For small to medium businesses, it may be a natural tendency to immediately reduce expenses with the uncertainty of today’s climate. Marketing may be one of your first areas to cut costs. However, it’s crucial to consider your overall goals and long-term strategy of your practice. Withdrawing from marketing activities could negatively impact your pipeline of future leads to the practice.
Keep in mind that less in-person time means more time spent in front of devices. This could result in increased opportunity for your digital marketing. The key is to be nimble and adapt your operational and marketing strategies with the changing environment. For example, many practices are adopting telehealth strategies for treating patients. Others have reduced operations to curbside drop-off/pickup of hearing aids.
Google has automatically added alerts and made some adjustments to their platforms to help inform consumers of potential impacts of COVID-19. The following are considerations for the three main components of search results.
Paid Advertising (Search Engine Marketing)
Paid ads are often the first area for practices to reduce their costs. Keep in mind, your ads appear when consumers are searching for your services/products within your local market(s). You are only charged when a consumer clicks on your ads. Given the increased internet activity and searches for telehealth-related services, adjusting the campaign vs. dropping it may be ideal.
Google Ads COVID-19 Credits
Google recently committed to help alleviate some of the costs for small and medium-sized businesses to stay in touch with their customers during this challenging time. For practices that have been active advertisers since the beginning of 2019, they will likely receive a credit in the coming months to be used toward future Google ads by the end of 2020. Details are still being arranged, but Fuel Medical will be in contact with participating members once the credits are applied.
Map Pack (Local Business Listing)
Business listings in search results are a quick reference point for consumers looking to connect with your practice. Depending on your practice’s current operations, there are two recommended options:
Limited Business Hours and Telehealth
Make no changes. This is advisable for any practice limiting hours or moving toward a telehealth model. Use alternative methods of communicating the change of hours with an alert bar on your website and locations information, but leave your Google My Business listing untouched. Changes with search engines will take weeks to render so we don’t recommend it.
Temporary Office Closure
Update as holiday hours only. If your practice is closing temporarily, we recommend updating your holiday hours to reflect the closure time.
Organic Results (Search Engine Optimization)
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a long-term strategy that requires ongoing attention to build and retain optimal placement in the organic search results. This may be one area to avoid cutting costs since the result of doing so can negatively impact your site rankings once you return to normal operations.
Why should your ENT or audiology practice continue SEO?
Where SEM (paid-ad) campaigns create short term website traffic gains that can turn off and on at will, search engine optimization is a long-term strategy. SEO works long after the initial effort is complete.
Research shows, right, that essentially folks who invest in marketing, in sales during a recession tend to outperform and more quickly outperform their competition as markets resume.Rand Fishkin – Founder of MOZ
How are SEO and SEM website traffic different from each other?
Think about a well-written SEO blog that covers a topic in-depth. It might reliably bring in website traffic for years. The investment for that blog is a set price you paid one time. If you wanted to capture that same traffic using SEM, you would have to pay for topic-related ads every single month, and once you stop purchasing the ads, that traffic would go away.
SEO will keep working through quarantine measures, and the services you target now may even see increased performance over pre-quarantine levels. This benefit is also more likely if you are targeting certain service types that your competitors are not.
How does telehealth and COVID-19 content impact SEO?
Just like a great service page can bring in traffic for that service, COVID-19 and telehealth pages bring in related website traffic as well. What you might not realize is that that traffic may be more qualified than you think.
Search results look at a person’s search history and proximity to your business. Your coronavirus and telehealth content has a better chance of ranking higher in the search results of someone who has recently searched for ENT and audiology services, and vice versa, if you have COVID-19 and telehealth content.
What is the best SEO plan for ENT and audiology practices during this time?
The best response is to continue your existing SEO operations and add additional COVID-19 and telehealth content to your website.
Release COVID-telehealth content now, benefit now.
As we’ve seen, COVID and telehealth pages that:
- Inform patients about how the practice is responding to coronavirus
- Explain how a patient can protect themselves
- Show how existing appointments and practices have changed
- Show how to make new appointments
- Elaborate on more extensive changes to specific services
Are being read by existing patients, and are pulling in new traffic. This information is critical and will help practices maintain patient levels now and potentially increase patient levels once businesses return to standard operating procedures.
Continue SEO now, benefit later.
Blog posts and technical SEO updates will continue to help your site maintain or increase its current ranking positions once businesses are operating normally again. Discontinuing ongoing efforts run the risk of ranking losses to competitors that continued their search engine optimization during this time.