5 Keys to Digital Marketing for UK Healthcare in 2018

The UK private healthcare market is an exciting and interesting industry to be involved with in 2018. There are a number of challenges and opportunities. These include:

  • The continued growth of NHS waiting lists
  • Increase in self pay market as a result of this growth
  • A reluctance from some GPs to provide private referrals
  • Stagnation of private medical insurance
  • Discussion of salaried private doctors at hospitals
  • Formation of a central database by the PHIN publishing key data concerning individual private consultants

Let’s break down how private consultants can use the internet and develop an online presence to make the most of these opportunities and deal with threats they are facing in 2018.

Online Marketing for Healthcare in 2018 – Step One: On Site Optimisation

As waiting lists grow, patients are increasingly funding their own treatments and researching the options open to them.

Making sure that you know what people are searching for in relation to your specialty is therefore paramount. Perhaps they are performing online searches for “the best oncologists in the South East” or “best hip surgeons near me”.

Whatever it is, make sure that these key terms and phrases are included in the relevant areas of your site. This is a fundamental part of search engine optimisation (SEO) and doesn’t show any signs of going away in 2018.

But what are the “relevant areas of your site”? Well, there are specific parts of code that allow search engines (and people) to understand what your site is actually about. These include: Page Title, URL, Meta-Description, Headings, Image names and Alt-Descriptions

Tip for 2018

Previously it was sufficient to pepper your website liberally with words such as surgeon, London, knee and orthopod and this would have been enough to rank highly. In 2018 the sheer volume of content on the web (estimated at well over 4.5billion pages), means that being found for such broad terms can be a real struggle and a battle that a private practitioner or group of practitioners may never win.

Instead, it is very important to work out how you can differentiate yourself in the search results so that you rank highly for searches that are highly relevant to your potential patients; your specific “target market”. By doing so, you may actually receive a smaller volume of general traffic to your website, but instead get more targeted visitors, better qualified leads, more enquiries and ultimately consultations with potential patients.

So, for example, you might be an orthopaedic surgeon that specialises in knee replacement for athletes. Instead of phrases such as “knee surgeon” or “London Knee Specialist” The keyphrases that you use might include may be “knee specialists in London for athletes”, “surgeons for athletes in London”, “top international knee specialists in the UK”. This is especially true for those with newer clinics who have not yet had the opportunity to build an online reputation.

Online Marketing for Healthcare in 2018 – Step Two – Off Site Links

Getting links from other sites to yours is still the biggest element in improving your rankings online.

Although Google is working on its AI algorithm that will help it understand the intention behind certain searches, its still not “there” yet. Because of this search engines still rely heavily on links to understand what is and isn’t a “good” website. In effect each link acts as an upvote for your site.

Its well worth mentioning though that not all links are created equally. Just as you would trust an article in the BMJ more than an article in Cosmopolitan magazine, so too do search engines give more weight to links from authoritative websites (think BBC online or New York Times), so getting links from these authoritative, high quality sources is the ultimate goal.

Tips for 2018

Building links can be a time consuming process but here are some quick tips to help get you started:

Consider ways to get links; journalists are constantly looking for expert opinion from specialists. We regularly tweet these out, so follow us on Twitter to see national opportunities.

Ask colleagues to link to you from their websites or blogs

If you work for a hospital group such as BMI, Spire or HCA International ask them to link to your site from your online profile.

“Google yourself”. See which sites you are already mentioned on and request links from those sites to yours.

Follow Us for Help with Marketing Your Private Practice in the UK.

Online Marketing for Healthcare in 2018 Step Three – Content Creation

Producing high quality content means that you can implement more keyphrases (as discussed above) and attract more links to these keyphrases (see above again). Not only that but Google has already confirmed that the two biggest factors in ranking well online are 1) links to your site from other websites and 2) fresh quality content added regularly

Creating quality content gives you material to circulate via social media

Giving expert commentary on the latest developments in your specialty makes you appear more authoritative and gains patient trust.

Tips for 2018

As voice search continues to grow, consider aligning your blog posts and articles with users questions. Questions such as “How can I recover quickly from ACL surgery” or “What’s the difference between ACL and PCL injury?”.

By writing a series of blog posts in this fashion and linking from one to another, it is easy to build up a whole framework of content to keep users on your site longer.

Focus on your specialty and specific approaches, this will help your content to stand out

Providing all this quality information increases the amount of trust and respect that site visitors have for you and increases the number of opportunities that are available to promote your own services (subtly).

Video content will continue to be a major player in online content and Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality will offer new ways to  engage with potential patients.

Don’t overlook other mediums of content creation which can be highly beneficial such as podcasts and infographics.  

Online Marketing for Healthcare in 2018 Step Four – Local SEO If your clinic or practice serves a local or regional community, then local SEO is very important. You’ve probably noticed the maps that now show when searching for businesses online (particularly from mobile phones). Showing in this map is key to ensuring that potential patients can find you. Even if you’re not actively seeking new patients, having up to date local listings and citations makes it much easier for patients to contact you or get the relevant information they need.

Tips for 2018

Google My Business is now the first stop for those wishing to be found locally. This is Google’s main service for local businesses which has expanded greatly in the past 18 months and looks set to continue.

More and more often Google are trying to serve up answers to users without them ever needing to visit your site. The idea of spending hundreds – or even thousands – of pounds on a site that people may not visit can be a difficult pill to swallow. However, a reliance on having your website do all the heavy lifting can be short sighted and cause you to lose out online.   

Instead make sure your Google My Business listing is claimed.Make sure details such as your address, phone number and opening times are all accurate and up to date. To stand out amongst your peers, you can even use regular post updates, photos or offer patients a virtual tour.

Online Marketing for Healthcare in 2018 Step Five – Reputation Management

Reputations are hard won in the medical industry and this has now carried over to the many online medical review sites as well as generic sites such as Facebook and Google.

Tips for 2018

Online reviews were recently cited as a growing factor in terms of ranking well online (according to Local SEO Guide) and this shows no signs of stopping.

If you’re a medical professional, make sure you are monitoring what people are saying about you online. There are a number of ways of doing this including our excellent SERP Health reputation management software which allows you to collect reviews on auto-pilot.

Make sure you check your personal profile on the PHIN site.

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