Having a successful hospital, practice, or healthcare organization website can help facilitate communication and generate new patients. However, this entails you already have website traffic. However if you have no traffic, an amazing website that streamlines communication and signups means nothing. To get your healthcare service on page #1 for organic traffic, you’ll need a strong SEO presence.
Search engine optimization (SEO) refers to the methods undertaken to improve the quantity and quality of website traffic to a website from search engines. SEO for healthcare services can be done in house, however it takes significant time and energy to get to the #1 spot on search engines. To fully optimize a website in terms of SEO will require a relentless focus and effort from your healthcare company.
Do you have the resources in house to manage your website? No matter if you choose to work with a SEO company, or you want to take on the challenge in house, here are some steps to raise the SEO of a healthcare service provider.
Taking on SEO for your Healthcare service
It is essential that you engage in the proper techniques and practices. There are plenty of ‘get rich schemes’ out there about increasing traffic quickly. However, these practices are known as ‘black hat’ marketing and can end up hurting your website and brand significantly.
The problem with black hat practices is that Google’s algorithms are continuously changing and being updated, to ensure these practices are not being used and the rankings of site are accurate representations.
Just remember, if a SEO company approaches your healthcare service and promises instant or quick results, it should raise an immediate red flag. It may be hard to swallow, but raising the ranking of your healthcare service by SEO, is a long term project and strategy.
The strategy to rank your healthcare service in a sustainable and safe way, should include the following three specific SEO techniques:
1. On-Page SEO for Healthcare Services
On-Page SEO, refers to everything that is on a website and is user facing (and then some). These aspects include: content, images, and even some code. Content is obviously the most important as it makes up the majority of what people see. When it comes to your website, if you can produce content for SEO that helps you add value to your industry, Google will consider you a thought leader and promote your content by giving you a good rating. In addition to content, in order to optimize the SEO for your healthcare service, you should include the following aspects:
Title tags play a huge role in content. You can consider these like a title to a book. They are included as an HTML element within the backend of your website that specifies the titles of your web pages to search engine crawlers, showing them what the content is going to be about. Additionally, these title tags are displayed on search engine results pages (SERPs) and ultimately help attract people to your content.
SEO Metadata: Description Tags:
Meta descriptions are the portion of text, or blurb that is located under the title tag shown on google and acts as a description to your page. These description tags consist of about ~160 characters. Make sure to keep it within this character limit or you risk having the description truncated.
Site speed or page speed is essential to your overall ranking. Consider this, how often do you wait for a site to load? Probably not often. Thus, why should your potential customer?
Page speed is a measurement of how fast your web pages load. Page speeds can be slowed down depending on the type of content it has on it. If you have a lot of photos and videos that have not been optimized, your load speed will be negatively impacted, and subsequently so will your ranking.
Responsiveness Web Design:
Building on page speed, your website should have a responsive web design. This will allow it to load properly no matter what device the visitor is using. This is even more crucial as more and more website browsers are using mobile devices or tablets to search.
Moreover, when users do visit your website from a different device, it should display correctly and not have layout errors. With a responsive website design, you can increase the speed of your website for people using different devices and ensure it loads correctly.
Keyword Meta Tags
This is where the ‘and then some’ to on-page SEO. Keywords in general indicate what you want to be found for on search engines – i.e. dentist, doctor, chiropractor, healthcare services, etc. Keyword meta tags include these terms that you want to be found for and are not visible to website visitors but they are to search engines crawling your website.
If you are including images on your site to showcase your various healthcare services, then you need to make sure to optimize it for SEO as well. An alt tag is an HTML attribute that’s applied to image tags which describes the photos with text. As the search engine can not understand the image, we use alt tags to provide a description that they can understand. Don’t forget to optimize these with your keywords as well!
H1’s and H2’s
Referred to as header tags, they are an essential part of on-page SEO. They help search engines to communicate what your website is about.
Anchor Text Links
Anchor text links are the visible and clickable texts that link two web pages together. These help to improve user experience and provides search engines a better idea about the relevance of the link pages or the text links.
footer is often an overlooked factor in SEO and actually serves many purposes – one of them affecting your website’s performance in organic search results. Some of the ways to make the best use of your footer are:
- XML for search engines: XML stands for Extensible Markup Language, and is similar to HTML. By setting up an XML sitemap, you send an invitation to search engines to crawl the existing URLs listed within that sitemap.
- Visible for user experience: Internal links are an essential factor for SEO and a visible sitemap will help your visitors navigate through your website easily.
Changing Content to Optimize Healthcare SEO
Search engines tend to favor fresher content than stale content. After all, fresh content consists of all the latest facts and will offer more information for searchers. Just like all the food on your shelf, your website content also has a shelf life. After a few years, your content will not add any value to your company. Therefore, by updating your content you will gain more traffic from SERPs and make it more appealing. Additionally, you will reap the benefits of SEO for small business, including improved search rankings.
2. Off-Site Healthcare SEO Techniques
Without any backlinks to your site, websites linked to other relevant healthcare-related sites will be seen as more valuable to Google. Therefore, you want these backlinks to provide pertinent information because it increases your website page authority and credibility when it comes to SERPs. Few ways to get backlinks that will point directly to your website from the following “off-site” sources are:
They serve as one of the best information dissemination tools to let major healthcare publications and journalists know about big events, such as launching a new service or product.
Directors provide information about your practice to existing and potential clients/ patients and play a vital role in SEO as well. Ranking factors include how often and where are the practices regularly listed in the directories.
Blogs and Articles
Blogs and articles help boost SEO by placing your website on the top as a relevant answer to your customer’s questions. Additionally, using different on-page SEO strategies can give you the opportunity to rank higher in search engines and make your site more appealing.
Healthcare Social Media
Social does not apply as a direct ranking factor yet should be one of your main priorities. Content found on a social media page, such as, fb, twitter can significantly influence a patient’s choice of treatment center or hospital. Therefore, a higher number of likes and follows on social media pages will help to increase relevance, authority and therefore help your page to appear on the first page of Google.
Your Reputation Management
Did you know that the average customer reads seven reviews before deciding to trust a business? Therefore, you should always try to respond to all reviews, whether positive or negative. Always remember that your response should be answered in a confidential manner and never disclose a patient’s identity.
To learn more about backlinks and how to obtain them, check out our building backlinks beginner’s guide.
3. Local SEO for Healthcare Off-Site Techniques
Local SEO or local search means optimizing your medical pages for specifically local searches. In simple words, local SEO is about increasing your website’s visibility for customers that have a higher chance of wanting healthcare services in your area.
Optimizing your healthcare site for local SEO will:
- Reach more local patients by increasing your site’s rank in local searches
- Give a positive first impression through a well-designed website, making patients more inclined to engage with your services online
- Improve user experience for patients and improve your patient’s perception of your brand
- Match your content to your local audience’s search intent and provide valuable information to patients
Citations refer to online references to your healthcare organizations’ contact information. Google and other search engines use these contact information to evaluate your online authority of your business.
Online Review Sites
Online Review Sites also play an important role to gain customer trust. An online review is left directly by a customer on any website or platforms that supports this type of content. Facebook, Google and Yelp are the three most reviewed sites. There are several other options that may be specific to an industry orgeography (like TripAdvisor). Therefore, as a part of reputation management it is crucial to be updated and respond appropriately to your reviews.
Takeaways – Healthcare SEO
Optimizing your website can make a world of difference in generating traffic and new leads. We also understand that the goal of an SEO campaign is not just to increase website traffic, but to actually convert these visitors into sales. No matter if you’re focused on increasing your roster of patients, number of procedures, or improving sales or donations, using SEO for your healthcare service can facilitate these business goals.