4 Ways to SEO Your Medical Practice
Update September 2022: This article gives a broad overview to help you understand SEO. It does not touch on Local SEO, which can be powerful for practices with a physical location. I highly recommend RebelFish Local for their expertise in local SEO!
We all want to be seen. When it comes to our businesses, we want to be seen by Google.* And it really is more than just being seen—we want our businesses to look really good to Google. We do that by optimizing our websites for search: Search Engine Optimization (SEO). It already sounds too techy, right? I used to be scared of SEO too. But it doesn’t have to be scary. I am going to break this down step-by-step. Once you have a basic understanding of SEO, you can decide what parts to delegate to somebody else and what parts to handle on your own. Some parts of SEO are better handled by an expert, but some parts can be handled by anybody—with zero technical skills If you want your dream patients to find you effortlessly online, you need to show up. So let’s get started with the basics: the 4 types of SEO.
1. Technical SEO
Do you wait around patiently when you click on a site and it loads su--per slowly? Most people will bounce right back to Google to find a different site. It’s not just people who favor fast sites. Google does too. Improving the speed of your site is one example of technical SEO.
You can check the speed of your site with Page Speed Insights. Just type in your URL, and you will see a list of ways you can improve the speed of your site.
Most website hosting platforms have plugins you can use to improve your SEO. An example is Yoast, which can be used on WordPress. Also, make sure that your site has URLs that make sense. What I mean by that is to use wellnesswriter.com/about rather than wellnesswriter.com/fliber58h#gi9$.
To improve your technical SEO, you can login to your Google account to access Google Console or into your Microsoft account to access Bing Webmaster Tools. There are a lot of ways to improve your technical SEO, but if you are anything like me, this is not a task you will take on without a little bit of qualified help.
2. On-Page SEO
On-page SEO can include some technical elements, but it has more to do with the CONTENT on each page. When you think of on-page SEO, think keywords and relevance. Google does search for keywords, but loading a blog post with the same word a hundred times over is not the way to go.
Let’s say you are writing an article about probiotics. You want to have the keyword “probiotics” in the URL, the title, the first paragraph, the image tags, and a few more places in the article.
But you also want to have synonyms, related phrases, and a ton of valuable information. One part of Google’s algorithm (the hummingbird update) favors synonyms, questions, and the context of the keyword.
Another part of Google’s algorithm (the panda update) favors unique, relevant, and fresh content but penalizes duplicate content.
The take-home message here is to write awesome articles that are relevant to your ideal patient audience. If you want to find out what people are searching for, jump over and have some fun with Google Trends. Another fun site to find out the exact questions people are entering into search boxes is Answer the Public. Both of these tools are free and can give you insight into keywords that will speak to your ideal patient.
3. Off-Page SEO
Off-page SEO is all about building links from other sites back to your own (these are called inbound links). Inbound links improve your ranking on search because search robots crawl the web by following links. The more inbound links to your site, the easier it will be for Google to find you.
Link-building can be an incredible way to look awesome and amazing to Google. Links make your site appear authoritative and trustworthy. Inbound links can come from social media sites (think Pinterest, Facebook, and Google+), influential blogs or podcasts, other practices you have partnered with, or even discussion boards and directories.
In the same way that search engines can recognize relevant and well-written content on your site, search engines can also recognize quality inbound links from bogus ones.
If you want your tech person to evaluate the quality of your inbound links, they can go into the Google Search Console and remove low-quality links with the Google Disavow tool.
4. Paid SEO
When you enter a search into Google, the search engine results page will show you paid ads at the top, followed by unpaid results below. The majority of people (70%) click on search results that show up in the organic search (those are the results that are not paid ads). About 30% of clicks go to paid ads.
If you want your site to be boosted by Google and have a better chance of being found, you can opt to pay for that privilege. Google AdWords (Google AdWords™ advertising service) is the most popular tool to pay to advertise your site on a search engine results page. In Google AdWords, you can purchase text ads that show up on search engines or display ads that show up on websites across the internet. The platform is quite user-friendly, but I'm not going to lie. There is a learning curve to effectively running Google AdWords campaigns.
An action plan is the best remedy for anxiety, so get to work. Even small changes and tweaks can make a difference in your search ranking. And remember that SEO is not the end-all-be-all to successfully marketing your practice!
It is great when potential patients find you with a Google search, but one visit to your website does not necessarily translate into more phone calls and appointments. You need to earn a person’s trust before she will be willing to walk in your door and entrust her health in your hands. You earn her trust be creating an experience for her before she ever becomes a patient.
SEO is just one piece of an overall content marketing plan for your practice. Put a few systems in place to improve your ranking on Google, and then move on to the fun stuff: creating a strategic path for a person to follow from the point they discover you online to the point they become a real, live, paying patient.
*Google, Google AdWords, and the Google logo are registered trademarks of Google Inc.