Patient Search Journey: Problem to Solution

Google tells us that people looking for a healthcare solution usually start by Googling their problem. As they learn new terminology, they narrow their search. Then they begin to look for more information about solutions. Finally, having chosen a possible solution, they look for a place to get that solution.

For example, a parent might start with “lazy eye” and then move on to “amblyopia” or “strabismus.” Eventually, in the course of a typical 10 to 12 searches, they might end up with “lazy eye surgery” or “glasses to treat amblyopia.”

Where do you want to show up? Many healthcare marketers figure they want to show up in search once the patient is becoming ready to buy. They figure they can skip the early searches and hone in on the customer once they’re ready to choose a solution. “Lazy eye surgery” might be the keyword they want to show up for.

That might not be the best plan.

Understanding the problem

One study — a study looking at searches for “amblyopia,” as it happens — found that this part of the journey tends to be the most successful part of the search.

People looking for basic information about their health problems were, in this study, most able to find and recognize accurate information.

When  you choose to provide basic health information of this kind, you may be in more aggressive competition than you will be later. But you will also be providing the first kind of information healthcare consumers need and want.

This kind of information lets you be the generous, helpful provider.

Find potential solutions

At this point, according to the study, the value of patient search breaks down. Searchers tend to be steered to sales pages and they don’t succeed at answering questions about this kind of information later.

This part of the journey is likely to be frustrating for your patients and potential patients. They begin to feel like they’re being sold to, and they have less confidence in the information they find.

Providing clear, accurate information about the treatment options is a valuable service for your current patients and potential patients. Provide this kind of information with SEO-optimized pages and posts and you will be filling a need.

Resist the temptation to make these posts and pages into sales pitches.

Get the solution

The searcher who is looking for “amblyopia surgery near me” or “lazy eye surgery costs” is ready to buy. These are mostly long-tail searches with transactional intent. Some of these searchers will also search for “ophthalmologist,” but they are not looking for general information.

Now you want to offer a sales page.

Visitors to this page will be ready to compare you with your competitors, to find out the insurance you accept, and to get an idea about pricing.

If they have already seen your website as they searched for information earlier in their path to purchase, they will now see you as a generous, helpful, knowledgeable professional. This is a real advantage for you in the sales process.

Put the whole thing together

If you follow our advice on Content Clusters as you build the pages to meet searchers’ needs all the way along their path to purchase, you will have significant SEO advantages. Searchers who have seen your pages on the SERPs along the way — even if they didn’t click through — will be more likely to look at your website when they’re ready to buy.

If you have answered their questions along the way… if they have clicked through… you have already made yourself and your website valuable to them.

Does this kind of marketing make sense to you? Contact us to talk about your needs.

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