Healthcare SEO: Optimising for the Rise of the E-Patient
Healthcare marketing is changing rather quickly in the digital sphere.
With new technologies and new media forms available to the individual, patients are now going through a digital revolution. The change in the patient’s online behaviour is visible in new search trends. The modern patient, or E-patient, has new tools and therefore new automatisms that previous generations did not have, such as looking up symptoms online for a quick self-diagnosis. So which areas must healthcare marketing cover to capture E-patients in 2016?
1) Patients’ New Search Trends Online
Google’s UK search trends for November 2015 indicate a strong interest in health topics, with Ebola, ALS, Autism, Gluten, Lupus, Anxiety and Gout topping the list of What Is…? searches. Health search trends indicate that UK users mostly search for definitions of illnesses, such as obesity, Alzheimer’s disease, Dementia and Ebola. Search engines have become patients’ first point of contact after first symptoms, before reaching out to the medical practice. The E-patient now uses Google and social media as a first channel for information, especially for seemingly minor injuries and symptoms. The internet however can be an encouraging mediator that leads a worried patient to make a decision, and healthcare marketers must ensure their website is visible at every step of the way.
2) New Marketing Strategies for New Patient Behaviours
So how can healthcare marketing adapt to the new patient’s online behaviour? While a good portion of healthcare marketers are fast followers of digital technology, the majority feels disrupted by external forces within the medical industry. Digital marketing is still very separate from other marketing activities, but managing multiple channels, targeting and personalising campaigns should be healthcare marketing’s priorities in 2016, in order to seize the opportunities presented by the rise of the E-patient. CRO is another key to healthcare marketing, encouraging website managers to put new calls of actions in place to convert visitors into appointment-booking patients. But in order to capture patients through all steps of the online search, and all micro moments, healthcare marketers need to focus on content optimisation and SEM more than ever.
3) Combining SEO with User X
Ranking organically for self-diagnosis search queries is one way to put a healthcare website in front of E-patients at the very first stage (during early symptoms) of the online experience. Mobile optimisation is still an area that healthcare marketers cannot afford to neglect as poor mobile-friendliness can result in a drop in rankings, but not only: the E-patient now tends to search on the go, to look up symptoms, search for local hospitals or private practices, book appointments online, check reviews, or even double check prescriptions and diagnosis after consultations. All steps of the patient’s journey online must be smooth, stress-free and helpful, with a sense of privacy throughout. While healthcare SEO leads the target E-patient to a target website, good user X establishes trust and encourages visit frequency.
4) The Year of Innovation, the Rise of Data
New E-patient behaviours are essentially linked to technology. The shift from a regular GP visit to online search (third party medical information websites) comes from the sudden accessibility created by smartphones and tablets. Medical apps have entered the healthcare marketing game in the recent years, revolutionising the relationship between patient and treatment. Healthcare has never had more digital ways to promote itself, and the rise of connected devices and wearables in 2015 has installed an always-there presence that connects marketers with E-patients at all times. From tech innovation comes the recording of data, the new marketing king. Gathering high volumes of data from web and mobile analytics, combined with automation, is the sure way for healthcare marketers to personalise their strategies and tailor all marketing channels to their target audience. Like their related websites, the healthcare apps connected to wearable tech must be fully optimised to capture the E-patient, making ASO one of the key priorities coming from the E-patient behaviour observed in 2015.
POLARIS is a healthcare SEO agency in London, specialised in creating award-winning SEO and ASO campaigns for medical practices in the UK and internationally.