By Kathy Roy Gaughran
Senior Marketing Strategist
Back in the digital dark ages—a decade or so ago—simply having a website was enough to be found online. Early on, only a few healthcare practices and hospitals had a website at all. Two or three HTML pages put your online presence miles ahead of most everyone else. But not so today.
To be found online—and not lost in the crowd—you need a heck of a lot more than a single blip on the search radar. Today you need to create a collective presence using several tools that work together. Typically, this would include one or more websites, one or more blogs, one or more social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and others, plus online directory listings, digital advertising, local search, YouTube Channels, eNewsletters and more.
Your online presence is more than the sum of the parts…
The goal—attracting patients and new business—remains unchanged. But boosting your online presence now requires a serious plan for the various elements to work together.
- Your online presence is the new pathway to your front door
- Your reputation begins with what the Internet communicates
- A strong presence builds over time, not overnight
- All elements complement all elements with brand consistency
Think of online visibility as a collective effort that is greater than the sum of the parts.
Put yourself in your customer’s place. It’s marketing’s “golden rule” and a fundamental principle of every business. First, understand the interest, problems and desires of the buyer. Tune your online presence to communicate solutions in the time and place of the customers’ greatest need. The prospective patient defines the need. [Orison Swett Marden]
Audit your entire digital existence in detail. Using the names, keywords and terms that a prospective patient would use, make a list of everything that’s presently online. Also, list what’s missing. For what you have and what’s missing:
- Confirm and/or correct all listings and details
- Validate entries of name, address, phone (NAP) plus descriptions and details
- Create and/or update all personal and business profile opportunities
- Locate and update all local directory listings (there are dozens and most need corrections)
- List all open opportunities, such as adding a blog, social media or YouTube Channel
Systematically monitor online reviews and encourage comments. The search process gives weight to online reviews such as ZocDoc, Google My Business, Yelp, Angie’s List, Facebook and others. Install a regular routine that monitors the popular sites and responds to comments. Routinely encourage patients to post their reviews.
Cross-promote yourself. Determine how you can use each of the elements of your Internet presence to promote one or more other components. For example, a new blog article might link to a website page, or Twitter might reference a new video, and so forth.
An online presence definition that we like…
Your Internet presence is the sum of everything that your current and prospective patients find about you online. Unfortunately, these data points are often neglected, even though much of this is easily within your span of control. For the most part, what’s required is an investment of time and a systematic approach to gaining and maintaining your proper visibility.