It’s a term like a lot of medical jargon: it means a great deal to people who know what they’re talking about, and is used to sell a whole lot of swill to people who don’t. Applied correctly, it can skyrocket your website; applied poorly, the best you can hope for is nothing—and the outcome is often worse.
Let’s focus on the good. The right way for you to build up SEO power so your medical practice’s website is the first thing patients see, outranks your competition, and brings more patients through your door.
In other words, let’s start with the importance of content.
The phrase “content is king” has been around almost as long as “SEO,” and it’s remained true the whole time. Google (and other search engines) wants to give its search users the best content—the content that is most relevant, authoritative, and engaging.
There are literally hundreds if not thousands of individual factors that Google considers when ranking your content and your site. But as long as you aren’t doing anything underhanded—paying for links, stealing content, etc.—and your website is technically sound—professional design, clean code, fast-loading— the best thing you can do for SEO, without question is produce quality content that engages your patients.
What does that mean specifically? Well…
Condition and Procedure Pages
For medical providers, the most important content you can have on your site are condition and procedure pages—a separate page for each condition you treat and procedure you perform. 1 out of every 20 searches on Google is for health information, and tens of millions of those searches each month are for specific medical conditions. Original, high-quality content built around long-tailed keywords that contain condition and procedure names will help you rank in searches from the most qualified, ready-to-visit patients around.
Write these pages, like most of your web content, for a lay reader—shoot for an 8th or 9th grade reading level. You should provide a quick yet comprehensive overview of each condition or procedure, including common symptoms or indications, diagnostic criteria, treatment plans, and typical prognosis. Help patients understand what they can expect on an office visit, and close with a call-to-action they can click to schedule an appointment or contact your office.
Yes, Blogs Still Matter
Blogging has seen a few bubbles. First no one was blogging and it was easy to rank with a few low-quality posts each week. Then everyone was blogging, and using all kinds of tricks to get their blogs to rank in searches. Then Google cracked down on the tricks and some people thought blogging was dead.
What some people realized, and what others knew all along, was that publishing a good blog has always been good SEO, because it allows you to naturally target long tail searches patients are typing into search engines.
77% of patient quests for health information start with a search engine, and regularly publishing content to a quality blog is one of the best ways to boost your sites overall prominence in search. Companies that run blogs see 97% more links to their website and 67% more leads than those without. More links means vastly improved SEO, and more content clearly drives more patients to your pages—and with the right follow-through, you’ll be seeing those patients in your office, soon.
Make sure you’re creating original, high-quality posts on topics that your prospective patients are interested in—with keywords those patients are searching for. Make sure you use images, too; you’ll boost engagement and SEO.
Video Is Growing
According to HubSpot, 78% of the entire US population watches an online video every week, and 55% watch every day. Video now accounts for more than 50% of all web traffic, and that number is set to skyrocket this year.
This isn’t just a result of the fact that video is getting easier to produce and cheaper to host online. That makes it easier for video creators, but if people didn’t want that video they wouldn’t be watching it. The numbers tell us that most people prefer video content over text, and remember—Google wants to give the people what the people want. Video is a great way to give your SEO a boost, and in a few more years it will be as essential as a good blog.
Or more so.
Don’t get hung up on production expenses, either. A couple hundred dollars for a camera and a microphone—or you can even use your smartphone, if you want—and a quiet room, and you’re good to go. Write 2-3 minute video scripts where you answer common patient questions, explain medical terminology, discuss different treatment approaches for a specific disease or disorder, etc. Film it in an examination room or in your office; just make sure you have good light and no background noise, and you’re good to go.
Keep it light and friendly yet authoritative, not overwhelming patients with too much explanation but providing real answers, too.
Google can’t “read” videos the way it can read text (yet), so the title of each video and the meta information (information read by search engines and browsers that describe a page or media element) is very important for SEO and keywording purposes. You might also consider putting a written transcript of the video underneath the video itself. This is useful both for search engines and for those users who prefer text or can’t play a video out loud at the moment.
Knowledge Won’t Get the Job Done
It’s like you tell your patients: they have to make the changes to see the results. Knowing what content to produce won’t do a thing to improve your SEO. Only producing the content will do that. Blogs and videos are by far the two best ways to start attracting and engaging an audience, and all they take is a bit of time.
The investment will mean everything to the health of your site and your practice.