Your new acupuncture practice is up and ready to roll. You’ve found a great space to rent, have equipped yourself with table, needles, and office supplies. Or maybe you’re clinic has been open for a while. You’re ready for the phone to start ringing so you can help people feel better. Unfortunately, you’re faced with one of the toughest challenges for practitioners everywhere–how to get new patients into your clinic? Fifteen or twenty years ago it may have been as simple as a yellow pages listing and a couple of ads in your local paper or magazine. Today however, if you’re not online, your chances of building a thriving practice drop dramatically.
I taught practice management for a couple of years at a local acupuncture college, and was surprised at how many students were completely confounded by the prospect of building an online presence. Many were in the process of building their clinic website, but few had thought further–how to get their website found by prospective patients looking for their services. While I can’t begin to cover everything you need to know in a single post, here are a few things that can help you increase your chances of getting your website found online.
-Online listing sites. These are online directories where you sign up to have your name or clinic listed for your particular location. The very first place you should sign up is with search engines, such as Google, Yahoo, Bing, and any others that you can think of. Start with Google, as it will put you on the map. You do this by signing into, or opening, your Google account. Click on your profile and look for the prompts for listing your business, or go here. Other online directories to consider, are Yelp, Angie’s list, and any and all acupuncture or complementary healing websites. Most of the online directories offer free listings, but some charge a fee for an enhanced listing or better placement. The only directory that I might consider paying for is Acufinder.
-Social media. Hanging out online is a good way to bring attention to you, your clinic, and all the fabulous things that you offer. Websites such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Linkedin are a great place to start. You can pick one and begin posting and connecting fairly quickly. Don’t know what to post? Try talking about conditions you treat, the benefits of acupuncture, and upcoming events at your clinic. Social media can help to increase the number of people that know you exist, position you as an authority, bring links to your website, increase your page ranking, and best of all…it’s free.
-Online reviews. Reviews about you, your services, or your clinic are relevant information, and help boost your online ranking. In addition, I have had new patients call for an appointment and tell me that after looking at a number of websites, they chose me because of what my patients have said about me online. Whenever a patient tells you how much you have helped them, make it your strategy (after the thank you) to mention how much online reviews help you. Suggest Google, Yahoo, Angie’s List, and Yelp, for starters. In addition, I mention how much online reviews help me in every newsletter that I send out.
-Content! Writing articles or blog posts that are on your clinic website or link to it help you in a number of ways. First, search engines like good, original, helpful content. Second, including good information that you have written establishes you as an expert in your field—and let’s face it, every patients wants to go to the best. And finally, giving information away and writing about the things you do and the conditions you treat gives prospective patients a small taste of what they might expect when they actually do call you.
Feeling overwhelmed by all of this? Then get some help. I have been writing my own content for years, as well as handling SEO (search engine optimization) and social media. When I became so busy that keeping all that up became too much, I got some help with my social media, and you can too. Here’s a good place to start.
The final word here is that print advertising is no longer enough to build your acupuncture practice. Your prospective patients are looking for you online, so you had better be there. Pick one or more of the above strategies, and get busy, because what you offer is too important not to be found.