When you think of doctors, the term search engine optimization (SEO) doesn’t usually come to mind. The truth is, if you’re a doctor operating your own practice, or a partner in an existing practice, then SEO is one of the first things you should think about. Every business out there has a web presence of some sort, including doctors’ offices.
Understanding SEO and how to use it properly will positively impact your business and allow you to draw in new patients more easily. The sad facts are, being a doctor is a competitive business. Gone are the days of the solo town doctor who made house calls. Now there is an emergency care facility on almost every corner or a doctor’s office of some kind just around the corner. This means more and more competition in an already crowded market.
Before we delve into the strategies, we want to take a minute to describe how SEO works for doctors and why you want to make the most of your web presence to get more business.
Like we talked about at the beginning, you don’t normally think about SEO for doctors. After all, if someone needs medical care, they have to go to a doctor right? That’s like saying that when a person is hungry they have to buy food.
To think of it logically, people have nearly limitless choices in food and they only decide what they want by knowing what’s available and going with what they want or what suits their appetite. By taking advantage of digital marketing, you not only help let more people know that you’re available to help, but you turn yourself from disgusting kale, into yummy chocolate. If you want to succeed in business you want to become the chocolate when everyone else is kale.
Ok, so we’re not literally talking about food, but the point is that digital marketing through SEO is the way you get noticed, show what you have to offer, and set yourself apart from the competition if you’re a doctor.
For doctors, the purpose of SEO is to capture the online search market for services. Foot traffic only accounts for a portion of the potential business that a doctor can get. Local search ranking is the best way for doctors to drive in new patients. New patients mean more money, more money means a successful business.
What you want to focus on is users in your area that search for doctors. This means you need to understand how people search for doctors and what they are looking for. When people search for a doctor they almost always use the keywords “_____ doctor near me” with the blank being the type of doctor they are looking for.
When you optimize for search engines, you optimize for both local and global searches. However, the vast majority of your search traffic as well as potential customers are going to be from local search traffic, so this should be your priority. This means identifying your practice by its location and the areas that you service around that location.
Properly done SEO will let you rank your business in Google’s local search results which will show users businesses in their area, along with appropriate Google Maps coordinates and Google Business listings. Beyond the SERP, map and business listings help potential patients when they are trying to find your particular practice or are searching through listed doctors rather than just clicking on websites. Many times people will search through the business listings first and then decide on which one to click on once they see the exact location and any additional information provided.
For those doctors that have a focused field of expertise or niche, this next step is more important than any other. You want to start by identifying the keywords that users will use when searching for a doctor. A keyword tool can help you to figure out what keywords are used, how relevant they are and the amount of traffic they will expect to generate.
You can then research alternate keywords so that you have some options and so that you can stay ahead of the competition. People don’t search in one way, while some search terms may be universal, rephrasing your search or using synonyms can lead to different results. Knowing these metrics and how best to use them for your business will help you get the most web traffic.
Doctors in specialties have to pay particular attention to the keywords used and figure ways to incorporate words with high results while limiting competition. While searches for primary care doctors tend to get a lot of traffic, there are many ways to search for a primary care doctor, leading to lots of relevant keywords. An ENT on the other hand only has so many terms available to identify their specific type of practice.
Keyword tools are your best friend in these instances. They can help you identify high traffic, low competition keywords that will work for your particular niche.
Now that you know a little bit about how SEO works for doctors. We’ll describe some doctor-specific strategies for digital Marketing to help you drive that online traffic to make your business more successful.
This may require the services of a content management agency, but websites with more content on them tend to be more relevant and rank higher. One of the easiest ways to generate content that is relevant to your business’s website is to add a blog to your site. When searching for topics, you should be looking for content that is specifically relevant to your specialty. General practitioners and family doctors will have a broader range of topics, but also more competition.
One of the easy ways to get blog topics is to ask your patients what they’ve always wanted to know or take the questions they ask you and turn them into a blog. This not only increases your content count and rank, but it establishes you as an authority on your topic, and domain authority, or how trustworthy you are, is important to search engines for determining ranking.
Content doesn’t stop at blogs however, there is also a great room for social media to enhance your web presence and improve your ranking. These can be anything from short blurbs about your business on Twitter, to posts about a particular topic, like reminding folks to get their flu shot during flu season.
For doctors in special fields, talking about things related especially to your field is important. Posting about your services, important reminders, symptoms to look out for and other tidbits will be useful to potential patients and help to build your rank and trustworthiness. Think of it as the internet version of word-of-mouth advertising.
Blogs and posts are also how you manage your keywords. Long-tail keywords in particular (phrases and multiple keywords that are strung together) are easier to use in blog form than in page titles and other places. If you’ve been using keyword tools, then you can figure out what words are high ranking and important to your particular business.
Another thing that many businesses forget about is to insert internal links to all their content, these are links from one piece of your content to other relevant pieces of content on your site. Using these helps to build relevance, improve the length of time patients stay on your website, and improve ranking through higher authority.
That is why we suggest a content management service to help you with developing out your content. Once you have many pieces of content, it becomes more difficult to manage.
Your web pages and site aren’t the only places that you have to manage your SEO. Finding partner sites that you can establish backlinks with will help you to improve your domain authority and give more information to your customers. Additionally, you can share content from other places, who also share your content with their users and generate referral links.
This improves your ranking and your domain authority while cutting down on the actual volume of content you have to produce. Other sites help make your site more visible, even in different niches. Doctors should partner with health blogs, healthcare providers, and other sources of medical information and content.
It’s important when backlinking to use only relevant and credible sites that have a similar or higher domain authority as yours. Using a sketchy site to build your reputation online will only have a negative effect or it could earn you a penalty from Google.
The content you send out through other outlets is important too. Newsletters, press releases, and emails all matter. You can increase customer exposure and generate organic backlinks by sending out regular content to relevant outlets that service the medical community and patients.
Like we talked about at the beginning of the guide, your patients need to know your doctor’s office exists in order to consider getting treated there, and then they need to want to get treated there as opposed to elsewhere. The only way this happens is by you telling them through whatever avenues you have.
One of the best ways to improve your domain authority and your search ranking is by using real-world reviews from your patients. You can make use of this by setting up profiles for all the doctors in your clinic, then letting customers leave reviews of their service. Highlighting specializations helps to improve your ranking as well.
You can use reviews to showcase your high-quality services and the talents of the members of your clinic. This increases domain authority and you can showcase these reviews on your site to help win patients over.
This is essentially a way to leverage your physicians and their reputation to improve your business. Many patients will make up their mind where to visit once they see proof that the doctors are capable of taking care of their needs. There are hardly any better ways to showcase this than with actual patient reviews.
The experience users have on a website has a lot to do with whether or not they decide to partake of your services. This may require the professional services of a digital marketing agency, but improving the user experience on your website will increase the happiness and likelihood of conversion for those who visit it.
This covers everything from the look of your pages, to how fast the pages load up, the colors you use, and the types and sizes of pictures and graphics. You can improve the performance of your page by making key changes, but the technical aspects of these changes are sometimes complicated. There are tools within Google that will help you determine issues with your website and help you to improve performance.
Performance optimization is something that should be done or kept up regularly so that you don’t fall behind or suffer unseen performance issues that cause your patient acquisition numbers to decline.
Many people now search while they are on the go or exclusively on their phones. In fact, Google states that up to 99% of website traffic may come from mobile devices. Therefore, it is important to make your site optimized for mobile. Again, we recommend you contact a professional service to help get you up to speed, but if you want to know how your site performs, you can check through Google’s Analytics tool, which lets you check mobile-friendliness in a website.
You can even see both mobile and computer friendliness at the same time and steps to take to improve both. This way you can make the changes needed to capture as much traffic as possible.
You can also check site traffic data to see how and when your patients are accessing your site and from what type of device. This gives you crucial data that helps you not only optimize your site for mobile SEO, but to tailor your content, social media posts, and other information to when your traffic numbers are likely to be the highest.
We hope this guide, along with the 5 tips we’ve provided will help you improve your site and your business by drawing in more patients. Digital marketing via SEO has equally as much importance for doctors as any other business, if not more. Investing in the time and effort it takes to properly optimize your website will increase your profitability, but more importantly your reputation as a quality medical service.