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SEO seems to be a term that is frequently used but little understood among my medical/dental colleagues.

So, let me discuss this in some easy to understand terms. Search Engine Optimization is a process which helps your website’s visibility in the digital world. But with so many websites out there competing to be shown first when searched for by a potential patient using a search engine like Google, Bing, and Yahoo, certain strategies become pivotal. These search engines use proprietary algorithms that are constantly updated to decide who gets listed first, so it is difficult to continually follow them on your own in the healthcare industry. This is the reason most practices that rank at the top are getting assistance from an SEO specialist. In this article, I will explain some SEO techniques that can be implemented into your website that will start to improve your Google Rank.

CONTENT IS THE KING

Relevant and unique content is the easiest, most important attribute you can add to your website. So, what is content? This means blog articles, YouTube videos, case studies, patient testimonials, infographics, medical breakthroughs, interviews, photos, conversations about the healthcare industry. Anything that is updated on a regular basis should be added to your website and you will be rewarded by search engines for doing so.

Your website is the doorstep to introduce yourself to patients online. Let me get technical here to explain things…For a website, metadata plays a vital role and there are several types. Title metadata is the most important of all. Description-metadata is a textual description of your product/service which needs to be concise and appealing in nature to attract more potential patients. Keyword-metadata is basically the search phrases that people type in a variety of phrases. An example would be “cosmetic dental practice.” It is hard to include metadata without an SEO specialist, so asking for help will make a huge difference in your results when writing the metadata.

Referrals or link building also helps your practice website. This means that when other websites have a link to your website, you earn a reward from search engines. The more credibility the inbound link has, such as a newspaper or University, the more value you will be assigned. This was exploited for a while so now if you try and ask for these links in exchange for an outbound link, you can actually be penalized, so getting help on this is a useful strategy.

ANALYZING YOUR COMPETITION

Keep an eye on your competitor’s best online marketing practices. Competitor analysis doesn’t mean imitating their strategies but comparing them to your own. In general, analyze the type of links your competitors have to determine where they are originating from – ads, directories or blogs etc. Now, how can you attempt to gain these quality backlinks? Today’s search engines devalue links that are unnatural or offer no real value, therefore, they need to be gained and not built as such. Substandard backlinks from black hat SEO companies would earn you a Google penalty which will result in losing the rankings. Examples of quality backlinks can be image credits, video, podcasts, downloadable eBooks, geographical-Google maps citations from local listings; as an authentic information resource by authoritative sites like forbes.com etc. If you create content that others on YouTube or Pinterest are sharing, then this will also reward your website with credible backlinks and high SEO rank.

Coming to the technical aspects again, get help from a web developer or digital marketing expert for this paragraph. On – page optimization is basically improving the structure of your website to make it search and user-friendly. Some of the best practices are page containing social media buttons; unique meta descriptions and meta titles; long-tail and semantic keywords in the content using Google keyword planner (77% patients used search prior to appointment booking); shortening of the URLs, usage of H1-6 tags to set off titles and sub-heads. Your website requires constant testing and measurement. The metrics I am constantly testing are Traffic (any gain or lose in your website visitors); Bounce rate (content relevancy for the visitors); Conversion rate (visitors completion of a desired action on your site); to name just a few. Search Engine Journal says that SEO leads have a 14.6% conversion rate compared to 1.7% conversion rate of outbound leads from direct mail or print advertising. If you hire someone, make sure they are doing this for you!

BE MOBILE FOR FLOWING PROFITS

A healthcare website needs to have mobile compatibility with a responsive and interactive user interface. Our patients are using their phones more than any other device now and in the future to search out their provider. Apart from just being a mere responsive site, it should be mobile friendly for various platforms/operating systems and offer a related app to make your services easily accessible through these vital channels of interaction with millions of mobile users out there. It’s predicted that by the end of 2017, there will be 4.77 billion mobile users. Always include a site map on your website which helps your customers, as it gives search engines a map of how your website is laid out for easy and better navigation. A healthcare website owner should see that the organization’s name, address, and phone number are perfectly updated on Google+ local page, foursquare page and on your website’s footer across all pages.

SOCIAL MEDIA IS YOUR NEW CONFIDANT

More than 60% of web users look online for data on specific medical treatments and procedures and its reviews. Social media will help boost your interaction and build a loyal fan base. In regards to SEO, social media helps in link building and networking of quality healthcare services. Use the free Facebook posts, Twitter tweets, LinkedIn referrals to increase your connections with potential customers.

SEO STRATEGIES SPECIFIC TO YOUR HEALTHCARE WEBSITE

  1. Secure sites will rank better and HIPAA, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability, will monitor your website content and make changes accordingly. Https signifies a more secure website, and changes with respect to your representation, interaction with patients will be changed or monitored by HIPAA. Thus, your healthcare website will have to comply by HIPAA standards for patients’ healthcare information (Hospital information systems).
  2. Make sure you capture good patient testimonials and user reviews, as they will build trust and gain more users in the long haul. Mention certifications, social proofs – awards on your home page.
  3. Appointment booking user interface should be seamless. Ensure your design is pleasing as well as content -driven to achieve better Google rankings.
  4. Digital engagement (vlogging, Facebook/Twitter periscope live streaming, online health-condition tracking) with your patients will do more good than any other marketing campaigns.

This article has reviewed some high and low-level aspects of SEO techniques for healthcare providers. It is the easy delay but the climb in search rankings does take time, so it is best to start now and update often. You may want help, so contact me to discuss this more!

For more information on how you can effectively use SEO strategies to achieve better Google Rank for your healthcare website, contact Kristine Grace at KristineG@IntellaHealth.net.

by Kristine Grace, Jan-23-2017

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