As part of our series on Local Search, we explore consumers’ increasing expectation for immediacy. People want “right here, right now.” Medical practices can adapt to remain competitive.
To understand today’s consumer, think immediacy. Data trends show that consumers quickly adapt to what technology offers. When people search on the internet, they now expect to get not only immediate information, but also immediate and relevant solutions. They want to decide and act quickly.
Internet searchers also now expect to get these best-fit-right-now results even without providing specific information. Medical practices who want to stay competitive need to understand these trends in consumer expectations, then adapt their marketing strategies.
Google data shows consumers expect intuitive, immediate solutions
Google analytic data shows that consumers quickly and dramatically change their behaviors and expectations to fit what technology offers them. They want speed, action, and immediate solutions, and they expect search engines to anticipate their needs.
Here are some examples that show how people are adapting and seeking faster solutions:
- Trends since 2017 show a huge drop in people adding place names and zip codes to their searches. People know that search engines now give them local results when they want local results.
- Mobile searches combining open + now + near me were up 200 % over a recent 2.5 year period, and people add these “help me now” words to both products and services.
- People now generally use “open now” instead of “store hours,” again emphasizing how people search in the moment of their immediate need, intending to take immediate action. Also notable is that they expect the search engine to just know what places are open.
- Recent Google analytics show that “53% of visits are abandoned if a mobile site takes more than 3 seconds to load,” and, “for every 1 second delay in site load time, conversions fall by 12%.” People do not want to wait and hunt for the information they need. They instead want a quick display of the most important facts to make decisions and take action. They expect the search system to know what this important information is, to find it, and to display it immediately.
What “right here, right now” means for competitive medical practices:
We have written before about how important it is to show up in the “Local Search Pack,” which is the list of top results that Google gives to online searchers. As consumers want more “right here, right now,” we need to think of local more broadly: Local now means more than location. Local now means the best nearby thing that meets a person’s immediate need.
For potential medical clients, immediate need means finding a local physician who offers the service they need, seeing if they can trust that physician, then calling, or setting up an appointment, or getting directions, or possibly looking at a website for more information. In the case of walk-in clinics, it means quickly finding a nearby clinic, checking open hours, then following the online directions to get there quickly.
See results when you take these specific steps:
To compete for today’s busy, internet-savvy customers, smart medical marketing teams must think of finding and communicating with their potential patients through search engines:
Always remember: potential clients will only find you if the search engine finds you.
If you do not have a search-engine-friendly listing page, then the search engine is not likely to show you in the Local Search pack. Instead, it will prioritize the practices that do.
You must maintain a current address in your listing pages, with a separate current listing page for each physician at each location where they practice.
Even though Local Search looks for more than location, your actual physical location still remains the first thing. Search results prioritize doctors that are closest to the searcher’s location. If search engines don’t know your actual address, they don’t know you are “right here.”
You must optimize your listing pages by anticipating what information your preferred clients need to make decisions and take action. And then make sure your pages include this information.
- Accurate phone number
- Services, specialties, and general categories of services
- Open hours
- Online scheduling options, if possible
- Link to your website
- Doctor photo
- Possibly, Google Posts or photos or videos
Consumers do not always explicitly enter their needs. But Google’s vast data means the search engine makes excellent assumptions, and will favor practices that give consumers what data show they usually want.
It is essential for you to have a continual flow of positive, representative reviews from your customers, to boost your reputation so people can trust you.
One of the most important medical decisions people make is if they can trust a provider. Now that online ratings and reviews are common, searchers have adapted their expectations. They expect to see star ratings, and they will likely want to read a few reviews to decide if they can trust you. They might look at your website, but not if they don’t have to. They want to make good decisions fast, so they prefer this information right in the search results.
Even more important than customers looking at your ratings, is that search engines look for ratings. To deliver the best-quality results, search engines prioritize physicians with the top online ratings. Potential clients will not even see you in the Local Search pack unless you have positive reviews.
If you do not already, consider adding after-hours and weekend walk-in clinics.
And then be sure to create and optimize a listing page for your walk-in clinic!
Help busy people find you now
Busy people are used to the speed technology offers them. They are used to using the internet to make decisions. When they search online, they want to act right then.
You can probably relate to adapting your shopping behaviors as technology has changed. You know you can wait until you need something, then no matter where you are, within minutes you can do a quick search, get good ideas, and arrange for next- or even same-day delivery. You can even include gift wrap!
Medical consumers have similarly adapted their expectations. Because they know technology makes it possible, they want to get an actual service, or set up an appointment, or get more information, immediately. They want to choose a great physician, immediately. They expect to get all the details they need to take action, then act. Immediately. You could even say they want it all wrapped up.
Smart medical practices will embrace these changes. As medical practices anticipate consumer expectations and optimize their internet visibility, they will see their businesses thrive.