Content Marketing for Audiology

A blog can be defined as a personal website or web page on which an individual records opinions, links to other sites, etc. on a regular basis. In the early days of blogging, people wrote blogs along the lines of a diary, a way to express their thoughts and feelings.

The Role of the Blog

Over time businesses began to embrace the role of blogging as a way to provide information to both potentially new and existing customers. Business owners began to realize that blogging online gave them the ability to expand the information provided to customers about existing products and services, answer the most frequently asked questions, address common misconceptions, introduce new products and services and so on.

Blogging is also important for giving your practice exposure and to build a sense of community. It’s one of the best ways for you to establish you and your practice as the authority in your area for all things related to Audiology and hearing healthcare.  What else can a blog do for your practice?

Preventing Buyer’s Remorse

You have just spent an hour, maybe an hour and half convincing a patient that spending upwards of several thousand dollars for a set of hearing aids is a great idea. They are now about to leave your office. One of the best ways to prevent buyer’s remorse is to use your blogs to continue the sales process once your patient leaves the office, for example:

“Mr. Jones, when you go home take some time to go through our website. I know I gave you a lot of information over the past hour. Most of what I just told you can be found on our website, but you may also find a answer to a question or two that you hadn’t even thought of. We like you to know that we have the answers to your questions 24/7.”

Your website and in particular your blogs represent you and your practice 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It’s almost like have a full-time employee who does nothing but answers patient’s questions 24/7 and who never calls out sick.

Content Marketing and Ranking

Content marketing is a type of marketing that involves the creation and sharing of online material, for example blogs that do not explicitly promote a brand but are intended to stimulate interest in it’s products or services.

Your blog should be designed to answer a question.  Today’s search engine are designed to respond to real (or natural) language queries.  Natural language search is search carried out in everyday language, phrasing questions as you would ask them if you were talking to someone. These queries can be typed into a search engine, spoken aloud with voice search, or posed as a question to a digital assistant like Siri.

Why the Evolution of Search?

First of all, search engines – particularly Google – have improved their search capabilities so much over the years that people expect to find exactly what they’re looking for on the first try.

Secondly, search technology has improved to the point where we can begin to teach search engines to understand longer, more complex queries, with different components that modify each other and can’t operate independently.

The third key component contributing to the development of natural language search is the rise of voice search and digital assistants. It’s becoming a lot more common for people to search by talking into their phone.

Quality content is far more than just a buzzword marketers throw around for fun.  It’s what savvy marketers strive for, and what Google and people look for. It’s what separates the winners from the losers online; it’s what will help your site rank well in the search engines, and what will help you build trust, credibility, and authority with your audience.

SEO vs. PPC: Choosing a Strategy that Fits Your Marketing Goals

Last week we discussed what SEO and PPC were, and a bit about their differences. Even if you understand the basics, it may be hard to determine which is right for your marketing needs. So how do you pick between the two, or must you even choose? AJ Kumar, in an Entrepreuner article, suggests to consider these three questions when deciding whether SEO or PPC are right for your business:

  1. How large is your website advertising budget?
  2. How high are the CPCs in your industry?
  3. How competitive are the SERPs in your niche?

Let’s break these three questions down and explain why they matter.

1. How large is your website advertising budget?

As we discussed last week, SEO is your “free” option when it comes to generating traffic, whereas PPC is the “paid” option. So in choosing between SEO and PPC, you first need to decide what size advertising budget your business can support. With PPC campaigns, we suggest at minimum a $5.00 per day budget.

If you have a very minimal budget to commit to advertising, you’ll need to stick with free SEO methods. But if you have even a little capital to invest in PPC advertising, consider giving it a try because it offers a number of benefits, as AJ Kumar explains, including:

  • “Faster testing. Websites should focus on achieving conversion, whether it’s selling products, signing up email newsletter subscribers or some other action. That means actively testing website variables to improve conversion rates. These tests, however, require traffic to generate data, so you might want to purchase traffic through PPC advertising to get faster results.”
  • “Protection from SEO algorithm updates. One major weakness of SEO is that algorithms change from time to time. When that happens, sites that have been optimized in one way can lose rankings — and profits — practically overnight. But when you pay for traffic, you’re assured a steady stream of visitors, no matter what changes Google and the other search engines make.”

2. How high are the average CPCs in your industry?

While setting your budget, also take a look at what others in your industry are spending on CPC, if possible.

PPC platforms typically allow users to bid what they’re willing to pay for a single keyword click — a fee that’s referred to as “cost-per-click” (CPC). In Google Adwords, for example, broader keywords and keyword phrases, such as “hearing aids,” require a much higher bid than more narrow-focused keywords or keyword phrases, such as “audiologist Bala Cynwyd PA”

If you wish to run PPC campaigns for very broad keywords and phrases you will need a higher budget to have a successful campaign.

3. How competitive are the SERPs in your niche?

Your strategy will also depend on how competitive your search engine results pages (SERPs) are in your industry. For example, if you would like to rank #1 for “hearing aids” you’d be competing with Starkey, Mayo Clinic, NIDCD, and ASHA. But the more specific the niche (specialties and areas) the less competition for top SERP rankings.

In the most competitive industries, you may find that results pages for your target keywords are dominated by authority websites. They can be nearly impossible to displace without a significant investment of time and money. In such cases, it may ultimately make more sense to pay for traffic via PPC promotions.

But it’s almost never necessary to make an “either-or” choice between SEO and PPC. When combined, PPC and SEO are powerful tools. By asking yourself these three questions above, you can begin to determine the optimal mix of PPC and SEO for your website.

A History of Social Media

I’m going to let you in on a well-kept secret: there’s nothing new about “social media.”

Further, most online social sharing still happens outside of social networks. The Internet and the valuable content it distributes, have always been social.  From the very first email sent by researchers in Switzerland in 1971, to modern sites like Google+ Local and Pinterest. The purpose of the Internet (every blog, website and virtual gathering place within it) is to let people connect, communicate, and collaborate.

So the concept behind Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social networking tools isn’t new. These sites just give us new, sexy, and easy-to use ways to do what we’ve always wanted to do online — exchange ideas and information. The Internet has always been social, and it always will be. Still not convinced?

Here’s a handy timeline that might dispel any further historical myths about the true nature of the Internet, and where we’re all going with it, together …

From copyblogger

history_of_social_media

Why You Need to Manage Your Online Reviews

Every day more and more people are turning to the internet for just about everything including information about their healthcare providers.  The good news is that your patients are telling people about their experiences in your office via online reviews.  Word of mouth always spreads much more quickly online than it does offline.  The bad news is that not every review is a good review.  Here are a few examples pulled at random.

From Yelp

1/13/2011

I have contacted this office several times with questions and have only gotten a response once.  I decided to go there for something once and was happy with the audiologist, but the receptionists leave much to be desired.  They made me feel like I was interrupting their gossip time when I showed up for the appointment.  After the first visit, I needed to ask a  question via email and again, never received a response.  I decided to call them and the receptionist who answered the phone answered my question with, “I think we have those” and reluctantly went to check.  She came back with a tidbit of information and when I asked another question about the price she said “I think they are like $9 or something…” not offering to find out for sure how much they cost.  Until this office gets some friendly and competent staff, I will be taking my business elsewhere.

A Google User

reviewed 3 months ago

Went there for ringing in the ears. They did some useless test on how my hearing was, I knew it was ok. They told me I needed this device to help with the ringing but they wont work with you on payments. If you dont have the money, they dont seem to know you anymore.

A Google User

reviewed a year ago

Damp environment. Old and outdated equipment. Communication issues. Performed excessive procedures, must have been a slow day.  Will never go again. Not recommended.

I am certain that one of two things can be inferred about the owners of the companies that received these bad reviews:

  1. They were and still are unaware these reviews exist.
  2. They’re aware of the reviews but have no idea what to do about them.

 

Reviews either are appearing about your business or they will be appearing, it’s just a matter of time.  You have three options.

  1. Find and manage your reviews.
  2. Hire a company to manage your reviews (hopefully they also have a system that can help you to acquire reviews and address existing reviews).
  3. Ignore the entire thing and hope for the best.

 

Just in case it isn’t crystal clear, Option 1 and 2 are far more preferable to Option 3.  And yes, our sister company, Obelis Media does offer a Review Management program, click here for more information.

10 Things That Are Important to Google

Here in no particular order, with the exception of #1… which is and shall always remain #1 are 10 things that are important to Google.

  1. The User.  The user is their reason for being…everything else is a distant second.  Don’t forget this rule, it’s what got Google where they are and they’re an intelligent group of people.  They understand what got them there and they will do everything in their power to make sure their success continues.
  2. Avoid Black Hat SEO.  Google wants to deliver what the user wants to find.  Google is constantly on the search for unethical websites practicing black hat SEO. The people who run Google are smarter than I am and probably smarter than you are too when it comes to the web and search (sorry, but you know it’s true).  Don’t waste your time trying to outsmart them and never hire someone who thinks they can either.
  3. Relevant Content.  Google likes lots of content.  But not just any content, the content has to be important to the user, it has to provide the user with information related to the reason for the visit to your site in the first place.
  4. Fresh Content.  Google believes that there is always more information out there.  Spiders (robots on the web) are very busy as they regularly crawl websites looking for information to keep Google’s database full of fresh information.  Because of the vast amount of data available, spiders have become very strategic in their crawling, visiting more frequently those sites with fresher information. If you feed the spiders more frequently, they’ll visit more often.
  5. Load Speed.  Make sure it doesn’t take forever for your site to load (lots of videos, graphics, etc.) will slow it down, causing the user to get frustrated and leave the site…remember Google likes the user, not you.
  6. Order. Google is a machine and machines like order.  Create a logical site structure…main page, categories; every page should be linked to within the structure of the site.
  7. Keyword Strategy.  Your keyword strategy, in fact the strategy should be key phrase strategy, not keyword.  One word is too general; your strategy should mimic the way the user (yes there’s that word again) is looking.
  8. Multiple Platforms. Make sure your site can be viewed correctly on multiple platforms (tablet, PC and mobile phone).  If someone tries to view your site from a device other than a PC and can’t see it, they’ll hit the back button.  Google hates when users hit the back button too quickly.  They know if the user does hit the back button too quickly, it’s because they didn’t find what they wanted to find…bad for the user and bad for Google.
  9. Active Social Presence.   Is your social presence active an integral part (linked) to all the other pieces of you online presence?  Adding fresh information to social channels not only attracts visitors and potential customers, it also reinforces to the search engines that your business cares about engaging with users and offering something of value.  Google is not interested in sending searchers to neglected, outdated, or empty social profiles.
  10. Well Designed Websites.  Once the user gets to your site, can they use it with having to think too much?  Here are just a few examples.
    • Is the navigation system clear, easy to find and use buttons with a minimal amount of pull down menus.
    • Is there depth to the site…can they find answers to multiple questions if they choose to dig deeper?
    • Can they find your key information (address and phone number) immediately?
    • Is it easy to figure out how to contact you?

These 10 items will make Google happy. Remember Google wants you to be found by the people who are genuinely searching for what you’re offering.  If you keep your focus on providing an honest site loaded with fresh, relevant content, avoid the latest SEO gimmicks promoted by individuals and companies who profess to able to outsmart Google (think about the odds of that happening) and ignore the sales pitch from every directory representative who comes through your door you’ll be just fine.

Online Reviews in Healthcare…Something New?

Online reviews in healthcare are nothing new.  In 2004 Yelp founder Jeremy Stoppelman was a Harvard Business School student exploring ideas for promising startups when he caught the flu. His online search for a doctor eventually led to the creation of Yelp Inc.

Both consumers and business owners have been slow to embrace the idea of reviews. There a probably a multitude of reasons for the hesitation.

  • Uncharted territory – For both groups this is new territory and while some people embrace “new” others are loath to change.
  • Look at me – Consumers are a little unsure about posting both positive and negative reviews so publicly. What if they post a negative review and then need to return to that particular healthcare provider?
  • The good, the bad and the ugly – Business owners tend to fear asking a consumer for a review only to realize the review isn’t a happy one.

Who’s Looking and Why?

The ways reviews affect business have not been fully understood—yet.  But what is clear is that the posting and researching of a business via reviews is increasing.

Approximately 72% of consumers surveyed said that they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, while 52% said that positive online reviews make them more likely to use a local business. (Local Consumer Review Survey 2012)

In “Scoring Healthcare: Navigating Customer Experience Ratings,” PwC found that 48 percent of 1,000 representative respondents said that they have read online reviews related to health care, such as: doctor ratings, hospital reviews, insurance company information, and pharmacy/medical device reviews. Of this 48 percent, 68 percent said that these reviews influenced their decision – and that they used the info to choose where to get health care.

Seven percent of Consumer Reports readers surveyed said they had plans to change hospitals after reading its recent hospital safety ratings story.

Reviews can function as a tie-breaker.  All things considered equal, timely reviews and consumer feedback become an important—often decisive—ingredient.

Where Should I Be Online?

Good question, easy to answer, difficult to predict.

You want to be where people will find you.

Here are a few places where consumers may go to find reviews about your business.

  • Angie’s List
  • Google+ Local/Reviews
  • Yahoo! Local Listings
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn

You also want to make sure you have a system in place to not only find reviews that have been posted about your business, but what to do with them when you get them.

Should I Wait?

Online reviews are “word of mouth” recommendations spread digitally.  You’re success rate is always much higher when you start and control (as much as possible) the conversation.  Jumping in to defend your business or to provide information after the proverbial horse is out of the barn is never a good idea.

 

What are Google AdWords?

To better understand what Google AdWords are, you first need to understand pay per click.  Pay per click advertising appears at the top and right side of a search engine results page (SERP). Search engine marketing services work by associating your ad with a keyword or phrase related to your product or service. Any time that keyword is used in a search, your PPC advertisement will be shown on the search results page.

You only pay for PPC advertising when a customer actually clicks the link to visit your website. The cost charged for each click depends on popularity of the keyword, the search engine’s assessment of how descriptive the PPC ad and keyword are to your website, and how frequently your ad is clicked vs. your competitors’ ads. While PPC advertising shows up most often in search engine results, pay per click results may also appear on different advertising networks and various websites across the Internet.

Google AdWords

AdWords are specifically a Google service in which advertisers can bid on keywords to have their text or image ads appear on Google’s search network (search engine results pages) when someone searches for those keywords or on Google’s content network when the page being viewed is relevant to those keywords.  Bing and Yahoo have their version of AdWords, but the results are less than spectacular.

The difference between AdWords and other companies offering pay per click services is Google’s complicated and proprietary system.  The system is designed to assign a “quality score” to the landing pages to which ads direct viewers. If a landing page does not meet Google’s quality standards, the advertiser faces a choice: bid an unusually high amount to have the ad shown or improve the quality score of the landing page.

Google AdWords is Google’s main advertising product and main source of revenue. Google’s total advertising revenues were $42.5 billion in 2012. Their AdWords program includes local, national, and international distribution.

Working with Google AdWords is both a science and an art.

Do Not Overpay for Online Directory Listings

Supemedia and yellowbook and superpages, oh my!

Corny, but not really a bad analogy.

Too often the representatives of these companies prey on the fears they know you have.  If you don’t advertise with them, no one will ever find your website and in six months you’ll be out of business.

Really?

According to Google 20% of all searches every day are unique. Google’s makes money by making sure consumers find what they are looking for.  If Google can’t find it, nothing can find it.  Which is why consumers use Google.

66% of all online searches begin with Google.

*      Google is the new “yellow pages”.

*      Google is free

*      Google can be found on every device you own.

Directories do serve a purpose.

  • The occasional consumer will use one to find you.
  • They’re a good source of links and citations.

So before you head down the “yellowbook” road, understand what you’re trying to accomplish. Many listings can be had for nothing or next to nothing.  Start with the free listing and track the results.  If you’re determined to try the paid listing, tracking the “free” listing first will allow for a comparison.  Odds are a paid listing will not generate significantly better results.   It didn’t take Dorothy too long to figure out that the Wizard was an imposter…it won’t take you long either.