Perhaps now, at this time of lockdown, we realize more than ever the importance of finding information online. The same is true of patients. Even before the lockdown, Google was often the first place patients now search for health information. The effect of the COVID-19 pandemic has, no doubt, reinforced this trend.
But what does it mean for Doctors and Physician Practices?
As a medical doctor, or an employee of a physician practice, you probably already have a website. Perhaps, following the AMA’s relaxation of HIPAA restrictions in response to the pandemic, you are even offering telemedicine online. But, the problem is, the same is true of thousands and thousands of other doctors. The question, then, is how can you help patients find your website instead of the website of your competitors?
Organic Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for Doctors and Medical Practices
SEO can be an effective – and affordable – way of generating new patient leads. Put simply, SEO means positioning your site in the real top search results, for example on the first page of Google, just below the sponsored links. Despite appearing below the sponsored ads, such organic listings still get more clicks, meaning they can be a great source of new patient referrals. Importantly, they can also offer a better return on investment, because (unlike Google Ads) you do not pay per click.
5 SEO tips to get your medical practice top of Google
Many people understand the concept of SEO, but are not sure where to start. In order to simplify this, in this article we have provided 5 SEO tips which you can implement TODAY to start positioning your practice’s website higher in search results.
1. Set up a Google My Business profile (for free)
Creating a Google My Business profile is a quick and simple way to make it easier for patients to find you. The great thing about these profile pages is that they are often displayed at the top of Google search results. You can create or claim your profile here.
2. Increase your number of 5 star reviews
An important part of helping your SEO campaign is increasing your number of 5 star reviews. This helps in two ways. First, higher ratings increase the chance of your website showing up in the “Google My Business” section (mentioned in point #1), often appearing top of search results. Second, when you do appear, higher ratings increase the chances of a patient clicking on your listing. You can read more about this on our page “what we do”.
3. Speed up your website
One of the factors which determines your search engine ranking is the speed of your site. If, for example, it takes a long time to load, then this discourages patients from waiting and, subsequently, patients might ‘bounce’. This shows Google that your site was not a good recommendation and it is then pushed further down the rankings. If your site is built with WordPress, there are several plugins you can install to speed up your site. Not sure if your site is running slowly? Check your website speed for free with Google.
4. SEO optimize your target pages
Many practices make the mistake of investing huge amounts of time optimizing every page on their website. However, it is far more important to spend the most time optimizing your target pages. These are the pages which you want to rank top of Google for certain keywords. For example, if you are an orthopedic surgeon offering hip replacement surgery, then you likely want to rank for keywords such as ‘hip surgeon’ or ‘hip replacement surgery’. You should pick one page for which you want to rank for these keywords. Optimizing more than one page would have the effect of competing against yourself.
Once you have chosen your keywords and target pages, the next step is to optimize these pages. There are many ways to do this, including the following:
- Ensure the keyword is in the title
- Ensure the keyword is in the URL
- Ensure the keyword is in the meta description
- Ensure the meta description is engaging and would make patients want to click on the link
- Ensure the content is well-formatted and interesting. Increasingly, media such as image and videos can help improve page ranking.
- Ensure the content is useful for patients. Does your page provide patients with the information they are searching for?
There are many other strategies, too numerous to mention in one blog post, but these are enough to get you started.
5. Use Google Analytics to monitor what is (and is not) working
Last, but not least, it’s important to monitor your progress. For this, you can use a free tool called Google Analytics. After installing the Google Analytics code in your website, Google can then track vital information about how people are engaging with your website. This includes, but is not limited to, information such as:
- Website traffic
- Traffic location
- Traffic source (e.g. Google vs. social media vs. ads)
- Time on site
- Exit pages (the last page people view before leaving your site)
- Landing pages (the first page people view on your site)
Further information about SEO for Doctors and Medical Practices
Working at a medical practice can be, as you know, BUSY. Realistically, it can be difficult to find time for both running the practice, as well as handling practice marketing, including creating and implementing SEO campaigns. As such, many practices outsource such services to specialists, including companies like Rater8 for help with reputation management for doctors, as well as companies such as Red Castle Services, which specializes in Online Marketing for Doctors and SEO for Medical Practices.