Urgent Message: Blogging is a relatively simple, inexpensive, and completely customized marketing tool too often underutilized by urgent care operators. Employed correctly, however, it can help search engines deliver potential patients to your website at any time of day or night.
These days, it doesn’t matter if a patient is trying to find a nearby urgent care facility or research a medical condition to determine if they need medical attention. They won’t be looking in the Yellow Pages or an encyclopedia. They’ll be going online to conduct a search on Google or Bing.
Unfortunately, even if you have a top-notch staff and a convenient location, potential patients won’t discover your urgent care facility if your website doesn’t have sound search engine optimization (SEO) principles in place. While quality web design and ease of navigation are important, blogging can have an equally important impact on your facility’s ability to land at the top of search engine results.
Blogging and SEO
Producing quality blog content has long been recognized as a key method of improving website SEO and ensuring higher placement in search rankings, especially on a local level. Yet surprisingly, many urgent care facilities fail to utilize this simple marketing tactic as they should.
Blogging plays a significant role in the digital marketing world because it directly influences several important SEO factors. Perhaps most notably is the infusion of keywords into your website content. Search engines scan website content for relevant keywords when determining search rankings. Incorporating keywords into your blog posts is an easy way to ensure your content is noticed by search engine algorithms; this plays a large role in improving your SEO standings.
Not sure which keywords to focus on? One of your best options is to target illnesses and conditions that you commonly treat at your facility. This way, when a potential patient conducts a search for something like “strep throat treatment,” your facility will appear in the results. For increased local optimization, including location-specific keywords—such as the name of your city—can ensure that local patients see your facility in their search results.
Another way blog content can improve your SEO rankings is by increasing the amount of time patients spend on your website. Search engines track this period of time to determine whether your content is useful and relevant to a particular online search. When visitors read your blog posts (and subsequently spend more time on your site), the search engine’s algorithms assume it is because your information was helpful, which in turn will improve your urgent care facility’s rankings in future search results.
Search engines also utilize what is sometimes referred to as a freshness score, which essentially means that the more new content is added to your website, the more likely your site will be considered up-to-date—a major positive for SEO. (Cyrus Shepard blogged about this blogging principle on Moz.com.) Regularly adding new content to your blog keeps your site fresh and ensures you stay at the top of your local search rankings.
The Importance of Quality Content
While blogging can provide great SEO potential to your urgent care facility, it’s vital that you don’t simply churn out a short article, try to stuff in a few relevant keywords, and post it to your website. Google and other search engines use complex algorithms to determine what is—and isn’t—quality content. Whether or not your blog content is considered “quality” will ultimately determine your SEO results.
In order to gain the SEO benefits that blogging has to offer, you need to take the time to craft blog posts that provide true value to your potential patients. Make sure your content is informational and well-written, rather than overly promotional. Take a moment to consider whether or not your content will actually be relevant or useful to your patients. Yes, it’s valuable to focus on relevant keywords and incorporate other key blogging SEO practices, but if you make quality your first priority, you’ll be well on your way to success.
Be aware that you will only get the maximum benefit for your efforts by “hosting” the blog on your urgent care center’s website. Using one of the internet blogging platforms may allow you to get your name out there, but it will only drive traffic to the blogging website, not yours. To see how a few operators have been successful in integrating blog content into their website, visit any of the following:
- CareNow: http://www.carenow.com/resources/
- Physicians Immediate Care: https://physiciansimmediatecare.com/blog/
- ZipClinic: http://zipclinic.com/blog/
When you devote even a small portion of your marketing resources toward crafting quality blog content, you’ll be in a much better position to improve your SEO rankings and help new patients discover your urgent care facility. And when that happens, everybody wins.
Alan A. Ayers, MBA, MAcc is Vice President of Strategic Initiatives for Practice Velocity, LLC and is Practice Management Editor of The Journal of Urgent Care Medicine.