Search Engine Dominance and Your Practice

Posted: in Healthcare Digital Marketing

In today’s world, the most valuable asset is people’s attention. That said, everyone is extremely distracted by ads, videos, pop-ups, chats, and more. So, how do you stand out and grab the attention of consumers?

The answer: adapting an integrated marketing strategy that focuses on dominating Google’s search engine to fuel the growth of your practice.

The Importance of Search Engines

The goal of marketers for any healthcare practice is to attract prospective patients to your practice. We are constantly striving to find ways to gain their attention while utilizing your marketing budget in the most efficient way. The first step is to decide which channel is the best for reaching prospects. Channels include digital, print advertising, direct mail, radio, television, etc. Considering these channels, our goal is to create a strategy that maximizes your practice’s growth while staying within budget. So, which channel is the most impactful and efficient? Search engines.  

The majority of all purchase and service decisions revolve around search. Prospects begin and end the decision-making process with a search, so it’s vital for your practice to be present within the search engine. The prospect’s journey may be longer or shorter depending on your practice’s services, but the process always begins with a search.

The Goal: Dominate Page 1 of Google

Between 80 and 90% of traffic to a practice’s website comes from the practice being present on page one of a search engine, Google specifically. Getting your practice visible on page one is key for increasing leads and growing your patient base. It’s crucial to dominate page one in order to stay ahead of the competition and grow your profits.

Yet, there are limited spaces on page one, with only about 22-24 open positions across the following sections:

  1. Paid Results (paid for by advertiser)
  2. Local Search Results (physical locations)
  3. Organic Results (most relevant to the keyword searched)
  4. Featured Snippet (featured from a page in the top 10 organic results – used to answer a question)

Across mobile searches, the spaces are even more limited.

Search Engine Dominance Defined

Search engine dominance focuses on utilizing Search Engine Marketing to occupy the top positions of a Google search page of relevant search queries. By having your practice on the first page of a search result, you are maximizing the number of prospective patients that are seeing your practice which ultimately enhances website traffic and leads.

Depending on the goal of a business and the products and services they are selling, each will have different approaches to reaching Search Engine Dominance. The paths to purchase approaches, fast, moderate and long, revolve around a prospect’s decision-making journey – see below.

Path to Purchase – Fast

If your practice assists patients who need immediate help, your approach will be the fast path to purchase. Patients on the fast path to purchase need medical assistants now and are ready to find a practice to assist them as soon as possible. With the fast path approach, 86% of leads turn into patients within the same day, with 75% of patient interactions involving a single search.

For example, if someone has recently broken out in hives and is experiencing severe allergy symptoms that are affecting their daily life, they are going to be making quick decisions in their search for an ENT provider.

The strategy for practices wanting to capture this prospective patient’s attention will focus on the following factors:

  1. A Seamless Experience – You want to make it easy for the prospective patient to engage. Utilize click-to-call or message extensions that give prospects the option to click to text from your ad will allow them to reach you quickly. Ensure your website is mobile-friendly since most prospects will use their phone to find a practice in a time of need versus pulling out their laptop or going to sit in front of a desktop.
  2. Grow Your Google Reviews – Google reviews are vital for establishing trust and building credibility with a prospective patient in a time of need. Keep an eye on the quality and consistency of your reviews. Prospective patients are drawn to practices with positive, recent, and consistent amount of reviews.
  3. Provide Hours of Operation In Messaging –  A prospective patient with severe allergy symptoms is going to want to know a practice’s hours of operation and the earliest he or she can come in for an appointment. Include messaging like “open for emergencies” or “available on weekends” to highlight that your practice is ready to help them when they need it most.

Path to Purchase – Moderate

When it comes to a moderate path to purchase, patients are spending more time researching practices, which means they are conducting more searches and visiting more websites. For example, if someone is looking for a weight loss clinic to assist with their weight loss needs, they will be considering various practices.

Search engine dominance comes into play here because 75% of prospects looking for healthcare solutions do not make it past page two in their search. This means that if your practice or clinic is not on page one or two, you are missing out on patient opportunities.

For your practice to grasp the attention of prospective patients, it’s crucial that you incorporate the following components into your strategy:

  1. Validation – Use patient testimonials and build reviews to establish trust with prospective patients.
  2. Education – Provide educational information for prospects to see and answer common questions so prospective patients feel comfortable choosing your practice.
  3. Emphasize outcomes – Place emphasis on results prospects want to see and use this to create messaging and content.

A vital component of this strategy is Content Marketing. Patients that are following a moderate path to purchase are conducting more research and reaching more touch points. With content marketing, your practice or clinic can speak to prospects and shed insight into your practice’s personality and knowledge base, showing them that you are what they having been searching for.

Path to Purchase – Long

When patients are planning to undergo a skilled, expensive procedure with a lengthy recovery time they are going to do a lot of searches and will spend more time doing research.

Here's an example, for a prospective patient seeking a facelift, the many searches conducted may include deciding on a location that’s close to home and finding a credible surgeon with positive reviews. There may be many surgeons that initially fit these criteria, so the patient will do many searches after that to narrow focus and make a decision, which could take weeks or months. With the average path to purchase at about 36 days, it’s important that your practice show up as frequently as possible on the first page of the search result.

Here are three things to focus on if your prospective patients are on a long path to purchase:

  1. Show Up Across Devices – This path to purchase typically takes place across multiple devices. Ensure your practice is visible on mobile phones, tablets, and desktops to enhance accessibility.
  2. Provide Value At Every Stage – Personalize your practice’s messages across the stages of the marketing journey to provide value at each stage. Patients are going to be more inclined to choose a practice that is addressing their questions and solving any problems they encounter during all stages of their path to purchase.
  3. Add Value With Relevant Content – Use relevant content to re-engage with prospects along their path and utilize messaging that matches where they are along the path to purchase.

How a Search Engine Dominance Strategy Can Help Your Practice

With the struggle of capturing and keeping prospective patient’s attention, it’s important for healthcare practices to stand out in order to grow. A search engine dominance strategy is crucial for your practice to cut through the clutter and gain the attention of prospects while they are searching for your services.

Think about how your practice is approaching the path to purchase and ask yourself – are you are executing a search engine dominance strategy to drive new patients and fuel the growth of your practice?

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