SEO for Medical Practices: Step-by-Step Tutorial
Everything Medical Practices Need To Know About Using SEO to get Increase Appointments and More Patients All While Spending Less On Advertising.
SEO for Medical Practices: Step-by-Step TutorialThe world can’t stop talking about SEO well, the internet world. Want to know what medical SEO is about? We’ve got answers. In this guide, we’ll explain the ins and out of SEO for medical practices and give you all the things you need to know to get started with SEO for a medical practice. First, we’ll get into some basic definitions and how it works, then we give you specific tactics you can use right away. If you’re new to SEO or if you understand quite a bit this guide can help you. SEO is one of the best things you can do for a medical practice to get more business and promote your brand.
What is SEO for Medical Practices?What is it? It’s a type of marketing known as inbound marketing. SEO stands for search engine optimization. It’s everything you do on your website, and off your website to show up in the search engines when people look for terms related to your business. SEO involves some basic HTML, and mostly it’s about publishing pages on your website. You don’t need much to get started but there are essential steps that everyone needs to follow. Just like traditional marketing, it involves publishing things to get people interested. Instead of magazines or print, you will be publishing news-style articles or fun content related to your business that people are interested in.
- What is SEO for Medical Practices?
- Why is it Important?
- How Do Search Engines Work?
- SEO for Home Healthcare: Getting Started With a CMS
- Keyword: Research and Discovery
- Medical SEO: Competitor Research
- Local SEO for Healthcare Companies
- Long-Form Content and Long-Tail Keywords
- Crawler Friendly SEO: Making Sure Your Website is Indexed
- About User Experience (Page Experience)
- Next Steps
Why is it Important?
The core of search engine optimization is all about visibility online. SEO is probably the most cost-effective way to get visibility and maintain it. It ties into your overall marketing plan and these days, healthcare SEO companies are very busy.
SEO is known as inbound marketing because you don’t have to get people’s attention. Billboards and paid ads are known as outbound marketing because you are going out and trying to attract attention to your business. With SEO the people are already searching for you.
It’s essential if you want to get more business online. There are billions of websites on the internet and millions of people searching every day for answers and products that they need or want. One of the best things about SEO is that a small marketing team, even one person marketing team can get some great results from a consistent strategy.
How Do Search Engines Work?
You’ll need to optimize your site so it can be found in search engines. There are billions of sites and sometimes Google or other search engines miss your site. If you set up a new website with Google as your host it will be added to Google’s database (index). If you set up a website and no one is linking to your site it won’t know you exist.
There are several ways to make sure you are visible. You can sign up on a listing or you can manually register it with your web host or get links from other sites. Below is an overview of three key components of each crawler.
Search engines never stop crawling. Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo, Yahoo! Search, and all the other search engines are known as crawlers. They crawl the web from link to link (URLs) to find pages. It’s called the World Wide Web because there’s a knowledge web, everything is weaved together by links. Crawlers go from link to link to link to find and analyze pages.
This happens after your site has been crawled and is added to the Google database. Search engines will analyze the data on your website to determine what it’s all about. It will automatically categorize pages to help people who are searching for the kind of content on your site.
- Displaying Search Results
After a URL is added to the database and defined it’s eligible to show up on the search page results. A site is not likely to show up right away if it’s brand new. That’s why SEO is so important in a relatively short amount of time you can get on the results pages.
SEO for Home Healthcare: Getting Started With a Content Management System (CMS)
If you already know how to set up a website you can skip this part. If you don’t have a website and want to practice your SEO skills you will need to set one up. The easy way to do this if you’re not a programmer or developer is to use a content management system (CMS). Some Popular Content Management Systems include WordPress, Wix, Weebly, Joomla, etc.
- Content Management System
Suites are full of applications that you can use to visually design and maintain your website, as well as perform SEO for home healthcare or any other related field.
Are other applications and components like web pages, contact forms, chatbots, personalization apps, and anything else you can think of that you see on a website.
WordPress is one of the easiest and most popular CMS platforms for beginners as well as experts to manage SEO. Yoast SEO is one of the very best plug-ins you can add to WordPress for SEO. We’ll talk about technical SEO later but it takes care of that as well as all the tedious tasks you would need to do for on-page SEO if you did it the old-fashioned way. There are specific plugins medical SEO companies use for booking, legal page creation, and any other functionality you can think of.
Keyword Research and Discovery
You don’t need a website to do keyword research. Maybe you’re working on someone else’s website and you typed in “medical SEO” or “local SEO for medical practices.” If you’re an online marketer there are some powerful software applications that use big data to help you optimize your site.
- Dive in: Keyword Research With WordTracker
We’ll mention more tools later on but word tracker is a good place to start. You can do keyword research for free. With this crawler, if you want more data you can start a free trial or/or purchase the premium service. Let’s get started.
Hopefully, we did a good job at targeting the right people and you are here because you want to learn or you are working for a healthcare company. So we’ll use that as an example. Enter the keyword that you’d like into the search box from the homepage. Use whatever you want we used, ”healthcare SEO companies.”
Here are the results pages. You’ll want to pay attention to volume and competition for now. There are other factors you’ll want to consider after you get the hang of things. As you can see there are some keywords at the bottom that are blurred out. Those aren’t blurred out because they’re dirty words, it’s because you are using the free version.
Tip: when you are building a list of keywords you want to be hyper-focused on certain terms related to healthcare. Start with a keyword list of maybe 5 to 20. Less is more at the beginning but everybody’s different. Remember volume and competition are key. You want the highest volume with the least competition. You can go after high competition keywords but it’s going to be more of a long-term strategy.
There’s pretty much no competition and some volume. The volume means the average number of people who search per month. Now, this data is not completely accurate. The crawler may have gotten the data from a few hours ago and things change pretty quickly since people are searching every second. But it is an accurate estimation. Different tools will have different data but you’ll notice if they all are similar. Next, we’ll move on to topic research.
So now that you found some keywords, let’s figure out what kind of topics you should be covering to attract people to your site. For this, we’re going to use the Google Trend tool. Trends will show you which topics are popular in your region. It shows you what’s recently trending and Taylor Swift and Kim Kardashian seem to always be at the top for some reason.
When you begin to search it works just like Google. If you have auto-complete on, the default setting, it will give you other suggestions that people search for when they look for that term.
If you are performing local SEO for a medical practice or healthcare company this is a handy tool. I’m going to use a suggestion and try healthcare coverage and access.
This gives you some information on the interest of the topic over time. It’s all relative data ranging from 0 to 100. It shows you where the most interest is. We can see it’s popular in Connecticut, so if you have a practice in Connecticut it would be a good idea to write about that topic.
It also shows you related topics that you can explore. If you use other SEO applications like the ones we mention in the last section you’ll get information on related topics and keywords as well.
Medical Practices SEO: Competitor Research
You will also want to do some research on your competitors to make sure that you’ll be able to rank in the search engine results pages. If they’re getting tons of traffic you just aren’t going to be able to compete right away. Another good thing about competitor research is you can find the top pages or just take a look at a site and see what they’re doing.
Tip: reverse engineer what the competition is doing. Look at the first few pages of Google and check out the pages displayed in the results and try to analyze the content. This helps you figure out where your opportunities are and where they aren’t.
- Spying on the Competition
So You probably want to do a little Recon. We’re going to do this with another tool called SpyFu. You’re going to stalk some other websites to see what’s going on. Not really stalk but just look at their sites which probably actually helps them cuz it’s traffic. If you’re stalking us right now, thanks for visiting.
Go to SpyFu, it’s free and you can use it with limited functionality. The free version is great if you don’t need to track a bunch of different things. We are checking out healthcare.gov
After a search, the overview gives us tons of information. This data might not be completely accurate but it is very insightful. This is a huge site and it’s got a ton of keywords as you can see and a ton of traffic
- Organic Keywords
Organic keywords are all the keywords they’ve earned and ranked on the search engine pages results that aren’t from paid ads.
- Paid Keywords
Paid keywords are terms that are used in paid ads that people clicked on. They’re different ad platforms and Google AdWords is the most popular one.
Paid ads are great but organic traffic is known to have more longevity unless you’re consistently pumping out ads which can be very expensive. Plus when you’re figuring out how to adjust your paid ad strategy organic traffic can pick up the slack.
So you get some good information here but let’s go a little further and check out who their competitors are and go head-to-head. The Kombat tool is good for that.
This is very useful. It shows your main direct competitors, maybe not the same business but the same websites that are competing with keywords that you want to use. Missing keywords and questions are great to look at.
- Questions will show you related questions that can help you figure out what kind of content to target.
- Missing keywords will show you which keywords your competitors are ranking for that you aren’t.
If you want you can put specific websites in the search bar to go against. There are a bunch more things you can do if you want to check it out. We aren’t affiliated with SpyFu but it’s a tool that’s easy for beginners to understand. It should be noted that it doesn’t have the freshest data compared to the most popular tools like SEMrush.
Local SEO for Medical Practices and Healthcare
Local SEO is probably one of the first things that you want to do. If you have a physical location it’s almost mandatory. This is what puts you on Google Maps. If you don’t have a physical location you can still optimize for local by choosing local keywords like “healthcare o in Nevada” or “health care services in Hong Kong.”
Here’s a local SEO checklist of things that you can do to connect with customers in certain regions. Local SEO for medical practices is very competitive. It’s not easy to show up on the maps or show up in search. Healthcare SEO companies have to work hard to find the gaps.
- Google My Business
Create your Google My Business account GMB. This helps people discover you but it also helps Google find your site. Now the development team at Google search claims that it’s not a ranking factor. That is true but it does drive traffic to your site because you’re going to post your website on your profile. It also helps with word of mouth. Completely fill out the profile.
-Local SEO for Medical Companies Checklist:
- Business name
- Hours of operation
- Telephone number
- Website URL
- Phone number
- Keep the information updated
- Answer questions people ask
- Interact with the customers
Sometimes someone else may have put your business on there already. So that means you have to claim your GMB profile. They want to make sure that it’s your business so you will have to verify it. You can do this with a phone number or by mail. By mail is probably the safest way to go. You get sent to your location with a return address.
- Bing Places for Business
Poor Bing, no one talks about being as much as they talk about Google but there are still at least a billion people using it. Bing should not be ignored. Set up a bing account. It’s the same deal as with Google My Business just fill everything out and make sure all the information is up-to-date.
Now you don’t even have to fill it out if you don’t want to. Search engines are working together, (they probably share information) and you can import your Google My Business profile information straight into your Bing account. You can sync these every once in a while with one click.
- Use Local Keywords
Local SEO for any business involves keywords designed to attract local visitors. You don’t need a business profile and this is good if you don’t have a physical location. Use Google Trends to find out what’s popular in your area. In the menu near the top, you can choose your country and get more specific (Country, State and City).
- Long-Form Content and Longtail Keywords
The long-form content is anything that goes in-depth in maybe 1000 words or more. This article is an example of long-form content. Word count isn’t a big deal unless it goes more in-depth. Long-form content is one of the most effective strategies. Guides in news-style articles do well if you can attract the right people.
But it always depends on your business and what works for you. Sometimes shorter, more visual content does a lot better. Especially if you share it on social media but it’s a good idea to mix it up and do both because you want to write for as many people as you can. Not everybody but the different types of personalities of your customers. Some people read every word, some people just skim and some people only want to look at images or videos.
- Longtail Keywords: longtail keywords are like someone used in this. “What is local SEO for healthcare?” Or “where can I find Health Services near me?”
- Shortail: these are just single words or short phrases, maybe two or three words.
Longtail keywords are important nowadays because things are getting more and more specific. If you can answer someone’s questions you’ll have a good chance of ranking. All of the tools we mentioned in this guide help you discover longtail keywords. One, in particular, is Ask the Public. It’s very good for finding out what people are asking.
Crawler Friendly SEO: Making Sure Your Website is Indexed
You also need to consider how the Crawlers will analyze your web pages. There are a lot of things that people do when they set up a site that hinders crawlers from indexing pages. This can lower your quality rating and lower your rankings. Below is a list of components that you can optimize to make it more attractive to crawlers and help you rank.
- Performing an SEO Site Audit for Your Medical Practice
You can use an SEO software application to perform a site audit. Enter your URL in the search bar and it will tell you all the errors that you need to fix. Below is a screenshot from an audit done with Ahrefs. It gives me an overall report and options to see the specific issues.
Optimize images when you post them. Make sure your file names have keywords in them that make sense. Also, make sure that the alt image labels have keywords in them and compress images for faster loading
- Meta Description
The meta description is the description that you see in the search engine page results that describe what’s on the page. Use keywords in the meta description and try to make it compelling so people want to click on it. Keep it sweet and short from maybe 140 characters to 180 characters.
- Mobile Friendly
- Optimizing URLs on Your Medical Practice Website
Optimize the URL. Add keywords in it: url.com/keywords-here. You will likely have many URLs. If there are URL errors it can create problems. Use HTTPS. Hypertext transfer protocol is how websites share information. This is the latest version. If you just have regular HTTP it’s more it’s less secure for your visitors as well as you.
The Robots.txt file Is four robots (crawlers). Add a /robots.txt text file to your website to instruct crawlers which pages you want it to ignore. Your ranking is going to suffer if it’s crawling pages that are not optimized. So if you have a membership page or maybe a login page for your employees you don’t want that to show up on the search engine.
- Header Tags and Titles
Use keywords in titles. Your title can be different from your meta title so if you want a title like “10 shoes for Bad Ankles”. The meta title can be something like /10-shoes-bad-ankles. It can be completely different if you want it doesn’t matter.
Header tags are H1, H2, H3, etc. Put keywords in your header tags and use them to split up the content. Big Blocks of text without headers will lower the quality rating because it affects user experience.
- Ditch Low-Value Pages
If you have a page that is not optimized and doesn’t have what they call “rich content” with relevant keywords, it’s going to be of less value to you. It’s better to use specific landing pages. Landing Pages can be anything, a blog article, in about a page, a service page, or anything like that. This is a landing page geared toward people who specifically need SEO for medical services.
It’s better to target highly relevant keywords for landing pages so people land on them from the search engines. Use a 301 redirect to send people from lower-value pages to better ones when they click on a link from the search engines.
About User Experience (Page Experience)
User experience(UX) is the experience of your visitors. Ideally, you want people to have a good experience that involves getting the information they want and an easy browsing experience.
We mentioned user experience briefly but it’s rapidly becoming the most important factor for ranking. Google has recently made a bunch of updates that put more emphasis on user experience. What does that mean?
- Core Web Vitals
- Lading Performance If it’s more than 2 seconds your score is going to suffer. Not only that, people will probably leave. Most people aren’t going to wait more than 3 seconds for a page to load before they bounce.
- Interactive content: interactivity means any interaction the user has with your website. Whether they’re clicking on a link or clicking on an application on your page etc. If someone clicks on a video and it takes forever to buffer it’s going to be a problem. Interactive content should load within 100 MS.
- Layouts: have you ever been to a site on your phone and it messed up or a bunch and things were all jumbled around. Well if your site is not visually stable, crawlers will penalize you for that, it doesn’t mean you’ll get in trouble or just means a crawler determined that your site is lower in quality.
It’s all about being friendly these days. Mobile-friendly means that your page is responsive to all mobile devices. This is getting a little more complicated as more devices pop up like flip phones which have multi-screen. A good place to start is just to make sure that your website is responsive meaning that it adjusts to any screen size.
- SEO Tools
- Screaming frog: Screaming Frog is one of the best tools for web audits.
- Ahrefs: this is a full suite of tools that lets you do everything from scope out the competition to finding keywords and audit your side.
- SEMrush: This is one of the most beloved applications around. The data is accurate and it gives you everything you need for SEO. You might not want to solely rely on it but you can.
- Google Search Console: This is highly recommended. This measures your performance so you can adjust your strategy. It can measure everything from what people click on a page to the health of your site.
- Google Page Speed Insights: this recently got an overhaul. This tool gives you insight into your core web vitals and how well your pages are performing. It gives you specific data and tells you which data is from actual user experience, the people who visit your website, and which data is logged from crawlers.
- Moz Local: Moz has a full suite of tools but Moz Local is particularly good for local SEO for any business if you have a physical location. Just enter your company name and address and it will give you information. It gives you a score based on your local presence online.
The next step is just choosing a few tools and putting them to work. SEO, like any type of marketing, is all about figuring out how you can present your business and build word of mouth. One of the most important things we want to emphasize is UX. User experience is becoming the number one factor. This involves everything on the pages of your site.
Hopefully, you’ve got a good idea of what you need to do for SEO and how to get started. If you want to learn more check out all the tools that we mentioned. The blogs are a great place to start. Web standards are always changing so it’s a good idea to visit the W3C website (World Wide Web Consortium). This organization is one of the top authorities on user experience and all things that affect SEO. Good luck!