Blogging is a fun, creative way for eyecare professionals to interact and engage with those who frequent their office. But can it actually help grow one’s practice and attract new patients? You bet.
A great tool for building your practice’s brand recognition in the community is a well-maintained blog. The more informative and entertaining the posts you put on it, the more those in your area will seek you out as a trusted expert who can answer all of their eyecare questions. If you’re up to the challenge, you could then turn that increased blog traffic into increased traffic to your practice. Here are some important things to keep in mind:
Before starting a blog, have a heart-to-heart talk with yourself. Overseeing a blog requires quite a bit of work. Are you willing to spend upward of 12 hours a day setting it up? Do you truly enjoy writing and corresponding with others? Are you willing to spend an average of four-plus hours per week writing blog entries and replying to comments? These are all important questions you have to consider. Be sure that you’re willing to stay the course as traffic to a blog can take a while to build.
Choose a memorable domain name for your blog and find a platform on which to host it. WordPress is the most popular and, for the most part, is free, though there will be a minimal cost for a computer server. I strongly suggest visiting GoDaddy.com and checking out its WordPress Site/Blog section. There you’ll find WordPress blog plans with a minimal monthly charge that simplify the whole setup process and experience. There are other blog platforms out there such as Bluehost.com, but I find GoDaddy to be both easy to use and cost effective.
Actively market your blog. Start by sending an email out to your practice database, then shoot a press release off to your local newspaper. Be sure that all of your email and written correspondence have your blog URL on it as well. You should also do a Google search and find other local but non-optical blogs to post comments on, so that you can include your blog URL in your responses. (Note: You may need to get permission from the blog editors first.)
Keep search engine optimization in mind. Put eyecare-related keywords in your blog entries (such as “eye exam,” “eyeglasses,” “contact lenses,” etc.) so search engines will recognize your content and use it in local search results.
Decide upon a posting schedule. Ideally, you’ll post at least one entry a week, although some bloggers write shorter posts (about 200 words) several times a week. Those who do more in-depth writing (in the 1,500-word range) tend to post less often. Find out which approach fits your schedule and liking the most.
Stick to your plan. Once you develop a writing style and posting frequency, keep to it so your readers know what to expect. Keep in mind that shorter blog posts usually get more reader comments and engagement. Another trick for upping reader engagement and encouraging online dialogue? Set up your blog so readers can “join up.” This way, they’ll be notified when you add new content and they’ll be advised as soon as you reply to their comments.
Include links to your practice’s website and Facebook page in your blog posts. You can also feature and house your blog within your website (example: doctorsvisioncenter.com/blog/), thus bringing search engine optimization traffic directly to your website.
Blogging is not for those who want instant results with little work, as it takes a lot of time and effort to create an impact. The right amount of thought and dedication, though, can lead to increased website traffic, helping to build your brand’s recognition and to attract new patients to your practice. And with so many others successfully using their blogs to help grow their practices, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be thinking about getting in the game yourself.
Bob Main is the Head Coach and Founder of ECPWebCoach.com, an education company that teaches ECPs how to use the Internet and social media to grow their practice.
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