Trends: Influencing The Healthcare Decision

Search engine optimization and content marketing

In 2014, digital platforms will be a top resource for health information and care decisions. Already this decade we’ve seen steady increases in the volume of web searches for health topics, treatments and care providers. Hospital marketers will be challenged to get their messages where the consumers look for information: online.

With healthcare consumers so reliant on the internet for health information, it has become imperative for hospital brands to create engaging content and use search optimization so their audiences can find it easily. Because younger consumers respond to reputation claims, branded content carries greater influence on the healthcare decision.


According to Pew Research, 81% of U.S. adults use the internet and 59% say they have looked online for health information in the past year. One in three Americans has gone online specifically to try to figure out what medical condition they or someone else might have. Most begin at search engines such as Google, Bing or Yahoo; others start at health sites such as WebMD. Their search topics include information about specific conditions or diseases, treatment options and doctors or care providers.

When surveyed about their decision process, a vast majority of patients who booked appointments reported using digital content. Most visited hospital websites prior to making an appointment, while smaller segments of this group used health information sites, health insurance company sites and user-generated reviews.

Web videos are another growing source of healthcare information. A study published on Google Think reports that one in eight patients watched online videos on either hospital websites, insurances sites, health information sites or on YouTube. Online videos are ubiquitous and today’s mobile and broadband technology now makes video almost a necessity for hospital marketers who want to reach younger audiences.

Enhanced Search Engine Marketing

Google bridges social, ads and platforms
There will be a few new additions to SEM in 2014, including Sponsored Endorsements, Estimated Total Conversions, and Ad Extensions.

Sponsored Endorsements will sound eerily familiar to Facebook’s Sponsored Stories. Sponsored Endorsements will publish users’ name, photos and comments that they have made on Google services, such as Google Plus and YouTube, in ads on Google’s display advertising network. For example, if a patient follows your hospital on Google Plus or commented on a video your hospital posted on YouTube, that patient’s name, photo and endorsement could appear on display ads across the Web.

Estimated Total Conversions is a new service of Google AdWords that shows companies or organizations their total number of conversions that started with online advertising. The first component of this is estimated cross-device conversions, which shows how consumers move across screens from computers to mobile devices throughout the day. These analytics could show a conversion that began on a desktop computer when a prospective patient clicked on a search ad for cardiac care in the morning, but ended on that patient’s mobile phone later that evening when they went directly to the cardiac page on your hospital’s website to request an appointment.

Lastly, varieties of ad extensions are increasing to include: location, phone, live chat, and image. These ad extensions make the search ads more relevant to patients and increases the ways in which patients can connect with them, which makes them more likely to convert.

To read more, download the white paper, “Healthcare Marketing’s Top Trends for 2014” here.