Here at Functional Medicine SEO, it is our goal to help alternative health practitioners, doctors, and functional medicine offices to increase their position in search results through SEO. In this guide, we will share with you the basics of SEO and part of the process we have put into place for all of our clients.
SEO stands for search engine optimization. It’s what you do on your website so that you show up more when a potential patient is doing keyword searches on Google.
For example, if you type in “functional medicine services nj,” you will see a search results page that looks like this:
As you can see at the top is the Google Map Pack, which is Google Maps. The listings that show up from Google Maps is SEO too, but a different kind of SEO.
Past the maps you will sometimes see the “People also ask” section which highlights websites that answer these top questions. This is where SEO comes into play and helps you show up higher for keyword searches such as “functional medicine services nj.”
After the “People also ask” section, you will often see an ad. Then, just below that is where you have another opportunity to show up organically.
Why should you even consider investing in SEO? It’s because a lot of people go to Google when they’re evaluating their options, especially for health services. If they’ve got a pain or a symptom, they’re often gonna go to Google to just kind of see what their symptoms could mean.
After they investigate what it could be, they know they need to see a functional medicine practitioner. The next search will be which doctor is near them that meets their criteria. Here are a few things they may ask.
Back in the day, you didn’t need to do much SEO, because it was much less competitive. You could just show up with some small, little tweaks. Nowadays, everyone’s caught on that you can be on Google, which makes the competition higher. Because of that, you need to have some sort of SEO plan in place to do better organically.
You will find that sometimes sites get lucky, there is a sort of randomness with Google’s algorithm. However, 99% of the time, you need to have an SEO plan in place to do better organically.
Here are the basics you need to know to help your functional medicine site increase in organic traffic.
The basis of SEO has to do with keywords, which is what people search in Google. It’s a symptom or service related search. Your potential patients are going to Google and they’re searching for answers to their health concerns and a doctor to help them.
This is why keywords are so important to you as a practitioner. You need to know what your potential patients are looking for. This is where keyword research comes in.
These are some of the tools that we like to use that we recommend. Some are free, some are very low cost.
Google Search Console, that’s a free tool by Google, just Google it and then add your site and verify it. Once you verify your site, you’ll start getting a lot of data that shows how Google interprets your site. You’ll get information such as:
Google Search Console is a little bit more advanced to understand and use, but it has a lot of free data that will help you.
Predictive search gives you some ideas as to what suggestions Google shows a user when they start to type in a keyword phrase. For example, if you start typing “functional medicine” you can see this drop-down here:
Google’s trying to predict what you’re going to say, hence the predictive search label. If you are being shown these suggestions, so are your potential patients. The suggestions given to you should be added to your keyword strategy. This is more of just like a brainstorming tool to get you thinking. It lacks the stats behind, like, the search volume and all that. And that’s where Ubersuggest comes into play.
Ubersuggest is an inexpensive option and one we use to help choose the right keywords for our practitioners. It actually does a lot of things besides keyword research. I popped in one of the practitioners we’ve done work for and you can see these metrics:
Estimated Organic Search Traffic
How Many Keywords You Already Rank For
Keywords You Rank For
You can also pop a keyword into Ubbersuggest and see what it ranks for. Here’s the data it shows on the search term “functional medicine”:
You can start to see it’s showing who is ranking for functional medicine. The IFM organization of course ranks highly for that.
With this tool, you try some of the symptoms that you treat or some of the services that you offer, and see what people are actually searching for.
Okay, and the last thing here is searching for LSI keywords, which are the words that are related to your main term. To do this, you’ll put your keyword in the Google search bar and then scroll to the bottom of the page to see related keywords.
Here’s an example of what you’ll find if you search “functional medicine doctor nj,” if you scroll to the bottom of the page, you’re gonna see searches related to your main keyword here. The words in bold terms that Google thinks are related to the main search.
You will want to use every word in bold and relevant to your page. Don’t stuff the page with words that aren’t related, but if it will work, use it.
Now that you’ve got the keywords, what do you do next? We recommend that you keep a spreadsheet with the keywords that are relevant to your practice. Then, match up the pages of content that already exist on your site with the most relevant selection. If you don’t have any pages related to the keyword, you’ll want to write and publish those pages.
It’s important that you come up with a roadmap for your keyword strategy. With this strategy in place, you’ll have a content plan. You’ll know what areas of your site are weak for the terms you want to rank for. We recommend that you write blogs around the keywords that you want to show up for.
The first rule of SEO is that you never want to keyword stuff, meaning, you don’t want to add your keyword phrase over and over in your content. Rather, you want to write it naturally, like it was meant to be a part of your content.
You will want to make sure that the keyword appears in these areas as long as it makes sense:
The meta description is the short description of a page on your website. It shows up in Google search results to give the reader an idea of what the page is about. We recommend that you customize your meta description so that Google will display exactly what you want to communicate.
Here are some do’s and don’ts of keyword optimization. These are basically best practices when it comes to your SEO strategy.
Another part of a strong SEO strategy is to get new backlinks to your site every month. Backlinks are other sites linking to you. It’s like they are giving you a vote and Google looks at it as a sign of authority. So if site A is linking to site B, it’s almost like site A is voting for site B. The more votes you have, the stronger the votes are, the better the sites are, and the better you rank.
Link building used to be the most important thing with SEO. Now, it’s still important, but it’s just part of the puzzle. Google, like, with SEO, it’s all these pieces that come together to help you rank.
There are plenty of ways to get backlinks, but these are the ways I thought is achievable for almost everyone.
Make sure that you always ask for a backlink when you do a collaboration with another business that has a website.
Blogging is crucial SEO, because Google loves fresh websites that are getting new posts and pages every month. The other thing we’ve noticed with our practitioners, is that many of them are getting a lot of traffic for blogs they published. Google is ranking blogs more than ever because blogs answer questions. Since people are usually asking questions, especially with voice search, blogs are the most relevant way to give them the answers they need.
Think of every new blog post you add to your site as another way someone can find you. It’s another doorway to your website. You want to have as many doorways as possible because you never know what that patient was looking for when they find you.
These are the top reasons that you should add new blogs to your site every month:
We recommend that you add 2-4 new blogs to your website every month. It’s important that you schedule them apart so that the site is being updated every few weeks. Also, it’s best to have blogs that are a minimum of 600 words. If you can do more, then great! Just be sure that your posts are full of value and you thoroughly explain your message.
Once you create blog content, you can use it in email newsletters, put it on social media, or turn it into a video. You have spent a lot of time creating your content and now you want to make sure your current and potential patients are reading it. That’s why it is important to put it out on every platform you can.
Make sure every blog is keyword optimized. The best way to do this is to put the keywords you want to include at the top of the document so you remember to weave them into your content. Then, when you upload the content, be sure you add those keywords to the title, meta, and image tags.
We are a huge fan of Google My Business, especially for a practitioner that serves as a local area. Even if you can offer telemedicine and meet with patients via video, it is worth the investment. Google My Business is basically like your second website. For that reason, it’s a large part of our SEO strategy for the practitioners we work with.
Google My Business fuels Google Maps, so when you optimize your listing, you’ll show up higher in Maps searches.
In order to optimize your GMB, this is what you should do:
Obviously, you need to have a listing that you own. If Google creates the listing for you, then you can claim ownership of it and verify the listing by having a postcard mailed to your busienss address. Or, you can create one from the ground up and ask it to mail you the verification code.
It’s important that you completely fill out your listing with all of the information it allows you to add. Create a description with the main keywords you want to target. Select your service area and all local areas nearby. Add images of the office, links to pages on your site, and set your hours.
Also, there’s an area where you can list all of your areas of practice and service. Take the time to add everything you treat in that section.
Make it a habit to ask your patients to give you a review on Google. You can get a custom short link for your page that will send the patient directly to the place to leave the review. When they leave a review, be sure to reply back! Google loves to see engagement.
People have the ability to ask questions on your Google My Business listing. When that happens, you should receive a notification through email. Go on and take the time to answer their questions.
Add a new post to the Google feed every month. It’s the same thing as posting on your Facebook page. You can share your blog content on there, services, company news, or announcements.
Photos are very important to your listing. People will want to see the inside and outside of your practice. Another way to optimize the images is to take them with the location tag on. So, on your phone, turn on the location option and it will embed a code on the image. When you upload it to your GMB listing, it will have the tag on it.
NAP is name, address and phone number of your business. You want to make sure you use the same information for all of your directory listings, social media platforms, and website. If you move, update your phone number, or change the name of your practice, update it across the web.
As a busy doctor, your time is limited, making it hard to put all of these strategies in place. That’s why the team here at Functional Medicine SEO is available to help you. We specialize in working with alternative health practitioners and helping them increase their organic traffic.
If you’d like us to look over your website, please fill out the form for our free strategy session. We’d love to give you an SEO audit and suggestions of how we can help you increase your organic rankings.
Contact us now if you have any questions. We’d love to hear from you.