People who need medical services—emergency or otherwise—are increasingly using search engines to choose the practice that’s right for them. They’re relying on map results, reviews, and the information that they gather from your website rather than traditional forms of advertising.
The way to reach these customers is with Search engine optimization (SEO). This short guide will help you understand what it is, and how medical practices can put it to use.
First, you’ll learn what it means to apply SEO to your medical practice. Then, you’ll learn how it makes you more visible, helps you develop credibility, and ultimately allows you to spend less than ever on generating new leads.
What is SEO for Medical Practices?
The purpose of SEO is to improve any site (or individual pages) performance on search engines. A site is performing well when it shows up on the first page of results, or (in the case of local results) on the visual map.
Unless there is no competition, most sites do not perform well in search engines on their own. They have to be modified so that the search engine recognizes what they’re about, and what they offer to searchers.
The process of bringing a website into line with the expectations of a search engine is optimization. For medical practices, optimization often includes:
- Keyword research to understand what terms searchers are using
- Adjusting metadata (the title and description that appears next to each result in a search) to assist both search engines and searchers
- Building content so that the search engine has more chances to recognize the topic
If there is a lot of competition, more work is needed to reach the top results. It can be a difficult process, but SEO is worth it because of the benefits that it offers.
It Makes You More Visible
If you think your practice can thrive without search engine traffic, you should consider that fully 77% of online health seekers start with search engines. Potential patients who can’t find you won’t consider your practice over competitors.
Your first priority should be to become visible on search engines, and that’s what SEO does for you. SEO can take you from page 2, or 3 to the first page. With the right effort, it can also take you to the top of page 1.
SEO is also key to appearing in the map search features. The map features appear for all local searches and show searchers where you are. The map is often even more important than appearing in the first result because the map is listed above all other results.
It Helps You Build Credibility
When health seekers use search engines, they don’t often make their choice immediately. They take the time to explore the different results that are available and make judgments about whether each one is credible.
Where you appear in results your first measure of credibility. When your result is listed first, it signals to searchers that your practice is one of the most relevant results on the page.
Appearing high in the search results or search features also allows searchers to more easily locate all of the other information that helps establish credibility. As long as you appear early, searchers can easily assess:
- Any reviews for your business
- The professionalism of your practice as signaled by the images of your staff and location
- Any information that you’ve provided about your specialties
Searchers can’t find this information at all if your result isn’t easy to find.
It Helps You Develop Traffic
An immediate side effect of improving your SEO is that you develop more traffic. Traffic refers to the number of searchers who navigate to your website, and as long as you keep increasing the visibility of your practice, you can keep increasing your traffic.
It’s important to understand that not all traffic is necessarily looking for health care. Some of them may arrive because they’ve been attracted by the information in your content, or because they want to learn more before they make a decision.
Even searchers that don’t want to be patients can help you in several ways.
First, it has a direct relationship with the rank of your results. High traffic signals to Google that your site is relevant and helpful. Simply by attracting more people to your website with SEO, you can strengthen your SEO efforts for the future.
Second, just because a searcher doesn’t call for services now, doesn’t mean that they never will. As long as you can reach them once, you’ve created an impression in their mind. Now, they’re more likely to choose your practice when they are ready for services.
It Allows You to Spend Less on New Leads
SEO is one of the best investments you can make because all of your efforts are cumulative. When you’re running traditional ads, the benefits end almost as soon as you stop paying for the ads.
With SEO, all the work you do lays a foundation that can last for years.
If you build out a set of great content once, you may not need to replace it again until you retire or sell your practice. As long as it’s comprehensive, helpful, and properly matched to the terms searchers are using, it will continue to be effective for SEO.
Furthermore, a high position in search results reinforces itself. The higher your result, the more people it attracts, and the more credibility you build.