All Healthcare Is Local — Especially During a Pandemic
// By Carrie Liken //
As long as COVID is part of our world, people will travel less for care, and they will search more for local care that is convenient to them. If you use this to your advantage as you continue to build your digital strategy, you will reap the benefits.
The way consumers search for care is changing. Searches are more local, less informed, and there are a lot more of them. In April 2020, we saw year-over-year searches for local healthcare — anything with a city, state, town, zip or “near me” in the query — rise 25 percent compared to April 2019. When we looked at the data in August 2020, we saw that the same localized searches had gone up to 66 percent. That’s an increase of 41 percentage points in just a few months, signaling how significant the local search environment is for patients and consumers seeking healthcare.
In the same way, we have been consistently seeing the changes in what patients are searching for:
- Two out of three patients are searching for care in unbranded ways, meaning they are starting their search not knowing the brand or the doctor they are looking for, and instead relying on Google and other online resources to point them in the right direction.
This presents challenges for today’s healthcare marketers because:
- You are likely sitting on a treasure trove of search data that you haven’t reviewed, so therefore you are not aware of how people’s search preferences and local preferences are changing for your system and your services.
- The ways you have approached your website and SEO strategies pre-COVID are not equipped for the changes in how people search, nor for the changes in the Google algorithm to surface the right information.
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