Whether your organization sees virtual care as a COVID-19 stopgap measure or a new permanent service, it’s important to ensure your telemedicine marketing is working effectively.
Your online listings are the primary way potential patients will find you and your services in search engines. It’s important to ensure they are optimized for telemedicine. Below are six suggestions to increase your odds of attracting these patients.
1. Ensure All Top Telemedicine Listings Are Claimed
Start your telemedicine listings management strategy by taking stock of your organization’s existing listings and removing inaccurate business listings. Having accurate business listings will help patients find you and your services.
Make sure your practice’s Google My Business, Yelp, and Facebook Business Pages are claimed to get the most out of your telemedicine marketing. These listing sites all have unique tools to promote your telemedicine offerings.
We also suggest that all of your providers have listings on Healthgrades, WebMD, CareDash, Vitals, and RateMDs. These sites allow providers to set themselves apart as telemedicine providers.
2. Add Telemedicine to Your Provider Profiles
To optimize Google Search results, you can take advantage of preview text that displays below your webpage and domain name. Many search engines use the first few lines of a provider’s bio to generate this preview for profile page results. Many internal website search tools do this as well.
If telemedicine is your primary means of seeing patients during COVID-19, it would pay to use the word early in your bios. This helps increase the chances of telemedicine appearing in your providers’ search previews.
While you’re reading over your bios, you can ensure you’re using other best practices. These include: speaking in a conversational tone, writing in the 2nd person (using “you” and “your” to speak to your patients instead of “he/she” and “we” to speak about the provider or organization), and avoiding medical jargon and technical terms.
3. Use Telemedicine Keywords to Rank in Search Engines
Keywords are words and phrases within the copy of your listing that make it possible for people to find you using search engines. To signal your service availability, “telemedicine” and “virtual care” can be among your primary keywords, and commonly searched names for your specialties should serve as additional keywords.
While advanced keyword tools exist for purchase, there are free resources you can also use to discover keywords quickly. WordStream offers a free keyword tool that displays search volumes, CPC (cost per click, for paid search engine promotion), and competition ratings for keywords. It will also give you alternative keyword suggestions to consider. Wordtracker Scout is a free Chrome extension you can use to see which keywords other websites are using. Google offers AdWords account holders a Keyword planner that is useful for optimizing your keywords specifically for Google ads. Those without accounts can also use Google Trends to see basic reports on keyword popularity.
Be careful not to go overboard with keywords. A good keyword strategy seeks to attract the most relevant patients, but not the most viewers overall. Casting too wide a net will hurt your search rankings long term. Initial visitors won’t find your listing relevant and will quickly leave to find more relevant content. These quick visits will raise your bounce rate and hurt your quality score in search engines. This may trigger search engines such as Google to give you a lower ranking.
4. Use the Unique Tools Each Listing Offers to Your Advantage
Each third-party listing website presents slightly different opportunities for your telemedicine marketing efforts. Here are a few site-specific features you’ll want to use to your advantage:
- Google My Business: A recent new feature allows you to enter a virtual care offering into your organization’s profile. This will trigger a “get online care” link to appear within your listing on Search and Maps. Clicking the link will guide clients to your virtual care webpage.
- Yelp: The COVID-19 Update banners that appear on listings are customizable and present an opportunity to promote telemedicine appointments. Bay Area Adult ADHD makes great use of this tool. The banner is made even more effective by the telemedicine scheduling tool.
- Healthgrades: The site developed a Coronavirus chatbot in order to educate the public on COVID-19. It’s also designed to help keep infected patients out of waiting rooms. The chatbot helps users identify if they may have symptoms of the virus. It then connects them with local physicians offering online appointments. Make sure your providers show up among the list of providers offering telemedicine.
- CareDash: Providers can enable the “online care available” attribute on their CareDash provider profile pages. You can also specify which states you are able to provide virtual care in. See below for an example.
Additionally, most provider listing websites now display badges on the search previews of physicians that offer telemedicine. Most allow users to filter out providers that don’t offer the service. Make sure your providers are standing out by activating these settings.
5. Write Compelling Calls to Action
Your customers aren’t likely to take action if you haven’t asked them to do so. CTAs are any messages that tell a reader what action you want them to take. “Sign Up Now” and “Click Here” are CTAs you’ve probably seen many times before. CTAs aren’t meant to convince your readers to book an appointment on their own – that’s the listing copy’s job. Instead, they’re meant to spur interested readers to take the next step towards becoming patients. In terms of your telemedicine marketing, this will most likely mean clicking a link to your website or making an appointment with a scheduling tool.
CTAs are a small and simple thing, but well-written CTAs can have big impacts on your listings. Your calls to action don’t necessarily have to be two words long and in capital letters. They do need to be clear, direct, and concise. “Call to schedule an appointment” or “Book telemedicine sessions here” are examples of CTAs that guide your clients in the right direction.
6. Encourage Reviews and Recommendations
Once you’ve claimed and optimized your online listings, it’s time to start collecting telemedicine-specific patient reviews and recommendations. Listings with a high volume of reviews tend to rank higher in search engines. They see improved click-through rates on CTAs and assist patients in their decision-making process. But be mindful of listings websites, such as Google My Business and Yelp, that have strict policies against review solicitation. It’s important to familiarize yourself with the rules of each platform.
In order to generate new reviews, we suggest following up with patients via email or text message. The online nature of telemedicine gives you increased access to contact information you can leverage. Use it to drive testimonials for increased online reach. Your satisfied patients can help new clients find you.
Once you start receiving reviews, it’s essential that you follow best practices for responding to patient reviews. Recently, Google turned off review responses due to the influx of reviews regarding COVID-19. Now that review responses have returned to Google My Business, you can respond to patients and thank them for taking the time to provide feedback.
For more content on managing your brand during COVID-19, you can visit our COVID-19 Resources Page and browse these resources:
- [Webinar] COVID-19, Telemedicine, and Your Online Presence
- [Blog] Review Responses Have Returned to Google My Business
- [Webinar] COVID-19 and Healthcare Marketing: Should You Freeze, Pivot, or Push Forward?
- [Blog] Coronavirus and Your Listings Management Program: A 5 Item Checklist
- [Blog] Covid-19 Testing Facilities: Ways to Inform Consumers About Local Test Availability
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