Posted in #HCSM

Not Just a Headache: How People With Migraine Use Social Media 

A recently published study* has set out to describe how people with migraine use social media and how social media use affects their identity and sense of self.

Migraine symptoms are typically episodic and unpredictable, making it a difficult condition to manage in daily life. It is distinctive from other chronic conditions as it lacks a visible illness marker. This can cause frustration for the person with migraine when the condition is not understood (or believed) and may result in altered self-concept or self-esteem. As a consequence, people with migraine may not receive adequate support owing to the experience of illness and pain being subjective.

Social Media Use

The study recruited 20 patients in total. Participants’ use of social media tended to fit on a spectrum from actively engaging with social media to more observational social media users, and some people in between.

Facebook was the most commonly used social media platform among participants. Many sought information and social support from closed migraine-specific Facebook groups. Blogs were used by 2 participants. A total of 3 participants used YouTube to observe migraine symptoms and learn about migraine causes or pain reduction. One participant created YouTube videos to educate others about migraine. Twitter was often viewed as a more professional domain rather than personal.

Seeking and Sharing Information

The study findings suggest that people with migraine are using social media to obtain health-related information to better understand their condition and treatment options.

In total, 11 said they gained expertise in migraine knowledge and 13 gained awareness of new treatments. For some, interacting with others in Facebook groups resulted in a change of self-management for migraines.

In total, 14 participants said they shared information with other users on social media, mostly on Facebook. Some shared information with others who experience migraines in migraine-specific groups.

Others used social media to share information with people who do not experience migraine by posting on their personal Facebook walls, seeking to help others to understand their condition.

16 participants spoke about the benefit of pooling knowledge on social media. The dialogue and collaboration with other users added another level of benefit to information seeking and sharing.

A total of 12 participants said information gathered on social media had increased their confidence, knowledge, and skills in managing their own health care.  Others benefited from reading the online discussion and not taking part themselves.

A total of 10 participants spoke about the need to experience migraine to truly understand it. Being able to read the lived experiences of other people with migraine was beneficial in providing personally relevant information

Social Support

Social media can offer instant access to continuous migraine-related information, as well as social support from empathic others. The opportunity to pool the subjective lived experience of migraines on social media was described as invaluable, and the exchange of support and information was viewed as mutually beneficial

A total of 10 participants described not feeling alone and that social media had helped them to feel less isolated. For some, social media provided a source of support for an unpredictable and invisible illness.  They spoke of the invisible and episodic nature of the condition that may contribute to societal misunderstanding about the impact and severity of migraine.

A total of 14 participants referred to migraine being an invisible illness, with 10 participants saying they had been given patronizing or unhelpful advice offline by others who often saw migraine as just a headache. In total, 18 participants discussed how the use of social media can help validate the migraine experience and combat the lack of understanding about the unpredictable and invisible nature of migraine.

I think the worst thing for people is not getting support…I think social media can be a good way of calling that out when we see it and people going: “Yes, that happened to me. That’s not okay.” There’s quite a lot of validating involved.

For 19 participants, the process of being able to hear about others’ experiences and compare them with their own provided a sense of comfort. In the cases where people were unsure of what they were experiencing, reading similar accounts from others provided validation and reminded them that they were not alone.

After accessing content on social media, some participants benefited from reassurance regarding unusual symptoms.

In this sense, the use of social media served to normalize what some felt might be abnormal. In total, 6 participants also described social media as a lifeline:

I don’t know how people survived beforehand actually, especially because it’s [migraine] invisible.

A total of 10 participants referred to social media being available all the time, providing a continual source of contact with other users not limited to geographic location.

A total of 10 participants described how they used social media as an outlet for discussing frustrating migraine experiences. Social media was a resource for some participants to cope with the emotions that built up from their experiences. 8 participants described how venting to other people on social media can prevent over-burdening family and friends.

Study Conclusion

Social media can help validate the experience of migraine and in turn help people who experience migraines to feel better understood and less alone. How migraine is part of a person’s identity and represented online varies. Further understanding about the needs of people with long-term chronic conditions may help in the development of future Web-based interventions to improve health and well-being.


*Pearson C, Swindale R, Keighley P, McKinlay AR, Ridsdale L. Not Just a Headache: Qualitative Study About Web-Based Self-Presentation and Social Media Use by People With MigraineJ Med Internet Res 2019;21(6):e10479

Related

Migraine Tweets – What can online behavior tell us about disease?

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Here’s How Bots and Trolls Spread Fake News on Social Media

Fake news. It’ not only a problem in politics; misinformation online is a huge problem in healthcare.

Just like fake news, untrustworthy health information problematically circulates across social media platforms.  Facebook is one of the biggest offenders.

A study conducted by Oxford University showed that content from less reputable sources gets shared 4x more than content from reputable, trusted news outlets across Facebook.

There is some good news on this front. Recently Facebook announced it’s to take a stand against vaccine denial by directing people searching for information or using vaccine hashtags to web pages set up by public health bodies.

And a Finnish Public Broadcasting Company has created a tool which taps into the power of gamification to increase public awareness of  how “fake news, emotive content and bot armies are utilized to affect moods, opinions, and decision-making.”

The game, called Troll Factory,  shows you first-hand how information operations work on social media. It makes use of authentic social media content around polarizing themes like climate change and immigration to highlight the roles played by paid bots, demographic microtargeting, fake news, and conspiracy theories in misleading and amplifying propaganda.

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Players learn to wield the tools that trolls use as they seek to influence public opinion: botnets, paid marketing and internet memes in a realistic mobile setting. This gives them an opportunity to reflect on their real-life choices, and to better understand the consequences of their actions.

In its review of the game, TechCrunch states “The best medicine against online disinformation is an informed society that’s thinking critically.”  Troll Factory is a creative and clever way to promote digital media literacy, especially among people who don’t consume traditional news (more people now get their news from social media than from newspapers)  and helps social media users understand how they play a role in spreading false information — even unintentionally.

 


Related Reading 

New Study Finds Consumers are Concerned About the Influence of Social Media on News Coverage

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What Do Patients Complain About Online?

A group of researchers across China, the United Kingdom and the USA has set out to develop a taxonomy framework for patient complaints online based on patient centeredness and to examine whether the determinants of patient-centered care (PCC) mirror the determinants of patient experiences.

As internet availability and usage grows worldwide, patients are spontaneously rating their experiences with physicians and hospitals by sharing their opinions about health encounters on the World Wide Web via mediums such as social media websites, Web-based consumer opinion platforms, and physician rating websites.

Previous research has demonstrated that patients are often influenced by peer-submitted comments posted on opinion and rating websites when making health care decisions

Why this study matters

  • Medical providers are able to leverage the information posted on such platforms to better comprehend patient experiences and engagement levels and increase the understanding of patient frustrations and joy points during hospital visits.
  • By capturing patient data in real-time, health care providers can use them as a quality metric to highlight insufficient physician performances or irregular events.
  • Given the intrinsic value of comments posted online by patients, it is important that health care providers make efficient use of the information collected.
  • Patient complaints online can indicate weaknesses in the health care system through the eyes of the patients’ themselves.

Interested to learn more?

Read Liu J, Hou S, Evans R, Xia C, Xia W, Ma J. What Do Patients Complain About Online: A Systematic Review and Taxonomy Framework Based on Patient Centeredness. J Med Internet Res 2019;21(8):e14634

You might also like to read How do healthcare staff respond to patient experience feedback online? A typology of responses published on Care Opinion

Posted in #HCSM

Click, Like, Retweet: The Role of Social Media In Maintaining Healthcare Reputation

Social media has an increasingly important role to play in maintaining an organization’s reputation and image. Not only are patients seeking health information online, but many also say their choice of a specific doctor, hospital or medical treatment is influenced by social media.

Patients are also using social media to vocalize how they feel about their doctors, drugs, treatment plans, insurance, and medical devices. Don’t think if you are not on social media, patients aren’t discussing your organization. You can’t opt-out of reputation management – whether you have a social media presence or not, a patient who has a bad experience with your organization is only one tweet or Facebook post away from sharing it with the world.

Be Proactive in Managing Your Online Reputation

It is far better to take control of your reputation by responding to these conversations yourself and correcting any misinformation or misperceptions. Responding in real-time strengthens public perception that your focus is firmly on patient satisfaction.

Remember that everything you do online – every blog post, every tweet, every conversation – is a reflection of your brand. A successful social media presence hinges on the trust between you and your followers. Becoming a trusted source of health information for your patients and proactively developing a strong, consistent, and credible image online will increase patient trust and confidence in your organization.

Social Media Is An Essential Component of Healthcare Marketing

Realising social media’s potential in healthcare requires an organizational culture that values social media as central to its overall strategy. Social media should be viewed not as an add-on, but as an essential component of healthcare marketing. Unlike traditional marketing practices that have stayed constant for decades, social media is still a relatively new marketing channel with new networks, updates, and features constantly emerging. Marketing departments need to invest more of their budget in platforms and resources that takes full advantage of the opportunities presented by social media.

Create A Winning Strategy

The best social media accounts are precisely targeted, updated frequently, and foster an ongoing dialogue with followers. that’s why it’s so important to have a plan in place at the outset and monitor, measure, and adjust your progress as you go.

Start by optimizing your website – think of it as your home-base to which you will be directing your social media followers to find relevant and engaging information. With more people accessing the Internet via mobile devices, make sure your site is optimized for mobile viewing. to increase the likelihood that your website will be placed at the top of google search results, thereby earning you trust with your audience, consider adding a blog to your site. A blog serves to proactively show your patients that you are a trusted source of healthcare information.

Next, put a content promotion plan in place. In today’s noisy social media world, you need to amplify your content to be heard. Make it easy for people to share your site’s content on social media by incorporating social share icons prominently throughout your website.

Create lots of visual content such as infographics and videos and encourage people to share these on social media. Post updates about your hospital’s accomplishments, showcasing ground-breaking surgeries, cutting-edge research, and the work of high- profile staff members. Cross-promote each piece of content you create but do not copy and paste the same post on each platform—format each of them to meet the requirements of the specific platforms.

At the end of each week, take time to monitor and measure the impact of your social media activity. Monitor your engagement rates and pages views to see which channels get the most attention and measure the return on investment for paid ads and social media promotions.

Wrapping Up

Social media’s influence has still not reached its peak; it will continue to disrupt healthcare in ways we are only beginning to understand. It is equally important nowadays for healthcare organizations to communicate with patients online as it is through more traditional offline channels. Knowing how to leverage this opportunity is an essential skill for the modern healthcare organization. I like to use a quote from Erik Qualman: “We do not have a choice on whether we do social media, the question is – how well we do it”.

 


This is an edited version of an article that appeared in HealthManagement, Volume 18 – Issue 2, 2018

Posted in #HCSM

7 Essential Elements Of An Effective Healthcare Digital Marketing Strategy

The Internet age has dramatically changed how people seek out and find medical information. According to a Think With Google Study, search engines drive three times as many visitors to medical facility websites than other sources. The study also found that 44 percent of patients who research medical facility on a mobile device end up scheduling an appointment.

If you’re looking to reach more patients online, then digital is an essential tool in your marketing strategy. The following list contains the essential elements you need to have in place to ensure your digital marketing is effective.

1. An Easy-To-Navigate Website

In the online world, your website is a virtual office location and the face of your practice. It acts as the initial “touchpoint” for potential patients. It showcases who you are and what you do.

A well-designed website can:

  • Boost your online reputation
  • Increase search engine visibility
  • Attract new patients

When visitors land on your medical practice website, they’re typically looking for something specific.  You may be surprised to learn that research has revealed that easy navigation and accessibility are more important to patients than reputability.

Users should be able to use your website intuitively. Put yourself in the shoes of your visitors and ask yourself how easy it is to find key information on your site. How many clicks does a visitor have to make to get to the information they are looking for?

Think about the information someone is searching for when they visit your site—and make it easy for them to find it. If your site contains a lot of information (as some hospital websites do) consider creating separate landing pages for specific conditions.

Further Reading: Digital Health Checkup: 10 Signs It’s Time To Redesign Your Medical Practice Website

2. Include A Blog

Want to increase your influence among healthcare consumers? Start blogging.

Blogs written by physicians, nurses, researchers, patients, and allied healthcare professionals add much to the richness and diversity of the online healthcare conversation. Blogs are a super way to educate patients and keep content on your website fresh.  Marketing to patients with a blog can be one of the most effective ways a new medical practice can reach more patients. Blogging regularly increases awareness of your practice, as well as help your website rank better in search engine result pages (SERPs) thereby increasing its organic traffic.

Further Reading: 3 Places To Find Interesting Ideas For Your Healthcare Blog

3. Content Marketing

If you’re serious about marketing your business online, you need a strategy and a plan to execute it. A content marketing strategy is a roadmap that not only tells you what you’re going to create but how you’re going to create it, when you’re going to publish it and how you’re going to promote it. It helps you create more meaningful, engaging and sustainable content.

According to the Content Marketing Institute, having a documented (i.e. written down) strategy means:

  • You’ll feel significantly less challenged by every aspect of content marketing.
  • You’ll generally consider yourself more effective in your use of all content marketing tactics and social media channels.
  • You’ll be able to justify spending a higher percentage of your marketing budget on content marketing.

Further Reading: How To Create Your 2019 Content Marketing Plan

4. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

SEO is the process of earning traffic from search engines organically — meaning you aren’t paying for ads or sponsored content placement.  If you want more people to find you online, you need to optimize your website through good search engine optimization practices. SEO (the ability to optimize your site for search engines),  is a detailed and sometimes confusing process, and you may want to hire an SEO expert to do it for you. If you don’t want to hire someone, there are search engine optimization tools available to help you do your own SEO — and many of them are free. I’ve put together this list of the best free SEO tools out there to help you instantly improve your online marketing.

Further Reading: How Good SEO Helps Your Website Get Found, Chosen And Converts To New Business

5. E-Mail Marketing

With the explosion of social media marketing in recent years, the traditional email format may appear outdated. But nothing could be further from the truth.  Even with the pervasiveness of new technology, email still remains a persuasive digital marketing channel for building awareness, boosting acquisition, and increasing conversion.

Use email personalisation and segmentation based on a recipient’s interests and needs so they’re receiving information relevant to them. Send out a video, a current blog post or provide industry news that will give readers information on various topics. Be sure to plan these ahead of time so they are timely according to what’s going on at your organization or in the health industry.

6. Video Content

Video is booming. YouTube is the second-largest search engine in the world with added SEO potential due to its Google connection.  By 2020, Cisco predicts that video will make up 82% of the content we consume online.

Video has become the predominant way people want to consume information and this goes for patients too. Information delivered via video vs. print equates to a much higher retention rate. In addition, patients who watch videos featuring a physician feel a greater level of trust. The type of video content you can create includes Q&As with physicians, patient testimonials, explainer videos, and live streaming.

Further Reading: How To Create A YouTube Channel for Your Medical Practice

7. Social Media Marketing

In the past decade, social networks have evolved from “a nice to have” add-on to a necessity for healthcare marketers.  With currently 2.8 billion social media users globally, expected to rise to almost 3 billion users by 2020, social media’s influence has still not reached its peak. It’s a dynamic environment in which new networks emerge, old networks evolve, and user bases continue to grow exponentially.

If you haven’t yet integrated social media into your marketing mix, it’s time to do so. Not only is social media marketing more affordable than traditional forms of marketing, but it’s also more accountable, with specific tracking and monitoring options at your disposal.

Further Reading: How To Develop A Social Media Strategy For Healthcare Marketing

Tying It All Together

Digital marketing in healthcare is dynamic and constantly evolving  — there are many different elements to consider. If this list feels overwhelming to you, don’t feel you have to do everything all at once. The best place to start is with your website – prioritise it in your strategy and build out your digital marketing from there. As always, if you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me.

Here’s to your digital marketing success!

Posted in #HCSM

Social Media In Healthcare: How To Communicate With Impact

Last week I had the pleasure of delivering a presentation on using social media to communicate with impact, at the Annual Meeting on Supportive Care in Cancer, which took place in San Francisco  For those who are interested, here is a copy of my slide-deck.

The conference really impressed me with their push to get attendees on board with social media and their use of social media ambassadors at the event.

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It’s certainly something that more conferences should pay attention to. It takes work for sure but the end result is so worth it.

Posted in #HCSM, Thursday Tip

#ThursdayTip: Do These 4 Things Before You Post To Social Media

Welcome to this week’s social media tip. Today I want you to think about how you can do more than just add to the online chatter.

Here are four questions to ask yourself before you post to your social media channels.

1. Is this post valuable to my social media followers?

Ask yourself why your followers (and not just you, personally) would find the content to be valuable.

Better still, ask your audience.

Go right to your audience and ask them what kind of content they’d like to see from you. You can create quick polls on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram or go deeper with a survey. Survey MonkeyPolldaddy and Google’s own survey forms are all simple tools of the trade which have been around for ages and they still work really well.

Recommended Reading7 Places To Discover What Your Audience Wants To Read (So You Can Write It For Them!)

2. Which channel is best suited for this post?

Now that you are certain the information adds value,  it’s time to decide which channel would be best suited to convey this message.

If you have already created a mission statement for each of your brand’s social media profiles, this step is easy: just see which channel’s mission statement best describes the post.

Recommended ReadingHow To Create A Social Media Mission Statement For Your Healthcare Business

3. Is this post optimized for the social network I’ve selected?

While the quality of your content is a key factor for successful social sharing, how you present your information is also very important.

Study after study confirms that how you create and share content matters — with visual content leading the way. According to research by Kissmetrics, photos get 53% more likes, 104% more comments and 84% more click-throughs on links than text-based posts.

Obviously, if you’re sharing on a visual channel, like Instagram, you’ll want to add high-quality visuals, but consider adding visuals also to more text-based channels like Twitter. Tweets with photos give a boost to engagement rates. 

Pro Tip: You can easily create your own images with drag-and-drop tools, like Canva and Ribbet.  They will also automatically create the right sizes for your Facebook page, so you don’t need to worry about it.

Recommended Reading10 Places To Find The Best Free Images For Your Healthcare Marketing

Other things to consider when it comes to optimizing your posts are using the correct hashtags and creating an impactful headline.

Recommended Reading: 50 Power Words To Super Charge Your Content Marketing

4. Am I posting this at the best time?

To optimize your engagement and reach, you want to share content when your audience is online. If you search for optimal posting times, you will find many guides online. You can follow these recommendations as a starting point, but it’s best to do your own testing to see which days and times work best for your own audience.

Once you’ve determined the right posting times for each social channel, schedule your posts to hit those times. Use a scheduling tool like Buffer or Hootsuite.

Recommended ReadingHow To Better Manage Social Media With Hootsuite

Putting it all together

Think-Before-You-Post-Hootsuite-Flowchart.jpg

I’ve been sharing this graphic for the past three years from Hootsuite and I still love it. The questions above are based on this flowchart. Keep it close to you and refer to it often.

Here’s to your social media success!

 

Posted in #HCSM

OK Google: Why & How Your Medical Practice Should Prepare For Voice Search

Your patients are searching for you online. Pew Research Center data shows 77% of all health inquiries begin at a search engine, with 72% of total Internet users say they’ve looked online for health information within the past year.

While the majority of patients searching for information on the web still trust search engines but the way people search for information online is changing. Increasingly, people are using voice search on their smartphones, tablets or voice assistants (like the Amazon Echo or Google Home devices) to search for information on the internet (yet another compelling reason to make sure that your site is optimized for mobile).

According to comScore’s forecasting, 50 percent of searches will be performed through voice functions in 2020 and the majority will be done without even looking at a screen.

How people are using voice search

In recent research carried out by BrightLocal, consumers were asked how they used voice assistants and voice search for local business. The top three most demanded voice search functions involve finding restaurants, grocery stores, and food delivery, with clothing, accommodation, and medicine following closely behind.

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The Voice Search for Local Business Study also revealed that 46% of voice search users use voice search to find local businesses daily.

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How to optimize your website for voice searches

In essence, voice searches are largely about answering questions, not about focusing on individual keywords. SEO is fast becoming AEO (Answer Engine Optimisation).

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What does best-answer content look like? Top Rank Blog’s Lee Odden, says best-answer content encompasses the following:

  • Specific, in-demand topic
  • More valuable and useful than other sites
  • Credible
  • High quality
  • Engaging
  • Device friendly, accessible
  • Fast

Insider Tip! When people talk to their voice assistants, they don’t form their inquiries the same way that they do in typed search queries. Rather, they tend to ask conversational questions, for example, “What’s the closest dental clinic to me?” instead of “dental clinic near me.”

Here are 3 more tips to consider while generating content for voice activation devices:

  1. Use long-tail keywords.  A great tip here is to use the “People Also Asked” Feature in Google.
  2. Structure SEO around conversational keywords – in other words, address not just a specific keyword with your content, but rather the breadth of what someone is trying to learn when they search for that keyword
  3. Account for misspelled/misinterpreted words (sometimes Siri or Alexa can misinterpret what you’re saying).

Just as marketers have optimized content for web 2.0 and mobile, they will have to start optimizing content for voice search as well. To quote NewsCred, “If you’re a marketer, “What’s the Alexa strategy?” will be a question you’ll be expected to answer.”


Related Reading

Voice Marketing Definition: Why You Need To Make Your Audience Listen Now

How to Optimize for Voice Search: 4 Simple SEO Strategies 

Voice search optimization guide: Six steps for 2019

Study: How ready are businesses for voice search? 

8 Voice Content Trends for 2020

 

 

Posted in #HCSM

What Information Are Parents of Children with Cancer Looking For Online?

If you haven’t already guessed it by now, I’m a sucker for a good research study. I believe strongly that we need a  more robust evidence-base around why and how people use social media for health-related information.

The latest study* I want to share with you concerns the information seeking behaviour of parents of children with cancer.

Why this study matters

For a parent, learning their child has cancer can be overwhelming, stressful, and debilitating. After a new cancer diagnosis, parents seek social support and information from multiple sources including healthcare providers and the internet. Not surprisingly the study shows that parents of children with cancer performed health-related searches at over twice the rate performed by the general population. Online searches peaks at about one month after cancer diagnosis.

To date, little has been known about the specific information parents of children with cancer search for online.  Although it has been shown that cancer searches online correlate to cancer prevalence at a population level, little is known about the specific, granular information parents search for online.

Understanding the content of parents’ searches over time offers insight into what matters most to parents and helps to identify knowledge gaps that could inform more comprehensive approaches to family education and support.

Why do parents use the web for information?

The study authors put forward some suggestions for why parents of children with cancer search online for information. One reason may be that they don’t feel their providers shared information in appropriate depth. “Alternatively, because these types of searches require less medical sophistication to interpret, parents may feel more comfortable searching for them online compared with medical information,” the authors suggest.  Or parents may simply forget to ask questions about these topics when medical providers are present and subsequently search for supportive care information at a later time.

What kind of information are parents seeking online?

Over half of the cancer-specific searches were for cancer support, such as queries for cancer charities and inspirational quotations.

Among the overall health-related searches, 31% were for “symptoms, disease and medical information.” Supportive care and logistic-related health searches were extremely common, and health insurance searches were also present, although to a lesser extent. Other relatively common health-related search categories included “Medications” (and “Treatment and disease management.” 

How health professionals can use this information

The study authors believe the results are most applicable for family support and education.

Given the peak of internet use near the time of diagnosis, educational interventions to improve parents’ ability to navigate the internet for cancer information should be considered.

The authors highlight the need to support parents’ need for logistical information. This “represents a measurable and potentially modifiable domain through interventions such as website design and educational materials.”

Study Conclusion

Google search content offers insight into what matters to parents of cancer patients. More research is needed to explore use of Google to obtain health-related information and utilize this to inform future education, quality, and research initiatives and better understand how internet use influences healthcare decision-making.

* Charles A Phillips, Alaina Hunt, Mikaela Salvesen‐Quinn, Jorge Guerra, Marilyn M Schapira, L Charles Bailey, Raina M Merchant. Health-related Google searches performed by parents of pediatric oncology patients. Pediatric Blood and Cancer, May 9, 2019. doi: 10.1002/pbc.27795.


Related Reading 

Digital Health Checkup: 10 Signs It’s Time To Redesign Your Medical Practice Website

Do Online Health Seekers Trust Social Media? Surprising Results From A New Survey 

Posted in #HCSM

9 Proven Ways To Increase The Visibility of Your Healthcare Website

Eight in ten online health seekers say they began at a search engine such as Google, Bing, or Yahoo. If you want more people to find you online, you need to optimize your website to increase visibility.

There are many tactics you can use to drive more traffic to your blog and while the following list is not exhaustive, these are some of the ways I have used to increase my own visibility online.

1. Audit Your Competitors

Start by drawing up a list of ten top websites in your niche. If your competitors’ websites are more streamlined, functional and fresher than yours, they may be drawing in more patients with a stronger online presence.  Make a list of their sites and critically evaluate them in terms of look, design, and functionality. Do they include a blog? Helpful checklists? Pre-registration forms patients can fill out to save time before their appointment? An online appointment system?  Screenshot the design features you think work well and think about how you might incorporate them into your own website.

2. Sign Up For Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a free tool which will help you identify how well your website is performing over time. Use it to monitor your site’s performance. Has it declined over time? Are there fewer people coming to your site? Do they stick around or “bounce” off your site too quickly? Bounce rate is a contributor to your site’s search rankings, and it refers to the amount of time someone is on your site before “bouncing” off to another site. If you have a lot of people who look and quickly click away, it tells search engines you don’t have useful information on your site.  This information helps you plan ways to improve your site’s performance and visibility.

3. Tailor Your Site’s Information To Reader Needs

Is your website nothing more than a glorified brochure? To attract patients to your website, you should be prepared to add more value in the form of information. What kind of information are potential readers looking for? Identify the most frequently asked questions in your practice and create blogs, videos, and FAQs for your website to answer those questions.

4. Use Keywords Strategically

It’s important to include the right keywords on your website if you want to rank higher for particular search terms and increase your online visibility.  Keyword research is vital because identifying the terms people are searching for will determine the kind of content you create and the way you will optimize it.

Recommended Reading: How To Find The Best Keywords For Your Website

5. Optimize Your Site For Local Search

If you want more people to find you online, you need to optimize your website through good search engine optimization practices. And if you want to attract new patients, your website also needs to be optimized for your local area. When someone uses the internet to locate a Medical Practice nearby, it’s critical that your website appears in those results (searches on mobile devices containing the phrase “near me” has skyrocketed in recent years).

Recommended Reading: Why and How You Should Optimise Your Medical Website For Local Search

6. Optimize Your Site For Voice Search

The majority of patients searching for information on the web still trust search engines but the way people search for information online is changing. Increasingly, people are using voice search on their smartphones, tablets or voice assistants (like the Amazon Echo or Google Home devices) to search for information on the internet (yet another compelling reason to make sure that your site is optimized for mobile).

In essence, voice searches are largely about answering questions. Here are some tips to consider while generating content for voice activation devices:

  • Write in a conversational tone
  • Use long-tail keywords
  • Account for misspelled/misinterpreted words (sometimes Siri or Alexa can misinterpret what you’re saying).

7. Make Sure Your Website Is Mobile Responsive

Having a mobile-responsive site (ie one that automatically changes its layout and placements of certain menus and buttons automatically) is important because firstly, over half of patients search online for health information on their smartphone, and secondly, Google now gives ranking priority to those sites that are mobile friendly.  In fact, Google has stated that it will penalize websites that aren’t mobile-responsive, so if your site isn’t optimized for mobile devices, you’ll likely lose out significantly in the organic search rankings.  To check if your site’s design is responsive, enter its URL into this Google tool.

8. Include A Blog

Companies who blog receive a whopping 97% more links to their website. Incorporating a blog on your site is relatively easy; the challenge lies in consistently creating fresh content. If you are struggling to come up with new ideas on a regular basis for your blog, then this list of 16 content ideas should help get you started.

9. Drive More Traffic With Social Shares

By making it easy for visitors to your site to share your content, you increase the likelihood that they will take this action. When more people share your content, you increase the chance of driving more visitors to your site.

Wrapping Up

Your website is pivotal to your digital marketing strategy. And with more patients than ever searching online for you, it’s imperative that your website is optimized for them to find you.  It takes time and resources to optimize your site to deliver the best experience possible, but if you are serious about how your business performs, you need to get serious about the performance of your website too.