SEO for doctors is a relatively long and ongoing process, so why should you invest the time or money in an SEO campaign? The 2 minute video below explains why
And in case that has not convinced you, here are 4 more reasons why doctors should make SEO a vital part of their medical marketing strategy:
Do you remember using those big paper directories which you kept next to your telephone? Well, as you may have noticed, nobody uses them anymore!
Nowadays more and more patients are searching for their next doctor online. For example, patients searching for an orthopedic surgeon in Miami will likely Google “orthopedic surgeon miami”. They are then likely to call one of the practices listed on the first page of results.
This is where medical SEO comes in. Doctors need to ensure that their website is appearing on the first page of Google search results for relevant searches.
So, if your practice is to succeed in the modern healthcare arena, then it needs to position its website at the top of Google’s search results for relevant keywords, such as “your specialty + your city”.
Private pay patients are not restricted by their Managed Care Organization (MCO). They are free to choose whichever doctor they want. This is why – instead of going to their MCO’s website to choose a doctor – they will likely use Google instead.
Doctors featured at the top of Google are more likely to attract new patients. In other words, successful doctors need to position their practice’s website at the top of Google.
Ask yourself this: How much money does your practice earn from the average patient? Depending on your specialty, your answer will differ. However, for almost all specialties one thing is true: It only takes a handful of new patients per month to cover the cost of an affordable SEO campaign.
Any additional patient revenue (which is almost always the case) is profit for your practice. This is why positioning your website at the top of Google for relevant keywords is one of the most cost-effective marketing strategies for medical practices.
As a medical doctor, you will know that not all patients are the same. Some of them are your perfect patients. Others are maybe not so perfect! Whether it’s based on medical reasons, healthcare insurance, or reimbursement, all doctors have their favorite type of patients.
Now ask yourself this: What if you could somehow increase your number of ‘perfect patients’? We’re talking about those patients with the condition you love to treat, or the insurances you accept, or simply the procedures with the highest reimbursement. Well, with SEO for doctors, you can do exactly that.
By carefully selecting your keywords, you can target the exact patient demographic you want.
In order to answer this question, let us just clarify the difference between Organic SEO and Google Ads (formerly ‘Adwords’). Google Ads is when you pay Google for your practice’s website to appear as one of the four advertisements at the top of the Google search results page.
By contrast, Organic SEO is positioning your website to appear in the real search results (as one of the 10 search results below the ads).
Figure 2: What is the difference between Organic SEO & Google Ads?
Now to answer the question:
Adwords allows your practice to immediately be at the top of the page. A new campaign can be up and running within just a couple of hours.
Plus one of the best features of Adwords is its ability to target people geographically. So, if you’re an urgent care center (for example) in Chicago, then you can make it so that your ads only appear to people in Chicago.
Read more about Google Adwords for Doctors.
Adwords can be very expensive – especially if the keywords you are targeting have high levels of competition. Every single click costs you money (usually around $1 to $10 per click).
Plus remember – as soon as you stop paying Google, your ads will stop appearing. Organic SEO, on the other hand, is a more affordable and more long term strategy. Your practice’s website can be positioned to be top of the real search results on Google, so that patients are genuinely finding the most relevant practice for their needs.
Furthermore, organic SEO is longer lasting than Adwords. Once at the top of Google, it will likely stay there for several months (and if SEO services are continued then it can stay there indefinitely).
Plus – best of all – Organic SEO is more affordable. Red Castle’s SEO for doctors package is very affordable and has proven to be very cost effective in terms of providing many more patients than the monthly cost of services.
If you are interested in strategically positioning your practice for the long term trend (that more and more patients will find their next doctor online), then organic SEO is something you should seriously consider.
Fore more information about the differences between Google Adwords and Organic SEO, read our Blog Post about Google Adwords vs. Organic SEO – which is better for doctors?”
Red Castle typically includes 10 keywords in our SEO for doctors campaigns. But how do we decide which 10 keywords to select?
First, we make sure that the keywords are actually being used. After all, there is no point being top of Google for keywords which patients are not searching for!
Second, we select keywords which correctly identify the specific services you offer. For example, if you are an orthopedic surgeon, then we may include keywords for the particular surgery for which you would like to increase your volume of patients.
Furthermore, to avoid competing with doctors across the world, we recommend that keywords include your geographical area (usually the nearest city and/or county).
Figure 3: What do patients search for?
Here is a set of example (orthopedic) keywords below:
Please note that the Latin spelling “orthopaedic” is deliberately not used, as the number of people who search for this is far less than the number of people who search for “orthopedic”.
To check search volumes for the keywords you choose, Google’s Keyword Planner is a very useful tool.
Red Castle provides monthly reports, so that our doctors (clients) can clearly track the performance of the SEO campaign. There are several indicators to track the success of SEO campaigns. These include:
Below is a screenshot of some example keywords from one of our clients. In the right hand column it shows that all keywords are position in 1st place on Google. We constantly monitor their position and react accordingly to any changes.
It’s obvious, but the more traffic your website gets, usually the more patients you get.
In order to know which of your marketing campaigns are the most effective, you should be tracking the source of your web traffic. For example, as shown in the screenshot below, the majority of this client’s web traffic is coming from “Organic SEO” (in other words, from Google and other search engines).
There are several ways to track phone calls and the source of them. This can be tracked via Google Adwords, Google My Business, or even across multiple different media forms, even billboards.
It allows you to see which calls are coming from where. The only downside is that often it creates the creation of extra telephone lines, which can add extra expense.
Don’t always trust your online marketing agency. Why not ask patients yourself how they found out about you? Your front office staff can simply add this question to the end of any New Patient Questionnaires, subsequently providing you with your own data about how patients are finding you.
When it comes to SEO for doctors, mobile-friendliness is crucial.
Is your website mobile-friendly? Does it look good on smart phones and tablets?
Over 62% of Internet users now access the Internet via a mobile device
(Source: Statista). In other words, if your website is not mobile-friendly, then you are missing out on up to 62% of prospective new patients! That’s a big
percentage to miss out on.
You can check for free with Google’s free mobile-friendly checking tool.
In 1992 people were willing to wait 5 minutes for a photo to load. Well, that’s not the case anymore! People are demanding. They want a fast website. And if it’s not fast, they will leave your site. It’s as simple as that. Google has even admitted that it is penalizing sites which load slowly.
You can check for free with Google’s free site speed tool.
There are several ways to do this. The Google tool listed above will identify the issues which are slowing down your site. It often recommends:
In the world of SEO, content is King! This is also true of medical SEO. Why do prospective patients use Google? They are looking for answers. And if your website does not provide the answers to their question, then Google is not going to place it at the top of their search results.
First of all, make sure the content you are providing is useful. If prospective patients do not find the information on your website useful, then they will leave your website. This leads to a higher bounce rate. This then pushes you down in the SEO rankings. But how do you know what patients find interesting? There are some useful tools to check the type of questions patients (and the public in general) are asking. Check out Answer The Public. Alternatively, simply type your keyword on Google, then look at Google’s alternative suggestions.
Second, make sure that it’s immediately obvious what your page is about. One way to do this is to include the keywords in the title or subheadings. This way the patient can immediately see that your page is about the topic in which they are interested.
There are many improvements you can make to your target pages to optimize them for SEO. We have listed a few of them below:
After a patient conducts a Google Search, they see 10 organic search results. These results will show a page title, URL, and snippet (description). Based on this information alone, the patient will decide if your site is what they are looking for. This is why it’s vital that your page title and description scream “click me!” to prospective patients.
Too much text can scare away prospective patients. If patients leave your page within 30 seconds, this is considered ‘bouncing’. The higher your bounce rate, the less likely Google is to rank your page high on the next search query for the same keyword. Inserting a few images which relate to the keyword helps to reassure the patient that your page is relevant to their search. Plus, images and videos can increase click rates. Higher click rates are another indicator to Google that the patient is interested in your page. This will subsequently boost your SEO for future searches using the same keyword.
As a medical doctor, you may be used to your handwriting being inaccessible to patients. However, when it comes to SEO for medical websites, it’s vital that patients can easily read and understand your page content. This is known as ‘readability’. Readability is believed to be one of the factors included in Google’s search algorithm. In other words, try to avoid long sentences in the passive voice. Instead, use short, active sentences. It also helps to break down text into shorter paragraphs.
In terms of medical marketing for doctors, this is one of the best (and free) things you can do. Google often places a map at the top of search results. In order to appear on this map, you need to have a Google My Business (GMB) profile. Not only is the profile free to create, but it also provides great statistics, such as:
To create a Google My Business Profile, simply click on the following link, then follow the instructions: https://www.google.com/business/
Nothing! Creating a Google My Business profile is absolutely free.
Google only features 3 Google My Business profiles on the map at the top of search results. With thousands of other physicians and practices competing with you, you may wonder how you can increase your chances of being selected for one of the 3 positions at the top. There are a few tips for doing this.
In the world of medical SEO, success breeds success. In other words, the more traffic you site has, the more this improves SEO. By increasing traffic to your site, it can (but not always) have a positive effect upon your practice’s SEO campaign.
Besides SEO, there are several ways to do this:
How do you know if your medical SEO campaign is performing well? Google Analytics can help. It can provide vital statistics, such as: