Your 2019 Guide To SEO For Medical Practices
Wondering the best way to go about SEO for medical practices? Here's what you need to know about current SEO guidelines and how to implement them
SEO is one of the most cost-effective ways to promote any business, even medical practices. Seventy-seven percent of internet users seeking medical information begin their search on Google, or similar search engines, so the potential is immense. But, cracking the code to Google’s algorithm is nuanced and the optimization techniques that can yield results often vary from industry to industry. This guide was created specifically for medical professionals to decipher the code with techniques and strategies specific for their businesses. That said, there’s a lot to get to, so let’s dive right in.
Local Schema for Medical Practices
Schema is a coding language that Google, Yahoo and Bing created in collaboration to have a better way of understanding structured data. One way you can use schema is to more effectively communicate to Google the nature and location of your practice. Say, for instance, your goal is to show on the top search results (rank) for “Los Angeles Physicians.” To get there, you’ll need to take several steps in order to indicate to Google that you are indeed a physician who’s located in Los Angeles.
Through schema mark-up, you can communicate to search engine’s where your practice is located, what you specialize in, as well as other pertinent business information.
Sample schema code:
“name”: “Example Physician”,
“streetAddress”: “Your Street”,
“addressLocality”: “Your City”,
For a complete list of different medical-related schema, you can add to your website, visit:
Finding and Targeting Keywords for Your Practice
In order to acquire organic traffic, you must know what keywords (terms people search for) to target and how to target them. This is where keyword tools come in handy. There are plenty out there to choose from, but I would personally recommend KWFinder. It’s an easy tool and also provides important data you need, such as monthly search volume for each keyword, difficulty score (the lower it is, the easier it is to rank for) and more. I especially like this platform for local practices. Reason being it allows you to filter keyword data by region. So, if your practice is in Los Angeles and you’re only interested in local leads, then you can easily create a filter that only shows traffic and keyword data from within your city.
How to find the right keywords:
- Search Google for phrases related to your specialty. Scroll to the bottom of the page and you’ll find additional phrases related to the search you just performed. Copy those phrases into your keyword tool and see if there’s enough traffic to warrant targeting them.
- Spy on your competition. Visit your competitor’s website to see what they are writing about: articles, blogs, pages, etc. You can use those topics in your keyword tool to determine if they are valuable.
- Simply, use your keyword tool to gain additional ideas as it will return phrases relevant to your practice.
- Target the keyword that best describes your practice or main specialty to your homepage. Your homepage is typically going to be the most powerful page on your website, thus it’s best suited to target your main keyword.
- For additional or more specific services that you offer, target those to separate landing pages.
- For more specific or advice related keywords, it’s best to target these to blog articles. Here, start with low difficulty keywords and work your way up. Difficulty scores in the 20-40 range is a good starting point. As you steadily enhance your SEO, you’ll be able to rank for higher difficulty phrases in the future.
Building Citations for Local Relevancy
As noted above, in order to rank locally, Google needs to know who you are, what you do, and where you’re located. While it’s important to present this information on your website, that’s only step one. Step two is providing validation that the information you’re presenting is accurate and that’s where citations come into play.
A citation is any mention of your business on outside websites, typically local directories such as Yelp, HealthGrade, etc. When this information matches what’s found on your website, this increases Google’s confidence that the information is accurate, leading to better rankings.
A typical citation will include the name of your practice or hospital, full address, phone number and website URL.
When building citations, first make sure your current one’s are consistent across the board. You should be using the same phone number, business name, website and location across all profiles. This information should also match what’s found on your website.
You can use Bright Local to identify and inspect any current citations you may have. Once your current citations are accurate and consistent, you can then move towards building more. Using the same tool you can also highlight citations that your competitors have that you do not. Securing those will ensure that your competitors do not have an advantage with citations.
Google is currently in the process of transitioning to a Mobile-First index. What this means is they’re soon going to start judging websites based solely on your mobile version.
The best way to find out whether your site performs well on mobile is by using Google’s official mobile testing tool. Input your URL and Google will tell you exactly what needs to be changed for your site to be mobile-friendly.
Aside from the SEO benefits of being mobile-ready, consider the fact that nearly 60% of Google searches are being done from mobile devices. So, if you want your website to be accessible to the masses, remember most people will be viewing it from their mobile device.
The two most important factors for SEO are content and backlinks. If you want to perform well on search engines you must publish better content than your competitors. From your home page to blog articles, everything must be well written. Yes, even physicians should incorporate blogging into their strategy. For starters, Google favors sites that are updated regularly so producing blog content is a great way to keep your site up to date. Aim to publish at least two to three articles per month.
Here are a handful of tips you’ll want to keep in mind:
- Use headings and sub-headings to organize your article and make it easier to read.
- Include your target keyword in the title of your article.
- Bad grammar or simple mistakes, like typos, can harm your SEO, so make sure your content is error-free.
- Content on your site should be unique and not borrowed from other sources.
- Overall, make sure your content is informative and comprehensive. Every time you go to write, your goal should be to publish the best article for that specific subject matter.
Additional benefits of blogging:
- Content creation leads to more backlinks, a key factor to organic success. According to TechClient.com, companies who blog receive 97% more inbound links.
- Blogging also leads to 55% more visitors when compared to companies who don’t blog.
Any SEO strategy that’s going to be effective, must include a way to acquire quality backlinks (external links to your website). A quality backlink, in simplest terms, is one that’s from a reputable website that’s relevant to your field or industry. Here are a few effective link building tactics that any doctor can implement, regardless of his or her medical specialty:
- Guest blogging. As a physician or specialist, you’re going to be an extremely hot commodity in the world of blogging. There are countless websites out there who accept guest articles, specifically from medical professionals. In submitting your articles to these sites, you can link back to your own within your author bio/byline. To find guest posting opportunities in Google, search a term related to your specialty, followed by “guest post” (i.e., pediatrician “guest post”). This will return a list of websites that accept guest posts for that query. Alternatively, reaching out to your favorite publication, even if they don’t publicly request guest submissions, is also a good option. Very rarely will anyone turn away good content.
- Resource pages. So, you just published an amazing article, now you can use it to fuel your link building strategy via resource pages. Use Google to find relevant opportunities by searching the topic of your article followed by inurl:resources (i.e., scoliosis inurl:resources). This will present a list of websites with resource pages on your topic. You now need to reach out to them and request that they include a link to your article from their resource page. If your article is truly beneficial to their audience, then they’re likely to oblige.
- Publicity and outreach. As other websites produce articles on medical related topics, they’re likely going to need a professional source to speak to. Using HelpAReporter, you can monitor such queries and respond to the ones most relevant to you. In doing so, you’ll be quoted in their forthcoming article and receive a backlink in return. Health is a popular topic on Help A Reporter Out, therefore you should find plenty of opportunities. (Note: being first to respond is important on that platform as reporters are usually working on tight deadlines.)
What to Expect
The amount of organic traffic you can gain is going to vary based on the keywords you’re able to target. For a modest estimate, expect to capture around 6% of the monthly search volume of each keyword. To find out what your ceiling is, increase to 30% of the search volume for all your keywords. These percentages are based on the average click through rates for the fifth and first position in Google search results, respectively.
When implementing your strategy, the one thing I want to stress the most is the importance of quality. In today’s SEO world, quality trumps quantity. The practice with the best content and best backlinks will win.