For doctors trying to reach their patients online, using Google+ can provide surprising marketing benefits that help them be more “findable” on the web. Consider that 44 percent of all Internet users search online to find information about health professionals, and suddenly the importance for doctors of having a good online presence should be more clear.
In this article I’ll discuss three reasons why I think that, if you participate in Google+, the newest social network, you can improve the chances your name will come up when prospective patients search for something you’ve written about. If you’re not a doctor but you do know that many prospective clients use the web as a way to find you and your competitors, this article will also be relevant to you.
1. Rise in the Rankings
First, participating in Google+ gives doctors an advantage because content you share on Google+ has an “edge” against other stories. That’s right–Google (the search engine) likes stories that’ve gotten shared or +1’d on Google+ better.
For example, if a doctor writes a post about back pain and shares it via Google+, Google will favor this post in search results for topics related to back pain over comparable results not linked to a Google+ user. That’s important–because the higher up your content appears in search results, the more likely it is someone will visit your site.
2. Amplify Your Web Activity
Second, benefits of participating in Google+ grow as your network grows. Fellow blogger and search marketing expert Brian Whalley elaborates on what this means:
“[As you build up] a large following on Google+, content you’ve shared with your followers will also show up in those followers’ relevant Google.com searches, keeping your business top of mind and increasing its visibility among existing followers across multiple channels.”
3. Stand Out From the Crowd
Third, Google+ helps you stand out in search results because of the social data (such as your headshot, a link to your Google+ profile, and/or the number of people who have +1’d your article) included along with your content as another perk of participating. Social data will make people trust your content and make a searcher more likely to click it.
But the truth is, these articles miss the point: which is that when you use Google+, you enhance your visibility every time someone searches on Google.com. Who cares if your patients don’t use Google+? They definitely use Google–and that’s where the results of your engagement on Google+ will show up.
Establishing yourself as a trusted medical expert is only going to become more important over time. The cost of care is rising and patients even today often don’t view distance as a deal breaker if it means better treatment at lower cost. Where will patients head to find the best care out there?
More than likely, to the Web.
Katie Matlack is a Medical Market Analyst at Software Advice. She joined Software Advice in 2011 and covers health information technology, particularly electronic medical records, for the company. Prior to working at Software Advice she was a freelance writer and contributed to several print and online publications while based in… View full profile