When it’s time to find a healthcare practitioner, many patients turn to Google to find their closest and best option.
Your website appearing on top of the list means patients are more likely to click through and schedule an appointment.
If your practice isn’t at the top of the search results, someone else is.
Which means you may lose out on new patients.
That is why healthcare SEO is essential for any medical website.
If you aren’t capitalizing on organic queries, you’re basically giving those patients away to your competition.
By paying attention to Google’s most up-to-date prescriptions for good SEO, particularly regarding healthcare content, you can beat out the competition and see your digital presence soar.
Many medical professionals think pay-per-click, or PPC, ads are enough to get them the visitors they are looking for.
However, starting with PPC is like putting an adhesive bandage on your problem. It will only be good for the short-term.
As a medical or healthcare business, you must incorporate SEO into your digital marketing to bring potential patients to your website.
Consistently. And in the long term.
If your website and its content are not considered quality in Google’s eyes, your search presence will suffer.
Speaking of quality, two extremely important concepts for healthcare are E-A-T and YMYL.
E-A-T stands for expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.
The concept was created to help third-party raters score Google’s search results.
Although E-A-T is not a direct ranking factor, E-A-T does reveal a lot about what Google considers important – essentially what types of websites Google wants to reward with greater search visibility.
E-A-T is of huge importance for any webpages containing medical information.
The information and stats you provide on medicine and health could directly impact the potential patients who are reading them.
People visit and read your webpages because they are looking for reasons to entrust their health to your practice.
Your information must be absolutely top-notch, literally filled with expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.
Only then do you even stand a chance of ranking well in the healthcare industry.
This leads us right into the concept of YMYL, which is short for Your Money or Your Life.
YMYL, as a concept, basically means any content that can directly affect a reader’s health, finances, or safety.
Obviously, this concept is important to understand in the competitive health care space.
If your content doesn’t meet those standards (e.g., it has inaccuracies or is thin on information), it will have an even harder time ranking in the search results.
The Most important Healthcare SEO Strategies
You may never outrank a site like WebMD.
However, by focusing on more long-tail keywords and location-based content, it’s possible to perform moderately well here.
By implementing the right kind of SEO to get your medical practice in front of the right users’ eyes, you will put your website in a better position to outrank your competitors.
The following six strategies are the most important when it comes to healthcare SEO.
1. Use Appropriate Medical Keywords
When optimizing your content, you want to target the right keywords for your industry.
Your starting point should be the medical services you offer, as that’s what most searchers will be looking for.
Tools such as Google’s Keyword Planner can help you find the best keywords for your industry, comparing what is and isn’t being searched for.
As in all cases, avoid “stuffing” keywords into the content.
Google is quick to catch on to this spammy tactic and will penalize your website. Instead, place specific, long-tail keywords into your content in a relevant, readable, and natural way.
Not only will this separate you from the WebMDs, but you’ll also begin to attract the patients you want – those who live in your geographic area and are looking for the specialized expertise you offer.
2. Add Many Content Pages
Your content pages should be full of high-quality information that is optimized with your keywords.
For the medical industry, you want your content to help make your audience’s lives better or easier.
Whether it’s a detailed description of your services or blog posts targeting their specific search query, high-quality content is king for healthcare businesses.
Google places a much higher standard on medical webpages than other industries.
That’s because these pages have the potential to impact the future health, happiness, or financial stability of searchers.
Low-quality content on these pages could result in dangerous or unintended medical consequences.
Always think of your target audience when creating content for your website.
What are they searching for?
What information will help them the most for that search?
By writing long-form educational content, Google will recognize you as an authoritative figure within the industry, thus increasing your rank.
3. Optimize Visual Elements
Video is one of the most popular ways people consume content.
Webpages with videos can get more organic traffic.
And people spend more time on those pages, because they are watching the video.
This increase a user’s time on page and indicates to the search engines that something valuable is on the page for users.
When optimizing your website for SEO, be sure to include relevant, high-quality videos alongside your content, where you can.
Whether it’s a virtual tour of the facility or an informative video on a medical condition, many users will be drawn to that content over 600 words of plain text.
You should also include a variety of images and infographics on your website. The more interactive and engaging your site is, the more visitors you’ll be able to draw in.
Ensure any images on your site also include appropriate alt text. Image alt text helps visually impaired users, and Google crawlers, better understand what is displayed on the page.
This can be an excellent opportunity to incorporate some of your keywords. (But, as with everything SEO, don’t overdo it!)
4. Optimize for Website Speed, Security, & Mobile Use
Your site speed, security, and mobile-friendliness are all ranking factors.
If your website takes longer than three seconds to load, many people may back out and go to a competitor that provides a speedier experience.
Now, having said that, it’s important to mention that slow sites can rank highly for certain queries. Google doesn’t penalize an otherwise perfect site just because it’s a bit slower.
But optimizing your speed certainly can’t hurt for the overall user experience.
At most, your website should take about two seconds to load, but you should ideally aim for under half a second.
Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool is a great place to check your current site speed. It also provides insight on potential fixes to help improve your speed score.
Another important SEO factor is your website’s security. An SSL certificate helps encrypt your website, ensuring its and your visitors’ data is protected from hackers.
If your healthcare company’s site doesn’t utilize SSL security, Google will penalize your rankings. This certificate is a must when accepting sensitive patient information, so there’s no excuse for a website not to have it implemented.
Most importantly, your website should be mobile-friendly. The majority of searches are now conducted on mobile devices, and if your website is not optimized for them, users will choose your competitors’ websites instead.
The best way to ensure your site is optimized for mobile is by having a responsive design.
This means that your site changes automatically to fit the screen it’s being viewed on, reducing the risk of poor user experiences from device to device.
5. Off-Site Factors
Off-site indicators (e.g., links to your site and social media traffic) are just two areas that can help influence your search rankings.
Social media, while not a direct ranking factor, should be one of your main priorities when it comes to offsite SEO.
The content found on a social media page can significantly influence a patient’s choice of hospital or treatment center.
Many users also take social media reviews into account before scheduling an appointment.
You want to ensure your social profile is up to date and relevant to your business so users can find and interact with you in a variety of ways.
As for links, you also want to make sure that spammy links aren’t potentially hurting your SEO performance.
Use your favorite link building tool to check your existing link profile and analyze the links that pop up.
Are they all from quality, relevant sources? Or do many of them appear to be spam?
Disavow any unwanted links to help clean up your link profile and improve your rank.
6. Local SEO
You also need to keep your Google My Business page optimized and up to date.
Patients want local services and for them to find you, your business needs to show up in Google’s local pack.
This grouping of 4 to 5 businesses appears above organic search results.
On mobile, they’re the only thing people see before scrolling.
The information contained in these listings comes primarily from your GMB page, so you should ensure the following information is accurate and available:
- The business categories.
- Your primary phone number.
- The business description.
- Your hours of operation (and any seasonal hours).
- Your address or service area.
- Google reviews of your business.
Another critical factor for local SEO is local citations.
These are online mentions of your business that display your essential NAP (name, address, phone) information.
Local citations can be from business directories, social profiles, blog posts, newspaper websites, and other sources.
These all help your SEO efforts.
If you want better rankings on Google – and more patients – you need to ensure you have a healthy SEO strategy.
Growing your medical practice might take some time.
So the right approach can make all the difference.
By implementing the SEO strategies above, you are taking the necessary steps to secure your digital presence.
Nothing is ever guaranteed in digital marketing, but by keeping your web content’s EAT and YMYL qualities in mind at all times, you put yourself in a better position to outrank your competitors and begin to succeed online.