SEO for Doctors & Medical Practices

What is SEO for Doctors & Medical Practices?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for Doctors is the process of optimizing a medical provider's website with the goal of achieving higher rankings on search engines such as Google. As opposed to paid ads, it focuses on organic results and often delivers a much lower cost per new patient acquisition. 
SEO for Doctors
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Why SEO for Doctors?

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 an integral part of their medical marketing strategy:

1. Changing patient trends

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”.

patient trends
private pay

2. Medical SEO can increase your share of private pay patients

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.

3. Good return on investment

Unlike Google Ads for Doctors, with an SEO campaign you do not need to pay for each click. So, once you are top of Google and getting thousands of clicks per month, your cost per new patient lead is almost always much lower than other channels. This makes SEO services for medical practices one of the best-performing marketing strategies in terms of Return On Investment.

return on investment
seo for doctors

4. Attract more of your Perfect Patients

As a medical doctor, you will know that not all patients are the same. Some of them are your perfect patients. Others are, let's say, 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.

SEO for Doctors | How to get my Medical Practice TOP of Google? (10 SEO Tips)

Tip 1: Ensure your practice’s website is mobile-friendly

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.

How do I know if my practice’s website is mobile-friendly?

You can check for free with Google’s free mobile-friendly checking tool

mobiel friendly site
page speed

Tip 2: Speed up your practice’s website

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 that load slowly.

How do I know if my practice’s website is fast enough?

You can check for free with Google’s free site speed tool.

How can I increase the speed of my site?

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:

  • Increasing the hosting speed;
  • Removing unnecessary coding;
  • Speeding up the processing of larger files, such as videos or large numbers of images;
  • A number of other possibilities.

Tip 3: Content, Content, Content!

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.

How can I improve the content on my practice’s website?

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.

content patients need
optimized target pages

Tip 4: Optimize your keywords’ Target Pages

There are many improvements you can make to your target pages to optimize them for SEO. We have listed a few of them below:

Make patients want to click on your Page Title and Page Snippet

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.

Add images and videos

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.

Use simple and easy-to-read language

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.

Tip 5: Create a Google Business Profile for your Doctors and Medical Practice

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 Business Profile (formerly 'Google My Business'). Not only is the profile free to create, but it also provides great statistics, such as:

  • The number of calls to your practice via your Google Business Profile;
  • The number of people who asked for directions to your practice;
  • The number of people who viewed your profile.

How can I create a Google Business Profile for a doctor or a medical practice?

To create a Google Business Profile, simply click on the following link, then follow the instructions:

How much does it cost to create a Google Business Profile?

Nothing! Creating a Google My Business profile is absolutely free.

I already have a Google Business Profile—why is it not appearing on the map?

Google only features 3 Google 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.

  • First, make sure you have updated your profile with as much information as possible. For example, if you are an orthopedic surgeon, be sure to select that as your type of service. If you also offer Physical Therapy, then add that label too, plus any other services you offer;
  • Update your Open Hours;
  • Fill in the practice description;
  • Add good-quality images to your profile;
  • Learn how to get more 5-star doctor reviews.
google maps
social media profiles

Tip 6: Create Social Media Profiles for your Medical Practice or Doctor(s)

I have always been skeptical of the Return On Income of social media. However, in terms of SEO for doctors, social media is very useful. The links from social media platforms (such as Facebook and Twitter) can give your practice’s website a big SEO boost. This is because they have high Domain Authorities. In other words, in the eyes of Google, they are reliable backlinks. Creating social media profiles for your practice, and posting on them regularly, will give your SEO campaign a positive boost.

Tip 7: Create other high quality backlinks

Having high quality backlinks from reputable, third party sites has a very positive effect on SEO. The same is true for healthcare SEO campaigns.

Which sites should I link to my medical website?

You should only link your site to third party sites which are ‘respected’ in the eyes of Google. A good indicator of this is a page’s Domain Authority or Page Authority. This score is given out of 100. For example, Google has a Domain Authority of 100, whereas a brand new site will (usually) have a domain authority of 0. You can check Domain and Page Authorities here.

How can I persuade third party sites to link to my practice’s website?

Obtaining quality backlinks can be difficult and time consuming. However, as medical doctors, there are many great backlinks within reach. We suggest the following:
  • Medical Organizations. Do you have any memberships with medical organizations? This can often entitle you to profile where you can add a URL;
  • Social media. Be sure to link your practice’s social media profiles to your website. Sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn have high Domain Authorities, so these are great backlinks;
  • Medical directories. Please note that not all directories have high Domain Authorities. This is why you should choose carefully. The more specific and related to your medical specialty, the better. You should avoid listing in generic directories with low Domain Authorities. Read more about medical directories.
quality backlinks
fresh content

Tip 8: Add fresh, new content to your practice’s website on a regular basis

Google’s crawler bots constantly check for updates to websites. Sites that regularly add new content are considered ‘fresher’, which is said to be one of the factors in Google’s algorithm. This is logical. Google wants to put the best and most current sites at the top of search results. For example, if one doctor’s website has not been updated since 2005, then the content is likely to be outdated (especially in an ever-changing industry such as medicine). This subsequently decreases the chances of it ranking high on search results. Learn more about our medical blog content creation services.

Tip 9: Increase traffic to your practice’s site

When it comes to SEO services for medical practices, 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.

How can I increase traffic to my website?

Besides SEO, there are several ways to do this:

  • Newsletters. Send newsletters to your patients and mailing list. The newsletters should include links to your website, which will increase traffic to your site;
  • Social media. Building up an audience on social media can also help increase traffic to your site.
  • Advertising. Facebook and Google Ads cost money, but they can be a quick and effective way of driving new patients to your site. Read more about Google Ads for Doctors or Facebook Ads for Doctors.
website traffic
seo for medical practices

Tip 10: Install Google Analytics

How do you know if your medical SEO campaign is performing well? Google Analytics can help. It can provide vital statistics, such as:

  • Number of site visitors;
  • Source of site visitors (Ads vs. Organic vs. Social Media etc);
  • Which pages are most popular;
  • On which pages patients are leaving your site;
  • Many other stats.

What clients say about our work

  • Over the past two years, the Red Castle team has more than doubled our website traffic! They are quick to respond and a pleasure to work with.
    Matthew Emig
    PREMIUM PLAN, Physician Marketing Liaison
  • Red Castle got us the results we wanted and got them fast, with our number of patients up by 37% in just 4 months.
    Tera Welch
    PREMIUM PLAN, Neulife Rehabilitation, FL

SEO for Medical Websites – is Organic SEO better than Google Ads?

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: 


Google Ads immediately positions your website 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 Google Ads is its ability to target people geographically. For example, if you’re an urgent care center in Chicago, then you can use geo-targeting to restrict your ad impressions to people within a certain proximity of Chicago.

Read more about Google Adwords for Doctors.


Google Ads can be very expensive—especially if the keywords you are targeting have high levels of competition. Every single click costs you money—usually between $1 to $20 per click but this figure can sometimes be as high as $50 or more.

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 Google Ads. 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.

For more information about the differences between Google Ads and Organic SEO, read our Blog Post about Google Adwords vs. Organic SEO – which is better for doctors?”

SEO for Doctors – How to decide which keywords to choose?

In our SEO for doctors campaigns, the number of keywords depends on your level of plan. For example, our Plus Plan includes SEO for 20 keywords. But how do we decide which 20 keywords to select?

First, we make sure that the keywords are actually being used. After all, there is no point in being top of Google for keywords that patients are not searching for! You can use tools like Google’s Keyword Planner and Google Trends to check the search volume for keywords.

Second, we select keywords that 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:

  • orthopedics + your city
  • orthopedics + your county
  • orthopedic surgeon + your city
  • orthopedic surgeon + your county
  • orthopedic + your body part of specialty + surgeon + your city
  • orthopedic + your body part of specialty + surgeon + your county
  • orthopedic doctor + your city
  • orthopedic doctor + your county

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”.

How do you measure the success of the SEO campaigns?

Red Castle provides monthly reports. These reports allow doctors and medical practices to clearly track the performance of the SEO campaign. There are several indicators to track the success of our SEO services for doctors:

1. Keyword Ranking

Below is a screenshot of some example keywords from one of our clients. In the right-hand column, it shows that all keywords are positioned in 1st place on Google. We constantly monitor their position and react accordingly to any changes.

2. Website Traffic

It’s obvious, but the more traffic your website gets, usually the more patients you get.

3. Source of Website Traffic

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).

4. The number of phone calls

There are several ways to track phone calls and their source. This can be tracked via Google Ads and Google My Business. However, for a full 360 degree view of all calls and all channels, we recommend setting up call tracking for doctors.

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.

5. Patient Questionnaires

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.

How many patients will SEO generate?

The average conversion rate for websites is between 2.35% to 5.31%. Assuming this to be also true of healthcare, an increase of website traffic of 1,000 would lead to an increase of almost 20 to 50 new patients. There are several ways to generate more web traffic, but organic SEO is one of the best.

How much does SEO for Doctors cost?

SEO for doctors can cost thousands of dollars per month. However, our business model is to provide excellent Return Of Investment for doctors and medical practices, so we charge a modest monthly fee that allows doctors to work with us in the long-term, so we can get – and keep – your practice at the top of Google. View our SEO Plans and Pricing.

Learn more about Red Castle and our SEO services for Doctors and Healthcare Practices

Here at Red Castle Services, we believe that the future of patient lead generation will be almost 100% online. This is why SEO for Doctors and healthcare organizations is so important. Don't waste time—start positioning your practice today for the healthcare referral trends of tomorrow. Read more about us—including WHO WE ARE and WHAT WE BELIEVE.


Book your free Strategy Session HERE

SEO Services for your Medical Specialty

Book your free strategy session today.

Dr. Richard Girling
CEO & Founder
Free of charge. No obligations. Learn more about how we can help grow your practice.
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