The healthcare industry is one of the few industries that remain operational in an age where almost everything can be purchased digitally. But that doesn’t mean healthcare providers don’t have to strengthen their online presence.
In fact, they highly need it now. Modern patients meet with their doctor in person, but the search for the right provider often happens online.
Doctors.com commissioned a survey of more than 1,700 U.S. adults and found out that four out of five (80 percent) respondents have used the internet to do a healthcare-related search in the previous year.
In addition, most of the respondents will choose one provider with a well-built digital presence that offers accessible, relevant, and compelling medical content.
To ensure greater practice success, you would have to surpass your competitors’ search engine rankings for relevant keywords, search queries and core services.
Through an effective medical search engine optimization (SEO) strategy!
Here’s a guide for a successful medical SEO strategy and factors to help you rank high on search engines!
First, What is Medical Search Engine Optimization?
Medical search engine optimization (medical SEO for short) refers to the process of improving your healthcare website’s search engine ranking to reach and convert more patients in need of healthcare services.
SEO for medical practice is, in other words: a healthcare marketing strategy to make your website and pages rank higher in various search engines, for relevant keywords that potential patients are searching for. This will help improve website traffic without spending money on ads.
For instance, let’s say your practice specializes in vascular diseases. When a patient looks for a doctor for varicose veins on Google Search, the search results page will display listings for nearby vascular specialists within milliseconds.
The pages that scored the highest according to the algorithm are at the top of the search pages, while the less relevant pages are at the bottom or subsequent pages. The patient searching for a varicose vein doctor will not see your name unless your medical website is optimized for local search results.
It’s crucial to have a comprehensive strategy for medical SEO as search algorithms become more sophisticated and the competition for medical websites SEO increases.
Is Medical SEO really important?
SEO is a marketing strategy that helps potential customers find your website by making it easier to search for it.
Through an effective healthcare SEO, the majority of patients who visit your website are acquired organically and not through paid ads, social media, or referrals. Believe it or not, as early as 2003, 80% of internet users had started to search online for health information.
With the constant rise of digital marketing, SEO has become the most important driver of new patients to healthcare practices.
If you don’t invest in SEO, you’re simply giving away clicks and patient conversions to your competitors.
Elements of Medical SEO
Optimizing your website makes it easier for search engine sites to understand your website and for your potential patients to find you.
These are the elements that you need to focus on to achieve good healthcare SEO:
Off-page SEO is about improving ranking factors not directly related to your website.
Google considers backlinks, relevant online directories listings, and Google My Business reviews to validate a website’s legitimacy.
If many websites link to your website, you likely have accurate practice directory listings and high volumes of reviews. Your practice will then stand out as a place where patients would want to visit and experience your medical services.
On-site SEO focuses on improving several aspects of your website, including the keywords used and the quality of content and individual pages.
Keyword research determines which search phrases are being used by patients in your local area when looking for providers similar to yours.
Google and other search engines love authoritative content that explains topics in depth. Don’t be afraid to show your leadership and post new compelling content regularly.
In addition, major search engines concentrate on showing patients local-focused results that include local practice websites. Therefore, it’s significant to add your name, address, and phone number on each page.
Technical SEO covers all the hidden elements of search engine rankings, such as your website development and optimization.
How to Top Search Engines
1. Regularly Audit Your Medical Website
Do a thorough SEO audit of your medical website regularly to help establish a baseline for how your practice website is performing in terms of medical SEO. Doing so will also provide a way to measure the progress of your overall medical marketing efforts.
Website auditing includes:
- Site health score
- Site security report
- Structures for on-page SEO
- Analysis of page content
- Analysis of competitors
- Tracking of broken internal linking
- Page speed score test
2. Fast, Secure, Mobile Friendly, and Optimized Website
Most web users will abandon your site if it takes more than three seconds to load. Google is aware of this and wouldn’t place a slow website at the top because they want to offer the best resources.
How fast should your website be? Google says two seconds is the threshold, but they aim for under half a second. Although webpage speed isn’t the most important ranking factor, it’s close to security.
According to Global Sign, 85 percent of consumers would abandon a purchase if data was sent over an unsecured connection. The majority of them wouldn’t even browse an unsecured website.
Security is an essential part of any business. If your healthcare business doesn’t have a secure (HTTPS) website, you’ve got bigger problems than SEO.
According to Google, 77 percent of smartphone owners have used their smartphones to find local health services in the past six months. The majority of them are more likely to revisit and/or share a mobile site if it’s easy to use.
The meta title tag of a web page is a major ranking signal. The meta description used to be more important, but Google can now automate meta descriptions based upon the content. Both sections must be completed. Here’s a sample meta tag created using WordPress:
3. Quality Content
SEO for medical practices is all about content. Your website should be filled with relevant and high-quality content to prove to your potential patients and Google that your site is an authority in that particular market.
The more authoritative your website is, the higher you will rank in organic search results.
[Learn how to create compelling and SEO-friendly healthcare content strategy: The Content Ocean Strategy: Turning 1 Article Into a Sea of Online Content]
4. Tailored Keyword Usage
To optimize your content for SEO, you need to create content around your healthcare specialization keywords.
Although each specialty is unique, most patients want local services. If your practice focuses on women’s health services, here are a few medical keyword strategies using “ob-gyn” as the sample keyword idea:
- Obgyn + your city
- Obgyn + your county
- Prenatal consultation + your city
- Pregnancy test + your county
- obstetrics and gynecology center + your city
- Ultrasound services + your city
- Prenatal + doctor + your city
- Obgyn + treatment + city
You could guess what keywords your patients might be searching for, or hire a healthcare SEO expert to find out what they are searching for. Avoid keyword stuffing (making every word a keyword) as Google may find out and penalize you.
5. Authority Link Building
Did you know that links back to your site are one of Google’s ranking factors? Search engines love to see many unique domains linking back to your site to verify your website’s credibility.
Your search engine rankings will be influenced more by the quality of your links, such as your site, directory listings, and even social media profiles.
6. Optimized Google My Business Profile
Modern patients want health services that are close to home, and searches containing the phrase “near me” have doubled since 2015. Hence, you need an optimized and competitive Google My Business page.
Local patients will need to find you in Google’s local packs. A local pack is a group of 4 to 5 business listings that appear above the organic search results. It’s the only thing that searchers can see on mobile without scrolling down.
Google’s local packs are pulled from several places, but the majority of them are from your Google My Business Page. Ensure that the following information is correct.
- Company category
- Main telephone number
- Company description
- Hours of operation
- Address or service area
[Related: What’s so Important About Location in Healthcare? (Hint: Everything)]
7. Generate Online Reviews for Local SEO
Get as many positive online reviews from satisfied patients as possible, especially those that mention specific procedures that you want to rank for in search engine results. Automating reviews can make this process more efficient for your practice.
Prepare a device that your patient can use at your facility to rate their patient experience on a scale of 1-10. An automated follow-up notification will be sent via email to those who gave high scores to ask them to leave a review on your site. Those positive reviews will be directly shown on your website.
On the other hand, those who gave poor scores wouldn’t be left behind. To improve your reputation management, you can ask the patient to elaborate on their concerns and allow you to resolve the issue.
Partner With A Trusted Medical SEO Marketing Expert
Search engine optimization is an ever-changing field. What works today might not work tomorrow.
Many factors influence search engine rankings (Google has at most 200), but each factor is weighted differently and can (and often do) change over time.
These are the most common factors that affect your SEO ranking:
- Website optimization
- Google My Business (GMB) optimization
- Online doctor reviews
- Number of domains that link to your site
- Number of links from your website
- Keyword research
- Quality content
To create a strong, irresistible online presence, partner with a trusted medical marketer who knows all the complexity of creating digital marketing strategies in healthcare.
If you need an expert partner to help you with your medical SEO, reach out to Digitalis Medical.
We work alongside doctors to grow their business through our proven medical SEO services. Contact us today to know more about us!
Do you have any questions about medical SEO? Ask us in the comments section below!