A 2012 study by Google found that 77 percent of patients search for their physician online prior to booking an appointment. This means that it is imperative that medical practices have a high-caliber website with effective search engine optimization (SEO), so that patients may quickly locate your medical practice’s website online.
What is SEO? Search engine optimization is the process of increasing a website’s ranking on search result listings generated by engines like Bing, Google, and Yahoo. The goal is to be as near the top of the search list as possible since web users tend not to click on links further down the page.
SEO is important for medical practices because patients spend their time surfing the internet for answers related to medical conditions, diagnoses, laboratory and diagnostic tests, symptoms, and treatment options. Having a website that answers these questions makes you the expert, increases familiarity with you, and increases the chances that the patient will call to schedule an appointment with you.
It is important that your website finds patients when they are in “buy” mode. Advertising on the radio or a billboard reaches a large audience, but not necessarily at a time when they are in need of your services. Investing in SEO has a high, measurable return on investment because leads that come through a practice website can be easily tracked. It is much more difficult to track leads from billboards and radio.
Before diving into SEO, know your budget and develop a strategy. SEO is an investment in your practice. For example, if a dermatological surgical procedure brings in a profit of $2,000, you only need to bring in two leads to surpass the spend of $3,500. Your strategy should include your needs. What exactly is your goal? Will SEO help you achieve that goal, or do you have other needs? A solid strategy not only includes the answers to these questions, but also a website analysis to help determine current needs from a digital marketing perspective.
According to Medical Practice Insider, steps that ensure your SEO is working for you include:
Research key terms. Find out what terms potential patients are actually looking for before creating any content. The Google Adwords Keyword Planner can help determine people’s search habits for a certain keyword, including geographic area and volume.
Sprinkle key terms throughout the content. If you would like to appear in a web user search for “Dallas dermatologist,” be sure to include this term in the text on your website. Using a keyword once per 100 words is a good rule of thumb.
Hyper-localize search terms. If you’re located in a large metropolitan area like Dallas/Fort Worth, there will be a lot of competition for the top-ranking spots. Focus on ranking well in community-centric searches, like “Park Cities dermatologist” or “dermatologist downtown Fort Worth.”
Maintain a blog. Creating and maintaining a blog is an easy way to keep creating fresh content that will help your site appear for varied search terms. This ensures you aren’t limited to the keywords on the standard pages of your website.
SEO is not the same regardless of industry; therefore, it is important to use an agency that understands the nuances of healthcare. Healthcare search behavior is different from other industry searches, so utilizing the correct keywords and search terms is very important. Be sure to engage the services of an agency that understands healthcare and is able to develop accurate content that reaches your intended audience.
Medical Practice Insider (2013). Making SEO Work for Your Medical Office. Retrieved November 16, 2015, from http://www.medicalpracticeinsider.com/best-practices/technology/making-seo-work-your-medical-office.
Points Group (2015). Medical Practice SEO. Retrieved November 16, 2015, from http://www.pointsgroupllc.com/medical-practice-seo/.