Oftentimes, patients turn to Google to locate the closest healthcare practitioner. Patients click on the top few results and choose the best option available to schedule an appointment. If your healthcare facility isn’t at the top or top few then someone else is.
This means that along with losing new patients, you are losing potential revenue. Therefore, be it medical websites or medical practices, they need medical SEO to increase their visibility. But, first, let’s understand why you, in the healthcare industry, need SEO.
Why Do Medical Professionals Need to Understand Healthcare SEO?
Healthcare SEO is important for your medical website. But wait. You might be thinking that if my website can’t rank on the Google search engine result page then I can leverage pay-per-click or PPC ads to get visitors. While using PPC is a good way to get patients landing on your website, it is also like an adhesive bandage. It is a short-term solution. It is important to integrate SEO into your digital marketing practice because if your website and its content aren’t considered quality as per Google then your search presence will get affected, negatively. This is another important reason your medical website needs medical SEO.
However, SEO for a medical website is entirely different from an average cosmetic or fitness brand. Search engines are very particular about medical websites because there can be serious consequences for making a mistake. Therefore, medical websites have to be aware of what they can and cannot say.
10 Ways to Improve your Medical SEO
SEO is the foundation of an effective and successful digital marketing strategy. SEO offers a simple route to marketing success. However, the company that offers healthcare SEO services to the medical practice must know and comprehend a few main things.
1. Think From the Patients Perspective
Whether it is a digital marketing agency or you who are regularly handling your SEO, it is important to think from your patients’ perspective and the search terms that they might use to find medical help. Keywords are one of the most important aspects of the SEO space.
Keywords are the bridge that connects the users with their searches with relevant information. Thus, it is important to choose the right keywords if you want search engines to find your website. But how can you find high-quality keywords? There are enough keyword research tools that can help you find the right keywords. However, determining the right keyword is about understanding user intent. It begins with precisely spotting the pain points and cross-checking the potential search terms with the highest-ranking keywords with your competitor’s search terms.
2. Earn a High EAT (Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness)
Even though ranking for high-quality keywords is important, they are still a starting point. Google has an EAT system in place that can affect your search engine page rankings. A search engine’s single most important function is to find the right users for its users. Therefore, search engines prioritize high-quality content that offers genuine value. This is where the concept of EAT, which stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness comes into the picture. Google uses EAT to identify the overall page quality rating and distinguish between a knowledgeable authority and an average amateur.
For the medical space particularly, understanding EAT is paramount as it takes a unique approach to improve it. To earn a high EAT score, the content on your website must be created by expert medical professionals. Furthermore, the content must be updated regularly and reviewed as well.
3. Easier and Intuitive Site Navigation for Users
When a website is easy to navigate, users stick around and explore it more and more. A badly designed website, which makes navigating different pages of the site confusing, creates friction and compels the user to leave the website. Websites with easier site navigation have better chances of keeping the user’s attention.
Not only that, intuitive sites naturally allow the users to explore the site. Your website should be designed in a way that addresses the user’s pain points and gives them quick access to the information they need. If a user spends more time on your website, the better engagement in the eyes of Google.
When it comes to SEO for a medical website, improving the user experience can improve the SEO. However, that should not be the end goal just because you're building a medical SEO strategy. Your users are just as important and they must enjoy their time on your website.
4. Comprehending Healthcare and Pharma Field Specific Language Limitations
In healthcare SEO, you have to be serious about the limitations regarding what you can do. For instance, the Anti-Kickback Statute, which sets up both criminal and civil prohibitions as opposed to knowingly offering, soliciting, paying, or receiving any payment directly or indirectly to induce or reward. There’s also the Stark Law. Here, a physician cannot make a referral to any entity for furnishing designated health services if they have a financial relationship with the entity.
To be clear, these are not suggestions. These laws and limitations can hurt your pockets as they come with hefty fines of as much as $100,000 in case you try to find a way around them. Therefore, while developing your SEO strategy, ensure that you aren’t violating industry limitations. One of the safest ways to make a strategy is to do a competitor analysis and determine safe copy and content options.
5. Stick to Google’s YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) Rules
While developing an SEO strategy, you also must stick to what Google calls YMYL or also known as Your Money or Your Life. Google has categorized medical web pages as YMYL pages as they could affect the future happiness, health, and financial stability of the users. That’s why Google holds medical websites and webpages to a very high standard. These standards are sky-high because low-quality pages with bad information can be dangerous and bear serious medical consequences for the user. Creating high-quality content which is relevant and engaging is one of the easiest ways to improve your YMYL rankings.
6. Create a Content Marketing Campaign
Content marketing is one of the most overused terms in digital marketing and there’s a good reason behind it. Creating valuable content that adds value to your audience is a very simple yet very effective way to engage with them. It can simply start with regularly updating your website blog. First write a blog with relevant keywords, which attracts your audience to the website. Second, if the content is high-quality and well-written, the audience will stay and eventually agree to your expertise. The first factor begins your relationship with your audience and the second impacts the end.
Consistently making valuable content that your audiences enjoy and providing it for free brings in more traffic. The traffic will then automatically improve your SEO as well as visibility. However, simply relying on blog posts and white papers won’t do the trick. Posting on social media and driving traffic from there can affect your SEO rankings. Also, try other forms of media as video content is maintaining its popularity.
7. Create Short, Logical URLs
In SEO for healthcare websites, short URLs may not seem like a big effort but they can affect user interaction with your brand. It’s all tied back to a good user experience. Making a conversion is difficult for a user if they had a negative first experience with your brand. But, users take notice when you take the friction out of the equation from your brand experience. Creating short and logical URLs indicates that you respect the audience’s time and experience. It is important to pay attention to every little detail and optimize your website with proper SEO.
8. Provide Visual Content
Along with blog posts and white papers, provide images of your staff, office, and equipment as well. If you are thinking there’s no scope for such content then you must think again. It is important to note that visual content is a very powerful tool. Providing such images can increase the trust quotient with your audience. Moreover, visual content can increase your conversions. If you are the founder of the medical website then upload your images with relevant keywords in the alt text for images and optimize your healthcare SEO.
Another way to provide visual content is to embed videos on your web pages. When your audience lands on your page and finds a video relevant to their query, there’s a high probability that they are going to watch the video. This will increase the user’s time on the page and it will indicate to the search engine that something relevant and valuable is on the page. Therefore, include relevant, high-quality, and medium-length videos to your content wherever possible. However, like every other SEO practice, don’t overdo it.
9. Pinpoint Good SEO Practises
While creating an SEO strategy it is enticing to create pages that are primarily for SEO. You must keep in mind that this is one of the most common traps and every blog, white paper, or video must be created or posted with the user in mind. In the eyes of Google, user experience is more crucial than keyword optimization done with keyword stuffing. It is also important for Google to know that your page is interesting enough. More importantly, you must never try tricking the users into doing something as it can backfire.
10. Make Your Website Quick and Responsive
You might already know that your website’s security, speed, and mobile friendliness are all quite important ranking factors. But, you might not know that an adequately optimized website is not penalized by Google if it is a tad bit slower. With that being said, it is a healthy practice to optimize your website for speed. If a web page takes more than 3 seconds to open, the user might back out and visit your competitor’s website who provides a faster and better user experience. Your website must not take more than 2 seconds to load but you should aim for less than half a second. To identify your current site speed, Google’s PageSpeed Insights is a great tool.
Other than speed, an SSL certificate is an important SEO factor. Google will penalize your rankings if you don’t utilize SSL security to protect your visitor’s data from hackers. Lastly, your website must be dynamic or mobile-friendly. As most of the searches are conducted on mobile phones, a mobile-optimized website can affect your SEO rankings. Therefore, opting for a responsive design to fit the screen of a mobile device can provide a positive user experience.
11. Don’t Miss the Google My Business Page
Another way to enhance your healthcare local SEO is to finish the Google My Business section. This is simple, however, a crucial task to drastically improve user experience. Along with making healthcare local SEO stronger, you get positioned in the local pack offered by Google. What does it mean? Simply put, your medical practice will be a part of top business listings, which appear before organic results. Google believes that local search results are more crucial than general page results. As a result, you receive a step-up in page rankings as you might be closer to the users of the desired query making the website more valuable.
12. Ignore Placing Too many Ads
This is one important SEO tip. With Google Fred update, websites with thin or low-quality content are penalized. Also, websites that over-optimize ads to increase click-through rates are penalized. Google considers text and image-based ads spam and websites that perform this act are penalized. Again, the content on the website must be published with the intent to add value to audiences’ experience.
To Sum it Up
SEO for the healthcare industry may seem similar to an ordinary SEO strategy but it is entirely different. Medical practises have to surmount several unique SEO challenges and complicating limitations. However, some of SEO’s fundamental aspects are still present in this type of strategy. The primary focus should be on improving user experience everywhere possible, reducing friction, and creating significant engagement. If properly done, you are on your way to top SEO rankings.