The vast majority of prospective patients find medical professionals the same way they find other goods or services: via an online search. In order to increase patient acquisition, then, doctors and healthcare providers must optimize their presence for Google and other search engines. This process is known as search engine optimization (SEO).
The overall success of an SEO campaign is dependent on a search engine’s algorithm, which is the formula or rulebook that determines which results get shown following an inquiry. Broadly speaking, search algorithms favor web pages that convey expertise, authority, and trustworthiness. As it turns out, patients look for these traits in doctors, too. But even the best and most experienced medical professionals must convey their value online in addition to real-life. Otherwise, competing healthcare providers will show up more prominently in similar searches and acquire more patients as a result.
So, how can healthcare providers increase their expertise, authority, and trustworthiness online? Here we will go over the top 5 SEO strategies for doctors.
1. Anticipate Relevant Search Queries
Search users enter keywords and phrases in hopes of finding several relevant results as quickly as possible. In order for your practice or facility to show up in these results, your web presence must include the types of words and phrases common in these searches. In other words, you must research and anticipate search terms that will lead users to your name and then incorporate them into your content.
This keyword-rich content can take many forms, such as blog posts, news stories, landing pages, and more. Frequently-asked-question (FAQ) pages are highly valuable for SEO when properly crafted, as they anticipate long-tail searches, such as, “doctors near me who accept x insurance,” or, “do dermatologists treat all types of acne?” If your practice has claimed a Google My Business profile, you should also build out the Q&A section, providing common questions and answers users might type in a search query.
No matter which form it takes, your content should always be informative, unique, and well-written. Otherwise, Google’s algorithm will take note and deem your content low in authority and/or expertise. Focusing on the right keywords remains one of the most important and useful SEO strategies for all businesses and service providers, including doctors.
2. Focus on Local
When patients search for doctors and healthcare providers, they are looking for those nearby, of course. After all, an urgent care facility 100 miles away will not do a patient any good. Google already knows that most users want local results, especially when it comes to medical services, and will automatically display the most locally relevant providers above all else. Knowing this, it is crucial to target your online presence toward patients in your region.
The most basic step in maintaining a strong local presence is by keeping your online listings accurate. Even a slight typo in your name, address, or phone number can harm your local rankings. Creating a Google My Business profile will allow you to claim and maintain your local listings, as well as integrate with Google Maps and Directions so patients can easily locate you. Additionally, you can enhance your GMB profile by adding a description of your practice, hours of operation (including special hours), images, Google Posts (unique content that appears on your profile for 7 days), the aforementioned Q&A section, reviews, and much more.
The more detailed and locally-focused your GMB listings and content, the better positioned your practice will be in Google searches.
3. Acquire More Reviews
There is perhaps no stronger social proof than a glowing testimonial. Potential patients will in large part choose their doctor based on the quality and quantity of these positive online reviews. Plus, search engine algorithms take online reviews and reputation into account as well. Generally speaking, the more reviews you have, the stronger your online presence will be, even if some reviews are negative or middling (of course, to attract more patients and stay in Google’s good graces, you want the good to outweigh the bad). Therefore, you should do your best to obtain more reviews for your practice.
You can increase your review volume in several ways.
First, you might set up patient reminders via email or text that notify recent patients and ask them about their visit. Not all patients will respond, but some will. Next, create profiles on the most popular doctor review sites such as Healthgrades, Vitals, and ZocDoc, as these platforms have massive reach and also factor into your search rankings. Some of these sites even feature built-in ways to request feedback from patients. You should also display positive reviews on your website and GMB profile. Doing so will entice online users to book an appointment and encourage patients to leave a review of their own.
The more you engage with your patients and searchers, the more reviews you will generate. The better these reviews, the stronger your reputation. And in turn, your practice’s rankings will get a boost.
4. Get More Social
The more places you exist online, the better. In addition to creating profiles on Google My Business and various doctor review sites, you should also have a presence on major social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and even Instagram. Millions of people access these platforms each day, and Google and other search engines know it. That is to say, Facebook and other social media pages rank highly in search queries. Plus, these platforms are designed for content creation. This means you can easily incorporate keywords, images, links, and more on your social media pages. In short, being present on these platforms is crucial for both online brand promotion and SEO success in general.
5.Streamline Your Website and Landing Pages
A solid SEO strategy is also about usability and accessibility. If an online user cannot easily load or navigate your web pages, you will have a hard time keeping them engaged, not to mention search engines like Google also favor faster sites. There are many ways to streamline your pages, such as reducing the size and number of images or videos on a given page, taking out excess or outdated code, changing web-hosting providers, limiting the use of plugins, and more. You should also optimize your pages for mobile for those using a smart device.
The healthcare industry has always been competitive, but the internet has only raised the stakes. Without a multi-faceted SEO strategy for your practice, you will fall behind. If you want deep insights into your current standings in local search results, Binary Fountain’s local platform features competitive benchmarking analysis tools to see how your practice stacks up against local competitors. Binary Fountain also offers review management tools to help you view, organize and respond to all reviews across various platforms.
Check out Binary Fountain’s resources to learn how your medical practice can improve its online presence and patient acquisition.
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