Healthcare search engine optimization (SEO) for practices and hospitals is continually changing. Almost monthly, Google and other search engines are changing their algorithms to continually improve search results for users.
Today, you aren’t able to manipulate the algorithms like you used to and get to the top of page one. SEO takes hard work, especially in an industry where Google has more strict guidelines for what appears in search results.
To have a successful healthcare SEO strategy today, you need a great user experience on your site, quality customer reviews and a grasp of what customers really want.
We are breaking down some of the most important things to keep in mind while planning a SEO strategy in 2020 and beyond.
In this article, we will cover:
- How coronavirus changed consumer search behavior
- Why site performance matters and how to optimize it
- The impact of online reviews on search engine results
Coronavirus: Understanding the Impact on Consumer Behavior
When the coronavirus swept through the world, consumer priorities and mindsets shifted considerably. With that change, we’ve seen some massive swings in what consumers are searching for and what they are doing online.
While this story is still developing in the United States, organizations’ projections for organic search traffic are already significantly off for the year. Some websites are reporting anywhere from 25% to 40% estimated traffic loss from the channel.
In order to understand what kind of impact the pandemic is having on your website, be sure to look at your website analytics and compare both week over week and the same date range as the previous year. This should give you some idea on how the consumer mindset is impacting your practice, as well as what your traffic potential looks like throughout the year.
Depending on your specialty, you may very well see your traffic on the rise if you run an inpatient medical facility. The inverse might be true for an outpatient facility for elective medical care. Take these trends into account when projecting revenue from the channel and try to develop unique landing pages and content that can help users during this time of crisis.
Remember, it isn’t about getting business; it’s about putting patients first.
Site Performance Matters – A Lot
For years, Google has been warning webmasters that site performance (load times, accessibility, backlinks etc.) matters when they determine which pages show up in search results.
Today, just having a mobile-optimized website isn’t going to cut it. That’s just the cost of doing business.
Google counts consumer experience and website performance as important metrics for healthcare SEO rankings. This is because they want to provide the best user experience for their searchers, so that they continue to use Google instead of other search engines.
User engagement and performance metrics are good indicators of a quality website, while a high bounce rate or low time on site shows the search result was not helpful to the user. Google takes these into account when determining what pages show up on top of search results.
If you want to get more organic traffic, you can start by testing your website’s speed and benchmarking against competitors’ properties with this free tool from Google.
Once you’ve done that, here are some other recommendations to make sure your website is being graded well for performance:
- Make sure your images have descriptive alt text for screen readers.
- Make sure you are interlinking relevant pages on your site to other areas, ensuring that your pages are all connected in some way.
- Make sure you are following appropriate heading structures.
- Make sure you are using lazy loading images so mobile users see a page quicker.
- Make sure you are publishing quality, unique content on your site that makes users want to engage with the content, not just bounce off your page.
This should give you a leg up against your competition in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
Your Online Reputation Matters
Now that we’ve established a good technical baseline for your site’s health, it’s time to focus on improving your online presence through reputation management.
If you run a practice or are in healthcare marketing, you know how difficult it can be to market a practice online, especially with all the listings out there. It’s not easy to keep up with Google and Facebook updates, let alone industry-specific listings like Healthgrades or Vitals. These may seem like a pain, but they play a very important role in rankings and in building trust with potential patients.
Today, patients trust online reviews as much as they trust a personal referral, so what patients say online matters for not only patient acquisition, but also for search engines to see if you are the best possible result for their users.
To start, you will want to make sure you follow our guide on how to set up a Google my Business profile and our Facebook business profile guide.
Once you have accurate listings set up for all of your locations, you’ll need to start collecting patient reviews and responding to both the good, bad and ugly parts of patient feedback. The key here is being an active participant in the conversation.
Always offer to do better when you fall short of meeting customer expectations and be grateful when patients leave positive reviews. From there, be sure to create listings on industry-specific listings like ReferralMD, Healthgrades and ZocDoc.
Need Help Getting Started with SEO?
If you need help in your quest to get to the top of the SERPs, you’ve come to the right place. At Binary Fountain, we help practices just like yours win the local search game through our reputation management software.
You can manage all of your local citations and business listings while also taking control of the narrative online by responding to patient reviews, all in one place.
About the Author
Content Marketing Specialist