Googled: How One Hospital Boosted Its Search Results

Anna Webster, for HealthLeaders Media , April 6, 2011

Sometimes, there's a thin line separating hospital marketing messages from spam. Let's face it. Both are competing for our limited attention with a flood of buzzwords, invites, and links. Standing out in a sea of search results does not happen automatically at the click of a mouse.

More than 80% of U.S. adults are using the Internet to search for healthcare information, according to a 2011 Pew Internet survey. It is the third-most-popular online activity behind email and search engine use.

"Right now, the most accurate searches involve up to four keywords. People are no longer searching for terms such as heart failure. They are searching for 'heart valve replacement Chicago,'" explained Elizabeth Scott, CEO of Raven New Media and Marketing. "I think you need to recognize the power of regional boundaries and play this up in search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) strategies."

Luring potential patients away from WebMD and back to your practice or hospital requires some magnetic marketing techniques. With search engine optimization in mind, Emory Heart & Vascular Center  launched a marketing campaign in January 2011 designed to drive visitors to the EHVC website and increase patient volume.

Their tactics included:
  • Consolidating content by theme and keywords
  • Creating dropdown menus allowing visitors to select their conditions
  • Updating an EHVC blog at least once a week with links to the website
  • Promoting patient success stories with videos highlighting unique procedures and success stories from EHVC
  • Using social media to draw website traffic

The result? Within a month of the campaign, website traffic rose 34.8% in visits and 16.7% in page views. EHVC also ranks high on Google search results—often on the first page or in the top position for heart and vascular keywords, example: heart valve replacement GA.

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2 comments on "Googled: How One Hospital Boosted Its Search Results"

Bill Lindsay (4/7/2011 at 6:04 PM)
Anna, your tip about using social media as a way to increase website traffic is a good one. And there's certainly growing attention in the industry regarding better integration of social and traditional media (incl. websites). At UbiCare, we've seen firsthand the effectiveness of using Twitter and hastags to increase conversation and drive traffic to our website. And, further to Andrew's comment, quality of content trumps all, but type and frequency of content posting is also crucial to engaging fans/followers and encouraging conversation.

Andrew Billmann (4/6/2011 at 4:02 PM)
Good article! In working with many healthcare organizations and studying way too many SEO "flavor of the day" techniques that have since flopped, I've found the most important thing about SEO strategy is to make sure your content is current, relevant, well-written and helpful. After that, it's best to let the organic search chips fall where they may. Google search algorithms are constantly changing and inherently complex. Spending too much time gaming the system may not only be ineffective, it could end up HURTING your rank. It unquestionably hurts the quality of your writing. Remember not all that long ago when EVERYONE was jamming every possible keyword onto their home page or into their meta tags? Today, that won't get you a better rating, it will only make your copy hard to read. Instead, if we return to our true purposes[INVALID]being helpful, being clear, being accurate, being timely, being a resource[INVALID]the SEO beast tends to tame itself.




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