Running a successful medical practice today has expanded beyond the walls of the building where the practice is housed.
Today’s patients rely on more than local directories and references to find and choose a specialist or medical practitioner for their needs: they search for that information on their own by looking it up on search engines, and according to a study done by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), over 1/3rd of their respondents said they chose their practitioners based on their online ratings.
All this goes to show that if medical practices need to attract more patients, not only do they need to be found online, they also need to stand out from their competition. As the medical field grows increasingly competitive and crowded, medical practices need to rely on the best marketing and promotional tactics to stay ahead of the pack.
One of those marketing tactics is Search Engine Optimization (SEO) which involves strategies and techniques to increase a business’ ranking in the search engine result pages (SERPs). This can further result in:
- Increased visibility and awareness: The higher your practice ranks on the first page of the SERPs, the higher the probability of prospective patients finding you and clicking through to your website.
- Increased perceived authority: A business ranking higher on SERPs for searches related to medical specialization and related keywords is often perceived as having higher authority and credibility than its competition.
- Increase in qualified traffic: SEO, unlike traditional marketing practices, is an inbound marketing technique. Therefore, it allows them to position themselves only in front of customers who are actively looking for their services or information pertaining to their niche. This can lead to an increase in qualified traffic - that is, traffic more likely to convert into customers (patients) - to your website.
Effective SEO Strategies To Promote Your Practice
1. Research and understand your target audience:
In order to successfully implement any marketing strategy, you must know exactly who it is that you’re marketing to. You’ll need to ask yourself a number of questions, such as:
- What are the key characteristics that define your audience? This means their age, gender, occupation, and other key factors that could influence their health. For example, a gynecology specialist will need to largely promote their business to women, usually within a certain age-group and within their locality.
- If you have a specialty, what kinds of patients are likely to seek you out?
- What are the potential answers or information will they need when they find you? This can information pertaining to various medical conditions and their cures to information about the business itself like medical fees, coverage and the like.
Having clear-cut answers to these questions can then help you in executing the other SEO strategies on this list, as you’ll see.
2. Stay on top of your competitor keyword research:
Once you have identified your target audience, the next step is to identify the means through which they will find you: that is, the potential keywords they’ll enter in the search bar when they are looking for the kind of practice that you have.
To finalize a keyword list, you’ll need to have a combination of both long-tail and short-tail keywords that your potential patients are likely to use while searching for you. You can do this by researching the top keywords that your competitors are ranking for using tools such as SEMRush and Google Analytics.
3. Optimize your business for local SEO:
Since medical practices are largely focused on drawing local traffic, you must ensure that your business appears in local search listings. To do this, you should:
- List and claim your business on Google My Business. Since Google gives prevalence to local listings in the top results, listing and optimizing your business for GMB can help your rankings.
- Ensure your contact information - such as your physical address, phone number, and email addresses - are consistent and visible on every page on your website and anywhere else where you’ve listed it.
4. Build local backlinks from trusted websites
Another key tactic to build your authority and trust level on search engines is by building backlinks with other relevant sites, local listings, and content sources. When high-authority and trusted sites link to your website, it can help increase qualified traffic to your website. Backlinks are also a metric measured by search engines in order to rank your site. Your backlink profile is actually one of the primary ranking factors. Because it is such an important factor, and because the work required to build natural, relevant backlinks is so difficult, the temptation to purchase backlinks is high. A word of warning, however, unnatural links are easy for search engines to spot and penalize. Don't give into shortcuts and see your site sent to SEO jail.
5. Publish engaging and relevant content regularly
Establish a regular content posting schedule for every week - especially for your blog. According to a study done by the Pew Research Center, 62% of mobile users and internet users search for information pertaining to health and medical conditions. Therefore, you need to post relevant and recent information in order to reach this potential minefield of patients. Furthermore, Google rewards websites that post relevant, natural and organic information as opposed to content that relies on black-hat techniques like keyword-stuffing.
For instance, you can create distinct pages for the various conditions you deal with in your practice with pertinent information about the symptoms and potential cures for those conditions. The more detailed and up-to-date your information is, the higher your chances of ranking high on the SERPs.
6. Optimize your website for mobile usage
Given that mobile phones are now seemingly surgically attached to their user, and the fact that smartphone users are often on the lookout for instant information, the need to ensure that your website should be optimized for mobile use cannot be understated. Furthermore, following the “big mobile fallout” back in 2015, Google started penalizing websites that fail to fall in with their mobile optimization standards.
7. Make use of chatbots
SEO experts say that by the end of 2018, the use of chatbots will help drive most business communications on websites. Chatbots are live chat modules that use artificial intelligence to provide automated answers to patient queries and can help increase engagement on the website.
High engagement rates on websites are a key ranking factor for Google, and so tactics that help increase the amount of time a user spends on your website, such as chat bots, should be implemented.
In summary, with the medical search arena being very competitive, medical businesses need to implement aggressive SEO tactics that can help them stay ahead of the competition.
Talk to an SEO expert to start promoting your medical practice.