Where do your patients most commonly seek out information when they make choices about their medical care? In the past, word of mouth was a powerful factor in finding quality medical care, or the limits of geography made the decision for you. Today, however, as our society grows ever more connected with ready access to information through search engines and social networks, your patients are likely seeking information to inform their medical decisions from online sources.
Whether a patient is looking for quick tips on how to stay healthy through the flu season or seeking help with a far more serious concern, chances are they’re beginning that search online. Helpful content, a robust web presence, and ratings and reviews from satisfied patients all contribute to the decision-making process for your potential patients. The question you must consider is: when they’re making that search, will they find your practice?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the key to enabling your future patients to find, learn about, and connect with you online: the first place that they’re likely to search. While SEO is not something that can be effortlessly switched on, it can be planned out and executed in a way that is systematic and effective. At Crystal Clear Digital Marketing, we’ve perfected the art of designing the best digital marketing and SEO practices. Here are 4 tips that can help you to boost your medical practice SEO.
Create Relevant Content
In any medical practice SEO strategy, there is no substitute for relevant content. It is valuable to your readers, and, if well thought-out, it can be a goldmine of keywords and information that search engines will use to rank your site.
The first segment of relevant content that your reader will encounter is the headline, so it needs to stand out. Whether they’re perusing your practice’s website or encountering your content through a web search, a thought-provoking, compelling headline will be a powerful initial draw for your reader. A great headline is usually short and informs the reader of action to be taken or special knowledge to be gained based on the information that they’ll find in your content. Well-crafted, attention-grabbing headlines can be the difference between content that is viewed and content that is ignored.
After your headline, your readers will encounter the interesting content that you’ve assembled to be of greatest help and relevance to your online audience. Health and medicine are two things that most people take very personally. In addition, health concerns often follow seasonal trends. For example, patients tend to study the prevention of allergies in the summer, investigate weight loss programs around the new year, and explore methods of boosting immunity or treating cold and flu symptoms during winter.
Each of these topics fits perfectly into a relevant content strategy for a medical or wellness practice. These topics also have the benefit of being seasonal. Seasonal content for your practice provides your site with content that is relevant for a specific time frame, dealing with topics that are the focus of people’s searches.
Monitor and Apply Trends
In 2017, internet traffic from mobile devices exceeded traffic from desktop and laptop computers. This is an astounding demonstration of the degree to which mobile devices have been adopted and an indicator of where medical practices should be concentrating their attention for website construction and content creation. In support of this shift in internet traffic, Google is working on developing a “Mobile First Index.” This means that the search engine plans to begin listing search results higher based on the mobile experience quality, rather than, as before, on the quality of the desktop experience. For a medical practice seeking a robust web presence, the shift from desktop to mobile has profound implications for site structure and content creation. Once the Mobile-First Index is fully implemented, mobile-responsive website design will be imperative to maintain a good ranking on search engine results.
Content is consumed and interacted with differently on a mobile device than it is on a desktop. When using a mobile device, users multitask more frequently, which means less attention devoted to content. To counterbalance this, it’s important to consider concentrating a portion of your content creation on visuals that retain the user’s limited attention far more than text. While this doesn’t negate the importance of text, infographics, diagrams, charts, and informative videos are easily shared with others and can play a significant role in informing and engaging your visitors in a mobile space while supporting and enhancing your written content. Based on Google’s acquisition of image recognition startups over the last few years, it is likely that they are actively working on the ability to categorize visual elements in images and videos within search results. This too will play a role in the importance of imagery in a well-rounded SEO strategy.
These are just a few of the trends in SEO today, but it’s important to maintain an awareness of new and emerging trends as technologies continue to improve, change, and shift.
Build a Great User Experience
While the success of your SEO depends on great content and a careful consideration and application of appropriate trends, there is no substitute for a great website experience for your visitors. “User experience” (UX) is a comprehensive term. While it usually refers primarily to the structure and appearance of your web and mobile presence, it may also include the many other ways that a patient interacts with your practice through timely newsletters, contact forms, office visits, and more.
Website structure and loading speed are two important concerns when building a great user experience to boost your practice’s SEO.
A well-structured site leads the user to additional content of interest, making it less likely that they will click away from your page and back to their previous search results. Search engines recognize when users quickly leave your site (known as a bounce rate), and it indicates to the engine that your content may not be meeting the terms of the visitor’s search, which damages your SEO ranking. A carefully laid out UX will quickly notify the user that they have arrived at the right place to find the information they’re seeking and that there’s more content available that may be of additional interest.
The speed of your website is another important consideration in your UX and SEO strategies. When considering the trend towards visual content and imagery, it is easy to overlook the fact that images with poor compression and large file size will significantly slow down your site. Longer loading times are a major contributer to users abandoning your website. These days, most users expect a website to load in just a few seconds, and longer load times often cause users to leave your site in search of a faster result.
There may seem to be a trade-off between attractive, interesting imagery and site loading time, but with the right tools such as Photoshop and similar image editors, you can reduce image file size for fast page loading with a nearly untraceable change in image quality. These adjustments contribute to increased website speed and result in overall greater SEO effectiveness for your practice.
Take Advantage of Local Searches
Medical practice SEO is largely limited to your local community, so you don’t want to miss out on optimizing your SEO for local search. When putting together your website’s description, be sure to mention your city, and if possible, your region. This will tie your website content to your local area of service through those keywords.
Another thing to keep in mind is that many local business directories and review sites such as Yelp and Citysearch allow you to claim your business page. This enables you to respond to reviews left by your patients and see how many visits your business page is getting on the review site. This can be invaluable to further tying your practice into local search results. Most business directory sites also allow users to provide feedback and reviews of the businesses listed. This can either be a great help to your business or a detriment. According to one survey, 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a recommendation from a friend or family member. This staggering statistic shows the power of online reviews, and should be carefully factored into SEO strategy as well as the overall user experience. Additionally, if politely asked to do so, many people will voluntarily leave a review for your practice. Encouraging patients to leave a positive review if they’re happy and satisfied with your service can have a powerful positive effect on the local impact of your SEO.
The processes and strategies involved in SEO can seem daunting. However, for any medical practice with the intention and desire to put together an effective search engine optimization strategy, it’s a goal that is well within your reach. If you’d like additional help and support, that’s where we come in. While you’re busy growing and operating your medical practice, we’re here to assist you in implementing digital marketing strategies that are specifically built for medical practice.
Get Ahead with Crystal Clear
At Crystal Clear Digital Marketing, we are passionate about providing you with the services and resources that you need to find success with medical practice SEO and all other aspects of your digital marketing. Contact us today to get services tailored to your practice, your patients, and your profits.