The Importance of Search Engine Optimization for Your Practice’s Website

Written by on December 31, 2013 in Features - No comments

SEO or search engine optimization is the process of optimizing your practice website to be found in the search engines for relevant keyword searches. For example, if a potential patient is searching for a pediatrician in the University Heights area of San Diego and there are ten pediatricians there, it goes without saying that you’d want your practice to come up first in the local results.

Another important and somewhat unknown fact is that if someone is searching for you, and actually finds you with the search terms they use – they are more likely to come see you and become a regular patient. Yep. SEO leads have a close to 15% close rate! (Source: Search Engine Journal) That 15% close rate means they convert to customers and in your case — patients, while outbound leads (such as direct mail or print advertising) are defined as good if they result in a 1.7% close rate.

Still don’t quite believe it? As of 2013, 56% of American adults were smartphone owners,  which stresses how key it is to rank highly in the search engines for keyword searches that prospective patients might be making from their mobile devices alone, no less from those searching for you from the comfort of their home computer.

Here are seven proactive SEO tricks and tips to help you increase your website’s rank above the competition in your market:

1. Identify the Right Keywords

Make a list of keywords that you think people would search when looking for your healthcare facility and services. Collaborate with team members to ensure that this list is comprehensive.

After you’ve compiled this list of search terms, test them by searching each keyword phrase in Google’s Keyword Planner to see which phrases have a decent amount of local monthly search traffic, but with low competition from other websites or advertisers. When analyzing these keywords, shoot for keyword phrases with 200 to 10,000 local monthly searches.

Once you’ve cleaned up your list, begin incorporating these keywords throughout various relevant pages on your site as well as in a variety of information-driven blog posts or articles you submit elsewhere.

Google research reports that 77% of patients used search prior to booking an appointment, which is why it’s important to build your keywords into your website. It feeds the search engines so they know what your website is about and drives more patients to your door.

2. Include a Site Map

Creating a simple site map is an often forgotten tactic for indexing your website properly with the search engines. A site map help give Bing, Google and Yahoo a map of how your website is laid out and connected. It can also help users better access your website.

3. Create Dynamic, Rich Content

Creating original content for your website has become a key component for website success if how you measure it is whether you stand out ahead of your online competition, specifically in the search engines.

Educate your audience by offering rich and dynamic content rather than static pages. Publish content like cases studies, blog posts, videos, interviews, photos, patient testimonials, infographics, medical breakthroughs, conversations about your specialization and you’ll drive more value to your website and increase your search engine rankings by more relevant content containing your keywords.

An excellent way to brainstorm quality content for your organization is to think of the commonly asked questions by patients in your field. Create content that answers these questions to answer potential patient’s queries about your area of expertise.  BTW, it will also build you amazing credibility and authority for your practice as an expert on the subject area.

You can setup a free blog using WordPress or Google’s Blogspot and embed it right into your website to start writing and creating original content that drives traffic, educates potential patients and builds credibility! A triple whammy!

4. Pick Your Meta Data: Title Tags & Meta Descriptions

The keywords targeted for your SEO strategy should not only be present throughout the original content on your website but they should also be present in the metadata of each those pages. For newbies, these title and meta tags are located in the “back end” of your site. The site behind the site, if you will.

This is information that is built into the HTML code of a document. Meta data tells the search engines what the page is about using the title tag, the meta description and headers.

The title tag acts as the title of the page at the top of the browser and in the blue text in the search engine results. Try a search and you will see what I’m talking about. Create them to be no longer than 65 characters and naturally incorporate your keywords, while naming the page. Eg: ContactUs/Makeappointment

A meta description shouldn’t be longer than 150 characters as it describes the page’s content.

Headers added throughout a piece of content using header tags will also help to further direct search engines as to what the contents of the page and your site are about.

5. Try other Search Targets

Many healthcare professionals are missing an opportunity to rank highly for other search related verticals including slideshows, images, local, mobile, video, audio, etc. You can leverage these unique SEO verticals to drive highly targeted traffic to your website or blog.

Here are a few guides to making the most of the SEO of your video, images, slideshows, local and mobile efforts.

6. Utilize Social Media

Social media helps facilitate two-way conversations between your practice and a prospective patient. One of the uses of social media is to drive traffic to your website from a larger audience outside of your core database of patients.

Google and the other search engines take into consideration hundreds of factors when determining the SEO quality of a web page. Social media is one of those factors taken into consideration.

If a page on your website is shared across social media in a meaningful way, then the engines weigh this as a signal that that particular page on your website is quality information on your expertise.

Social media’s impact on SEO is a basic form of link-building, except on websites like Facebook or Twitter. This further emphasizes the need for quality content, so it can be consistently shared across relevant social channels.

Start simple when it comes to social media; utilize LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter to start building an audience and informing them of your unique offerings and knowledge.

When it comes to setting up your social media accounts for the first time, fill out as much information as you possibly can when it comes to the name, the bio, and the description to give the search engines as much information as possible to help them rank your social profile activity.

Focus on quality over quantity when it comes to the content your practice shares on social media. If you’ve got a small budget, limited time and personnel, direct your energy towards talking with your community on a one-to-one basis and join in discussions that fall in line with your expertise.

7. The Importance of Local Search Marketing

Did you know that 50% of all local searches are performed on a mobile device? (Source: Yext).  Make use of a mobile friendly, local experience for your prospective patients today.

Local search is one of the most important search verticals for physicians because in order for patients to make use of your services and expertise, they have to visit you at your offices.  So first they have to find you. And then they have to find your office. It’s crucial when someone is searching for you or your practice that you’re at the top of the results.

So how do you do it? Make sure your practice’s name, address and phone number is accurately updated on a Google+ Local Page, Foursquare Page and on your website’s footer across the entire website.

Listing your contact info will continue to help Google associate the correct location with your organization. When you can, add the city and state to your title tags on your website to further optimize your patient’s experience.

Keep close monitoring of any professional reviews your practice receives to ensure they aren’t negatively affecting your rankings. The amount of reviews and their sentiment impacts your ranking overtime, stay on top of the incoming recommendations and monitor their impact.

By Lori Gertz
Freakin’ Genius Marketing

 Freakin’ Genius Marketing specializes in website strategy, design, content development and deployment in a world of multitudes of devices. www.freakingeniusmarketing.com.

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