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Is the Online Doctor Consultation Trend Over?

This post covers the overall search trends as well as industry updates which relate to the topic of

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Now that 2020 is behind us, it’s time to review the biggest change in the elective healthcare space. This is more specifically related to online healthcare and virtual consultations, which is a direct result of the Coronavirus pandemic. This post covers the overall search trends as well as industry updates which relate to the topic.

Search Trends

As you might expect, at the start of the pandemic there were large spikes in online and virtual related keywords. Some even increased over 400% MoM! Those websites that were previously optimized or quickly launched with virtual opportunities for these keywords to rank before the spike quickly capitalized on this trend.

It’s also important to note that during a normal year, there is some seasonality associated with the elective healthcare space, especially around New Year’s resolutions and summer plans. A lot of elective healthcare-related procedures are cosmetic in nature. Consumers and patients use the New Year as a reason to make changes and others want to look good during the summer months, so we tend to see higher search volume for cosmetic-related procedures during these times.

What’s interesting here, is the generic related searches were the quickest to spike and quickest to return back to normal levels.

However, keywords relating to more specific doctors have consistently remained elevated. Upon more research, skin care and dermatology also seemed to be the top elective searches as well.

Google My Business Updates

Google made a lot of updates to the local GMB platform throughout the last year because the local business or doctor has been impacted significantly. Because Google likes to return the most relevant and useful information to the searcher, these changes were both necessary and appreciated in a lot of cases.

These updates have included updating hours, marking businesses as temporarily closed, halting review generation, and more. More recently, GMB has started to roll up options for video conferencing integration which has potential to be a very powerful tool that significantly impacts performance reports. It’s possible that consumers who utilize video conferencing may never click through to the site or submit a form meaning it was a “zero click search”, thus making it harder to track performance related data. More details regarding this change will become apparent as we continue to monitor its impact in the coming months.

The Future

Even though the search volume has returned to normal for a lot of these keywords, incorporating some kind of online consultation feature is still a good idea. The search trends could definitely spike again or the overall search landscape could change quickly to make these types of searches more impactful. Not to mention, it’s also a great way to find new patients outside your local market. Either way, it sets your site up to perform well as a proactive measure instead of trying to react, putting your website in much better shape.

Published on
Feb 01, 2021

Written by
Ryan Metcalf