In the competitive medical industry, every small improvement that you can make to your website’s search engine ranking can make an enormous difference in your practice’s bottom line. Your competitors are equally aware of the importance of search engine optimization, though, making SEO for doctors an arms race that seems to never end.
If you’re a doctor with a new website — or you’re just now optimizing your website for the first time — you’re in for a bit of a rude awakening. Your competitors have been building their websites’ search engine rankings for years, and you’re going to have to do quite a lot of work to gain traction.
The good news is that new websites can — and do — outrank established websites every day. SEO for doctors is something that you can do, although it does require significant time and effort. Are you ready to improve the search engine ranking of your medical practice? Roll up your sleeves, and let’s get started. If you need help, we’re with you every step of the way. At Crystal Clear Digital Marketing, we focus exclusively on the needs of medical websites. Contact us now for help with SEO for doctors.
Getting Started: Building an SEO-Friendly Website
The easiest way to build an SEO-friendly medical website is to use a content management system such as WordPress or Drupal. Both systems are open-source software that you can freely install and use, but neither is ideal for SEO out of the box. Regardless of the content management system that you choose, you’ll need to install a plugin or module that allows you to modify:
- Article and page title tags
- Article and page description tags
- Image alt tags
Modifying the above tags allows you to add descriptive information to pages, making it easier for Google to classify and organize the information on your website. The tags also give you additional opportunities for increasing the keyword density of pages.
Simply having a medical website isn’t sufficient to get Google to start sending new patients your way. When people search for information on Google, they use keywords. Google attempts to satisfy search requests by suggesting pages that provide the information that users want. If you want your website to appear among the search results, your website needs to contain text that satisfies users’ queries. Without text, Google can’t tell users anything about your website.
So, how do you make Google’s system work for you? Your website needs text articles that satisfy specific search queries. Let’s suppose, for example, that you are a doctor in Albany. Keyword phrases such as “doctor in Albany” and “clinic in Albany” are among the most likely to send your office profitable traffic from Google — so your website should definitely include articles satisfying those keyword phrases.
From there, you can branch your website out to include pages about the specific services that you offer, such as:
- Medical exams in Albany
- Vaccinations in Albany
- Stitches in Albany
When you write about your services, you should strive to create the most informative articles possible. You can write about why someone might need that service, how much the service might cost and what the patient can expect when he or she comes in for an appointment. Every question that you answer in an article makes the article more relevant to the topic, and Google strives to provide relevant search results to its users.
Once you’ve finished creating those articles, you can increase your website’s keyword density by writing articles about the same medical services within the other cities and regions that you serve. When writing articles that vary slightly from your website’s existing articles, it’s important to ensure that you stick closely to each article’s keyword focus. Each article also needs to be entirely unique. It isn’t enough to copy and paste the text from an existing article, changing only the city name.
Advanced Content Marketing
Have you ever wondered why so many business websites have blogs? Although your website’s primary business pages — such as the ones that describe your practice’s services — will typically be the ones that bring you the most new patients, you’ll eventually reach a limit to how much traffic you can generate with that content. A blog section allows you to branch out by publishing content that isn’t directly related to business but attracts significant search traffic on Google.
Some of the types of content that you can publish in your website’s blog section include:
- Original research
- Answers to health-related questions
- Advice about how to avoid chronic medical conditions
- Information about your practice’s community service projects
Adding a blog section doesn’t just give your website an additional traffic source — it can also help your website to attract links from other websites. Inbound links are a crucial part of SEO for doctors because the quality and quantity of a website’s links greatly influence that website’s ranking on Google. Your page about vaccinations in Albany, for example, might be the best page about its topic on the Internet. Since the topic is clearly commercial, though, most website owners will not link to the page. They may, however, link to an original study about the effectiveness of the influenza vaccine in preventing the flu among elderly patients. A link to one page on your website can potentially improve the ranks of all of your website’s other pages.
Medical Practice Outreach
Publishing informative content is one great way to encourage other website owners to link to your medical practice’s website. Website owners can only link to your content, though, if they know that it exists. After you publish a useful article, you should spend some time promoting it to attract links. Contact medical bloggers, local newspapers, national websites — anyone who might be interested in the content you’re promoting. If you can honestly say that an article is the best resource online about its topic — or that no other resource quite like it exists elsewhere online — the article will receive links.
When you begin promoting your content, you’ll quickly find that getting links is a lot more difficult than it sounds. Bloggers and website owners receive requests for links every day, and it takes a lot to impress them. You’ll quickly learn what resonates with people who write and publish medical content. The most important thing to remember is that content needs to be truly remarkable if it’s going to get any attention online. Before you write a new article, search Google for the keyword phrase that you want to target. Look at the articles that appear on the first page of results. If you want your article to attract links, it’ll need to be better than the articles that you currently see on Google.
Getting Social for Local SEO and Audience Building
When you publish informational content on your practice’s website, it won’t turn website visitors into new patients quite as often as your website’s commercial content. However, you can still make your informational articles work for you by inserting messages encouraging visitors to join a mailing list or follow your practice on social media. Building up a base of followers on social media gives you an easy way to get a quick burst of website visits each time you publish a new article. You can also use social media as an avenue for marketing new services that your medical practice offers, encouraging patients to come in for their flu shots and so on.
Google isn’t the only important source of web traffic for your medical practice. More than ever, people turn to business directories such as Yelp when they want to find local businesses. Since Yelp uses public directories and user contributions to build profiles for businesses, it’s likely that your practice already has a Yelp profile even if you don’t use Yelp at all. If your practice has been in business for a while, patients may have even left reviews.
Yelp uses the average customer ratings of local businesses when ranking search results. Since Yelp is a valuable source of traffic — people almost always use it because they’re ready to spend money — maintaining the best possible rating on Yelp is important. You can’t directly control the reviews that people leave on Yelp and other business directories, but you can monitor those reviews and intervene when necessary.
Claim your practice’s business directory profiles, and ask your patients to write reviews and rate your practice online. When you see a negative review, check the business directory’s content guidelines for any possible violations. If a review violates the directory’s guidelines, you can ask the directory’s administrators to remove it. If a review violates no guidelines, reach out to the patient. Ask what you can do to make things right. If you are able to work with the patient and resolve the problem amicably, ask the patient to update or remove the review. Anything that increases your practice’s rating on Yelp and other business directories can significantly affect your ability to attract new patients.
Contact Crystal Clear Digital Marketing today to learn more about SEO for Doctors!