Believe it or not, there are plenty of things you can do right now, without spending a dollar, to fill those empty appointment slots thanks to some simple search engine optimization (SEO) tips for medical office websites.
- The first thing you have to understand is that online search engines such as Google and Bing have become a trusted resource for individuals looking for a doctor. Throughout the past several years, online search has reduced the need for traditional means of advertising (we’re looking at you, old Phone Book) and your office needs to adapt to the changes in patient behavior in order to capitalize.
- The next thing you need to succeed here is the capabilities to easily edit your practice’s website content. If you can’t, then you need a new website that puts you in the driver’s seat when it comes time to make changes. Once you’ve got that, you’re ready to get started and get found by more patients.
Keywords and Key Phrases
Keywords and phrases are the central core to increasing web traffic to your medical practice’s website. Simply put, keywords and key phrases are what patients are typing in when they visit a search engine.
You’ll want to pay attention to what keywords and phrases you use on your site, not only because 95 percent of the U.S. internet browsing population accesses search engines each month according to The State of Search: First Edition white paper, but also because each word has an impact on your on-page SEO rankings, helping determine where your page winds up in search engine result pages (SERP).
To get started,
- Create a list of about 10 keywords associated with your practice and plug them into Google’s Keyword Tool to find the variations that make sense for your business. You’ll want to pay special attention to the search volume and competition results to determine where to focus attention.
- You’ll want to settle on five to 10 keywords to start and monitor their success to ensure they’re pulling potential patients in to look at your practice’s website.
Once you have your keywords, you can begin planning to use on-page SEO to gain more traffic to your practice website. On-page SEO essentially means writing your webpage content to reflect what your target patients might be searching for and making sure those keywords are on said page.
- If you’re a podiatrist and you have a specific patient education page focused on bunions, you’ll want to make sure the page features the word “bunions” as well as phrases such as “bunion treatment in Orlando.”
- Then, when the page is indexed by search engines and “crawled” it will match a searchers query to phrases on your site to give the user the best possible search result.
When the page is optimized, its rank will be determined by relevancy and authority built through other content on your site (which is why we keep saying how important it is to develop consistent, quality content). With your content, it’s important to pick the best keywords to base each of your pages around and then make it clear to search engines that your page revolves around these words. Just be careful not to stuff your page with keywords or you’ll be flagged and ignored by the search engines.
You’ll also want to pay close attention to similar phrases you may be able to use to help generate more traffic (dentist vs. oral surgeon). By identifying and utilizing related terms, search engines will see you as offering more relevant content, thus boosting your page rankings.
Most websites these days also offer you the power to control your meta tags. These tags are your website’s first impression to search engine “crawlers” so you better make use them well.
- “Title Tags” contain a sentence describing the contents of an associated page and should be about 77 characters using keywords and mentioning your practice name.
- “Meta Descriptions” appear on SERPs (these are the mini descriptions you see under the title of a search result) and they should be 160 characters that include keywords and your main call-to-action.
Be sure to also include some localization terms in your content to help search engines identify where you offer services. Don’t be afraid to mention a few variations here as well such as Orlando, Central Florida, Tampa, Florida, etc. Consider what terms your potential patient would search as far as location goes and write them in where they fit naturally.
The next step to understand how to boost your medical practice’s website is off-page SEO. Essentially, off-page SEO is about building a reputable online reputation for your website via trust and content. You’ll want to increase the quality, quantity and relevance of links to your website from other sources to help search engines trust your site and boost your ranking.
One of the best ways to do this is by simply writing compelling content that answers a question your ideal patient has that they’ll then want to share. You need the content to earn the links and build your reputation; there is just no way around it.
Social media is key to helping you earn links back to your site. By providing relevant posts to your fans and followers, you’ll earn clicks and ultimately authority.
Getting creative with your PR strategy can also help right away. Instead of just sending your blast to local news publications, consider branching out to bloggers, influential folks in your specialty and social media leaders as well to help increase awareness.
Get Motivated and Get Moving
It can sometimes take several weeks before your pages are indexed within the major search engines so you’ll want to start making headway now to see a bump in website traffic in the new year. As always, if you aren’t sure you can handle some of this activity on your end (and it’s a lot, to be fair) then contact an expert who can do the heavy lifting for you.
Remember, to see a change the first step is getting started. By utilizing these SEO tips for your medical practice website, you’ll be well on your way to growing your web presence.