Author | Chatmeter TeamDate Posted | August 3, 2020

Navigating the future of healthcare marketing with local SEO

COVID may have been with us for a while by now, but healthcare marketing teams are still scrambling to shift and redefine their marketing strategies. “Marketing as usual” is no longer an option as everything from patient care strategies to mindful messaging and timing of tactical execution all have to change within our new normal. Patient acquisition strategies must be different as well, since we’ve been telling people to stay away from medical facilities

Now, we must actively engage with new and old patients to show them it is safe to come back. Mindful messaging around the availability of services, safety precautions, and virtual care options, along with an optimized local and voice search strategy, will make a big difference in your ability to increase patient volumes in a post-COVID world.

A Need for Mindful Messaging Due to COVID-19

The time and resources spent on devising a new overall healthcare marketing strategy is a large investment. Although it may seem difficult, it goes without saying that revisiting your overall strategy from start to finish, is a must. The same should be done for your messaging and branding. Trust in healthcare organizations is at an all-time high and you should take this opportunity to provide value to your community. Healthcare marketers need to simultaneously deliver timely, accurate, and helpful information for all internal and external activities.

Now that the country is slowly swinging back, getting information out about access to care is that much more important. Mindful messaging will activate health consumers and highlight your organization’s availability of services and providers. In addition, consistently communicate all accessible and convenient virtual care options and, more importantly, the safety precautions you are taking to keep patients and your staff virus-free such as contactless check-ins and options to wait in your car and receive a text when the exam room is ready.

In addition, your organization’s response and efforts to COVID-19 need to be clearly communicated to the community. It’s important to address all COVID-19 related matters and show your efforts in helping the community overcome healthcare-related challenges from the pandemic.

Patient Needs in this New Era

The largest need from patients brought on by this new era is clear and accurate information. Leading up to COVID-19, we all knew that the internet brought on an overload of information, with a lack of clarity as to which information was accurate.

COVID-19 brought this issue to the spotlight and patients increasingly became unsure of where to turn for information. The desire for truthful information among patients has become so prevalent that it has even given doctors a new spotlight as social media influencers. Healthcare marketing teams need to remain the voice and source of accurate information throughout this uncertain time.

This need for clear and accurate information is especially true for healthcare listings. The slow response from healthcare organizations to update listings is creating mass confusion for consumers on their health journey, as they try to understand which healthcare practices are open and which aren’t. Consumers are also unsure about whether it’s safe to visit.

This combined with the fear of whether it’s safe to visit has created chaos for healthcare marketing teams who are struggling with keeping all listings accurate and up to date. A local SEO strategy will alleviate this confusion by creating a seamless journey for healthcare consumers looking for providers and healthcare practices.

Leveraging Local SEO for Healthcare Marketing

An optimized local SEO strategy will help healthcare organizations navigate through continuous changes occurring as a result of COVID-19. Here are some best practices that will enable a seamless journey and local discovery for consumers on their healthcare search.

Local Directories

Since business directories play a large role in helping existing and new patients find your healthcare organization, it’s important to focus on maintaining accurate and up-to-date listings across all Tier 1 sites such as Google, Apple Maps, Yelp, Facebook, etc. Leveraging new features available like telehealth links, COVID-19 information, etc. is a great way to stay ahead of the competition while disseminating timely information to your prospective and current patients.

Be Voice Search Friendly 

Voice search has dramatically changed the way patients are searching for healthcare, with more than half of consumers expressing interest in using a voice assistant to help with a healthcare use case. COVID-19 has rapidly accelerated the use of voice assistants among consumers as it continues to serve as a convenient solution to search for information.

As healthcare consumers turn to their voice assistant to ask questions about healthcare-related topics and local care information, healthcare marketing teams should look to creating voice-friendly content to help their organization be found.

Healthcare organizations are missing out on a large opportunity to improve patient access, connect consumers to the right health information, and increase patient volumes by leveraging voice search as part of a comprehensive strategy.

Utilize Google’s COVID-19 Resources

COVID-19 spurred a quick response from Google, who immediately took action by prioritizing listings and business information edits for healthcare organizations first, in addition to creating other COVID-19 tools and resources. Healthcare marketing teams need to leverage these additional features on Google My Business:

Profile Links: Google My Business added two new profile links to help healthcare practices deliver accurate information and resources in a timely manner. Physicians can add these links to help healthcare consumers directly receive care through telehealth medicine. The COVID-19 information link gives healthcare organizations the ability to communicate all COVID-19 specific information.

COVID-19 Updates: Alert healthcare consumers with COVID-19 specific updates on Google Posts. These COVID-19 posts will show up at the top of your healthcare organization’s business profile. These updates will help keep consumers informed of any additional services you’re providing, delays your organization is experiencing, and new hours of operation.  It’s important to note that these COVID-19 posts can only be published from the desktop version of Google My Business.

The current and future landscape of healthcare marketing has evolved drastically. It’s critical for healthcare marketers to stay on top of all the changes by re-shifting their marketing strategy to an informative and empathetic tone, that provides value to healthcare consumers. An optimized local SEO strategy will give your healthcare marketing team the ability to effectively provide healthcare consumers a seamless experience in their healthcare search.