Organic Healthcare Marketing: To DIY or Not to DIY?

organic healthcare marketingEventually, every digital marketing specialist hears this phrase from a current or would-be client: “We can do this ourselves.”

Usually, we hear this in regards to organic digital marketing. While paid digital advertising is a short-term strategy to get patients now, organic marketing is a long-term investment. Paid advertising (placing ads on Google, Facebook, etc.) requires an ongoing budget, while organic healthcare marketing typically does not.

Organic strategies include things like…

  • Posting updates about your business on Facebook
  • Adding content to your website to boost your presence in the search engines (SEO)
  • Updating your listings on Yelp, Google My Business, and more

So can these be DIY (do-it-yourself) strategies? Maybe…or maybe not. It depends on your team, their expertise, and how much time you can commit to each one.

Posting on Social Media

Chances are, most of the people who work in your office have an active social media presence. Most of them know how Facebook works and someone in the office is probably willing (even excited) to post updates, group pictures, and articles.

Want to do it yourself?

Go for it.

You’ll need to create a social media policy and ensure posts are HIPAA compliant. Otherwise, organic social media posts are usually best left to someone in-house who’s familiar with the day-to-day events in the office.

Keep in mind…

Posting organically on social media is not a strong strategy to win patients.

While it can help to build your brand and establish morale within the company, very few prospective patients will ever turn to social media when searching for a doctor. It’s a great side project, but for most organizations, it’s not worth investing hours and hours of your employees’ time.

Your advertising dollars are better spent on paid social media advertising: creating, testing, and fine-tuning ads that display to custom audiences. This is NOT the same as simply boosting a post. (We go over this topic in another article: The Biggest Misconception about Social Media in Healthcare.)

In general, we recommend hiring out for paid social media advertising, as it requires the skills of a designer and ad manager to frequently check in and change your target strategy.

Blogging

You may have heard that blogging regularly is a good way to boost your SEO, or search engine optimization.

SEO is an organic healthcare marketing strategy. Rather than paying to appear in the search results, you do everything you can to optimize your website in order to gain authority and rise to the top of the search engines. Regular posts (blogs) show the search engines that you are a reliable source of information for inquiring patients, helping to boost your organic presence.

Want to do it yourself?

If you or someone in the office has the time and skills to commit to blogging, an in-house strategy is a possibility. Some good topics include:

  • Patient testimonials
  • Answers to common patient questions (such as how to prepare for a procedure or visit)
  • Information specific to one service or subspecialty (focusing in on, say, cataract surgery rather than ophthalmology in general)

Each blog should be at least 350 words long and target a certain keyword (or keywords) you hope to rank for in the search engines. But this can be more difficult than it sounds.

Keep in mind…

Search engine optimization is about more than your blog. It’s about more than the words on each page of your site. Meta descriptions, title tags, image tags—these are important behind-the-scenes factors with each and every post and page.

Besides, Google’s algorithm changes month after month. For example, bloggers used to load up on keywords in any given blog to boost SEO (for example, a blog that uses the term “cataract surgery in New York City” 14 times in a 600 word article). Today, this strategy is strongly penalized. That’s where some in-depth and up-to-date SEO knowledge comes in handy.

Another thing to keep in mind is that it takes a long time for SEO to work its magic. You won’t notice a boost in the search engines for several months—which means you have no way of knowing if you’re wasting time with a strategy that doesn’t work either.

Some blogging can be done in-house. If your goal is simply to share this content on social media and become a thought leader, give it a try. But if your goal is to rank in the search engines, we recommend hiring out for SEO expertise.

Updating Local Listings and Doctor Listings

A final organic strategy is to make sure both your local listings (on Google My Business, Yelp, Facebook, Bing Places for Business, and more) and doctor listings (on sites like Healthgrades and RateMDs) are correct and up to date.

These listings help more patients get to your practice and link back to your site for better search engine optimization.

Want to do it yourself?

  • Google My Business
  • Yelp
  • Facebook
  • Bing Places for Business
  • YP
  • FourSquare
  • Apple Maps
  • Healthgrades
  • RateMDs
  • ZocDoc
  • Vitals

These only scratch the surface of the directories and listings you can be a part of. It’s monotonous and time consuming. But if you’ve got the time…go for it!

Keep in mind…

There are dozens and dozens of directories and listings out there. Some are free, but many specialty-specific listings (like VeinDirectory.org) require payment. The more you can claim, the better.

However, your name, address, and phone number (NAP) must be exactly the same in each directory if you expect to have any impact on SEO. You shouldn’t appear as Sarah J Mathias in one listing, Sarah J. Mathias in another, and Sarah Mathias in yet another. For the best possible results, pay attention to the details, particularly when it comes to your NAP.

Peter Do
Marketing Strategist at Healthcare Success
Having worked in related business fields for over a decade, Peter brings a strong online marketing background to Healthcare Success. A lifelong resident of Southern California, his responsibilities for the company include marketing strategy, business development and establishing new client relationships. Peter studied Environmental Law and Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley, before returning to Orange County.

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