SEO for Doctors: 8 Proven Strategies to Get Patients
Learn the proven strategies that will help you find more patients online. The tips in this post are used by leading doctors and dentists across the country.
What is SEO?
Search engine optimization involves search platforms, such as Google or Bing, “crawling” web pages to continually discern their content and “rank” them amongst web pages with similar content. With this data, Google and Bing SEO algorithms produce the search engine results that populate when you run a Google search or Bing search.
You are also probably aware of how much your search-rank determines the number of “clicks” your medical website gets. The search page and your website engagement are primarily determined by SEO, or search engine optimization.
To get more “clicks” by using proper SEO tactics, it’s all about the keywords. Keywords that people use in their search engine are the gasoline that makes it run. For this reason, you must get an idea of what keywords define your medical practice, and frankly, your brand that you are trying to sell. Your medical practice is still a business, so it is imperative that you implement sound and effective digital marketing and SEO strategies.
Keyword research is an important part of your marketing strategy. The keywords you land on will be your bread and butter to landing potential patients. Buzzwords and hot topics are named so for a reason. People are talking about them and looking for answers to their questions.
With proper SEO strategy, digital marketing, and content marketing you can begin your journey to a higher conversion rate to your healthcare website. Where your link is displayed for searchers will likely determine your medical website traffic, so be sure
How Does Search Engine Optimization Work?
Proprietary algorithms from search engines like Google rank pages on a myriad of factors. Most importantly, they are the quality of the content and the strength of keyword use within the webpages you own.
With Google’s algorithms in mind, a well thought out SEO strategy for your medical website can help attract and acquire potential patients and retain and engage patients that you already service.
If one of your patients had a question regarding their ailments or circumstances, we assume that you would want them to find accurate and valid information when they run a google search.
For this reason, doctors who are successful with SEO and digital marketing often create the content themselves, in the form of blog posts or educational articles that they feature on their medical practice website.
Is Proper SEO Management Important for Your Practice?
In today’s digital age, you could argue that any business without internet marketing is doomed to fail. However, the first step to mitigating that risk (merely having a website) falls short of what you could attain with your SEO strategy regarding the acquisition of new patients.
Consider that internet-users and prospective clients have visited Google over 88 billion times thus far in 2020. With this statistic in mind, and with the estimate that Google services more than 2 trillion searches per day in 2020, it would be wise to give your practice the best shot of landing prospective patients and retaining clients.
Proper search engine optimization for medical marketing can be quite a task. The “web,” or internet, operates on a much more grand scale than it has in past decades. The internet now encompasses desktop-friendly web pages and social media, mobile applications, smart-TVs, and more.
For this reason, many doctors choose to outsource their SEO management to third-party marketing agencies. Outsourcing your SEO management to third-party companies may alleviate some of the work; however, there is a cost like any other labor. Search engine optimization requires routine management and upkeep, but much of it is simple and, compared to medical school, is a walk in the park on a sunny day.
The first step you must take before diving into medical SEO management is to grasp what your clientele is seeking. Specifically, the keywords that they use in their searches.
These keyword terms may stand out to you pretty quickly, but if they don’t (or you feel like you’re missing a few), you can search local or regional competitor’s websites to discern what may be working for them.
How to Self-Manage Your Search Engine Optimization
Here, we have put together seven simple steps that you can put into practice today and begin optimizing your web presence for the internet-age in which we live. Proper search engine optimization and SEO management are possible without third parties getting involved and billing you an invoice.
Client-acquisition and retention in the Digital Age may seem like an impossible task, so we have compiled seven simple SEO steps you can take to increase your medical practice’s online presence.
Step 1. Optimize Your Practice’s Website
When creating your practice’s website as a whole, there are some constraints that you should operate within to ensure the validity of your website’s content. By ensuring that your website meets these criteria, you are one step closer to optimizing your SEO and landing more clients.
First and foremost, your website must be HIPAA compliant and must never store patient information. Past this, content should be informative, well-sourced, and intelligent.
Using website-builder platforms such as WordPress is also recommended, as various color templates and layouts are available for your use. You can access more color combinations and website templates, of course, for a premium subscription. Still, paying a small premium rather than employing an SEO management agency may be the more cost-effective option for you.
Beyond the aesthetics of your website as a whole, internet-users are conducting 63% of their web searches on mobile devices. Ensuring that your website is “mobile-friendly” is a digital-marketing must in the year 2020. Website-builder platforms make this process easy and accessible, and such features should be a quality you seek out.
Step 2. Create Unique Content
Once you have finalized your website’s layout and features, it is time to move onto content creation. Accurate and informative content can help you land prospective clients, as well as retain current clients. Your website should feature unique, well-sourced, and well-formatted articles, blog posts, and other informative content for internet users.
Content that you include on your website can consist of procedural information for new clients, educational blog posts for new and existing clients, and scientific literature that validates your specific methodology.
As you are probably well-aware, accuracy is imperative in the medical industry. Inaccurate articles or single assertions can impact how much traffic your website gets, determining how popular your establishment is to your local clientele.
For starters, make sure that text-based content is accurate, useful to the reader, and that you link outside material, such as multimedia, to a reputable source.
Step 3. Your Unique SEO Boosts
Google’s search engine isn’t just for reaching large audiences but targeting specific geographical areas as well. Unless you’re a care provider on wheels, geographically-specific SEO optimization is a must for your practice’s website. This step is unique, as it requires a few different specifications for you to meet.
When considering your practice’s search engine optimization, be ready to create not only a Google Business Page but also other essential directories such as Yelp, Facebook, Healthgrades, and others.
When you create a business page on any of these directory websites, you essentially add a piece of the Local SEO “puzzle” to the board. When prospective or current clients run a search-engine query for “physicians near me.” the search engine will populate results near the user’s location, including Google Maps locations, listings, and Google Reviews, in addition to the standard SEO-populated website links.
Having your practice listed in multiple directories with accurate location and contact information can be a massive boost to your business. You should not overlook the power of local brand awareness, mainly if your practice is limited to a small geographical location.
Furthermore, in search queries like these, where the user is seeking a physician near them, the search engine will display the local SEO results above the standard SEO results. Being at the top of the search results is a powerful marketing tool when keeping in mind that most internet users make three Google searches per day or more.
If that wasn’t justification enough to optimize your local SEO, a 2018 survey found that 60% of mobile search users were “very likely” to click a link on the first page of search results. In addition, 82% of those same users entered search queries, including the phrase “near me.”
Step 4. Social Media Business Page and Advertisement Campaigns
While there are countless social media platforms available for use today, there are only a few that will impact your SEO results and, therefore, make an impact on the reach of your practice to prospective clients.
Within Facebook and Instagram, for example, the option is available to create a “Business Page” account with different parameters than your standard, personal account. With a Business Page, you can include location and contact information in your profile biography, in addition to being able to purchase advertisement campaigns.
Advertisement campaigns on social media platforms are unique. Unlike regular web-browser local SEO, social media can target specific populations based on gender, age, and interests (based on their use of the social media platform).
Social media business profiles also populate within web-engine searches themselves, so there are various ways that having a social media presence can benefit your search engine optimization.
Step 5. General Online Advertising
While we already mentioned one online advertisement option for you above in Step 4, you can purchase ad campaigns for search engines. An example would be Google Adwords, which will display your ad when specific keywords are searched for by the end-user, who, in this case, are prospective and current clients of yours.
Adwords is incredibly helpful to local businesses, as you can set your advertisements to run at specific times of the day and target certain age groups, geographical locations, and more.
The best part about Google Adwords? It is a “pay-per-click”, or PPC, digital advertisement model, meaning that you are not merely paying for “impressions” (when someone “sees” your link) but for “clicks” (when someone visits your link).
Furthermore, Adwords compiles performance metrics for your PPC ad campaigns. Having access to performance data can significantly help your search engine optimization significantly and save you money on ineffective digital advertising campaigns.
Before jumping into an SEO campaign like Google Adwords, be sure to define the objective of your ad campaign. Your ad will require a landing page (a standalone web page within your domain that covers a specific product, service, or topic) on your website.
It is vital to have a clear idea of what you want to accomplish with the SEO campaign, whether it be brand awareness, client acquisition, or email subscriptions. The goal of your ad campaign, whatever it may be, will determine the content and features of your landing page.
Step 6. Reputation and Review Management
As a consumer and as a client, having access to online reviews is where Google Review, Yelp, Yellowpages, and other directories shine. Unfortunately, these review platforms can also negatively impact your business if negative reviews are left unattended.
More often than not, negative online reviews result from billing issues, perceived shortcomings of the office visit itself, or simply because the front desk attendant failed to greet the client warmly upon their entry.
Your first step in managing your practice’s online reputation is to be proactive and respond promptly to any report of a negative patient experience. You have the option to respond to each complaint individually, or you can create a generic response that prompts the client to contact you or a staff member to address their complaints.
While no one wants negative reviews, they will come. Your best strategy to lessen these reviews’ impact is to operate your business with integrity and respond with empathy to any complaint. Also, keep in mind the powerful effect of positive reviews. It is necessary to the success of your business and SEO impact to have customer testimonials.
You may be wondering how to ask clients to leave reviews. One very effective strategy is encouraging the patient to leave the review on a company tablet-device or computer in the lobby before they leave. Another idea is to place printed postcards in the lobby, with a drop box near the exit.
Please do not make the mistake of overlooking this step, as the number of reviews your business has will most definitely impact where sites list your practice amongst all the other search results they populate for your prospective and current clients.
Step 7. Email Marketing
We admit it does feel like ages ago that AOL and the infamous phrase, ‘You’ve got mail!” made its first appearance in the realm of marketing and advertising.
Regardless, email is one of the most potent vehicles for content marketing you have as a business owner to attract and convert prospective clients into happy current clients- not to mention keeping current patients interested and educated in your practice.
More often than not, email marketing features content like blog posts, educational graphs or images, and information about services or promotions. Content-rich emails are great for business already, but consumers’ bias is to use their mobile devices to do their internetwork during the day. Do not forget this important tidbit, as it is critical to have mobile-optimized content to be successful in web-based marketing.
The effectiveness of your search engine optimization is vital to the health of your email subscription list. Current patients are already on your email subscription list, so SEO strategies don’t necessarily target them. However, it is still essential to deliver quality educational content to them to keep them excited about your practice.
In terms of using SEO to build your email subscription link, consider using SEO as a tool to land clients on a custom landing page built through WordPress. This webpage you create could advertise a specific practice of yours or be a staff-written blog post that explains why a particular method of yours would benefit them.
By the prospective client merely clicking your link, they are not only now part of the Google Adwords database, but they are directly in the palm of your hand, waiting to learn more about the services you have to offer.
Creating landing pages that route through high-ranking SEO results is an excellent opportunity for you to request an email address from a prospective client. If your content was enough to make them want to find out more, you now have a new subscription to your email list.
Step 8. Text Messages and Automation
One strategy for client retention is just as important as email marketing is text message marketing. This strategy has its benefits to retaining clients (through appointment updates and reminders) and landing prospective clients.
Landing prospective clients through text messaging operates almost the same as email marketing. However, to market to a user’s cell phone, you first need their phone number.
Without having to look through a phone book and guess who might be interested in your practice, you follow the same outline as covered above in Step 7. However, this time, you are using the SEO targeted landing page to request the prospective clients’ phone number.
Beyond landing new clients, text messaging is a great way to keep current clients happy and involved. Automation tools exist for doctors to quickly remind clients of their upcoming appointments and past due bills.
Furthermore, you can educate clients about new methods or procedures and link them to blog posts on your website through automated text messaging.
Like other strategies involving mobile devices such as iPhones, Android devices, and tablet computers, make sure that you optimize your website for those specific devices.
Search engine optimization for doctors might be a problematic task alongside all of their other responsibilities. The first step to completing proper SEO optimization is to know all of the tools at your disposal.
Our compiled steps are a great outline when approaching this seemingly impossible task, but be sure to research further into each step, as there may be more helpful tools for you to discover within each platform that you choose.
No single strategy for search engine optimization will yield the results you are seeking. SEO is a multi-faceted realm that requires you to be valiant on all fronts, from your keyword-robust webpage to online advertising (in all its forms). When more ideals are in your favor, your probability of success is exponentially higher.