There are many ways to look for a healthcare professional. But in today’s digital age, it’s become an instinct to look them up online.
By typing in a keyword or phrase, users can instantly discover a long list of medical professionals within their area. For most users, the top results are the only results that matter — and the only way to get your practice’s website there is with search engine optimization.
As a medical practice, it’s your priority to deliver quality patient care. However, ensuring these patients can find you is just as important as ensuring a continuous stream of referrals and appointments. Leave it to a digital marketing expert to handle your healthcare SEO and boost your search engine rankings while you focus on your practice.
SEO for Doctors: What is Healthcare SEO?
1. Keyword Research
The first step to medical SEO is finding out how patients search for medical care. Think of the terms they use to find medical professionals.
Tools like Google Keyword Planner allow you to conduct keyword research — find the best keywords relevant to your practice and target what most searchers are looking for. Ahrefs is another keyword research tool that provides you with more in-depth insights such as monthly search volume and the amount of competition. Ideally, you would want to target keywords with a high amount of traffic and relatively low competition.
Other clever ways to discover keywords that are being searched for are looking at Google Autosuggest, the People Also Ask, and Related Searches sections in SERPs.
2. Establish High E-A-T Score
Google has a system called E-A-T which stands for expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. Although it’s not a direct ranking factor, it can seriously affect your page rankings. It reveals much about what Googe considers valuable or essentially the types of sites it rewards with greater search visibility.
Understanding this system is essential to medical sites. If you want to achieve a high EAT score and rank higher in SERPs, you should publish content with expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. Beyond that, you should also review your content regularly to ensure that the information is correct and up to date.
3. Build Content
Creating high-quality, engaging content is one of the strongest ways to establish yourself as an expert and your website as a go-to resource for your target audience. Start by regularly publishing blog posts that talk about anything that can make your audience’s lives better — answer questions your potential patients may have.
Use your keyword research to inform your blog topics. When done correctly, Google will better understand what your site is about and recognize you as an authority in your field, thus increasing your search rankings. However, make sure to not limit yourself to written content. Branch out to other forms of content such as video and infographics as well.
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4. Optimize for Site Speed, Security & Mobile Use
A user spends an average of 54 seconds on a particular page. When they can easily navigate your site, access the information they need, and address their pain points, the longer they are likely to stay. And the longer you hold their attention, the more engagement you get, and the more Google sees you as an industry expert.
Work with a healthcare SEO specialist to optimize your medical website. The objective is to make exploring your site a seamless process — decrease load time, improve readability, and boost mobile friendliness to ensure frictionless navigation, regardless of where they access your website.
5. Off-Page SEO
Off-page factors like backlinks and social media traffic are equally important to your online success. You want to build high-quality backlinks or links from other sites to your site. It helps users navigate between pages and ultimately sends signals to Google that your site is trustworthy and your content is worth linking to, therefore also worthy to appear in SERPs.
As for social media, while it is not a direct ranking factor, it has great potential to get your practice in front of a wider audience. With over 4.7 billion people on social media, your online presence can also influence their choice of medical care. Create and publish content on your social profile regularly. Make sure your About section is correct and has a link that redirects to your site.
6. Optimize for Local Search
Patients don’t search for the best medical practice in the world, they want local services that are accessible to them. If you want to show up in local or near me searches, you want to include geo-targeted keywords in your list of key terms and use them across your content — title tags, meta descriptions, and your pages. You would also want to create pages specifically focused on your area of service.
In establishing yourself as a local practice, it’s also essential that you claim and optimize your Google Business Profile (GBP). Formerly called Google My Business, it is the local listing of your website than can appear above the first page of organic search results. Make sure to keep the following information updated:
- Business categories
- Phone number
- Business description
- Business hours
- Address or service area
In your GBP, you can also request your patients to leave a review. Keep track of the reviews and be sure to address any negative reviews. While at it, you might as well build your local citations. These are online mentions of your business, displaying your NAP information: name, address, and phone number. They can be anything from business directories, social profiles, PR sites, and other sources.
SEO Limitations Specific to Healthcare Industry
As said above, optimizing your practice’s site for search isn’t that different from doing it for any other website. However, a catch applies specifically to websites in the healthcare industry. It limits both what you can and cannot say, with some rather serious consequences when you make a mistake.
For example, the AKS or Anti-Kickback Statute prohibits offering, paying, soliciting, or receiving anything of value to induce or reward the referral of business. There is also the Stark Law which prohibits a medical professional from making referrals to other organizations or any entity in which they have a financial interest.
Overall, getting prospective patients to trust you should boil down to your site’s authority and trustworthiness, and this is where E-A-T comes in. As long as you keep the above tips in mind, you shouldn’t worry much about these limitations.
Get Started with a Comprehensive Medical SEO Plan
SEO is a core part of any digital marketing plan. It can be a lot of work and require ongoing effort. As search engine algorithms are updated on a near daily basis, several SEO elements need to be addressed almost as frequently as well.
Keeping your SEO efforts in-house is a full-time job. But you can always outsource to an SEO expert that specializes in medical practices and is adept at adhering to industry standards. With a long history of success working with medical practices, we can help you create a comprehensive SEO plan that can get you visibility and put your site at the top of relevant searches.
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