The internet has taken over almost every facet of our lives and if you can think it, you can definitely find it online. In fact, your soon-to-patients could be browsing the internet right now, looking for services that you specialize in.
Reaching these patients, however, is another story. Your medical business may be listed in online directories, but there’s a reason why almost every great website has jumped aboard the SEO bandwagon, and why you should consider it.
In this guide, we’ll explore the best medical SEO practices that can help your website level up in online search rankings. Spoiler alert—it’s not nearly as difficult as you might think.
What is Medical SEO?
Let’s say you have a stunning website complete with engaging content, a list of all of your services, and even (if allowed) testimonials from your patients. All of this, unfortunately, won’t mean much if your website doesn’t even show up on the first page of Google’s search results.
After all, how will your patients even know about you if you’re so hard to find? Luckily for you, SEO is the game changer that can give your website an edge above the rest.
Medical SEO consists of all the necessary tasks that improve your website’s visibility, making sure your practice shows up in local and even national searches.
But before we dive into these medical marketing strategies, let’s get up close and personal with the many advantages of optimizing your website.
Benefits of an Optimized Website
By optimizing your website, search engines get a better idea of what your content is all about and maximize your chance of getting noticed. This means you finally get the high rankings you’ve been looking for without having to pay for ads.
And it doesn’t end there. Once your website makes it to the top of search engine pages, you can expect:
- To connect with patients in need of your services
- Higher conversion rates
- More credibility
Whether it’s SEO for dentists, chiropractors, physios or general practitioners, finding the right patients becomes a whole lot easier when your website does the talking.
Medical SEO: Best Practices That Deliver Results
There was a time when it was really easy to rank on Google’s first page. All you had to do was stuff keywords, post short blogs frequently, and voila! That’s not the case anymore.
Search engines have gotten a lot smarter over the years; what worked five years ago will no longer give you the same results.
SEO demands consistency; you need to stay updated with the latest trends and adapt your website to them regularly. Here are some SEO techniques that can make all the difference while marketing your medical practice.
On-site SEO uses various strategies to optimize all the elements that make up your website; not just a single page.
These elements could be content, mobile-friendliness, your site’s speed and everything else in between. Once you’ve nailed your on-site SEO, search engines can understand what your website is all about and decide if your website is relevant to the search.
If used correctly, keyword research can bring the right kind of traffic to your website. However, it’s more than just stuffing keywords in your content and calling it a day. In fact, that sort of thing will likely do more harm than good.
Instead, focus your efforts on finding popular phrases that people search for with context to your medical practice. This could be something as simple as ‘orthopedic surgeon near me’ to more specific keywords based on your area of expertise.
It’s a good idea to map these keywords to each piece of content, as this will ensure that you only have 1 page or blog post competing for that keyword or group of keywords.
On-page SEO has everything to do with the independent pages of your website. There’s a lot you can optimize that you probably hadn’t even thought of.
But as you dig deeper, you’ll find that there’s a lot more that Google takes into consideration before they deem your webpage worthy of a high ranking. Some of the other important elements that you should check on are:
- Using the correct H1 and H2 heading tags
- Clean and concise website URLs
- Accurate title tags and meta descriptions
- Linking your website’s internal pages
- Using image alt text
Truth be told, website speed can make or break your rankings on search engines. No one likes websites that take too long to load and before you know it, your users will be clicking the “back” button and end up on your competitor’s site.
To avoid such a nightmare, you can use Google’s Measure tool to analyze how fast your website loads. Limiting the use of plugins, slideshows, and other media also help bring you up to speed.
Anything deeper than this and you may need to get a developer involved.
Sitemaps and Indexing
A sitemap contains all the important information that search engines need to crawl your website. Think of it as a map to your website, with URLs of all the important web pages.
Your website should have a functioning XML sitemap that’s up to date and includes high-quality pages. And if you want to leave out certain pages, the noindex tag can come in handy–provided you use it correctly.
If you’re using a content management system like WordPress, both of these can be done by using a free plugin.
Safe and Secure Web Pages
Depending on how complex your website is, and whether or not it requires patients to enter their personal information, security will be a major concern.
Websites that have poor security features can lead to your patients’ data being compromised. Even if there aren’t any user registration or transaction features on your website, we recommend that you get an SSL certificate as a bare minimum security measure.
Not only do your patients expect your site to be secure, Google does as well.
Any SEO specialist worth their salt will tell you that your website needs to be optimized for mobile phones–now more than ever.
It is estimated that a whopping 53% of web traffic comes from mobile users. But that’s not all. Google uses a “mobile-first” index which basically means that Google will be crawling and indexing the mobile version of your webpage.
In short, if your website isn’t mobile-friendly then waste no time in fixing it up.
So you’ve managed to tweak and implement all the on-site SEO strategies for your website. That’s great! But before you hang up your boots (or scrubs), you should know that there’s much more to SEO than optimizing the contents on your website.
Off-site SEO, as the name suggests, refers to all the techniques outside of your website that raise your search rankings. Think of all the reviews, testimonials or endorsements of your website on other pages.
These off-site practices are equally important as the other methods we mentioned. Make them a part of your inbound marketing strategies and watch how they benefit your medical practice.
Link building requires getting hyperlinks that link back to your website. It is not an easy task but it certainly pays off.
Say, for example, if you’ve written a riveting piece of content that you think other allied health professionals in your network will enjoy reading, send it to them as a part of your marketing strategy. Sooner or later you may start noticing websites linking back to your page if they found your content useful.
The trick is in making the most of your networking opportunities. If you know a healthcare blogger, why not get featured on their blog or help them write an article? Start looking in the right places and you’ll find what you’re looking for.
Social Media Presence
Social media platforms are a great tool in reaching new audiences. Likes, shares, tweets, and other types of engagement parameters can help your website’s organic search ranking.
That said, they aren’t a deal-breaker so if you don’t have a dedicated social media page, there’s no need to create one just for this.
Local SEO: Citations, Directories and More
We’d be lying if we said showing up in local search results doesn’t get us all kinds of excited. It can really give your business the much-needed boost you’re looking for and it’s absolutely free.
To start off, make sure your Google My Business listing has been verified so you can show up on local searches and even Google Maps.
You’ll want to maintain a strict consistency when it comes to your business name, address, phone number and other information in citations, directories, and so on.
As doctors and medical practitioners, no one knows healthcare the way you do. So think of a good SEO strategy as the measures you’d take to keep your website healthy.
After all, there’s only so much that word of mouth marketing can do for you. Unless your name doesn’t pop up on peoples’ screens when they look for your services, it’s going to be difficult to drive the kind of revenue you desire.
Learning the ropes of SEO and running your practice at the same time can be a lot to handle. In this case, getting in touch with professionals or hiring an SEO agency for medical marketing could be your best bet.