In the highly competitive healthcare industry, having a website is no longer an option for doctors and medical practices. A website is essential if you want patients — and other providers who can make referrals — to discover you. However, without any digital marketing knowledge, you might think, “build it, and they will come.” But your website is only the beginning of your online presence. The real secret to being found online is the quality of your medical practice search engine optimization or SEO.
But exactly what is medical practice SEO? More importantly, why does your medical practice need it? Here’s a quick introduction to search engine optimization for your practice.
What is Medical Practice SEO?
SEO is how the practice shows up in the search results, how Google and other search engines rank the content you produce, and, ultimately, how patients find you.
Medical practice SEO is a process that’s measured and replicated to help you drive organic, or unpaid, traffic to your site. It includes both technical and creative methods to generate that traffic, boost your search rankings, and increase awareness about your practice. SEO requires the appropriate keywords, headings, subheadings, and backlinks (hyperlinks to other reputable sites), as well as the white space structure, word count, and amount.
Why does your Medical Practice need SEO?
Social media is a powerful way to get discovered online, but because search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo are the primary sources of traffic, SEO is especially relevant.
Often, before patients search for a doctor, they seek information about their symptoms and even a possible diagnosis. Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project conducted a study that found 72% of online users say they have looked for health information on the internet. Furthermore, 35% are “online diagnosers,” or people who have sought to figure out what medical condition they or someone else might have. When you don’t build quality content and give your prospective patients with useful information, they’ll go to a competitor’s website that does.
Medical Practice SEO is also essential because it can help you show up on the first search results page. Page one is where you want your site because most people don’t look any further. According to a Chitika survey, sites listed on Google’s first-page search results generate 92% of traffic from an average search.
How does SEO work?
may sound like an incredibly complex marketing concept, but the reality is it’s easy to understand.
Search engine optimization begins with Google’s algorithm. That’s a mathematical formula used to rank every website and search query to decide where websites will appear on the search results and which ones will appear on the coveted first list. The algorithm looks at three key aspects: quality, trust, and authority.
You may recall the phrase “content is king.” It is vital for an effective medical practice SEO plan. Years ago, websites would stuff their webpages with keywords to rank higher, but now Google penalizes sites for “keyword stuffing.”
Google ranks sites that produce engaging, creative, persuasive, and shareable content. The material should, of course, be composed for search engines, but it also must be user-friendly and easy to read by people who visit your site.
Google awards higher rankings to authoritative sites — meaning they’re well-liked and have an active audience. Websites that have a solid fan base, or a group of people who love the content you produce, share it on social media, and develop relationships are the ones who rank high.
Google wants to display search results of the websites that are reliable and trustworthy, and one factor that plays a role is online reviews.
According to a Software Advice study, nearly 72% of patients read online reviews first to find a doctor. Not only are these reviews critical to your online credibility, but Google also ranks sites that have higher favorable reviews and penalize those with bad reviews.
Another way to be listed as a trustworthy site is for other reliable sites such as news sources, trade channels for the healthcare industry, and well-rated practices to link back to your site.
How to choose keywords and optimize your website
A fundamental approach to high Google rankings is to use the right keywords to optimize your content. You need to have a list of keywords to rank for which people are searching. Your list may include your location, expertise, and symptoms, health conditions, and procedures.
A tool like Google Adwords Keyword Planner will help you come up with new ideas for keywords. The keyword planner will also give you insight into how those keywords rank in your field. Try using 5 or 10 keywords per web page, and ensure that each page on your website is optimized.
Long-tail keywords will also help boost your ranking since this is how people generally search. And while “abnormal mole” might be a good start, you could use “abnormal moles images” or “what does skin cancer look like?”
Always include your location, for example, “Cancer Care in San Antonio.” However, if you’re in a crowded market, keywords that rank high might be too competitive, begin with less competitive keywords while you keep improving your site and increase your ranking.
Let’s wrap this up with FAQs
Do I need a blog for good medical practice SEO? No, but a consistent blog with relevant content that’s useful to your audience will boost your ranking as it’s seen on your site as fresh, high-quality content. If, however, you can not commit to a regular schedule, and consistently high-quality details, do not start a blog.
If I get a high search rank, should I advertise? If you are trying to attract new clients, yes. Even if your practice shows up on the top of the search results, that happens only when somebody searches for one of your keywords. You need to advertise to draw new patients, find clients for a new service, or grow a new market.
Is it essential to hire a professional medical practice SEO writer? Not necessarily. But, you do want a writer who knows how to create high-quality SEO content. If you have one in-house, that’s great. If you have an employee who is a fabulous writer but has no knowledge of SEO content writing, Google has some excellent resources. However, it will take time for them to learn. Also, recognize that the text is only one piece of the SEO equation.
Why must medical practice SEO be constant? Because the internet is continuously evolving. Sites to or from which you have links can go offline. Browser updates might conflict with code on your website. Changes in vocabulary, so the search terms change. New competitors come online. Products or services become more or less popular. Keeping a top ranking is a continuous effort.