Healthcare SEO: Get More Patients to Your Practice Through Organic Search

Are you looking for ways to improve your healthcare SEO?

Healthcare SEO is important if you want to attract patients to your practice.

We’re sure you know that healthcare search engine optimization (SEO) plays a huge role in attracting patients to your practice. But did you know that there are many factors involved in getting found by potential patients online? In this guide, you’ll learn about what makes up good SEO for healthcare providers, including things like keywords, backlinks, content marketing, Google My Business listings, and more.

Learn everything you need to know about improving your healthcare SEO right here!

 

Healthcare SEO Basics: Google Business Optimization

Setting up your Google My Business profile alone goes a long way towards getting healthcare leads. After setting it up, you should pretty much immediately see an uptick in phone calls from the listing and traffic to your website.

People are searching all the time for searches such as ‘doctor near me’, or ‘doctor in Kansas City’. The way you show up for those queries in Google Maps and other search results is by having an accurate Google My Business profile set up.

Google My Business is great because potential patients can get a quick snapshot of your practice. It displays your hours of operation, address, phone number, and web address. There’s also a description box so that customers can get to know you and your business.

Lastly, patients can write a review of your business and give you a star rating.

As long as you’re providing a great patient experience and customer service (you are, aren’t you?), then these reviews will really help your business! Positive reviews provide social proof for your business. Social proof is a psychological phenomenon where potential customers look to reviews and feedback from customers who have experience with a business as proof that you’re a legitimate business and provide a high-quality product or service.

Social proof is extremely powerful, so you should utilize it to attract business! That means incentivizing reviews on your Google listing, responding to any negative feedback, and displaying testimonials on your website.

Setting up your Google Business Profile is pretty straightforward so I won’t bore you with the details here. Here’s where to go to set it up: https://www.google.com/business/

 

Reputation Management

People often find out about local businesses through search. That’s why it’s important to put your best foot forward with your online presence. A good start to that is having your website show up first when people search for your brand name. Next, you’ll want to essentially control the front page of results. That means your Google My Business listing, social media pages, and any review sites.

You should be actively responding to any negative reviews on your GMB/review sites and do whatever you can to smooth things over with anyone who formed a negative opinion about your business.

 

Keyword Research

Keyword research is an important part of SEO. It consists of using an SEO tool to find keywords that searchers are putting into search engines that are relevant to your business.

One of the most well-known keyword research tools is the Google Keyword Planner. This is a free tool that’s geared towards paid ads. It’s very basic but it can get the job done if you’re on a budget or don’t feel like paying for a professional keyword research tool, which can be expensive.

At Lure Creative, we use a combination of Ahrefs and SemRush for our keyword research.

Some other good keyword tools include:

These tools all have their pros and cons but for the most part, all of them will provide the data you need to do the keyword research for a healthcare business. Regardless of the keyword research tool you use, the important thing is combing through the data to pick out topics for articles and landing pages.

I start my keyword research out by inputting seed keywords into Ahrefs. Seed keywords are just keywords related to your service that you can think of off the top of your head.

For example, here are three keywords related to primary care doctors in the Kansas City area: family doctor kansas city, general practitioner kansas city, primary care doctor kansas city. I put these keywords into Ahrefs’ Keyword Explorer, and here are some of the related keywords it gave back:

Results when you put keywords into AhrefsAt this point, it’s your job to sift through these keywords and put them into relevant groupings. For example, in this instance ‘Kansas City primary care physicians’ would be the highest volume search term for the topic, so you would use that as your primary keyword. From there, you would make a list of synonym keywords and aim to include those on the page as well.

Finally, you’ll want to create an outline of the page with all the relevant sections. The sections you include will depend on whether you’re creating a landing page or an informational article.

 

On-Page Optimizations & Technical SEO

Optimizing the technical aspects of your website and landing pages is crucial for successful SEO. On-page factors help tell Google and other search engines what your page is about. And of course, they should give your site visitors what they came to your site for.

Here are the major technical optimizations that your website should be optimized for:

 

Keyword Density

One of the most important on-page ranking factors is the keyword density of your pages. Keyword Density refers to the number of times a keyword is mentioned on a page divided by the number of total words on the page.

It’s important to get your keyword density to an acceptable level, as it helps tell Google what the topic of your page is about. So what’s an acceptable keyword density level, you ask?

There is no perfect keyword density, as it really depends on the keyword you’re trying to rank for. A good range to aim for is .5% to 3%, which is what the SEO plugin Yoast suggests. At Lure Creative, we use a combination of the SEO plugins RankMath and Yoast. Rankmath is a bit more conservative with their keyword density recommendations at 1% to 1.5%, which is perfectly acceptable as well and may even be better to avoid overoptimizing your content.

Regardless, if you use WordPress, it’s a good idea to use an SEO plugin to optimize your pages.

Always make sure to read your content before publishing, as you want to mention your keyword a sufficient number of times but you don’t want to overdo it. Including your keywords an unnatural number of times is referred to as ‘keyword stuffing’ and can effectively get your page or website penalized.

Keep in mind that the longer the keyword phrase you target, the less likely it’ll sound natural if you include it many times. For example, it would be natural to mention a keyword such as ‘Kansas City primary care’ multiple times on a page than a very specific long-tail keyword such as ‘neighborhood family doctor on Independence Avenue in Kansas City Missouri’.

The bottom line is you want your content to read naturally to real users.

 

SEO Title Tags/Meta Titles

SEO title tags are HTML tags, and they’re the headlines that appear in search results.

Example of an SEO title tag in the search resultsSEO title tags are different from the H1 tags that show up as the headline title on your page. However, you can make them the same, which can be a good strategy, as it creates continuity from the search engine results page to when users land on your webpage.

Having your titles cut off in the search engine results pages happens when your titles are too long, so it’s best practice to keep your titles under around 60 characters.

Here are some strategies for crafting SEO title tags that will entice people to click on your search result:

  • SEO meta titles should include your primary keyword and potentially a long-tail version of it.
  • It should accurately reflect the content that the user will find on your page.
  • Highlight what’s unique about your webpage and service.
  • Use words that convey emotion to hook patients into clicking. These are sometimes referred to as “power words”. Some examples include:
    • Discover
    • Trust
    • Improve
    • Immediately
    • Learn
    • Know
    • Understand
    • Health
    • Safety
    • Now
    • Results
    • Today
    • Protect
    • Help
    • Latest
    • Create
  • Use the “curiosity gap”. The curiosity gap is the phenomenon of having someone’s curiosity piqued and their desire to resolve that and find out information. You have to be careful with this technique though so as to avoid being perceived as clickbait.

 

Meta Descriptions

Meta descriptions are the captions underneath headlines in the search engine results pages:

Example of a meta description in Google search resultsMeta descriptions are an important aspect of SEO because they let search engine users know what your page is about. By writing high-quality meta descriptions, you can improve the click-through rate of your pages. Additionally, by having an interesting and accurate description of your pages, meta descriptions can help improve your conversion rate.

The standard best practice length for meta descriptions is around 155-165 characters. After that, your meta descriptions will start to be cut off in the search results.

Here are some quick tips for writing compelling meta descriptions:

  • Use emotional language to tap into the feelings of your potential customers.
  • Include your unique selling proposition (USP) in your meta description. Think about what makes your organization stand out from the competition in your area.
  • Address a pain point. Patients want their psychological and physical pain points resolved. Let them know you’re there to help solve it for them.
  • Add a call-to-action. A call-to-action can be an effective way to get potential patients to call you, email, stop by in person, or visit your website.

 

Hierarchical Headings

This one is pretty straightforward. The title of your page should be an H1 tag – the only H1 tag on the page. From there, all of the major sections of the page should be H2 tags. If any of those sections of the page have subsections, they should be H3 tags. If your H3 tags have subsections, use H4 and so on.

 

Internal & External Links

Google and other search engines treat links from other websites and internal links on your website like votes. The more links you have from high-quality websites, the more likely you are to rank highly because your site becomes more trustworthy.

The same thing goes for the pages on your website that you link to. Google has a bot that crawls your website and the pages that get linked to the most are perceived as more important and are more likely to rank higher. Internal linking also helps users navigate your website and discover pages and content that would be of interest to them.

On the subject of internal linking, the foundation of internal linking starts with your navigation. Your menu navigation in your header and footer should include your website categories and important pages such as your about page and contact page. All of your pages should be within a couple of clicks of your homepage.

 

Link Building for Healthcare Providers

Link building in the local healthcare industry takes plenty of time and work, but it can be relatively easy compared to general SEO because directory submissions go a long way toward ranking a local website, especially when it comes to local SEO for Dentists and other common local healthcare providers.

When you’re dealing with broader national or global industries, you may have to compete with big established websites that have a lot of domain authority. Luckily, the websites you’ll be competing against as a local healthcare provider will usually have a pretty low domain authority, which makes it easier to rank.

 

Local Directories

When it comes to link building for a local healthcare provider, the lowest hanging fruit is to submit your business information and website to local directories.

Links from local business directories aren’t as powerful as links from big, authoritative sites like nytimes.com or cnn.com. After all, local directories are a lot easier to get links on. That said, they do pass on some level of authority and they also help with NAP citations, an acronym for Name, Address, Phone Number.

NAP is an important part of SEO because it’s part of Google’s algorithm for local organizations. Plus, having accurate NAP across the web provides a good user experience for patients looking to find a healthcare business like yours in their area.

If you haven’t listed your healthcare business on local directories yet, here’s a good place to start:

 

Healthcare Directory Submissions

In addition to standard local directories, you’ll want your business and individual physicians to be listed on healthcare-specific directories. When it comes to links and SEO, the more relevant, the better. If you can get links from other healthcare websites, those will be more powerful than a link from a site in a completely unrelated industry.

So setting up profiles in healthcare provider directories is great because you get a relevant link that strengthens your domain authority, it improves your NAP across the web, and best of all, you reach real potential healthcare patients.

Online healthcare provider directories range from free to paid — and some of them can get very expensive. Depending on where the practice is, a very high domain authority and powerful links may not be necessary. That’s why I think the best strategy is to start with free directories and work up from there — and if you find that the site isn’t ranking highly after doing everything right, it may be necessary to get featured on the premium directories.

Here are some healthcare-specific directories that healthcare providers should consider:

  • AMA Doctor Finder (and AMA’s InnovationMatch.AMA-assn.org)
  • Castle Connolly Top Doctors
  • CMS Physician Compare
  • HealthGrades
  • MedlinePlus.gov
  • NIH.gov (and NIH’s MeSH)
  • RateMDs
  • RealSelf
  • SAMHSA.gov
  • Directories for specialist practitioners such as VeinDirectory.org

 

Press Releases

Press releases can be a good way to make an announcement about your business, whether it be about opening your business, moving to a new location, redesigning your website, or any significant change you’d like to announce.

Press release links aren’t the most powerful, but they do provide branded anchor text to your website, which helps index your website and show up for your brand name. It’s particularly helpful for when you launch a healthcare brand.

 

HARO (Help A Reporter Out)

HARO is a service that connects reporters and journalists to sources to help them with their stories. In return, the reporters will usually credit you as a source and link back to your website.

It’s a win-win all around because as a healthcare professional, you get to provide important information to the public and you get some exposure as well. Reporters from large publications such as the New York Times and Forbes use HARO, so you can get some very powerful links from being a source, although it does take some patience because multiple other people provide answers to the queries.

When you sign up to HARO as a source, you receive three emails per day with all of the queries that reporters are looking to get help with — and a lot of them are health and medical-related. You can sign up to HARO here: https://www.helpareporter.com/subscriptions/basic/.

 

Regularly Publish a Blog

As a healthcare professional, publishing a blog on your area of expertise is great for SEO. Google likes content written by doctors and other healthcare practitioners with credentials in their field. If you’re a doctor and you have the time to create blog articles on the healthcare topics that you’re an expert in, you should see the return in your SEO results.

High-quality blog articles are great too because they attract backlinks naturally, which helps your website’s overall rankings in the search engines.

 

Optimize the Visual/Patient Experience on Your Website

Your website visitors want your site to be easy on the eyes and make it easy for them to find what they’re looking for. In terms of specifics, that means having:

 

Easy Navigation

Your site navigation should be as simple as possible for your visitors. An effective menu for healthcare providers will, in general, include your phone number and links to your about page, contact page, patient resources, and any links to pages that are uniquely important to your practice. You may also want to include your hours of operation and address (or links to pages with that information).

That’s for the desktop experience, but what about for mobile?

You have a lot less screen real estate to work with for mobile devices, so you have to take that into consideration when building your website. In general, it’s a good idea to put all of the same menu items from desktop into your mobile menu. However, due to the smaller screen size, it will need to be a collapsible menu. The most important links and information can be kept in the visible part of your header before expanding it, such as your phone number.

All of your web pages across your site should be within a click or two from any page on your site.

 

Quality Control

As websites age, things can get messy and out of control if you don’t actively keep things organized and up to date. For example, you may delete pages on your website. There’s nothing wrong with trimming page from your site, but there could still be many pages on your site linking to that page.

If a website visitor clicks on one of those broken links, they’ll be sent to a non-existent page. That’s a bad user experience and it’s a signal to search engines that you’re not keeping your site up to date. That’s why it’s important to periodically audit your site for broken links and other usability issues.

 

Accessibility

Making sure websites can be used by everyone should be the top priority of anyone who runs a website. Accessibility, in short, is the process of making sure that websites can be used by everyone.

Accessibility ensures that all users can see, understand, navigate, and interact with a website. It also takes into account any disabilities that could change how a user interacts with your website, whether that be auditory, cognitive, neurological, physical, or visual disabilities.

Some things to keep in mind when optimizing your website for accessibility include:

  • Alt text (text that describes images for the visually impaired)
  • Readability (using legible fonts sized and spaced appropriately)
  • Having descriptive page titles
  • Structuring your pages using headings and subheadings to make your pages easy to read and skim
  • Using appropriate anchor text on your links

If you’re interested in testing your website for accessibility, a good way to do so is with the WAVE Evaluation Tool, a Google Chrome extension.

It’s a lot easier to optimize your website for usability when you work with a good web designer and developer.

 

Optimize Your Website for Speed, Performance, & Mobile

The longer it takes your website to load, the more likely your site visitors are to get frustrated. This can lead to your site visitors having a negative perception of your organization or worse, they may bounce back to the search results, which could end up in them going to a different practice for their healthcare needs.

According to Neil Patel and Kissmetrics, 40% of website visitors will leave the site if it takes 3 seconds or longer to load. That’s a lot of potential patients/customers you could be missing out on, so optimizing your website for loading speed for all devices is key.

 

Track Your Keywords

Tracking your keywords and their movements takes the guesswork out of analyzing your website’s rankings and traffic. Say your traffic decreases – without keyword tracking you’re working in the dark.

But when you track your keywords, you get a constant snapshot of how your pages are performing for their respective keywords. When you see traffic dips for certain keywords, that indicates that you need to optimize and update that page.

You can track your keywords with an SEO tool such as Semrush, Ahrefs, or Serprobot.

 

Keep a Log of Your Healthcare SEO Work

Screenshot of SEO documentation

Screenshot of the SEO log we keep for our own website.

Keeping a log of all of the medical SEO work you do on your website does add some additional time to your tasks because you’re documenting everything, but it’s very beneficial. By documenting everything, you have documented proof to look back on when something is successful or not.

For example, you may find that you made on-page changes to a page and then the rankings dropped. When you see that the rankings dropped, you’re able to go back in your notes and see what you did that may have led to the drop in rankings. Without that documentation, it’s much more difficult to pinpoint what could have caused the problem.

 

Keep Tabs on Your Competitors

By analyzing your competitor’s websites, you gain insights into their strengths and weaknesses, which you can then use to improve your site. When a site ranks number one for a particular keyword, that shows what Google wants to see.

The first thing to consider is a competitor’s on-page structure. What keywords does the page mention, and do they include related, synonymous keywords? What sections/headings do they cover? You’ll want to make sure you cover all of the relevant sections of the topic on your page as well.

Lastly, for on-page, you need to strategize how you can make your pages better than your competitors. If a competitor’s page isn’t comprehensive enough, that’s an opportunity for improvement. You can also make your content stand out by using images, data, and infographics. You should also focus on making your copy engaging and readable, especially in your introductions, which should hook readers in.

The other thing to consider when analyzing the medical search engine optimization of your competitors is their off-page factors. In particular, that refers to the backlinks pointed to their site. If they got a link from a site, it usually means you can find a way to recreate it for your own site. You should also take a look at the directory links and citations that your competitors have and ensure that your site has those signals too.

 

Work With Healthcare SEO Experts at Lure Creative

Dr. Mark Eting Healthcare Marketing DoctorIf you follow the healthcare SEO strategy laid out here, you will see results and get patients through organic search. However, as you may have noticed, there’s A LOT of work that goes into medical search engine optimization — and it can be overwhelming!

For many healthcare providers, it doesn’t make sense to do their own healthcare SEO. Your time could be better spent tending to your patients and focusing on your core business model.

That’s where our healthcare SEO services come in. We have the know-how to scale your SEO traffic quickly and efficiently. We use tried and tested methods to get you to the top of search results to attract patients.

If you’re ready to work with healthcare SEO experts so you can focus on your core business, use the form below or call us at (913) 649-4040. We offer a free consultation and healthcare SEO analysis.

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