Woman looks at her smartphone while walking in a city

How to Get Local People to Find You Online

The scenarios prompting people to search for the hearing help they need are diverse, but typically have one thing in common: they take place within your local area. Whether it’s someone looking up hearing services after another frustrating dinner at a favorite (and loud) restaurant, or someone looking up local options for hearing protection before a big concert, the people you serve are nearby, looking for you.
And you want them to find your website when they look online for help.
Search engines simplify the process of ranking different web pages by using “location targeting” to narrow search results. This is good news for everyone, since no one wants to wade through websites for businesses in another country when searching for something local, nor do we want our own websites to compete with those across the globe for a given search.
Location targeting, or geo-locating, eliminates the need for zip codes and other location modifiers such as “hearing aids in New York City,” as search engines now rely heavily on device location instead. Thus, there has been a rapid increase of the use of “near me” instead for online searches, as in, “where to buy hearing aids near me.” This all begs the question, of course: are local people easily finding you with that search?
Enter: local search engine optimization, or local SEO.
By optimizing your website for better visibility in local searches, you can quickly rise above the competition as more and more local people turn to the Internet to learn about their options for hearing care. And trust us, they are definitely going online.
Consider that recent surveys report 87% of smartphone owners using a search engine, like Google, at least once per day. And nearly 50% of those searches are for local products and services. Even better? From local-mobile searches alone, 78% result in offline purchases.
So how is your business ranking online for local searches? Location targeting happens automatically to generate local results first, but not all local results. Website ranking is a complex and ever-shifting terrain, and it can take some effort up front to see the results of local SEO pay off. Consider the best practices below for easy boosts to your local visibility online.
List and Verify Your Business
It’s imperative that search engines see your business in local and popular online directories — especially the directories they own (think Google My Business and Bing Local). The more complete your information, the better, so include your address, phone, email, and hours of operation everywhere you can. Aim to get your business a listing or profile in any and all online directories (especially local ones, such as your local paper’s website), and be sure that your information is identical, down to the details of your address being “st.” or “street” across the board. Although smart, search engines are still robots, and the goal is for them to find your identical listing throughout the Internet to bolster your website’s ranking in the search results related to a given location.
Lastly, take the time to verify all of your listings. This can be a tedious process as you work your way through the long list of potential online directories to post your business on, but it is well worth the effort. Not only do these listings reinforce the location your business serves for local SEO purposes, they also provide valuable links back to your website that boost your SEO overall.
Make Your Location Known
Your business address and any other areas you serve should be clearly defined on your website, be it on the home page, in a footer, on a dedicated location page, or all of the above. Keep this information identical to what is listed in online directories and also highlight the areas you serve in broader content throughout your website.
For instance, if you serve the Greater Atlanta Area, you should note that on your location page alongside your actual address, and you could also write a blog about “How to Find the Best Hearing Care in the Greater Atlanta Area.” The idea here is to combine keywords of the services you provide with the keywords of the areas you serve — and to do it naturally. The content you create should still be useful and informative, but also tailored with local SEO in mind.
To take this approach one step further, include other forms of location-related media on your website. Images and videos from local events in your community that your office has participated in, for example, are a great addition to a blog. They help “prove” to search engines that your website is increasingly relevant to people looking for your type of services in that your area, as search algorithms tend to rank diverse forms of media higher than written content alone.
Network with Other Local Businesses
We’ve gone into the reasons why you want quality backlinks to your website before, but for the purposes of boosting your local SEO rankings, it’s incredibly helpful to find other local businesses to link to your website from their own. The more popular and credible your neighbor’s website, the better it will be for increasing your website’s visibility in local searches.
Backlinks provide a significant “vote” for your website that search algorithms count heavily towards your ranking in the results. Although it can take a while to build the relationships and partnerships necessary to get links to your site from other local websites, the boost in your website’s traffic will pay back your time and effort generously.
Make it Quick and Mobile-Friendly
This last tip tends to be taken for granted. People have heard for years now about how “the world is going mobile,” and hopefully have ensured that their websites are indeed mobile-ready. But with the recent shift towards a “mobile first” search platform by Google, and the increasing need for a fast-loading website (that loads easily on cellular data networks), this point bears repeating.
A mobile-friendly website means more than larger text and a simpler hand-held design. It also means that your layout and content is organized and optimized with a mobile visitor in mind. Images need to be fast-loading, menus need to be easy to find, and your home page requires succinct language on an efficient layout.
With nearly 90% of surveyed people reporting to search for local businesses on their smartphones each week, ignoring the needs of mobile visitors is akin to turning off the lights in your office and expecting people to walk in, anyway. Search engines agree and penalize mobile-unfriendly websites by ranking them lower.
Getting local prospects to find you online isn’t incredibly difficult. It’s actually much easier than trying to get found without the geo-locating technology working on your behalf. And by applying the recommendations above you can boost your local ranking much faster, and find yourself with a steady stream of new patients who found you first online.
If your business’s website could benefit from professional SEO improvements or needs a modern website altogether, talk to us today about our complete digital solutions. Join our family of thrilled clients and enjoy the thriving practice you’ve been waiting for.
 

Man and Woman look at computer together

Three Easy Steps for Creating Blogs that Get Seen

The Internet has become an endless sea of content ready for consumption. With an estimated 350 million blogs online and counting, trying to create something attractive enough to grab people’s attention can seem downright daunting.
Luckily, the formula for engaging content has remained the same and simply requires that you select a topic of interest and provide useful, entertaining, or unique information on it.
As a hearing professional, you’re fortunate to be deeply involved in your patients’ hearing healthcare journeys. It means you know their questions and concerns, what interests them about their hearing, and what kind of solutions grab their attention most. From a content marketing perspective, that information is gold.
Because what’s the point of spending your valuable time on creating a blog for your website if it isn’t attracting more visitors? Useful and interesting information on your blog should not only be boosting your website’s overall ranking in search results, it should also be directly increasing traffic to your site via people discovering your blogs through online searches or shared links.
The more visitors your blogs get, the more easily other people will find them when searching for related topics online. And ultimately, the more visitors your website gets overall, the better your business will do in the long run.
Remember: even if your website’s visitors aren’t in your area, their time spent on your website makes it more visible online (by improving its search engine ranking) and thus, more easily found by locals looking online for hearing services in your area.
So where do you start? Consider the following tips for creating content that works.
Write What You Know
Choosing the right topics for online traffic is a critical step in creating great content, and fortunately, it will be an easy one for you. Your in-person work with patients means you likely already know what their most common questions are. And your patients are the perfect sample of your “target audience” since they’re confronting the same hearing health issues that your online audience would be.
Make a list of the questions your patients ask most. Include other topics that you notice gain interest from patients when you bring them up (i.e. everyone wants to know more about extended-wear hearing aids, etc.). Write about those topics, and any other trending news in the hearing industry.
Once your blogs are posted, share them on social media and watch the response they get. If you notice certain topics gain more engagement or attention than others, consider how you could expand upon them in new ways.
Engaging blogs give a balanced dose of fundamental information and an interesting perspective to keep us informed and reading. It’s important to choose topics that you have helpful knowledge on (or can research enough until you do). You shouldn’t create content that’s so dense it’s nearly academic, but you also don’t want it to be too light and surface-level.
Quality over Quantity
Creating interesting content for your blog doesn’t have to take all day. In fact, the average length of blogs is only 500-700 words. Despite the rising trends of creating longer content for better SEO effects, you need to evaluate your unique audience and offer what they seem to prefer.
With the intense content saturation on the Internet, it’s no surprise that people, in general, tend to read through shorter articles over longer ones. The exception to this is when a topic is being expanded upon authoritatively (i.e. a Wikipedia entry). If you want to offer up a novel, yet lengthy, perspective on the effects of hearing loss on relationship dynamics, by all means do so. Longer content can be just as effective as short-form articles, but itt definitely takes longer to create. It also needs to be engaging enough to hold your readers’ attention.
In general, aim to craft an interesting article in 500-700 words. Be sure to use some of the most popular keywords throughout your writing, and remind yourself that it doesn’t need to take hours to produce. If it does, consider choosing  topics that you’re more comfortable writing about.
Chop It Up
No matter how long your content is, it’s helpful for your audience when you break it into sections with clear headers. We do that with most of our own blogs since research shows that people tend to scan and skim online content instead of read it.
Segmenting your blogs into sections with subtitles is also helpful for organizing your content. If you have a few topics you plan on expanding into full blog articles, consider just outlining them first with their relevant subtitles. Especially for topics you have extensive knowledge on, outlining your topics can help keep your writing focused and more concise.

Lastly, although content marketing is a passive approach to gaining new patients, you do have a golden opportunity at the end of your blogs to mention the services you offer. It’s golden because by the end of your article you’ve (ideally) just revealed your professional knowledge and helpfulness, making it a prime time to mention how people could work with you further. No need to get detailed here, just a simple reminder that if your readers are looking for hearing healthcare services, you’re equipped to help them.
Content marketing through blogs is an eefective way to help your website get found online. Today’s hearing marketplace demands a strong digital presence to attract local patients searching online for hearing professionals. If your website needs an upgrade, or you aren’t getting the traffic online (or in office) that you should be, feel free to reach out to us to learn how we can help.
(See what we did there?)
 

Woman records video on her phone

How Video Can Skyrocket Your Practice’s Online Presence

Optimizing your digital marketing strategy for your hearing practice means making your website as visible as possible online. And in 2018, creating video content is one of the most effective ways for increasing your presence in the digital realm.
The idea of creating video content, however, makes many people cringe. Either they don’t want to be on camera or they expect the video creation process to be overwhelming or expensive. While getting past a camera-shy attitude looks different for different people, it’s helpful to understand why you’d want to reconsider putting yourself in front of the lens. And fortunately, these days, making videos that are useful, engaging, and highly shareable doesn’t have to mean hours of time or hundreds of dollars. Just take a look at the incredibly popular “live” videos (like Facebook Live or Instagram Stories) and you’ll quickly see that a smartphone combined with a few shared thoughts or vistas are enough to do the trick.
The main point you need to keep in mind as you consider bringing a video content strategy into your overall digital marketing plan is this: people online really like videos.
Truly, they love them. On Facebook alone, posts with videos get 135% more engagement than text or image posts. Further, YouTube, the most popular video platform on the Internet (and second most popular search engine) has more online viewers during prime-time TV hours than any television network!
It’s simple: times have most certainly changed, and online video is the way to go for bolstering your marketing efforts. Beyond the ballooning stats about people engaging with video online are a few more persuasive reasons why video content can, directly and indirectly, boost your practice’s visibility online.
Let’s take a look at each of them to better understand how you can take full advantage of this leading-edge approach.
Improve Your Website’s SEO
Perhaps the most important benefit of video content marketing is its effect on your website’s overall SEO, or search engine optimization. It’s a known fact that Google ranks websites with a variety of media types on them higher than those that don’t. Given the estimated projection that 80% of all internet traffic will be represented by video within the next year, it’s no surprise that search engines are favoring websites with video content along with the typical text and image formats.
To fully optimize your videos for search engines, it’s important to include all relevant and important keywords for your content in the video description and meta tags when adding it to your webpage. We dive more into keyword research here and recommend it for all of your content marketing efforts (be them through text or video).
Uploading a transcript of your dialogue along with the video itself is another way to bolster its SEO properties. Not only does a transcript enable an increase in the number of keywords you can use for your video, but it also makes the content accessible for viewers who aren’t in a position (or prefer not) to turn the sound on for your video. Transcripts also let search engines understand the relevancy of your video, making your content more easily searched and listed for related queries.
Increase Your Reach
Video content continues to garner increased attention from online users across the globe, with websites like Youtube showing over a billion hours of video to viewers every single day. People are more likely to click on interesting or informative video content than any other type of media—and they’re also more likely to share it on their own social networks, like Facebook, Twitter, or even their own blogs.
The more views your videos get, the more valuable they’re rated by search engines. And, you guessed it, the result is better ranking in related search results. Over time, this strategy can really pay off, so creating highly-shareable video content is a rapid and low-cost approach to expanding your reach online.
It’s also wise to host your video on an external website like Youtube or Vimeo, instead of only having it on your website’s blog. You can still embed the video onto your website (which we recommend), but it will actually play through its hosting site (or through a widget) when someone clicks on it to play. This alone can relieve your website of the heavy data-load that storing videos creates, which can quickly slow your website down.
Most important, though, is the effect of the link to your website that you would put in your channel’s description. By hosting your video on a third party site, you gain the space to add a valuable link to your website (called a linkback) in your profile area. Link-building—the process of gaining links to your own web pages from high-quality and popular external websites—is a critical element in any SEO strategy. As you endeavor to create a strong online presence, improving your visibility in search results should remain a top priority.
Increase Your Appeal—and Your Impact
Online analysts and digital marketing experts have been actively evaluating and debating the reasons for video’s high appeal. The inquiry ensues, but one aspect that everyone agrees on is the relatability of most video content. This is most easily seen in the rapid rise of the aforementioned “live” video features available across various social media networks, where editing capabilities are minimal and the results are raw and unpolished. The trends seem clear: people want to watch others who they can relate to and feel connected to. We saw it with the surge of interest in reality T.V. over a decade ago, and we’re seeing the same trend play out for online content.
This is where your content can really shine. Videos created and shared by knowledgeable hearing professionals have the combined effect of being informative and useful, while also disarming and encouraging. At a time when an estimated 80% of people with hearing loss are currently untreated, standing up and sharing helpful information about treatment options and patient outcomes can be transformative for people silently suffering from hearing issues.
The stigma around hearing aids and other treatments persists, and educating people about the realities of life after hearing aids is a crucial part of absolving these stubborn barriers. Sharing this information through video content is ideal—especially when delivered from a real person that viewers can get to know, trust, and watch anonymously online until they’re ready to get the help they need.
Allowing your viewers to learn from you while you simultaneously share your personality, warmth, and knowledge is an excellent way to begin building rapport with a significant number of potential patients. Marketers have long known that familiarity breeds trust, but sharing helpful information along with a dose of your presence goes even further in developing a base of loyal followers.
 
Navigating the waters of content marketing can seem daunting at first, especially when it comes to creating videos to share your message and knowledge. It helps to put any tendencies towards perfectionism aside and remain focused on simply helping as many people as possible.
This perspective shift will encourage you to prioritize your time so that you get as much helpful information out as fast as is reasonable, without getting hung up on how “polished” your video may or may not seem. Remember: the more of the real you people see, the more of them you can expect to see… through your office doors.
 

Person evaluating their marketing data

How to Prepare for Your Best Year Yet

The strength of a business can be measured by its capacity to adapt and rapidly respond to the shifting needs of its market. We see this across every sector, in every era of marketplace history. And it’s no surprise—people choose what they like, and their likes change. These days, in the Digital Age, it seems like consumer preferences change more rapidly than ever.
Fortunately, as a hearing healthcare practice, your services will never be unnecessary. With a record number of people with unmet hearing care needs, you certainly don’t need to worry about your “target market” disappearing anytime soon. But you do need to consider if this large population of potential patients is discovering what you offer—and if they’re being enticed to inquire further. Your practice thrives on a specific threshold of new patients each month, so your main task is to ensure you’re getting in front of fresh eyes on a regular basis.
Yes, this is Marketing 101, and surely comes as no surprise. What is surprising, though, is how few practice owners take the time to thoroughly review their marketing strategies. In fact, many have yet to put a thorough marketing plan together at all. If you fall into either of these camps, but only because your practice is too busy with new patients to afford you the time for such luxuries—well then, you’re doing just fine. For now, that is… as the vast majority of hearing healthcare professionals will attest to the famed “patient plateau” that occurs eventually in most hearing practices. Having a successful marketing strategy in place before that plateau hits means you likely won’t ever see it in your practice.
So what does an effective review of your marketing plan even look like? Perhaps you have already set up specific metrics for tracking the success of various marketing campaigns or tactics you’ve used this past year. If not, there are several simple ways to analyze whether your current strategy is working for you or not. At the end of the day (and certainly by the end of the year) any time, effort, and money you put into spreading the word about your services should be getting paid back to you—in surplus—by the new patients you’re acquiring as a result.
The Past 12 Months
To begin this review, you need to select the time period you want to analyze the strategies you’ve used so far. As the end of the year (and the financial quarter) approaches, this is an excellent time to review the past 12 months. Didn’t have any marketing strategies or plans in place this year? Or maybe you only had them active for part of the year? Lucky for you this 12-month review is useful in either case.
If you haven’t implemented any targeted or intentional marketing tactics (i.e. postcards, special offerings, digital ads, online review management, search engine optimization/SEO for your website, etc), then you will make this review your baseline to compare all future years against. It will provide you with valuable data about what was happening organically in your practice—that is, without any concentrated marketing efforts on your part—to what happens when you do concentrate your attention on marketing your services.
If you’ve only applied marketing strategies for part of the last year, this review is useful because it has you review your patient data month by month. It gives you a chance to begin the comparison process by looking at your data from months without marketing efforts in place and watching for any changes in that data as you applied different strategies or campaigns.
Key Patient Data
While you can get as granular and detailed as you want with analyzing new patient data (depending on how much information you collect from each patient), the most important details you want to gather for each of the past 12 months are:

  1. The number of patient inquiries (by phone, email, or in person) you received
  2. The number of new patients you began seeing

Another very helpful piece of information is how patients (inquiring or new) found your practice in the first place, but not every practice asks this on their intake forms or in their communications. If you have this data, definitely track it. If you don’t, consider making it a standard question for all new patient forms, or emails and calls responding to inquiries. This single metric is the best way for you to track the effectiveness of your outreach efforts.
Lay it All Out
Your approach to laying out your month by month comparison will be largely determined by your own preferences. You can get as fancy and graph or chart oriented as you’d like, but the basic approach is to create a grid (or a spreadsheet). Title each column as a month from the previous year and label the rows below that header with the data categories your practice has been tracking (i.e. New Patients, Patient Inquiries, How They Found Us). Next, simply add the numbers you’ve collected. If you want to look at your conversion trends (the percentage of inquiries converted into new patients), simply divide the number of new patients by the number of inquiries. When finished, your grid will look something like this:
Compare Marketing Streams
Once you have this base data in your grid, you can add information to each month for any marketing efforts you had actively in place. If you sent mailers out in February, you’d mention that in the February column. If you invested in proper SEO for your website in March, you’d place that effort in March and every month thereafter (since it will only continue to increase traffic to your website). Word of mouth (WOM) should always be an organic source of new patients, but if your practice created a referral incentive at some point, you’d definitely want to note that in the month it began, and all months thereafter.
By having your marketing efforts listed alongside your new patient and inquiry data, you’ll get a quick and clear picture of the overall effectiveness of your strategies. You would need information from new and inquiring patients about how they learned about your practice to be able to compare the effectiveness of each marketing avenue independently, so it’s worth collecting that information sooner than later.
Taking the time to clearly lay out your practice’s history of attracting new patients offers a clear picture of the direction your business is heading in. Perhaps your numbers show that a more comprehensive marketing plan would be beneficial. Or maybe this process will encourage you to collect more data for the year ahead. No matter where you’re at right now, having this information gives your practice a launchpad to leap from. The Internet has made reaching a large audience easier (and more cost-effective) than ever. Never before has marketing been so accessible. Why not take advantage of all it has to offer?
 

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Using Blogs to Boost Your Practice

As a healthcare practice that’s recognized the importance of being online in order to thrive as a business, you’ve likely also learned how imperative it is that your website is actually seen by potential patients searching for services like yours. Simply put: there’s little use for a beautifully designed website that’s effectively invisible.
Making sure that your website is visible is a massive topic. There’s good reason why professionals exist solely to execute this goal (i.e. SEO experts). However, there are also a number of ways that you can boost your website’s visibility without needing to hire additional help. This approach is often referred to as “natural” or “organic” search engine optimization (SEO), since it relies on a more organic (and free) approach to getting your website ranked higher in search engines’ results pages.
Of all the natural SEO techniques, our favorite is simply to provide rich content on your website on a regular basis. Yep, we’re talking about maintaining a blog.
Blogs are powerful for generating traffic to your website for a number of reasons. First off, they greatly increase the number of relevant keywords on your website. Keywords are those specific terms and phrases your target audience uses to search for your services. Ideally, you want keywords to be strategically placed throughout your website so that search engines, like Google, rank your website higher than the thousands of other similar websites.
Blogs also expand the amount of content that your website covers, making your reach more versatile. For instance, you might not want to dedicate an entire page on your website to cochlear implants if you don’t specifically work with them, but you could easily write a blog post about them to help educate your audience. This way, you’ve added important keywords related to cochlear implants to your website in case there does end up being someone who is searching for, say, a hearing test for a cochlear implant pre-evaluation. Your blog post on the topic increases the odds that this local patient will end up seeing your website in the search results. In other words, blogs are great for helping you extend your reach.
Blogs are also an effective way to connect with and engage your audience. Not only are you offering valuable educational material about hearing healthcare through your blog articles, but you’re also giving prospective patients a sense of who you are and what you know. Blogs are well-known for their ability to help build trust and authority among an audience of people you may have never met.
By now, you might be wondering about the usefulness of developing an audience online if your patient base needs to be local anyhow. After all, your online audience could very well be spread across the globe.
In this case, it’s important to realize that online popularity often translates to immediate credibility. When a local potential patient lands on your website and sees many comments below a blog post, that alone helps build their trust in you and your practice. It’s social proof that this author is worth reading. Furthermore, the more people reading and engaging with your posts, the more likely it is that someone will share your blog on social media or directly with friends. This not only boosts your ranking in search results (making it easier for locals to find your website), but it also can have an incredible effect on your popularity and online authority in your industry.
Have you ever seen the aftermath of a piece of content that went viral? The term “viral” itself implies an uncontrollable spread and is used to refer to online articles, videos, or audio recordings that have been shared thousands, if not millions, of times. As you might imagine, the original source of that content is often inundated with web traffic. This sort of event is rare, but can have a lightning effect on your website’s ranking on search engine results pages and on your business as a whole.
Simply put, blogs are an excellent way to boost your website’s visibility without having to spend a dime. As a hearing healthcare professional, it’s also an effective way to demonstrate and share the unique knowledge you’ve gained through study and experience. The myths around hearing loss and hearing treatment are ubiquitous and stubborn. Peeling them back to reveal what’s really possible can actually happen — one engaging blog post at a time.