Your Complete Guide to SEO for Your Medical Practice
If you’re not prioritizing SEO optimization for your medical practice, you’re missing out on free, organic traffic to your website which provides your practice with more patient acquisitions and better revenue.
Small practice owners or healthcare marketers who are struggling to decide whether to incorporate SEO efforts into their digital marketing strategies but don’t have a lot of SEO experience have come to the right place.
We’re here to explain what search engine optimization is, why it should matter to you, and several different areas you will want to focus your efforts on for the greatest success. Additionally, you’ll leave understanding the different resources available to you, whether that’s software or consulting services.
Helping to provide these insights are Dr. Jess Levy and Iyen Omoragbon.
Dr. Jess Levy , a psychiatrist specializing in patients with ADHD, and Iyen Omoragbon , a family nurse practitioner with 12 years of medical care experience, have offered several insights into what SEO strategies made them successful.
What is search engine optimization (SEO)?
Search engine optimization is the process of optimizing your online content to help it rank in search engine results pages (SERPs). The goal of SEO is to increase your content ranking in organic search results to improve visibility, create awareness, and drive traffic to your website and other digital marketing efforts, such as social media pages.
If you want to be successful when it comes to SEO, your practice needs to focus on gaining visibility in organic search results. Increased visibility often translates into greater brand awareness which will boost organic traffic to your website. This boost in organic traffic is essentially free marketing for your business and will increase patient acquisition without needing to spend dedicated marketing funds on marketing campaigns.
Iyen had some words of wisdom to keep in mind when it comes to SEO efforts:
Before we go any further, it’s important to have a baseline understanding of the different types of SEO you might encounter or want to focus on.
Type of SEO
Local SEO services help businesses get noticed in their local geographical area. With these services, businesses become easily discoverable and rank high on search pages so potential customers can easily find products and services offered near them.
International SEO serves businesses that hope to expand globally and want their websites optimized in foreign languages. With their websites optimized for global audiences, businesses become easily discoverable and rank high on search pages in international regions.
On-page SEO services help search engines learn about your website design, its data, and its relevance as per the customers’ needs. On-page SEO strategies start with good quality content and end with relevant keywords and include everything in between, i.e., page speed optimization, internal link optimization, conversion rate optimization, and site architecture optimization.
SEO companies offer digital marketing services such as off-page search engine optimization that focuses on boosting your website rankings on search engine results pages (SERPs). SEO service agencies help you with keyword research for your content that has links directed to your website, which eventually improves traffic, conversion rate, revenue, and your website’s authority.
An SEO audit involves identifying issues that can affect your site’s performance and cost you traffic and revenue. It includes checking for on-page and off-page SEO problems, ensuring both mobile and desktop users are able to access your site properly, as well as finding and correcting duplicate content, among other tasks.
Link building is an important off-page SEO tactic for improving search result rankings because it tells search algorithms that your content is trustworthy. The quantity, type of link, and quality of backlinks (links from one website to another, also known as inbound links) increase the algorithm’s trust in your site.
SEO will be the backbone of your marketing strategy. Every piece of digital marketing you do should go toward improving your SEO.
SEO is along top 3 digital marketing methods for healthcare CMOs
According to Gartner , within digital marketing, the largest percentages of healthcare organizations’ chief marketing officers' (CMO) marketing budgets are going toward search advertising (9.9%), social advertising (9.6%), and SEO (9.0%), with 56.6% of their 2022 budget allotted for digital channels.
In addition, SEO led all digital channels as a priority for marketers in 2022, with a 45% expected investment increase, according to the 2022 Gartner CMO Spend and Strategy Survey.
Additionally, Gartner  found that SEO led all digital channels as a priority for marketers in 2022, with a 45% expected investment increase.
Search keywords are extremely important to healthcare providers, as about 58% of keywords that drive significant traffic to organizations’ websites are net new year over year. Investing in and refreshing search marketing and SEO efforts allows CMOs to be nimble. They can adapt their content and tools to better align with critical moments in the patient journey.
Benefits of medical SEO include more chances for patients to discover your practice
Iyen Omoragbon shares what he thinks are the three largest benefits of improving your SEO:
On benefits of improving SEO
“The three benefits of SEO for practices are increased visibility and traffic, improved credibility and trust, and better user experience.
More people come across your practice when SEO is optimized which increases the intake of new patients.
Also, you build credibility when you have a strong web presence which provides trust to potential patients that you are not just a run of the mill practice.
Lastly, user experience is key for websites in this modern-day era. If a patient can schedule a visit without breaking a sweat, it helps with the intake of new patients.”
- Iyen Omoragbon
Improving your organic search results can be tough work, but the benefits are worth it:
High-quality traffic (and more of it) to your website.
Increased visibility for your business in organic search results.
Greater trust and legitimacy for your business (a higher SERP ranking indicates that Google has deemed your site trustworthy).
Expanded audience reach.
Better user experience which means greater patient experience.
An optimized website helps with SEO and gives patients a place to interact with your practice
By now, you know that not having a website for your practice makes you immediately less marketable to potential patients.
Having a website that is poorly designed and hard to use/navigate might be even worse because patients will bounce away from your page if they can’t find what they’re looking for easily.
A well-optimized website is crucial because nearly every other digital marketing effort you implement will point back to it, thus increasing your overall online presence which will increase your SEO rankings.
Your social media pages need to link back, your blog needs to link back, and your emails need to link back.
Dr. Jess Levy
Your website needs to be user-friendly and responsive (meaning it is optimized for both mobile and desktop screen sizes and changes based on what the person visiting your website is using). Responsive websites fit all the information on the screen in a usable, visually appealing way regardless of the screen size, so people who primarily use their phone to search the internet and make appointments have the same experience as those who use a laptop or desktop computer.
Iyen had some advice about what to focus on when designing your website:
Building a nice-looking, optimized website has never been easier. Whether you’re hiring a developer or service to build you one from scratch, or you’re using a website builder to build it yourself, you can make a well-optimized website where you can put every piece of important information your potential patients are looking for when they’re searching for a new provider.
Example of Wix’s custom website builder (Source)
Include the services you provide clearly on your website. Make sure you have a visible, easily accessible link to all of the services and treatments you provide somewhere on the homepage, as well as in any dropdown menus you include on the homepage. You might also want to include a link to your patient portal, blog, and social media pages.
You can use lead forms that link to your appointment scheduling system in order to capture new patients by making it simple for them to go from looking at your services to booking. In fact, these lead forms should be a key part of your healthcare marketing strategy.
If your lead forms aren’t accessible and easy to fill out, patients will bounce from your site. If the form is unnecessarily long to schedule an appointment, they might not put in the effort, especially if the information you’re asking for doesn’t feel relevant to them. If you need a lot of patient information, wait until after they’ve scheduled their appointment to get what you need.
A content blog makes search engines view you as more trustworthy, which means higher results
Perhaps the most time consuming way to improve SEO, writing consistent content for a blog is still a vital part of any SEO optimization strategy. Blogs increase traffic to your website and help make you more likely to appear in search results. They are also helpful for your patients and can grow your brand awareness and reputation because you’re positioning yourself as a knowledgeable, trustworthy provider for current and future patients.
Dr. Levy had some advice about how make blogging easier:
On easier blogging
“I have three different roles that I try to embody during each post. Role one was Gen Z whisperer. I’m tech savvy, I can talk about video games, and I can relate to younger kids.
The second role is a professional with ADHD. I talk about that on my 'about me' page on my website and try to position myself that way on my website.
The third role is medicine guru or medicine fixer upper.”
- Dr. Jess Levy
When building his online presence, he focused on presenting himself as those three things in order to help create a trustworthy online presence for the types of patients that he wanted to bring into his practice.
By writing consistent, helpful articles, you’re showing patients that you know what you’re talking about. When you provide educational resources, you’re showing search engines that your website is a place that they should send patients to.
When writing and maintaining your blog, make sure to keep each piece of content focused on one particular topic. Your content should be concise and informative so that your reader is able to get the most out of it.
It’s also important to remember that when it comes to medical marketing and content, you don’t need to only work on written blog articles. Infographics, videos, and patient testimonials are all useful tools to help improve your SEO optimization while engaging your patients.
Iyen also had some advice for practitioners who are starting a blog:
Write about your specialty, interesting trends in your field, or personal stories from you or your staff and patients.
Pay attention to what your patients are asking for and answer those questions on your website
One of the most organic ways to improve your SEO optimization is to listen to your current patients and pay attention to what other people in your industry are doing. Both Iyen and Dr. Levy have some advice for practice owners who are looking to improve their SEO.
Dr. Jess Levy
Get started with your SEO strategies
Starting your SEO optimization strategies can be daunting, but there are a few surefire ways to get off the ground.
As a medical practice, it’s important to attract as many local patients as possible so that when someone types “[type of] doctors in [city]” into the search engine, your medical practice is one of the first that comes up.
In the above screenshot, you want to be one of the top three listed here before the “View all” button, and you’ll only get that by having a targeted SEO strategy. The more active you are on social media, through your website, and on the internet in general, the more likely you are to come up in the search results.
You’ll want to make sure you have official business pages on all online directories that mention your business name, location, and contact information. Places such as Yelp, Google, your website, Healthgrades, Vitals, and any social media platforms you’re making content for should all have updated information.
The more review sites, social media pages, websites, and directories that have your practice information, the better, because it gives search engines confidence that you’re a real practice that is reliable, which is what the person searching for wanted.
Iyen started small and grew his SEO strategies from there: “I started to utilize Google My Business, collecting backlinks for my website, writing captivating blog posts about relevant industry topics, social media, and many more strategies. To learn these strategies, I examined what my competitors were doing, watched Youtube videos, joined SEO forums, and read SEO blog posts.”
Dr. Levy asked for help from more qualified experts before tackling his project: “One thing I did was go onto Reddit and ask for help. Somebody with much more SEO experience actually went through my webpage and offered critiques and suggestions about how to improve my page and make it more SEO-friendly, so don’t hesitate to ask for help on online communities and forums. People are happy to help.”
The most important thing is to start somewhere and grow from there. Your SEO strategy is and never will be a one-time solution. Ideally, every piece of online content or material you put on your website should have some thought about how it affects your SEO strategy before it goes live.
Common pitfalls: A case story
Iyen had some thoughts about the pitfalls and common mistakes he’s experienced that he would recommend other practice owners or admins try to avoid whenever they start to optimize their SEO.
“Ignoring the importance of keyword research, overloading pages with keywords, and neglecting the importance of mobile optimization—keyword research is a critical component of SEO.
Failing to conduct proper keyword research can lead to ineffective or irrelevant content that does not rank well on search engines. It is important to identify the right keywords that are relevant to your practice.
When I first started with SEO, I thought that inputting several keywords into my website would be beneficial. However, that was far from the case. My website was not readable and wasn’t ranking well. I decided to rewrite my website to be more user-friendly with the appropriate keywords placed strategically.”
- Iyen Omoragbon
Resources that can help make SEO optimization easier
There are enormous industries built entirely around improving a business’s SEO, so it should come as no surprise that there are plenty of resources available to help should you want to pay.
Keyword research tools help businesses discover, identify, and analyze relevant keywords to improve their SEO performance.
Website optimization tools allow you to improve website performance by performing SEO audits to ensure that your website is ranking better in search engine results pages.
Website builder software helps you quickly create a website using easy-to-use design tools and templates. They also provide domain hosting and coding options. Most of the time, these tools will help link out to social media, credit card processing, billing, and other multimedia assets you might need easy links to. Some website builders even have built-in SEO optimization tools to help from the very beginning.
SEO platforms are software systems that help practices improve their SEO efforts by tracking their search engine performance over time. SEO platforms can help consolidate search engine rankings and keyword research as well as help perform SEO audits on your website to make sure you’re optimizing correctly.
Local SEO tools help practices improve their online presence and visibility in local search results. These tools help track rankings of keywords in a specific region or city while providing competitor insights, performing audits, and developing SEO-optimized keywords to help you improve local ranking.
In addition to some of these common software types, you might want to consider hiring an SEO optimization agency. However, doing this comes with its own pros and cons:
- SEO agencies are usually pretty well-rounded. If you hire an agency who specializes in the medical field, they’ll have more insight than you do into what works and what doesn’t.
- It might be easier to budget for a consultant’s fixed rate rather than doing it all yourself or hiring a dedicated SEO specialist in house.
- You’ll save time.
- You can decide how much or how little resources you want to devote to SEO optimization at any given time and can scale up and down.
- You can focus on aspects of your business that you have more confidence in because you know your SEO needs are being handled by experts.
- Quality can be an issue. Agencies might spread themselves too thin which might mean you’re not receiving the level of attention that you’re paying for.
- You lose a level of control over your practice when you hand off SEO optimization. While you will still have oversight, you won’t have as much information about what goes into each decision.
- Security risks are a possibility, which should always be considered when giving external contractors access to company data or other sensitive information. If possible, have your consultant sign a non-disclosure contract.
Speaking of resources, our advisors are here to help
When it comes to SEO optimization strategies, you aren’t alone. Whether it’s doing your own research, asking colleagues or experts online, buying software, or hiring outside help, there are a plethora of resources available to help ensure your practice is optimized correctly.
Searching for software is as equally daunting as SEO optimization which is why our advisors exist.
Through one-on-one conversation and personalized recommendations, Software Advice guides you through your software search. In as little as 15 minutes, our software advisors can help you pick the right software for your business needs, so you can feel confident in your choice. Click here to chat with an advisor or schedule a call.
Dr. Jess Levy, About Me page
Iyen Omoragbon, About Me page
Healthcare CMOs Allocate More Budget to Search and Event Marketing, Gartner
Fundamental SEO: 9 Tactics to Improve Organic Visibility, Gartner