Before we get into the admittedly complicated intricacies of a successful SEO campaign, it’s important to understand why it’s such a critical part of any successful business. Ranking highly in search engines is crucial for medical websites. There’s one main reason for this: the number of potential patients searching for medical providers is higher than it’s ever been.
Research shows that 89% of patients search for their symptoms and possible diagnoses on Google and other search engines. This is why it’s so important to rank highly in Google’s search results. Throughout this post, we will go over ways you can take advantage of this massive market searching for your healthcare services.
Is SEO A Perfect Science?
As mentioned earlier, SEO can be incredibly difficult to understand. Therefore, it’s not a perfect science. There is no equation that solves the algorithm problem. That’s why companies all over the country spend millions of dollars trying to understand the complexities of the Google algorithm better. It is ever-changing. Whatever worked last month might not work this month.
Therefore, it’s important to know the best strategies. This will give you the upper hand on your competitors. It’s simple; medical SEO can help potential new patients find your web page while your competitors struggle to crack the code.
How Can You Achieve SEO Success?
Throughout this article, we will go over the specific SEO for doctors strategies that will help your medical website rank highly in search engines. First, it’s important to understand that, to achieve a successful SEO campaign, hard work is required. Ongoing content and keyword research are staples of good medical websites.
This research will give you an insight into what it is your potential patients are searching for on search engines. It can’t be emphasized enough that this research will be the backbone of your SEO campaign. Without this research, medical websites are essentially wandering around the forest blind. Relevant keywords allow you to build relevant content that will help boost your organic search results.
What is a Keyword?
A keyword is a term you’ll hear a lot in the digital marketing industry. It describes a word or a group of words that people type into a google search to find information. They are a critical part of SEO for doctors because they help you narrow the focus of your content to reach out to more patients. When it comes to technical SEO, keywords are as important as it gets.
Those in the healthcare industry who use the wrong keywords will have a hard time reaching prospective patients who are searching for their services. This is especially true when it comes to local SEO, where specific keywords become much more valuable. Your keywords need to reflect what prospective patients are searching for. The wrong keywords will lead to the wrong audience, driving your target audience to other websites. This is why proper keyword research is a necessity for every medical website.
What Are We Looking For When We Do Keyword Research?
When working with medical practices, we want to make sure we get it right. That’s why we take the keyword research part of the process very seriously. We look for monthly volume and the competitiveness of each keyword. The monthly volume is how often potential patients are searching the keyword. Obviously, the higher the volume, the better it is when it comes to SEO for doctors. If you’re looking to find more patients organically, these are the words you want.
However, it’s important to find keywords that don’t have too high of a competitiveness level. The more competitive a keyword is, the more medical practices are using the keyword for their own SEO. If the competitiveness for a keyword is too high, it might not even be worth planning your SEO for doctors around it. We look for the keywords potential patients are searching for that other medical practices are missing out on. This is a critical part of our keyword research.
What are the Different Types of Keywords?
To make things even more complicated, there are three different types of keywords. Each type will affect your SEO rankings depending on how they’re implemented. The type of keyword we choose will depend on the target demographic and the goal of the website. When it comes to SEO for doctors, local SEO is very important, which will help determine which type of keyword we choose. Here are the three different keywords and how they differ from one another:
Short Tail Keywords
These are the most common types of keywords. These keywords are between one to two words in length and have the highest search volume. However, they also have the largest competition. Remember, this means other healthcare practices are using these words to help boost their search rankings.
Short tail keywords can be difficult to rank and require a large investment both in terms of money and time to achieve any real search engine success. That’s why we tend to skip these words when we’re doing keyword research. This is especially true when it comes to local SEO, as these keywords aren’t as crucial as the two other types.
Middle Tail Keywords
When it comes to SEO for doctors, middle tail keywords are very important when it comes to search results. These keywords are popular in the medical marketing industry as they have moderate search volume and average competition. These keywords are more targeted to the searcher, so they often pop up in specific Google searches.
Therefore, how much traffic these keywords attract will depend on how often potential patients use these words. We like using these keywords because they are often untapped in the medical marketing field. It’s not too difficult to find three to four-word middle tail keywords that reach the top of Google rankings no matter what other doctors are doing. If used correctly, these keywords can greatly boost web traffic.
Long Tail Keywords
As you could probably guess, long tail keywords are the longest of the three different types. These keywords contain five words or longer. They have the lowest search volume but also the least competition. What makes these keywords great is that they have the highest conversion rate of any of the keywords. Therefore, properly implementing these keywords can lead to more qualified leads.
These keywords are popular when it comes to SEO for doctors, especially those who need local SEO services. A successful SEO campaign will heavily incorporate these keywords. When it comes to boosting your SEO ranking as quickly as possible, these keywords are often the best choice. Larger businesses often skip out on these words when doing keyword research because they don’t see them as important. These businesses would rather spend time and resources finding short tail and medium tail keywords.
For smaller and more local medical practices, these are the keywords we try to pinpoint. Any chance we can get to score a quick win in the search results, we need to take. Potential new patients will find your website on their search engine of choice when long tail keywords are properly utilized. These keywords are one of the many healthcare marketing trends that are gaining steam, especially among local businesses.
How Do We Choose Keywords
Understanding how we go about the keyword research process will help you better understand why keyword research is so important in the medical marketing industry. Here is how we choose keywords when doing SEO for doctors:
What is the Search Intent?
One of the most important things to consider is what potential new patients are searching for. When it comes to medical marketing, experts believe the journey of a buyer consists of three different steps
- The awareness stage – A potential patient realizes they have a problem
- Consideration stage – The potential patient defines their problem and looks for relevant websites to solve it
- Decision stage – The potential patient uses the search engine results to make their decision
Any successful medical practice will have content that meets all three stages of this journey. This way, the successful medical practice can capture the attention of the target demographic no matter what stage of the cycle the demographic is in. As you can imagine, this leads to more web traffic and, thus, more patients. We spend some time considering the potential patient’s search engine journey. This journey plays a key role in our keyword research, no pun intended.
Analyze the Competition
Competitor analysis plays a big part in our keyword research. If other healthcare websites are finding success on SEO rankings, we want to know what it is they’re doing right. At the same time, we don’t want to follow the healthcare marketing trends too closely. Remember, when conducting keyword research, we’re looking for keywords where the competition level is low.
This is especially true when we’re conducting research for local SEO, which is the most common type of SEO for doctors. If we see something from other medical websites that are clearly working, we will try to determine if their strategy makes sense for the website we’re working on. Sometimes it does, and sometimes it doesn’t depending on the different healthcare practices.
Figuring Out the Best Ways to Use Keywords
Finding the right keywords is only part of the battle. The next step when it comes to SEO for doctors is properly implementing these keywords onto the web pages. Implementing these keywords will help results in search engine rankings tremendously.
We will go into further detail about this step later in the article, but to keep it simple, keyword research lets us know the best way to implement keywords. Depending on the healthcare practice website, the keyword may call for text, lists, graphs, tables, or images.
Should I Just Litter My Content With Keywords?
You may be thinking to yourself: “if keyword ranking is a critical part of SEO success, shouldn’t I just make every other word a keyword?” While this may seem like a bulletproof strategy, spamming your content with keywords can actually harm your website in Google search results. It’s much more important to focus on keyword placement rather than keyword frequency. While it’s important to place keywords in content such as a blog post, it’s just as important to sneak those keywords into the meta title and meta description. This will help tremendously in search results.
What’s the Best Way to Implement Keywords?
One of the most common questions asked throughout the medical marketing industry is “what’s the best way to implement keywords?” When it comes to SEO for doctors, the answer is often a blog post. This allows a medical practice to upload helpful and insightful content that will engage the reader while sprinkling a few keywords to help boost website traffic.
Ongoing content is one of the easiest ways to have SEO rankings success. It’s one of the most important aspects of SEO for doctors. Implementing medical SEO strategies throughout blog posts can help establish your website as a source of authority throughout the local medical practice industry.
Where Exactly Should You Use Keywords In Your Content?
It’s easy to say, “just put your keywords in any random blog post!” Unfortunately, implementing keywords can be much more complicated than that. Here are some of the ways we strategically place keywords throughout our client’s content:
Placing keywords in the meta description of a web page not only lets potential patients know what the page is about but the search engine as well. It’s important to use the keyword once but not more than twice, as that can look like spam, which will punish your website in search results.
Meta descriptions are important, but so are title tags. We use keywords in the SEO title, not necessarily the title of the web page itself. While we will use keywords in the title of the webpage, it’s not a necessity. If it doesn’t read well, it’s best to leave the keywords out. The title is what Google users will see when they click on your website. If it looks like a bunch of SEO gobbledegook, not too many people are going to click on it.
Using Keywords in the First 200 Words
The number of times we use keywords throughout the content will depend on the length of the content. But, no matter the length, it’s important to use keywords early on in the content. Some experts believe Google weighs keywords used early in content more than the keywords used in the middle. Since Google weighs the start of the article more, it’s important to use your primary keyword within the first or second sentence. Google is trying to get an accurate read on what the content is about, so implementing keywords early can help with Google search results.
Implementing Keywords Naturally
While we’re focusing on boosting search results, it’s important to remember that the reader comes first. Therefore, when making content, we want to be sure the keywords flow naturally throughout the content. Those with experience in the content marketing industry will still be able to spot the keywords from a mile away – if you’re familiar with SEO services, you may have already noticed the keywords in this article – but we don’t want the average reader to notice. Flooding content with keywords will greatly diminish the quality of the content, which is something we absolutely do not want.
Why Is Ongoing Content So Important?
When planning an SEO campaign, ongoing content creation often finds itself at the forefront. Blog posts, updates, service pages, and guest posts are incredibly important when it comes to increasing website traffic. There are several different reasons why this is the case, reasons we will go further into detail later in the article.
Ongoing content is also incredibly important for local SEO. It allows us to utilize keywords that target a specific area or niche. This wouldn’t be possible without ongoing content. That’s why ongoing content is very important in content marketing.
The Benefits of Ongoing Content
Understanding the benefits of ongoing content will help you better understand why it’s such a key part of our medical SEO strategy. Here are some of the benefits of regularly updating your medical website with content:
A Great Place to Utilize Keywords
We’ve already touched on this, but we can expand even further. Posting ongoing content allows you to do several different things for keywords. One, you can really utilize long tail keywords. These keywords are really good for local SEO, allowing you to target a specific area served or a niche.
It also allows you to experiment with keywords. The more content you post, the more wiggle room you have to use keywords you would deem too risky for the bigger pages on your website. This trial and error exercise allows you to narrow down which keywords work and which don’t. It’s essentially its own form of keyword research.
It Lets Search Engines Know You’re Active
When it comes to SEO for doctors, it’s important to note that Google loves websites that are actively pushing out content. It lets the algorithm know that you are an active website that is more than likely safe to push to Google users. An inactive website with infrequent page updates or posts is essentially an SEO death sentence.
If Google determines your page is inactive, it figures your website is old with outdated information. Therefore, unless someone is searching for your page directly, Google will direct them to other doctors. There are other ways to let Google know your website is active. We will go into further detail later in the article.
Present Yourself as an Authoritative Figure
Google loves active websites. It also loves websites that come off as authoritative figures within its industry. Therefore, if you want to stand out from other medical practices, ongoing content is a great way to do that. It lets Google know you are a source that can be trusted. Yes, the Google algorithm is so advanced that it actually takes into account the authoritativeness of each website.
The best way to achieve this is by posting informative information that your demographic is searching for. This is where keyword research comes into play. Not only will this help with the algorithm, but it will also build valuable relationships with your website visitors, who will return to your website anytime they need information. This is a key part of SEO for doctors, as repeat website visitors often lead to customers. Building yourself up as a source people can trust for news and information is an incredibly key part of any content marketing across any industry. But it’s especially true in the medical marketing industry, where search engine users are constantly looking for information regarding their symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options.
One of the best parts about ongoing content is that you can add backlinks throughout your article. High-quality backlinks can help boost your website traffic. Links can also be added as guest content.
The Importance of Backlinking
Backlinking is an incredibly important part of search engine optimization. Unfortunately, it’s often overlooked when it comes to SEO for doctors. A website that successfully utilizes backlinking can generate more organic traffic. Backlinking is when different websites link directly to content within your website.
Backlinks let Google know that your website is an authoritative source in the industry. We mentioned how important this was earlier in the article. The more Google can depend on your website, the likelier they are to suggest your content to search engine users. There are several different ways to utilize backlinks.
Write More Shareable Content
In the past, it was possible to join a network to help with backlinks. Within these networks, websites would take turns sharing links to the other websites within the network. However, Google has recently cracked down on this practice. Not only will this not help with search results, but it might also do more bad than good. Here’s some of the content you can put on your website:
- Articles backed by original data
- Interviews with authoritative sources in the industry
- Guides to niche topics
- Guides to medical services
By creating informative content, more people will visit your website. Better than that, people will share and use your content as source material. This will lead to people linking to your website naturally. This is one of the many ways Google determines how reliable your website is.
Build Open Broken Links
Building broken links is a tried but true strategy that’s been a part of the content marketing industry for years. It’s a little bit sneaky, but when done correctly, it can be a highly effective tactic. It’s incredibly common for links to stop working as the years pass. It’s possible to swoop in and build a functioning link that people can use.
For example, if this article linked to another website called “Best Broken Link Strategies”, but that link was ironically broken, you could create your own page. After creating the relevant content, you would contact the websites using the broken link, letting them know you have a new, working link that they could put in their content. While it might be an older method, it’s still used by over 50% of content marketing professionals.
However, we will tell you from our experience this strategy can be labor intensive and may not provide you with a backlink to the site. We don’t recommend that practitioners spend their personal time on this strategy.
Write Guest Posts
Guest posting is one of the most popular healthcare marketing trends. Over 75% of SEO professionals build backlinks with guest posts. Guest posts not only give you the opportunity to successfully backlink, but they also build your brand’s persona as a trusted authority in the medical industry.
One of the best ways to do this is by offering free content to other websites in exchange for a backlink. While that may not sound beneficial at first, it can help both parties. Creating content can be time-consuming, so finding someone willing to create content in exchange for a backlink can be a godsend for larger medical practices.
Writing guest posts for other sites is something that we really recommend that practitioners spend time on. The reason for this is that you will be able to write content from an expert point of view and have a greater chance of it being accepted on websites that have a higher authority.
Many podcasters bring people onto their shows for interviews. You don’t even have to be a podcaster or have your own podcast to get on a show. There are services that will link up interviewees with relevant shows. This can be a great way to gain exposure to your practice, but it will also provide you with a backlink to your website.
Link exchanges work similarly to the networking we mentioned earlier. However, link exchanges appear more natural to search engines, helping your search engine ranking rather than harming it. This process typically involves websites from similar industries posting guest posts – complete with backlinking, of course – on each other’s websites.
Some of the offices we work with post a local recommendations page on their site. They will link up to local businesses and other services they recommend. It can be a good way to build community among other offices as well as local businesses in your area.
Google My Business or Google Business Profile
Ongoing content creation is only part of a successful SEO campaign. If you want to consistently reach the first page in Google searches, it’s important to place an emphasis on Google tools such as Google My Business and Google Maps.
Before we go any further, it’s important to note that Google My Business has recently undergone a name change and light makeover. It’s now known as Google Business Profile, but it’s still just as important – arguably more important – than it was before.
What’s the Difference Between Google Business Profile and Google My Business?
While Google Business Profile still works the same as Google My Business, there have been a handful of changes. Now, Google is encouraging businesses to manage their single listings directly on Google Search or Google Maps via the web interface or mobile apps. Contrary to popular belief, this is a feature that has been available for quite a while. However, Google is now encouraging businesses to use this method rather than the Google My Business console.
It should be noted that this is only for those managing single listings, which is often the case for most medical practices. The existing Google My Business web experience is still online, but it’s for large businesses with multiple locations and listings. These changes were meant to make life easier for those managing a small business website, like a healthcare provider.
Why is My Google Business Profile so Important?
Your Google Business Profile will play a key role in helping you shoot up the Google search rankings. It’s why we place such an emphasis on it when we work with medical practice clients. It gives potential patients the valuable information they need to know about your practice, such as hours, location, website, and reviews (we’ll touch on those pesky reviews later in the article). Here are some additional benefits of Google Business Profile:
- It makes your business seem more reputable
- Your website will generate more clicks organically
- Your business will receive more visits
- Google users are more likely to turn into qualified leads
It’s important to note that customers are able to make changes to your profile. Therefore, we will regularly check the profile to ensure the information is accurate.
Is My Google Business Profile Important if I’m a Telehealth Provider?
Keeping your listing up-to-date is incredibly important for local SEO. But what if you offer telehealth services to people across the country? It’s still important to have a Google Business Profile, even if your services aren’t connected to one specific location.
Your profile will let potential patients know how they can contact you, where your website is, and the exact services you have to offer. Not to mention, they can see reviews and images from other customers. These business listings play a huge role in boosting organic search results, so we highly recommend them regardless of the industry you’re in or the location you serve.
Our SEO for doctors comes with some Google Business Profile optimization. We will make sure that the listing is verified, claimed, and filled out completely with images and a few posts. We also offer a Google My Business SEO plan where we manage the site every month while creating more citations to help strengthen the listing.
How Do I Handle Negative Online Reviews?
If you have been around long enough, a time will inevitably come when you have to deal with negative online reviews. It’s a part of life for a business with an online business profile. And while these negative reviews may seem like the end of the world, especially for a medical practice, there are ways you can successfully navigate these choppy waters.
First and foremost, yes, you should reply to all reviews, including the negative ones. This will help build your online reputation. Potential customers will see that you listen and respond to all the feedback you get, even the negative feedback. It also gives you a chance to win over the customer who left a bad review. However, it’s important that your response is appropriate. While it may be easy to become defensive when responding to a negative review, it’s best to keep it as professional as possible.
Not only will responding professionally to these reviews boost your online reputation, but it will also let Google know you’re active. This is important as Google values websites that have an active online presence. So yes, responding to even negative reviews can help boost your standing in search results.
What About Google Ads?
Paying for a Google Ads campaign is another important marketing strategy. However, these ads have mixed results. While they may lead to more immediate results, research shows that Google users are more likely to click organic links rather than sponsored links.
A well-researched Google Ads campaign could lead to good results, but in the long run, you’re better off focusing on an SEO strategy that works for your healthcare practice. Organic traffic leads to higher conversion rates.
We believe that you should have a combination of SEO and Google Ads in order to be successful. If you have to choose between one or the other, we recommend sticking with SEO only since it will have a better investment long term. But, if you want to give your practice the chance to be found faster, combing SEO and ads are essential.
Focusing on Social Media
While we don’t manage social media for our clients, it’s important that you have someone in your office make occasional posts on any platform you have set up. If you have a Facebook and haven’t posted in a year, it can look like you’re out of business or not seeing patients anymore. That’s why it’s really important to make sure you are sharing on your platforms. These may not be big lead generators for you, but they can deter someone from reaching out if they think you’re practice is no longer open.
Content creation is only part of the medical SEO services we offer. Web design is also an important part of any successful healthcare website. We make it a point of emphasis to design sleek and responsive websites that are easy for potential patients to navigate. First impressions are everything; that’s why this part of the process is so critical.
The last thing you want is your target demographic to stumble onto your website only to find your website is outdated and difficult to navigate. All it takes is a couple of seconds for a potential patient to close out of your tab and start looking for other healthcare providers. Our goal is to give website visitors the information that they’re looking for as quickly and easily as possible.
Believe it or not, your site speed will play a big role in search engine rankings. Google does not like websites that are slow and unresponsive. It’s typically a sign that these websites are old and out of date or are cluttered with so much spam that the page speed takes a huge hit. For doctors, there are several different reasons why your website might be slow:
- Unoptimized images
- Too many plugins
- A bloated WordPress theme
- A lack of caching layer
- Too much content on one page
When we work with healthcare providers who are having a difficult time with site speed, we look for the things mentioned above.
Reach Out To Our Team
We know that there is a lot of information in this article. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us, and we’ll be happy to do a free strategy session with you. Just fill out the form, and we will get back to you within 24 hours. We look forward to hearing from you!