SEO Investment Important For Both, Retail Clinics and Physician Owned Private Practices

SEO Investment Important For Both, Retail Clinics and Physician Owned Private Practices

Posted By Samantha Crane: February 13, 2013

As the Affordable Care Act comes into force there is a perceptible boom in the retail clinic space. Hitherto used only during the allergy season and for vaccinations during fall and winter, retail clinics are now poised for a period of intense growth. Retail clinic operators are hoping that patients will keep retail clinics in mind as the nation faces a huge physician shortage, thanks to increasing number of people with medical insurance.

To stay competitive retail clinics are offering additional services like HIV screening, physicals, and many more services that would have otherwise been provided by Physician owned private practices.

Physician owned private practices that acted as primary care givers will undoubtedly feel the heat as retail clinics gain capacity to handle more than a few conditions. More than 30 million newly insured patients will come into the system and there is going to be a mad rush to catch their eyeballs and lure them to private practices or retail clinics.

Why SEO is important for Retail Clinics?

Retail clinics have no alternative, but increase investments in SEO to gain online visibility. Disease management and patient education will be the primary role of retail clinics, but experts believe this role will be stretched to include other services that are predominantly offered by primary care physicians, given the severe shortage of doctors to cover an additional 30 million patients. This fact calls for increased SEO investment as retail clinics will have to discover, engage, and convert new patients.

Retail clinic websites will necessarily need a proper structure so that each service offered by it is discovered by prospective patients. An SEO friendly structure will enable such clinics to optimize each section to enhance visitor experience. For example a retail clinic may offer immunization/vaccination, allergy care and management, and urgent care all under one roof. If the website of such a retail clinic is organized under separate menus it allows search engine optimization of each menu thus aiding discovery and engagement with prospective patients.

During the allergy season the menus under the allergy care and management could be optimized thus improving online visibility and driving traffic to the retail clinic. After winter, the other sections could be optimized to ensure there is no drop in the number of footfalls at the retail clinic. Structured websites are a prerequisite for effective organic SEO.

Why investment in organic SEO is so critical?

Recently GroupM and Nielsen Research published a paper on the UK search marketing landscape and came out with some interesting findings which are also relevant for the US markets.

  • In the battle between ‘Organic Search’ and ‘Paid Search’ organic search wins 94 percent of the time
  • Top three positions on Google search result get 61 percent of the clicks
  • According to Forrester’s U. S. Interactive Marketing Forecast for the years 2011 to 2016 businesses will spend close to 88 percent of their search marketing budgets to gain just 6 percent of click-throughs
  • On the other hand businesses will spend only 12 percent of their search marketing budgets on organic search for an astounding 94 percent of click-throughs
  • To put this figures in perspective imagine a healthcare practice that is ranked number one on Google search result page for the term “Plastic Surgeon”. It gets 24 clickthroughs from organic SEO and only 2 from PPC (Paid search). If the same healthcare practice is ranked at number 6 or 7 it gets 3 clickthroughs from Organic SEO and none from PPC, although it spends close to 90% of its search marketing budget on paid search.

What kind of SEO strategy is suitable for retail clinics, and why?

Without a proper SEO strategy prospective patients will not be able to discover retail clinics that offer essential services. Having great online visibility will not only help retail clinics herd new patients, but will also help improve their brand equity as care providers on par with primary care physicians. However, being new centers, investments in expensive paid search is not an option leaving only organic SEO as a viable option.

Organic SEO requires a smaller cash outlay when compared to paid search optimization. However, retail clinics that hire expert SEO companies will gain the most as SEO companies will not only help improve their online visibility but will also boost their referral programs via Social media optimization. Leveraging both social media and organic SEO will give private retail clinics the much needed muscle to stand up and be counted in the face of increasing competition from Physician owned private practices.

Why Physician owned private clinics cannot ignore organic SEO?

Physician owned clinics will have an edge over retail clinics in terms of brand equity and larger customer base. But competing with large clinic operators won’t be easy. Plus competition from urgent care centers continues unabated.

As society grows increasingly mobile, patients have multiple options to seek care, and increased visibility is the only way they can stay relevant. As retail clinics gain capacity to treat conditions that require expertise, patient migration from physician owned clinics to retail clinics is inevitable. Private physicians will therefore have to stem this flow and/or bring in new patients to breakeven. This can be achieved only by organic SEO.

Physician owned multi-practice clinics will have to adopt a scalable approach to their online presence. A multi-practice clinic typically offers several services, and therefore it is essential that each service is discovered by prospective patients. For example a multi-practice physician owned clinic in the field of oral health offers dental care, orthodontics, cosmetic dentistry among many other services. The website then has to have a complex taxonomy so that each specialty service has optimization potential. An organized structure allows for selective search engine optimization of a service offered by the practice depending on focus, budget, season, or demography.

Paid advertisements and paid search is not an option as competition from retail and urgent care will put immense pressure on margins. Doctors and physicians that have sound SEO and online marketing strategies are unlikely to be touched by these new developments. However, complacency will extract a heavy price from those that have ignored online medical marketing or SEO up until now.

Watch this space as we will continue to bring to you fresh insights on this exciting new development!!

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