Consumers find websites by using search engines and searching on specific keywords. When “listings” appear in response to the keyword searches, consumers select one or more websites to investigate the topic related to the search term. For successful Internet strategies, the practice website must be listed in highly prominent positions on the search engines in response to keyword searches by consumers.
All Internet strategies are driven by the keywords of focus. The keywords of focus are those search terms that are used by consumers to find information about the specific health care procedures and other services offered by the practice. To increase the number of potential patients that visit the website, and ultimately the practice, the practice website must be easily found by consumers who are looking for information about these practice areas.
The dominant search engines are Google with 48% share, Yahoo! with 21% share and MSN with 12% share (Nielsen NetRatings, May 2005). AOL has a 5% share; however, AOL no longer maintains its own search engine, and its search results are provided by Google. The remaining share is made up of a number of smaller search engines such as AskJeeves, Mamma, etc. Clearly, for a strategy to be effective, the practice website must have high listing positions on one of the top three search engines, particularly Google. On each search engine, there are two types of listing positions: paid listings and free (“organic”) listings.