The moment they don't feel well, people turn to Google. Whether it's to look for a doctor or clinic nearby or to find an article that describes their particular situation, patients go to this search engine for help (although you advise them not to!).
That is one of the reasons why your practice needs strong SEO: to be found by new patients and to gain trust by providing accurate, valuable information.
If your website ranks at the top, it is more likely that the patients will click through to schedule an appointment with you. If your website doesn't rank on top, then your competitors are. So not giving enough attention to healthcare SEO is like giving away potential patients to your competitors.
In this article, we're going back to basics to review some critical aspects of healthcare SEO you may forget. We'll also be sharing some best practices to boost your site ranking and reflecting on the importance of healthcare blogs and how to track SEO results.
Getting started with healthcare SEO
We know you've got your SEO basics in place. You're already ranking; you see traffic coming in, and all is good. Now let's go over some essential items you should never forget when looking to improve SEO for medical practice.
You can't outperform a big site like WebMD or Medline. These big sites with a strong domain and thousands of articles are challenging to beat, and you should keep that in mind.
Does this mean it's over and that you are set to fail? Absolutely not! To perform moderately well and succeed in your specific field, aim to focus on:
- Long tail keywords: these are longer, more specific keywords that aren't the most popular, but they still have an audience searching for them. Targeting these terms means you should generate more specific content around topics you have expertise in and where users can truly value your opinion.
- Local content: distance is one of the main reasons behind choosing a doctor. If you're aiming to get new patients with your SEO strategy, then you should focus on optimizing your site for local search. The best way to optimize local SEO for doctors is to leverage Google My Business (GMB). This easy-to-use tool allows businesses to manage their online presence on Google. GMB allows you to set a particular location shown on Google Maps, as well as opening hours, reviews, pictures, and contact information.
Offer high-quality content
Users underestimate thin content very quickly, resulting in a bad ranking for your site. But besides just SEO results, healthcare is a sensitive field. So thin content is a big no here. It could lead to dangerous and unintended medical emergencies when landing in the wrong hands.
For example, stuffing your content with keywords is a very tempting SEO practice. However, it is strongly linked to thin content and can make it look spammy. In addition, Google isn't a fan of keyword stuffing. Instead, place keywords in your content in a relevant, natural, and readable manner.
Make sure to provide accurate information that is actually of use and can help patients. Your focus should be on developing content to improve users' lives.
Optimize key sections first
Before optimizing articles, news updates, and product descriptions, you first want to review what people will be looking at: the "about us," "contact us," and bio pages. Then, review those in case they need to be updated.
Set technical basics
Let's finish this section with a couple of technical musts. The essential ranking factors include mobile friendliness, website speed, and security.
If your site takes more than three seconds to load, people will likely switch to competitor websites that load up more quickly. The perfect way to check and fix this issue is using Google's PageSpeed Insights.
In order to strengthen your site's security, get it encrypted with an SSL certificate. It ensures that both patient-sensitive data and your data are protected from hackers.
Lastly, as most searchers are mobile-based, ensure to make your website mobile-friendly. The best way to do this is by looking for a responsive design. It means your site automatically transforms to fit the screen on which it is being viewed. This way, it reduces the risk of poor user experience.
Taking it up a notch
Once you have gone over the basics, it's time to move a step forward with these tips to optimize your healthcare website.
Organize site structure
Having clear content categories makes your site easily navigable. Opt for a good navigation bar that lets users quickly find what they're looking for.
Throughout your site, make sure you're using H tags correctly to organize your content and get it discoverable by search engines.
In addition, reference and add links to your own content when possible. That is called interlinking and is a key practice when looking to build on SEO.
Optimize visual elements
Including images, graphs, and illustrations is always a good idea, especially in healthcare, where end users are no experts and may not understand where a certain muscle is, for example.
When adding visual elements, aim to optimize them properly for search engines. That means considering aspects like size, file type, and metadata. You can look at our image SEO optimization guide to help you throughout this process.
Once your site is solid and organized, you can look for outside sources to mention you. These mentions are called backlinks, and when done correctly, they can add trust and build on domain authority.
Many sites can serve as backlink sources: healthcare directories like MedlinePlus.gov, news sites, blogs, and social media. Always ensure these backlinks come from trusted sources (remember, no thin content!).
Keep an eye on competitors
SEO isn't just about looking at your reflection. Always keep an eye on the competition, as it also helps you reflect on your site and make necessary adjustments.
Choose those practitioners or institutions that compete directly with you, whether because they're nearby or provide content similar to yours. Then, take a look at their websites regularly and ask yourself:
- What are they up to?
- Have they made any changes to their site?
- What topics are they talking about?
Many users refer to reviews by previous patients before scheduling an appointment. Therefore, it would help if you encouraged current patients to leave reviews on your site and other platforms like Google My Business and healthcare directories.
In addition, always keep a pulse on what your patients say about your services and respond accordingly.
Should I start a blog?
Are blogs important for SEO? When looking to invest in this area of optimization, many companies think about setting up a healthcare blog. In this section, we have stated the benefits and essentials required to succeed at it to help you decide for yourself.
Some of the benefits of starting a healthcare blog are:
- Generating more traffic. By having more pages covering more ground than just bios and the about us page, more users will be coming to your site.
- Creating trust. A blog is a way of sharing expertise and solutions to everyday health problems. That shows that you're an expert, that people can trust you, and ultimately encourage leads to become clients.
- Repurposing content. As you build your blog and create more and more articles, you'll find yourself with a never-ending pool of content. The information you generate and provide to users shouldn't waste. You can easily repurpose content for other channels, like social media or a newsletter.
However, to reap the benefits of your blog, there is work involved. To succeed, you will need to:
- Be consistent: for your blog to drive strong SEO results, consistency is key. Don't open up a blog if you know you'll only be able to post once every two months.
- Offer something different: don't simply climb on to what your competitors are talking about. Instead, look for ways to give your valuable take on a topic and make it unique. It can be in tone, opinion, or even different topics.
- Keep optimizing and improving constantly: blogging isn't a one-time thing. You'll need to go back to your old content to update, optimize, and improve it regularly. Do you have the time to do so?
Monitoring results (with screenshots!)
Constantly checking up on your site's performance is a must. As mentioned earlier, SEO isn't a one-time task. Therefore, you should periodically check your ranking on SERPs and stay alert for any adjustments that must be made.
Once you're progressing with your SEO strategy, you may want to count on some tools that make the analytics process easier. But besides numbers, you want to see SERP results for yourself… and checking each page individually is an additional manual task you don't need.
And this is where Stillio comes in! With our automatic screenshot tool, you'll never forget to track results again. You can set captures for your SERPs at the interval of your liking and get them saved into your account to reference later.
For example, you could set screenshots of SERPs for the keyword "dentist offices in Ohio" at weekly intervals. Then, at the end of the month, check your Stillio account to see your ranking evolution. Isn't this better than manually setting a reminder to manually check your rankings each Monday?
Suppose you're part of a more prominent institution that operates in more than one country. In that case, you can track SERPs from all over the world with our GEO IP locations.
And remember how we said it was crucial to track your competitors? Again, screenshots are a great way to do so, as you can track their SERPs and their websites to detect changes in their performance.
You can get a 14-day trial to check out these features yourself. Just head to the top right corner of our website!
Strategic and healthy SEO implementation is a must in every industry, but it can mean new, happy patients for healthcare. With these tips, you'll take what you already know about SEO to the next level for your company.