4 Things Your Patients are Looking for When They Search Online

Picture a patient, phone in hand or sitting at their computer, trying to find answers to the pressing medical questions swirling in their mind. What are they searching for? Who are they searching for?

Here’s the rub for many practices: you’re not sure what your patients are searching for. You know what you treat and who you’ve treated. You may even know potential patients are using the internet to find medical help, but you don’t know how they are using the internet and how to capture their attention.

While there is an easy answer—an SEO content campaign—that’s not exactly as cut-and-dried as it sounds. We’d love to be able to point you to some definitive checklist so you can create exactly the content you need, but there isn’t an exact formula.

In Why Your Potential Patients Are Like Hansel & Gretel—And How To Leave A Trail That Leads Them To Your Waiting Room, Amy discussed what we refer to as The Patient Journey and how the internet has replaced many of the old standbys for getting new patients—family doctor referrals and the yellow pages. This framework can help, but it’s still not an exact recipe for digital success.

What’s required is more of a balancing act between creating the best content you can based on your practice and optimizing it better than your competitors. Thankfully, there are 4 topics that we see again and again with our medical clients that can help get you started:

  1. Information about specific conditions
  2. Information about specific treatments or procedures
  3. Information about health professionals
  4. Information about practices

Patients are Searching for Specific Conditions

According to Pew Research Center, “66% of internet users look online for information about a specific disease or medical problem.” That’s a huge group of people! That statistic doesn’t take into account their motivation for searching—were they just diagnosed? Doing a school project? Trying to find treatments? A caregiver researching on behalf of someone else?—but it does suggest that the conditions you treat should be on top of the list when you start considering new content topics. For example, shingles is a common condition, which might generate search queries like “shingles symptoms” or “shingles on the face.” Both of those search queries would easily fit into an article or post on shingles

Patients are Searching for Specific Treatments or Procedures

If conditions are so popular, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that treatments and procedures are the number two most searched medical topics. Pew Research Center also indicates 56% of the internet users they surveyed are searching for specific treatments or procedures.

No one is asking you to diagnose and treat their medical issues for free on the internet and you don’t have to dispense medical advice on your blog, but you should be creating content about the treatments you offer. Think about what these potential patients are looking for or what they have questions about, risks of treatment, common questions, general information about what to expect, all these topics are ripe for creating exactly the kind of content your patients are seeking and putting you and your practice on their radar. For example, under the umbrella of “varicose vein treatments,” queries like “ambulatory phlebectomy” and “risks of ambulatory phlebectomy” would be great targets for a varicose vein clinic.

Patients are Searching for Doctors Offices, Medical Facilities, and Hospitals

As potential patients move down what we like to call the Patient Journey, their searches make a shift from the more general conditions and treatment queries, like “varicose veins symptoms,” toward more specific topics like “eye doctors who specialize in glaucoma” or “physical therapists for sports injury rehabilitation.” While these topics don’t always have the raw traffic numbers of the more general topics, they are typically more likely to bring a new patient through the door. At this point, a potential patient is beyond awareness of a condition or treatment and they are actually looking for a place to be treated. Search queries you might include here are things like: “best dentist in West Knoxville”, “cataract surgery specialist in Knoxville, TN”, or your specific practice name.

Patients are Searching for Specific Health Professionals

While it can go hand-in-hand with the previous topic, there is a subtle difference that bears pointing out—many people seek word-of-mouth recommendations from their friends and family for health professionals. To that end, potential patients aren’t necessarily searching by a practice name, but rather the specific doctor who treated their mother-in-laws melanoma scare last year. So, don’t just focus on your practice name, make sure your individual professionals are covered, too! For example, if your pediatric office has 3 doctors, make sure you are targeting each of them; be sure to include several “versions” as people don’t always search for the technically correct name. For example, “Dr. Smith Knoxville Pediatrician”, “Bob Smith, M.D., F.A.A.P.”, and “Doctor Bob Smith Knoxville” are all queries that could appear.

With regular content coverage of these topics, you’ll have not only a solid foundation for your SEO campaign, but also a great set of resources for your existing patients. The content you are creating for your website can just as easily go in pamphlets and informational packets you’re probably already handing out to patients.

Don’t have enough time to invest in creating your content? Not sure where to start? We can help! Claim your free checklist including 2 Months of SEO-optimized blog post titles today.

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