforce information about your practice when local patients search for an doctor. This is crucial if you want your practice to show up in relevant searches by local patients. The key is to fill out as much of the information as possible and to keep the information consistent with what is on your website. Start with claiming your Google listings, but don’t ignore other major listing services like Bing, Yahoo, Superpages, Yellow Pages, and Insider Pages. You should also have listings on popular review sites like Yelp, Healthgrades, Angie’s List, ZocDoc, and Vitals. Even better, encourage your patients to leave reviews for you on these sites. The more reviews you have, particularly if they are positive, the more likely you are to have a higher ranking in search results. Try sending a follow-up email after the appointment with links to your review profiles or hand out a card to patients after the appointment with a list of all of the review sites where they can find you.
Your website and online listings help patients learn more about you and your practice, but social media allows you to really connect with your patients online. You can get to know more about your patients–what they are interested in, what their health concerns are, and what type of content they would like to see. You can share content on how to stay healthy, or anything else you think would be helpful for your patients. You can also give patients a glimpse into your practice and the things that happen around the office or community events that you participate in. All of these things help your practice to build a better connection with current patients and help potential patients learn more about your practice, beyond what they see on your website.
All of these elements work together to strengthen the other. Start out with a website and local listings, and branch out to social media if you would like to expand your online presence.