Stand Out From Your Healthcare Competitors With Service Line Competitive Analysis

Boost your service line performance and accomplish goals like increasing brand awareness and patient volume when you dig into your competitors’ websites, service line by service line.

Take an Iterative Approach

Good healthcare marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. That’s why we recommend analyzing your competition from a service line perspective, as well as an overall organizational perspective. But which department or service line would most benefit from competitive analysis? Start with the service lines that are a primary focus for your organization as part of your strategic plan. If there are too many to choose from, or your organization hasn’t identified priorities, ask yourself the following:

  • Which service lines generate the most revenue?
  • Are there service lines with strong or increasing competition in your area?
  • Is there a service line that’s grown in the last few years or has future opportunities to grow? Or a service line that seems to be losing business?

Once you’ve determined the service line(s) you think would most benefit from strategic competitive analysis, you’ll enter into a research and discovery phase.

Research & Discovery Step 1: Who Are Your Competitors?

Your departments usually have different competitors than your organization at-large. When conducting competitive analyses, research the healthcare organizations in your town, county, state, or region—and remember that patients may be motivated to travel farther for certain types of specialized care. Compile a list of the organizations you intend to analyze who present current or potential threats to your organization’s services.

Research & Discovery Step 2: Interview Stakeholders

Your departmental leaders have nuanced knowledge about the services you offer, how your patients and community view your organization, and the competitive landscape in your area. Ask them:

  • When patients don’t see you for care, where do they go? Confirm the list you created of competitors in your region from Step 1. In context of your service line, what do they do well, and what are their weaknesses? How do your different competitors potentially threaten your business?
  • What’s different and unique about your care? How do the services you offer or your team’s approach to care differ?
  • What’s the one thing you want your patients to tell others about your team’s care? Do patients and their families see you as the community hospital offering one-on-one attention, the academic research center with cutting-edge technology, or the one-stop-shop for primary and specialty care? Think about your strengths and how they support your brand.
  • Who is your typical patient? Describe their demographics, preferences, and interests, and what you know they like most about your services.

Research & Discovery Step 3: Understand Your Target Audience

Knowing your audience—who they are, what they care about, their common questions—is critical to writing helpful, engaging service line content and setting yourself apart from your competitors.

Gather what you know about the target audience(s) of your service line, and consider if they have specific preferences for their care. If possible, interview current or past patients of the department, or review their patient feedback.

Ask what’s most important to them when it comes to researching and choosing care, what attracted them to your organization, and what they most liked or disliked about their experience.

Analyzing Your Competitors’ Online Presence

After you’ve gotten your arms around your stakeholder feedback and patients’ needs, it’s time to analyze your competitors’ websites. Research and record answers to the following questions. (Don’t forget to analyze your own organization, too!)

  • Is the content easy to read and understand? Or does it have complex sentences, medical jargon, and undefined acronyms? What grade reading level is it written at?
  • Is the content personalized to the user, focusing on their needs and how they benefit from getting care? Or is the content written in an organization-focused way?
  • Is the content sensitive and empathetic to the patient’s experience, or is it judgmental and overly negative?
  • It the section intuitively easy to navigate? Is the content organized in a way that follows the typical patient journey?
  • Is the section mobile-friendly? In 2019, 51% of time spent online is now spent on a mobile device.
  • Does each page have accurate and user-friendly metadata? Are relevant keywords used naturally in the copy to support SEO?
  • Are there clear, relevant calls-to-action on every page? Or is the next step unclear?
  • Is the website accessible? Does the site offer an equal experience to people who have a disability, or does it not comply with federal guidelines?

Beyond your competitor’s website, what other strategies are your competitors using to reach your market?

Once you’ve pinpointed your competitors’ website weaknesses and strengths, compare them to yours. Give your users the better online experience, and they’ll reward you with increased online traffic and conversions. If your service line is lacking in any of the above categories, get help from Geonetric to improve your website and get results.

Identify Your Differentiators

Weave what makes your organization the best choice for care into your copy where relevant. That means:

  • Answering common patient concerns/questions in a way that positions your organization as the best choice for care
  • Highlighting any unique services, treatments, or programs, or advanced technology and equipment
  • Explaining your staff’s approach to care, noting any special staff certifications, educational attainments, or roles
  • Listing service line department and staff awards and accreditations, explaining them in context of how patients benefit

For example, if you’re focusing on your maternity service line and you know your target audience is made up of women with diverse preferences for their birth experience, use language that makes it clear your staff respect the patient’s preferences and birth plan, and that you offer a wide range of amenities and services to suit different personal choices.

Spin Your “Weaknesses” into Strengths

Put a positive spin on the differences between you and your competitors. For example, if you’re a smaller community hospital competing with a behemoth health system, your content can highlight the personalized nature of your care, describing how your friendly, skilled staff treat patients and their loved ones like family. Stress how much easier it is to get same-day care once you’re an established patient. As long as it still accurately describes what it’s like to get care at your organization, there’s a way to top your competitors through strategic language.

Increase Market Share

Read our other helpful tips for conducting digital competitive analyses, or contact Geonetric today if you’re ready to increase your market share by enhancing the performance of your service line content. We offer a wide range of options to meet the unique needs of hospitals and health systems across the U.S.

Best Practices for Writing Online Location Profile Content for Hospitals & Healthcare Systems

When to Create a Location Profile

Creating individual location pages is good for SEO because it localizes your services to a particular area. Make a location profile if the facility has unique information in one or more of the following categories:

  • Address, including suite number if applicable
  • Hours of operation
  • Phone number

Locations Within a Larger Location

Sometimes, you will have a location within another location that provides specialized services to a distinct audience. For example, an emergency room, outpatient therapy office, pharmacy, or gift shop may be located inside your hospital, or a medical home supply store may be located inside a clinic or doctor’s office. Make an individual profile for a specialized location if it has a unique suite number and different contact information or hours of operation than the location it resides within.

How SEO Fits Into the Equation

Learn strategies that can guide users to what they’re seeking and help search engines like Google understand a location profile’s content and rank the page accordingly.

What are Your Location Strategy Goals?

Before you start writing, understand your location strategy and ask yourself the following:

  • What do you want to accomplish with your location’s web presence? How will you measure success?
  • What do you want users to learn when they come to your location’s webpage?
  • What should they do after visiting your location’s webpages – make an appointment, pick up the phone, download a brochure, or visit?
  • What services does this facility offer and what do you want to highlight?
  • What certifications or accreditations does your location have? What awards has your location received?
  • What does your current online presence do well, and what could be improved?

What to Include in Your Location Content

Your location content should describe the particular facility, distinguish it from competitors, and answer user questions. Consider including the following, when applicable, if they’re unique to the location:

  • Accreditation, awards, and/or certifications
  • Admission criteria and what to bring and expect during admission and discharge
  • Amenities (gift shop, dining options, etc.)
  • Appointment and preregistration information
  • Contact information
  • Hours of operation, including holiday hours and special circumstances
  • Insurance and billing information
  • Interactive map that indicates the location’s address—and, preferably, links to directions. You may also consider adding written directions (“Take the I-380 exit”) and onsite wayfinding details (“Turn right at the front desk”).
  • Parking information
  • Patient forms and information about how to prepare for your visit
  • Photos, videos, and virtual tours
  • Provider team members and their approach to care
  • Proximity to additional services patients may need
  • Wait times
  • Visiting hours

This information improves your SEO and gives users with a better online experience with your location and brand. Google values informative, user-focused content, because it provides web visitors with the information they need and engages them on your site longer. This translates to higher search rankings and more traffic to your site. Valuable content can increase conversions because it makes users feel more confident choosing your facility for care.

User-Focused Keyword Targeting

Through effective keyword research and content development, you can write unique content for your location pages, even when they offer similar services. Research what terms users search for in your area. Then, strategically choose keywords related to your location, and include them in your copy. Use these keywords to build out content about those subjects, answering users’ questions.

Highlight Your Services

List the services you offer at the location. Briefly explain each one to help users who may not be familiar with a procedure or treatment. Strategic, SEO-focused phrasing is important to promote what you offer in a way that attracts users searching for care. For example, if a location offers immunizations and people in your geographic service area are looking for “flu vaccine,” include exactly this phrase. (Just take care to exclude any search terms that don’t accurately reflect your services.)

In-depth information about services and treatments should live outside of the location profile, in the website’s main service-line content. Avoid duplicate content – cross-link to that information from the location profile. This helps users learn about all the relevant services available throughout the health system or organization as a whole and navigate your website more easily.

What “About Us”?

If the location has unique “about-us” information, such as their own mission, vision or history, consider featuring it on the profile. But it shouldn’t take prominence over user-focused content. As always, keep the user in mind, and only present information that’s informative and may help your audience take action or further understand your brand.

Location Profile Conversion Points

Make it easy for users to take the next step and accomplish their goals with actionable links. Featured links may differ depending on a location’s needs, but could include:

  • Appointment scheduling
  • Billing
  • Medical records
  • Patient forms
  • Wait times

Provider Profile Content

Most information about your providers should live on their profile pages. But you can help users get provider information they’re looking for without multiple clicks. Include certain provider content—such as names, photos, and specialties—on relevant location profiles, and then link the photos to the provider profiles for more in-depth information. Geonetric’s software, VitalSite, makes it easy thanks to dynamic content population of related providers or relevant pages of your site.

Get Started Today

Whether you’re creating one robust hospital location profile, three urgent care clinic profiles, or hundreds of medical group office location profiles, find expert help building your strategy and writing keyword-rich, user-first content from Geonetric.

Guidelines for Writing Healthcare Web Content

A streamlined, user-friendly online experience is increasingly a competitive differentiator in all industries. Healthcare is no exception. Web content that’s optimized for your target audience makes your site more appealing to users – and more effective to your organization as a marketing asset.

The Importance of Quality Web Content

Why do people come to your site? They want to find information or complete a task. If your content doesn’t meet the needs of your site visitors, they’ll leave.

Effective online content:

  • Answers questions in a way users understand so they can make important decisions
  • Builds relationships with current and prospective patients, employees, donors, and other audiences
  • Leads visitors to take action that aligns with your business goals and marketing funnel
  • Meets accessibility requirements
  • Promotes your services, doctors, events, expertise, and locations
  • Supports search engine optimization (SEO) efforts and helps attract new visitors
  • Tells your story while highlighting the benefits of choosing your organization

Web Writing Tips

Now that you understand why users go online, here’s a checklist you can reference to determine if your copy will deliver value for task-oriented users and your medical organization.



How Readable is Your Healthcare Content?

What’s Health Literacy?

Health literacy is the ability to understand and use health information to make informed choices and access medical services.

A person who struggles to read or comprehend medical information may have trouble:

  • Finding a provider and scheduling or attending appointments
  • Sharing their health history or explaining symptoms
  • Filling out complex medical forms
  • Following discharge instructions, including dietary recommendations
  • Taking medications as prescribed
  • Practicing self-care and managing chronic conditions

Someone with communication barriers may feel embarrassed to admit they can’t understand. They may be too intimidated to ask questions. Experiencing stress during a health situation—like after a diagnosis or during a visit to the emergency department—also can reduce your ability to understand information and make choices.

Low Health Literacy in the U.S.

Only 12 percent of adults have proficient health literacy according to the National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL). Those who struggle most are typically adults over age 65 without a high school diploma who have no insurance or receive Medicare/Medicaid.

Lifetime Impact of Low Health Literacy

Poor health literacy is linked to:

  • Higher hospitalization rates
  • Higher risk of complications
  • Longer recovery times
  • Poorer health outcomes
  • Shorter lifespan

A person’s health literacy level may also affect their satisfaction with the care they receive.

What This Means for Healthcare Marketers

Common goals for professional healthcare communicators—like guiding patients to make appointments, advertising available treatment options, and building a brand that’s seen as a trusted, compassionate source of information and care—can be impacted by health literacy barriers.

Write for Readability

The first step to understandable content is researching the health literacy levels and demographic information of your target audience. Then, content can be tailored accordingly using a combination of tools and strategies.

Use Grade-Level Calculators

Readability calculators (such as the Flesch Reading Ease and Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level tests, which are built into Microsoft Word) use algorithms to estimate the grade level of a piece of writing. These algorithms consider:

  • Word length
  • Number of syllables in a word
  • Sentence length
  • Use of contractions
  • Punctuation

You can also take advantage of free, online readability tools like Hemingway editor. It not only calculates the grade level of your content, but also points out complex sentences and instances of passive voice.

Where Readability Calculators Come Up Short

Grade-level calculators can help you evaluate the readability of your content. But, keep in mind that readability test results can be skewed by certain healthcare vocabulary. Medical terms—like “radiofrequency ablation” and “catheterization”—increase the grade level of your writing, but if you’re describing these procedures, it’s necessary to include their names. Don’t sacrifice the technical term for a word that has a lower readability level but doesn’t accurately describe the subject.

Write with Clarity

Writing clearly with plain language makes you a strong, effective communicator. When your readers have barriers to comprehension, writing simply makes it easier for them to understand—and take action.

To simplify your content:

  • Write with a conversational, user-focused approach. Speak directly to the reader. (“Your doctor will ask questions about your health history and your current symptoms during your first visit.”)
  • Use common terms instead of medical terms (i.e., write “cancer doctor” instead of, or along with, “oncologist”) or provide context clues (“Your oncologist is a doctor with training and experience to diagnose and treat cancer”).
  • Break down complex medical concepts into short words and sentences. Add definitions or provide examples after complex terms. (“Your doctor may recommend a bone density scan. This is an imaging test that measures the strength of your bones.”)
  • Avoid clichés and idioms that aren’t familiar across cultures (such as “clean bill of health”).
  • Write in active voice (“Your doctor will help you find the best hearing aid for you.”) instead of passive voice (“The best hearing aid for you will be selected by your doctor.”).

When you organize information, start with the simplest concepts and build up to the complex.

Use Person-First Language

Use People-First Language [PDF] to show that you view your readers as people, not medical conditions. For example, say “a person with diabetes,” instead of “a diabetic.”

When possible, include ways your audience can be active in their own care. Tell them to bring a loved one to their appointment to help them remember all of the information they receive. Or, suggest patients write down all of their questions before their consultation.

Web Writing for Everyone

Do readers with high literacy levels and specialized knowledge, like your physicians or administrators, prefer more complex writing? The answer, according to a study by the Nielsen Norman Group, is no. Everyone appreciates simplicity and scannability on the web. Feel confident you’re representing your organization in a professional manner—and reaching the widest audience when you make your content as straightforward as possible.

Learn more about ensuring the accessibility of your web content