The success of any medical practice hinges on one thing above all else: patients. However, in a crowded and competitive marketplace, this can be easier said than done. Not to mention that generating a steady flow of new patients is more important than ever before—especially when you consider that medical practices are closing every day due to the financial strain associated with staying afloat.
One marketing tool that can be critical to helping your medical practice survive and thrive? SEO. In this guide to SEO for medical practices, we’ll examine why SEO matters, its benefits, and best practices for growing your doctor’s office or other medical group with SEO.
SEO for Medical Practices
SEO is short for “search engine optimization,” which refers to the practice by which websites are improved and enhanced in order to optimize their search engine ranking results. Google, Bing, and other search engines work by using “bots,” which visit websites and collect information. They then organize this information into a giant database.
When a user enters a search query like “find a pediatrician in my area” into Google, the search engine uses an algorithm to determine which websites to show them and in which order. If you want your medical practice at the top of the search engine results page (SERP) — and you absolutely do — SEO is essential.
Why is SEO so important for medical practices? We’ll get to the specific benefits below. However, it all comes down to one overarching theme: patients are increasingly using the internet to access healthcare.
In fact, according to one Doctors.com survey, 80 percent of people use the internet to conduct healthcare-related searches, and 63 percent of people will choose a doctor based on their online presence. If your online presence is weak — or if potential patients can’t find you — you will not get the results you need.
The Benefits of SEO for Medical Practices
The right SEO practices will increase your online visibility, credibility, and ROI while decreasing your client-acquisition cost — all so you can easily meet clients where they are on the buyer’s journey. Here’s a closer look at five specific benefits your medical practice will gain when you harness the power of SEO:
Your visibility will increase.
It’s not enough for your medical practice to have an internet presence. It must also be positioned for potential patients to find you before they find your competitors. In improving your SERP, SEO vastly increases the odds of your target audience finding you and clicking through. More visibility also means more traffic.
You’ll get a credibility boost.
Being atop Google rankings doesn’t just mean patients will find you; it also comes with additional trust and credibility. When Google or Bing ranks your website first, it’s a tacit form of endorsement which searchers will note. While this may happen consciously or unconsciously with potential patients, the fact remains that they’ll see your practice as more credible and trustworthy when your site ranks higher.
Your patient acquisition costs will decrease.
Compared to many traditional marketing approaches, digital marketing costs are lower. And yet they’re very effective — especially if you are using best practices for SEO. If you want to bring in more patients for less money, there’s no better way than with SEO. This also means you can dedicate even more of your marketing budget to the strategies that are working.
Your ROI will increase.
As an inbound marketing strategy, SEO lets you market directly to qualified leads who are already looking for your medical services similar to what you offer. Not only that, but SEO captures their attention exactly when they are expressing interest. Rather than being disruptive, SEO supports a seamless consumer experience. The result? SEO lets you market to the right people at the right time, thereby leading to the best return on your marketing investment.
You’ll meet potential patients where they are.
Search engines use keywords to determine the relevancy of a website’s content to an internet user’s query. People use the internet at every stage of the buyer’s journey. Whether a potential patient is just starting to research a particular treatment or they’re ready to book an appointment, SEO lets you meet them where they are.
Best Practices for Medical SEO
All SEO strategies aren’t created equal. If you want to reap all the benefits of SEO, you should adhere to best practices, including the following:
Upgrade your website.
A user-friendly, responsive, and SEO-optimized website is critical to giving bots the data they need to rank your site well. In addition to landing pages for all relevant keywords, make sure to have a dedicated contact page with your contact details, as well as contact details in your site’s universal footer.
Incorporate online reviews.
Today’s patients prioritize online reviews above all else. Given that the No. 1 aim of search engines is to connect searchers with what they’re looking for, it follows that online reviews and SEO go hand in hand. While third-party reviews pulled from sites like Yelp and Google have value, you’ll also need reviews and testimonials on your website.
Use video content.
Research tells us again and again that people prefer video to photos and text. If you want to engage potential patients and build trust, video can be that bridge. However, people aren’t the only ones who love video. Search engines do, too.
Do your research.
Keywords can make or break local SEO for doctors. There are many free resources out there which can help you gain exhaustive insight into keywords across everything from search volume to backlinks.
Invest in content marketing.
While blogs may be the first thing you think of when you hear the words “content marketing,” there are many other ways to research potential patients with content including videos, email newsletters, FAQs, quizzes, infographics, interviews, press releases, company news, and more. Content marketing is much more than throwing a blog post up whenever you get around to it. A carefully planned and executed strategic content marketing plan can help you create valuable and relevant content that engages patients and performs well with search engines.
One last thing to keep in mind about the benefits of SEO for medical practices? Search engine algorithms aren’t just complex; they are also constantly changing. In addition to understanding the landscape now, you must also have the resources to keep up with the changes as they evolve. Failure to do so can lead to diminishing returns.
This is why many medical practices choose to outsource SEO and other digital marketing. While your business is healthcare, digital marketers are focused entirely on keeping up with the latest trends and developments happening online. Not only does hiring a digital marketing team ensure that you continue to benefit from digital marketing even as the landscape changes, but also frees up your staff to focus more directly on their areas of expertise.
Looking to increase new patients, schedule more appointments or consultations, book higher revenue procedures, or generate overall practice growth? SEO is a savvy solution. When integrated into a comprehensive marketing plan comprising both digital and traditional marketing approaches, SEO is a must for any bottom line-minded medical practice.