Why your practice can't ignore Google search terms & search engine optimization

Practice Management

Regenerative medicine has gained a lot of attention in the orthopedic and sports medicine community over the last 11 years, and a specific moment in an NFL playoff game can be used to show the importance of how patients use the internet and why your practice can't afford to leave these clicks behind.

Here, Sean Sullivan, owner of Saltflower Creative and former marketing manager for Gulf Breeze, Fla.-based Andrews Institute for Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine, discusses the impact of utilizing search trends, search engine optimization and voice recognition technology.

Note: Response was edited for style and content.

Sean Sullivan: Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger takes the snap out of the shotgun with 7:17 left in the first quarter of the 2008 AFC Championship game against the Baltimore Ravens. He drops back, looks left — and connects with Hines Ward for 11 yards and the first down. But Ward is slow to get to his knees. Then, he tries to abruptly return to his feet. You can see in the game footage that Ward immediately starts to place weight on his left leg before he hobbles to meet Head Coach Mike Tomlin on the sidelines. The Steelers would go on to defeat the Ravens 23-14 on Jan. 18, 2009.

An Associated Press report filed that night reported that Ward 'missed most of the game with a knee injury.' Ward was quoted in the article stating that 'sometimes guys get hit so hard, you don't know if they're going to get up.' Other reports included the phrase 'torn collateral ligament.' Ward reportedly received a series of [platelet-rich plasma] injections to accelerate the healing process prior to Super Bowl XLIII.

On Feb. 1, 2009, the Steelers beat Cardinals 27-23 in Super Bowl XLIII. Roethlisberger targeted Ward three times and connected on two passes for 43 yards, including a 38-yard reception on the Steelers' first drive.

Google Trends

Since 2009, 'PRP,' 'platelet-rich plasma' and 'platelet rich plasma,' have been searched a total of 52,612 times on Google in the U.S.

  • 'PRP' accounted for 89 percent of those searches.
  • While 'PRP' is king, 5,261 users still searched 'platelet-rich plasma' and 'platelet rich plasma.'

There was a significant increase in searches from 2008 to 2009:

  • PRP: 18.6 percent increase
  • Platelet-rich plasma: 224 percent increase
  • Platelet rich plasma: 87 percent increase

Tip: Utilize Google Trends to see if your website's content matches the content people are searching for in your primary and secondary service areas.

Search engine optimization

We all have heard of SEO. The phrase is used to simply group together all of the things that influence Google recognizing your site as relevant.

That is the game: to try to convince Google's core algorithm that your website is relevant. While accessibility, readability and responsiveness all play a large role in impacting your Google search ranking, optimized content is one of the factors that you can influence immediately.

Tip: Utilize the Flesch-Kincaid readability test in Microsoft Word. I understand that listing the procedures by their exact name is important to you. Patients don't care. Google doesn't care. Consumers are not searching for them.

Voice Recognition Technology
This article represents the impact utilizing specific terms and phrases can have on optimizing your digital presence. However, writing content and optimizing content specifically for Google Voice Search should be the driver for all of your online content moving forward. Since 2010, Google Trends data displays a seven-times increase in voice search.

Tip: Make sure to use headings on your websites. These will help users find content easier. Make sure to write your headings in the form of a question. Make sure it is written in a way that would reflect someone asking that question into their phones.

Building a website and managing your online reputation is a daunting task, especially for a doctor. Hopefully these tips provide some transparency as you review your digital presence. Social media, website, reputation management, etc. It's all important, and in five years, it will all change. But remember, the core of what you provide to patients will not.

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