In Healthcare, You Are Your Keywords

You’ve invested a lot of time, effort, and resources to ensure that your website looks beautiful, contains exciting content, and engages the visitor.  So why is your hospital’s website not generating as much traffic as other healthcare pages on the web?

Healthcare digital marketers devise creative and innovative search engine optimization (SEO) techniques to build traffic for their healthcare organization, but they all share one common trait: they are all based on the meticulous, strategic selection of target keywords.

Selecting appropriate organic keywords is the foundation and fundamental essence of your hospital’s SEO efforts, driving all your strategy and content. This selection process is both an art and a science–and when used correctly, keywords can overwhelmingly improve your hospital website’s online presence. As they say, “you are what you eat.” Well, in healthcare marketing, “you are your keywords”–in other words, your hospital’s digital marketing efforts will be defined by the keywords you select.

First, select your keywords with the intent of the user at the forefront of your mind. Your sense of empathy plays a critical role in this first step: if you were seeking out a certain procedure or researching a certain disease, what keywords would you search?  We all would like the visitor to skip straight to that online conversion, but remember and honor the sales funnel.

If the user is simply trying to learn more about a particular topic, they are in the research phase.  Keywords allow healthcare digital marketers to direct efforts to these users through the use of general keywords that introduce your product/services. For instance, a parent concerned about their child’s mental health might search “does my kid need psychiatry?”  Once a user graduates from the research phase by finding some general information, they then move into the consideration phase.

In this phase, the user has decided they want a particular service, but need to decide who will perform these services. Keywords continue to allow you to interact with this more specific targeted market, particularly as the prospective patient adds information to their query, such as geo-location, a specific disease, or a treatment option.

So, once a parent has decided psychiatry is the right option for their child, they will adjust their search terms to find things like, “child psychiatry in Denver” or “find a child psychiatrist near 44118.” If your SEO strategy understands and responds to the consideration phase, your hospital will be completely optimized for local search, treatment searches, procedure searches, and conversion. When prospect reaches your site, they can finish the process with the commit phase. This covers the more touchy-feely, “art” side of organic keyword selection.

But you can’t always anticipate what potential patients will search. Luckily, most healthcare marketers have access to a wide-range of data which they can use to leverage the “science” of SEO to their benefit. Google and Bing both offer data around paid keywords that can often translate for organic keyword planning. Moreover, if you have a pay-per-click campaign already in place, you can use the conversion rate data to understand which keywords are valuable on the paid side and should be a focus for your organic efforts. Free tools, such as FreeKeywords, can also offer insights on keywords and their volume of competition.

While competitiveness is a start, it is also vital to evaluate a keyword’s search volume and get a baseline understanding of where your website currently ranks for your desired keywords. Observing trends in search volume is a tremendous way to increase the quality of your keywords.  Knowing the amount of people searching your terms on a monthly basis, and where your pages rank for the assigned keywords, allows healthcare online advertisers to focus efforts where needed (and vice versa).  We like to use MyWebPosition, as our initial ranking tool, as it gives a lot of reliable information regarding current rankings.

As you can see, the keyword selection process for healthcare marketing is time-consuming and complex, but this process sets the foundation for your long-term SEO success. In healthcare, your keywords define your strategy, your tactics, and ultimately, your success.

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Social Media Benchmarks for Health Systems [Free Report]

Social Media Benchmarks for Health Systems

About Matthew Fieldman

With 12 years of experience working in nonprofits all over the world, Matt became a leader in Fathom’s healthcare practice in 2012. Matt’s healthcare clients include organizations from small regional addiction recovery centers to massive hospital systems, from regional health insurance providers to the nation’s largest provider of senior assisted living solutions. Matt’s educational background includes earning a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology from the University of Florida in 2000, a Master’s in Business Administration from The George Washington University in 2005, and a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Case Western Reserve University in 2010. He attended the 2013 Mayo Clinic Social Media Residency in June 2013 and spoke at the Greystone Healthcare Internet Conference in November 2013. Matt is an alum of Cleveland Bridge Builders 2011, was named as an Ariane de Rothschild Fellow, and was selected to Cleveland’s “25 Under 35.”

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