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How to Not Brand Your Hº$pî†@L in the Internet Age

Most hospitals and healthcare systems were created well before the emergence of the Internet, nevermind related concepts such as search engine optimization that are crucial for hospital brand awareness.

Still, that doesn’t mean hospital marketers aren’t occasionally provided with new opportunities to create brand names for new hospital services, features, fundraising groups, blogs and more. Rather than simply giving a name that might sound nice, hospital branding must now assess the challenges of creating a brand name that is SEO-friendly.

On one hand, there’s the challenge of not being unique enough. LA Weekly recently listed the top five least-Google-friendly restaurants in Los Angeles. These included LA Market, 24/7, Bar Kitchen, Local and Food. No matter how great their quality and popularity might be, they are all virtually impossible to find via search engines unless the search phrase is somehow qualified, modified or longtailed.

On the other hand, there is a new trend in online branding that has apparently become popular with music groups that are striving to maintain “indie” credibility by not ranking at the top of Google. That might seem counterproductive for anybody trying to build a following of their brand, whether it’s bands or hospitals.

This month’s Wired discussed this peculiar practice of bands using “unintelligible monikers” that use character substitutions and alternatives. For instance, “hospital” might be “spelled” the way it was in the headline above…or even more cryptically and harder to remember and type.

Of course, a hospital would likely never go to that extreme, but it’s an interesting notion to ponder, especially when using people’s names, such as those given in honor of a hospital foundation, or particularly when using a hospital’s doctor’s names as a meaning of increasing Website traffic.

Paging Dr. Jerry Brown, or Is Dr. Geri Browne or Gov. Jerry Brown?

As patients continue to become more sophisticated in their use of the Internet to research hospitals and physicians, the names of surgeons, doctors and specialists are increasingly proving to be keywords that are just as effective as a carefully researched long-tail keyword for a medical condition or procedure.

However, some names—such as Jerry Brown—create certain dilemmas. First, there’s the reality that both “Jerry” and “Brown” are both very common names and words (such as using “brown” to describe a color). Then there’s the fact that searches for “Jerry Brown” are most likely going to return results for the governor of California, rather than a doctor at your hospital.

On the other hand, homonyms and spelling variations of Jerry Brown—such as “Gerry Braun” or “Geri Browne”—can very easily result in patients searching for the more common spelling.

Ultimately, the answer—whether for organic SEO or pay-per-click—is to carefully analyze your keywords. For instance, a name such as mine (Derek Rudnak), is not very common, so chances are that optimizing for it wouldn’t require much (if any) additional work.

But in the “Jerry Brown” example, careful consideration and research (and perhaps testing) would be crucial for its success. This could include:

Geography: For instance, if you are located in Topeka, Kansas, “jerry brown topeka doctor” might be a solution.

Specialty: If your Dr. Jerry Brown is a pediatrician, “jerry brown topeka podiatry” might be a more precise solution.

Hospital Name: Of course, be sure to not exclude one of your most value keywords: your hospital’s name!

Remember, every page on your Website has the potential to be a “home page.”  If patients are more likely to find you by searching for a physician’s name or specialty, take advantage of it.

Derek Rudnak | Healthcare Marketing Communications Specialist | AVID Design

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011 at 11:03 am and is filed under Branding. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

2 responses to “How to Not Brand Your Hº$pî†@L in the Internet Age”

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