Create an Email List for Your Blog

OptinYou need an email list.  An email list is an easy way to stay in touch with your patients and with those who follow your website.  These are people who are  your “fans.”  Email newsletters are an easy way to keep them abreast of news of the practice, medicine and new posts on your blog.

It can help you develop your brand.

Sending email newsletters inform your closest followers news about your practice.  Make it easy for your biggest fans to know what’s happening!

Maintaining an email newsletter is easy, completely automated and cheap (free).

Why Do You Need an Email List

Permission based communication.  By giving you their email address, you have permission to communicate with them.  For many, this is a tighter and more meaningful bond/relationship compared to Twitter and Facebook where many of your patients never visit.

Ownership.  You own this list.  You’ve collected addresses via an opt-in subscription box or a generated a list during a patient encounter (you should be collecting email addresses as part of your initial intake encounter, that is, when a new patient is visiting for the first time).  Unlike social media platforms where changes in policy could cause you to lose access to  your followers, you’ll always have this list.

Everyone Uses Email.  It’s an easy way to communicate news of the office and to keep your readers current on your blog.  They don’t have to visit your site or figure out how RSS works, let alone what it means.

Email doesn’t disappear.  Unlike FB or Twitter where your message likely gets missed or buried.

Highly targeted List.  This list is composed of patients and readers interested in what you have to say.  Let them keep up to date with events of your office and blog as easily as possible.

Email Lists are Fully Automated

Creating an email list is easy.  The whole process can be completely automated;

1.  Collect Email Address:  This is the standard “subscription” box you see on most sites.  Your reader has the ability “opt-in” to receive your emails.  This is a crucial step to avoiding liability for spamming.  The best is a double “opt-in” process.

After completing the subscription box, an email is sent to confirm and verify the reader’s desire to receive future emails from you.  This two step process is called a double “opt-in.”

That’s it.  You have a new subscriber!

2.  Send Email Notification:  Each and every time you write a post, you’re entire email list gets notified via email!  Best of all, it’s done automatically!  Every blog automatically generates an RSS feed every time a new post is published on your site.

NOTE:  RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is a digital announcement of your new post and contains all the basic information about your new publication.  Many people follow websites by subscribing to the RSS feed.

For your purposes, the RSS feed automatically fills in information about your new article on your email newsletter.  No extra work!

Next Post:  Email Services:  Feedburner, aWeber and MailChimp

Randall V. Wong, M.D.
Medical Website Optimization
www.MedicalMarketingEnterprises.com

 

3 Types of Websites: Which is Yours?

3 Types of Websites, all must be created on WordPress.Your website can only be a:  a resource site, a marketing tool or an interactive website.  Which is yours?  As long as your site is built on a flexible platform, it doesn’t matter.

Good – Resource Site

Of the doctors who do have site, most have this type of site.  A resource site contains basic contact information, an about page, insurance participation, hours of operation, etc.  A resource site is not dynamic.  A resource site rarely has content or needs to updated.

A resource site, therefore, has absolutely no marketing value.  Without fresh content, it becomes impossible for this site to become ranked on Google.  No content, no rankings and no visibility.

The only people who visit your website are already familiar with you, that is, your existing patients.

Better – Website as Marketing Tool

A website becomes a marketing tool when it starts to rank highly in SERP (Google results).  Patients search on Google and your webpage becomes visible on the results pages.  Patients click on your site.  Your site is now marketing your practice!

To rise in Google rankings, your website must regularly get updated with relevant content.  This is the principle behind content marketing.  Search engines compare webpages based upon the content.

Websites of this type are dynamic, receiving  fresh new relevant content to the website on a regular basis.  This is the only way to get your website to attain and maintain high rankings.

Best – Interactive Tool

A website can be a dynamic interactive tool for your practice.  It has the same rudimentary contact information as a resource site and is full of relevant content….but it also displays conversations, or threads, between you and your next prospective patient.

This is the basis of social media.

Your articles will gain you exposure in terms of traffic and rankings.  Your willingness to publicly “talk” with your readers on your website is the most compelling component of a blog…the purest form of social media.  It will set you apart from your competitors.

Finding others with the same problems becomes magnetic and provides you with a golden opportunity to show compassion and your “bedside manner.”  Exhibiting this type of transparency builds value and trust.

This is how a website brings patients to your door.

What Can You Do?

Remember to march at your own pace.  No need to be overwhelmed.

Every modern website should be constructed as a blog and the best framework is WordPress.org.  In this way, you can start off with a resource site and add functionality only when you are ready….and it won’t cost anything extra!  A simple resource site gets the ball rolling and does demonstrate to your patients that you are willing to engage the Internet.

With time, you may want to add content.  This will elevate you in the rankings and start to market your practice.  Later on, start to interact with your readers by answering comments and questions.

By using WordPress.org, you can add functions when you are ready and it doesn’t cost anything to increase your function.  All CMS (Content Management System) programs have all of this functionality built in…you just use it when you are ready.  There is no hurry.  Starting out on the most versatile framework in the world…Wordpress.org.

Static sites offer only design….cant’ do this.

Randall V. Wong, M.D.
Medical Website Optimization
www.MedicalMarketingEnterprises.com

How to Convert Prospective Patients into Raving Fans

Converting prospective patients into paying patients should be a breeze if you have a system in place.  To help you with creating effective systems we created The Patient Attraction System TM.  This system is essentially a blueprint that allows anyone to run your medical practice without you being there to direct the show.  And more importantly, patient care is delivered in the exact same way, whether you are directing or someone else is directing.

There are essentially six systems that are integral to developing a brand and providing superior medical services.  There are of course many components to any system, but for illustration purposes let’s discuss one piece that serves as the cornerstone of the Patient Attraction System TM.

Step 1:  Prospective Patients

You have worked hard to engage with your community both on and off line, now those efforts are finally paying off.  Prospective patients are calling to schedule appointments with you.  The method that your staff engages with these calls can very well determine whether the prospective patient will actually follow through and trust you with their care.  So if you haven’t already, now is the time to have systems in place that will assure that all of your online efforts are not thwarted by the reception they receive when they first call your office.

Let’s start with how you handle incoming calls to your office.  What is your system?

Patient Attraction System TM:  The Initial Phone Call

How is the phone answered at your medical practice?   This seems like a pretty basic question, but after you have spent hours building your brand on and offline this is often an overlooked part of what can be a defining moment for a prospective patient.  Consider the following exchange and compare it to the intake system you have in place at your medical practice.

The First Step:  The Call

Hello, welcome to the Randall Wong Retina Eye Center, this is Amy, how may I assist you.”  Keep in mind the tone is warm, inviting and definitely with a smile.

What have we told our prospective patient?

The caller was greeted, she knows she dialed the correct number, she knows who she is talking to and she knows that “Amy” is not in a hurry and more importantly, that “Amy” wants to assist her.

Note:  Your receptionist/intake specialist, I prefer to use the term patient care representative,  should know how integral they are to the patient attraction process and should never be expected to rush through a phone call.  Think of it this way…are you running a factory or a patient centered medical practice.

The Second Step:  Intake Information

Now, the next step will hopefully lead to the caller scheduling an appointment.  At this point “Amy” will lead the caller through a questionnaire that was designed to put the caller at ease and gather essential information for the appointment.

The Third Step:  The Welcome Package

Once “Amy” has finished with her scripted intake questionnaire she will thank the patient and let the patient know that they should be receiving a welcome package within the next several days.

The Welcome package will have an assortment of materials, but the most important piece will be the business card with Amy’s information.  Amy will serve as the patient’s point of contact because a personal connection has already been established.  The patient will have a familiarity with “Amy” and will hopefully not hesitate to call should she have additional questions prior to her appointment.

Note:  How many receptionists, patient care representatives, or other staff members at your office are given business cards.  If you are like most offices, the answer is likely very few.  This is something I have never understood….give all of your staff members their own business cards.  Not only does this increase your exposure with each card that is handed out, but think of it from the employee’s perspective; i.e., the business card shows they are valued and have an important role in your medical practice.

The Fourth Step:  Confirm the Appointment by Postcard

Yes, there is a small cost associated with sending a postcard and a welcome package; however, the patient will surely remember the extra special measures that were taken to ensure a seamless first appointment.

Side note:  Many practices like to use their website for directions and contact information.  We believe using on-line and off-line measures to ensure your patient makes it to the office is worth the small expenditure.  Do the math yourself…is the office visit worth the two bucks you spent, and even less after factoring in the relative tax implications.

The Fifth Step:  Confirm the Appointment by Calling the Patient

This is very important; “Amy” will call the patient the day before to confirm the appointment and answer any last minute questions the patient may have.

So… What’s the System?

The system is the process that is used to assure that each patient has the same experience.  In the example that was used above, if you were to implement the five step intake process you would need to have a system in place that would track the completion of each step and automatically send reminders to the patient care representative to remind them of the next task needing to be completed.  This may sound like a lot of work, but once your system is in place you will have created a system that can be employed by anybody.

 

3 Most Important Pages on Your Website

3 Essential Webpages for Every Medical WebsiteYour website should contain 3 basic pages;  Home, About and Contact.  When starting to build a website you should still create these pages first.

Home Page – Just Like Your Front Door

Your home page has one purpose.  It must quickly convey the type of medical services you provide.

Nothing else is as important.

 

If your home page is too busy and distracting…you can’t deliver your message.  Your readers will click away.

Just like the front door of your home, the home page conveys an image and message about your practice.

Whether you convey this information through a nice header, bold title or nifty tagline, your readers must be able to know they have found the right type of website.  If you have yet to start a website, use the URL to also provide this information.

About Page – Tell Your Story

The about page should be the first page added to your new website.  While the home page conveys what you do, the about page should convey who you are.  It’s a great way to show some personal transparency.

It is here that you get to tell your story.  All too often, the “about” page is mistakenly used as an online resume or curriculum vitae.  While it is important to convey your credentials, take the opportunity to talk at least a little bit about your hobbies, practice style, etc.

Most readers have no idea about the rudiments of medical training and reading the highlights of your medical career tends to mimic every other medical professional;  great credential after great credential becomes meaningless to our future patients because there is no relevance.

Use the About Page to distinguish yourself from your colleagues and competitions.  Be bold and tell a little of the human side of you!  Be transparent!

Contact Page

The contact page should list all of your contact information.  It doesn’t have to be fancy, but list all the different ways a patient can find you.  Most of the elements are self-explanatory, yet I’d stress that you should list the real name/email address of a real person to contact.

“Contact” or “Support” are not as good as giving the first name of a true person in your office.  Take the opportunity to make every item as personal as possible….it matters.

  • Address
  • Telephone
  • Fax
  • Email Address
  • Map

To Your Growth And Success!

Randy

Randall V. Wong, M.D.
Medical Website Optimization

www.MedicalMarketingEnterprises.com

 

The Difference Between a WordPress Post and Page

 Guide to Choosing WordPress Page versus WordPress Post

 

You are now ready to publish your first article on your website.  You have two choices with WordPress, post vs. page.  How do you choose?

Both pages and posts are used to create documents, or articles, for your website.  They are simply files you create when creating content.  Both are similar to creating a “Word” document on your word processor.

Technical Differences between WordPress Pages and Posts

There are several technical differences between the post and the page.  Some of these differences are; pages are not time-stamped, pages are not distributed via RSS, pages usually don’t offer the ability to add comments and posts are listed in reverse chronological order (the most recent first) on your site.

When to Create a Page

In general, pages are linked to the home page or the navigation bar.  They are highly visible and easy to find because pages contain good general information about your practice and the services your provide.  Pages tend to serve as great references on your website.

Examples of “pages;”

  • About Page
  • Contact Page
  • Insurance Participation Page
  • Disclaimers
  • Patient Information Forms
  • Services Provided

Create 3 Overviews and Publish as a Page

In addition, we recommend creating 3 “anchor articles” as pages.  Create 3 different articles about 600-800 words in length.  Each article should be an “overview” about a particular topic/disease/service that your practice is proud to provide.

Pages are usually automatically added to the WordPress navigation bar once published.

Use pages to quickly convey to your readers the main themes/services of your practice.  Refrain from trying to write a lengthy article about each and every procedure or service in which you “specialize.”  This will be distracting to the reader and they will leave.

(Don’t worry.  As your site grows with additional content, you’ll naturally be broadening the scope of the content of your website, and thus, all of your services and specialties will become evident!)

When to Create a Post

Posts should be shorter than pages.  Somewhere between 300-500 words.  No more.  Posts are the core of a website.  By publishing regularly, your readers are kept up to date via your posts, your website gets refreshed and your SEO values improve.

Posts should be shorter than pages, contain one idea or topic and should compliment the overviews.  Posts are the core of your SEO of your site!

After creating your 3 main articles, we suggest publishing regular posts…at a rate of once a week in the beginning.  This is the core of content marketing.  Following the “3 R’s” of content marketing, should get your pages ranked in no time!

Posts should be focused on one topic.  In the beginning, make the subject of your posts related to one of the anchor articles.  These posts should be a bit more detailed than the larger overview article.  Thus, your information in your posts will compliment the larger overview pages.  Here are some other suggestions for writing great content.

Creating links from the post to the page, and vice versa, is also a great way to improve your SEO.  By creating “internal links” within your site, the search engines will be sure to index each and every article of your site.

Make sure to allow comments on your posts.  While you may “turn off” comments on pages, make sure comments are “on” for your posts.

The most powerful part of your website is to allow user generated content, i.e. allowing your readers to leave a comment…followed by a response!

To the Growth of You and Your Practice!

Randall V. Wong, M.D.
www.MedicalMarketingEnterprises.com

 

 

3 Google Tools You Need: Analytics, GMail and WebMasters Tools

 3 Tools For Every Website to Optimize Medical SEO

After your have purchased your URL, hosting and installed WordPress.org, your next tasks are to start a GMail account, install Google analytics and register your site on WebMaster Tools.

All these are Google products, are free and require a Google/Gmail account.

Get a Google Account

Go to Gmail.com. There will be a link to create your new Google Account.  It is free.

“Create an Account” and follow the directions.  This will now give you a username and password for all of your Google products, e.g. Google Analytics and Webmasters Tools.

Google Analytics Gives You Data About Your Patients

Installing an analytics package onto your website is one of the first things you need to do with your new site.

Analytics allows you to monitor your traffic and behavior of your visitors.  Good analytics can tell you;

  • Number of visitors (usually unique visitors during the previous 30 days)
  • Time spent on site
  • Page/Articles Viewed
  • Average Time Spent
  • Traffic Sources
  • Location of Viewers
  • Browsers Used
  • Site Speed (slow download speeds decrease your ranking)
  • Keywords

In short, analytics allows you to find out about your readers:  what they like to read.

Remember, your goal is to rank your website high to get new patients.  Valuable, highly ranked sites get there by providing information relevant to the users’ (patients’) search query.

For instance, I found that many of my followers like information on retinal detachments.  I noticed this by reviewing my Google Analytics data.  Articles on retinal detachments are read more often than any other topic on my site.

Thus, I know that I’ll attract more readers if I continue to write on retinal detachments.

Submit Your Site on Webmasters Tools

Google also offers this free tool.  Webmasters tools can do many things (see below), but this is the best way to submit your site to Google.  If your site is new, you want to tell Google that you have a new site so you will be indexed.  Google can not rank your site if it does not know you exist.

If you have an older site, it is may already be indexed.

With Webmasters Tools, you can;

  • Verify that your site is operating properly (e.g. do all hyperlinks work?)
  • Determine Incoming Links to Your Site (important for SEO)
  • Identify Popular Search Queries (what search phrases were used to get to your site)
  • Verify a Sitemap

Perhaps the most important function second to allowing Google to index your site is to verify that you have a sitemap on your webpage and that it works.  A sitemap is basically a file on your site that functions as a table of contents for the search engine bots.

Search engines look for a sitemap, without a sitemap your pages may not get indexed.  Without indexing, you may not rank.  It’s important for your SEO rankings.

 

 

 

Choosing Hosting for Your Website

 

 website hosting, medical website hosting, shared hosting for your medical website

When you choose “hosting” for your medical website, use the same company from whom you bought the URL.  Try to keep things simple for yourself, no need to add another variable such as an additional vendor.  Usually you can buy both the URL and hosting at the same time.

Requirements for a Hosting Company

There are a variety of hosting choices available for you.  All you need is “shared hosting.”  You need to choose a plan that is; affordable, reliable uptime, 24/7 customer support and can run WordPress.org.  These are basic requirements and are provided by most hosting companies.

All other “higher” forms of hosting really differ with respect to handling traffic, security and bandwidth.

Types of Hosting for Your Medical Website

  • Free
  • Shared Hosting (recommended)
  • Virtual
  • Dedicated
  • Cloud
  • Home Server

Free Hosting

There are completely free types of hosting.  Two popular, and again, completely free, are;

They function and are indexed as well as any other, but there are limitations to design, functionality and SEO.  It may be a good place to get your feet wet, but if you want to do this right, and still very cheaply, then start off with the recommendations below.

Instead of setting up an account on a 3rd party’s server, you have free space on the respective servers here.  Simply go to these sites and sign-up.

Instead of the completely free sites, we recommend using anyone of the companies listed below and looking for shared hosting plans.

Shared Hosting (recommended)

Shared hosting is the most popular and affordable form of hosting other than free.  For a small business, such as medical practice, this is all you will probably ever need.  It offers complete flexibility as your website grows, can accommodate more visitors than you ever hope,  and has virtually no requirements for learning how to maintain your site from the IT perspective.

With your shared hosting plans, the many websites are using the same server and the resources are “shared.”  At times, this may slow the download speed of your site.

Purchase an account (through our affiliate link please!) and host your site with one of the following companies.

  • GoDaddy.com
  • Hostgator.com

They all offer:

  • the ability to purchase the URL
  • different types of hosting
  • 24/7 support
  • WordPress.org

At this writing, we prefer Bluehost.com for the following reasons;

  • terrific 24/7 support
  • free email
  • comparable costs
  • rapid “one-click” installation of WordPress.org

Virtual and Dedicated Hosting

For our purposes, both virtual and dedicated hosting are options that you may consider if your traffic exceeds what normal shared hosting can provide.  Unless you have thousands of visitors a day occupying your bandwidth with large file transfers (both unlikely with a medical website) you probably do not need either of these levels.

Also, with virtual and dedicated hosting, you will mostly likely need to be responsible for maintaining your server.  Increased cost and increased IT responsibility.  Remember, we are doctors.

Cloud Servers

These are the new wave and, for now, might be a better consideration if you mature beyond the needs of shared hosting.  Cloud servers offer the advantage of reliable uptime as multiple “copies” of your site are always available and, thus, your site is not affected natural disasters, equipment malfunctions, etc.

Home Server

This situation also requires you to provide your own IT support.  With more and more offices equipped with your own servers, this may be a viable option for you.  Of course, you must provide your own IT support.

 

 

 

How To Write and Publish Your First Post on WordPress

Writing your first post in WordPress is pretty easy. This post will walk you through the steps and screens that you need to start your very first post!!

The Dashboard

1.  After logging in to the administration panel of your web site.  You should see the following screen, if not, click on the Dashboard link as highlighted.

Wordpress Dashboard, Publishing First WordPress Post, Medical SEO, Medical Marketing Enterprises

Adding a New Post to WordPress.org

Locate and click on “Posts.”

It is also located in the left column of your screen.   When comfortable….click on “Posts” and the link should expand.

Publishing Your First Post on WordPress, Medical Marketing Enterprises, Medical SEO

Click on “Add New” which should now be located just below “Posts.”

 

Add New Post on WordPress, Medical Marketing Enterprises, Medical SEO

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Writing, Saving and Publish on WordPress

Your page should now look like the screenshot below. Click on the appropriate areas to add your title and content of your article. It is as simple as using any word processor. If you want to save your work without publishing it, click “Save Draft.” “Publish” will put your new post on the Internet!

Remember, you can always edit or remove posts and pages on WordPress at a later time!!

Add New Post to WordPress, Medical Marketing Enterprises

 

 

Anchor Text: The Best Hyperlink

Using anchor text is the best method to create a hyperlink.  It describes the link and maximizes the SEO of either inbound or outbound links.  It is a valuable to understand especially if you are creating or managing your own website.

What is a Link?

A link, or hyperlink, allows the reader to “click” and initiate an action.  Usually a hyperlink can take you to another web page, web site, downloadable document, etc.  Images can also serve as a link.

A hyperlink, or link, is often highlighted or colored and maybe underlined.  It is created automatically using your web page/blog software.

Creating Different Types of Hyperlinks

“Http://typeyourwebsitehere.com”

There are several ways to set up a hyperlink.  The most common, and basic, structure is to simply highlight the entire URL (URL =  ”www.typeyourwebsitehere.com”) as the actual link.

This works and is fine, but it is ugly and has almost no SEO value.  Clicking on this link will take you to your desired page.

“Click Here

This is probably the most common hyperlink using anchor text.  By clicking on “here,” you are taken to your destination.  Looks better because it is readable text, but little SEO value.  Technically, “here” is describing your target URL.

 

Anchor Text is Best Hyperlink for Optimizing SEO

Just as you would create a link using the word “here” and link it to your URL, this style of linking allows you to use keywords to describe the content of the target.  This is the value of using keywords to describe target URL’s.

The words, or phrase, you use as the actual text to construct the link let’s Google rank our page higher with this added information.  Anchor text, as back links, from an external source, when contained in rich, relevant content are the best endorsements of your web page and will garner the highest rankings.

Examples;

(The link is to http://retinaeyedoctor.com.  The anchor text “retinal disease” now tells Google that the URL is about “retinal disease.”)

(The link is to http://medicalmarketingenterprises.com.  The anchor text “improve your web site rankings” tells Google that the URL is a web page about improving medical web site rankings.)

  • Signature Box

Randall V. Wong, M.D.
Retina Specialist
Fairfax, Virginia

(This is a copy of my signature box used on my blog.  I use Retina Specialist and Fairfax, Virginia as the anchor text linking back to my retina site.  By choosing this text, it informs Google that I am a retinal specialist and work in Virginia.)

When to Best Use Anchor Text

Any opportunity where you can improve your SEO by using anchor text, do it.  Most importantly;

  • Guest Blogging:  You may set up a link back to your own site.  Use carefully chosen words to maximize the power of these “back links.”
  • External Links:  These are links away from your site.  I prefer to use anchor text almost exclusively because it looks and reads smoother.  Links away from your site have the least SEO value.
  • Internal Links:  If you notice, almost every article we produce as at least 3 hyperlinks per article.  Most times, we prefer to link to pages or posts internal to this site.  This internal linking as SEO value, so we try to use anchor text as much as possible.
  • Images:  This is probably overlooked by most designers and SEO specialists.  Choose an image to serve as the link and then choose your target URL.  NOTE:  place keywords, text in the “alt text” window of the image to maximize the SEO.