Marketing in the healthcare industry isn’t just marketing. Aside from knowing your basic marketing concepts, you want to make sure you adhere to the regulatory standards set by the industry. So, how does SEO come into play for healthcare marketing?
When you began your healthcare practice, your bottom line was your patients’ health outcomes. You strive to improve their quality of life. This means ensuring that your healthcare organization addresses quality, safety, and performance improvement, along with other marketing efforts.
To remain competitive, you also need to know other basic tools in digital marketing. The PEW Research Center showed that 81% of American now own smartphones. A recent survey revealed that 80% of survey respondents used the internet in searching for health-related information.
You need to be visible online. Most medical practices nowadays would have a website. Whether their websites will give them a good return on investment or not remains to be seen. Those who don’t have a basic knowledge of search engine results’ ranking factors will never capture their target audience.
So how do you get your website on page one of the search result when potential patients do local search queries like, “Psychologist near me?” or “Best chiropractor within five miles?”
First, let us understand the concept of search engine optimization, or SEO.
What is SEO?
According to the Webopedia, SEO “is a methodology of strategies, techniques, and tactics used to increase the number of visitors to a website by obtaining a high-ranking placement in the search results page of a search engine.”
What is a Search Engine?
When we surf the internet, we often use search engines to search for a specific topic or document.
And most famous among these search engines is Google. We even hear people say, “Have you googled the topic?” and use the brand as a verb to mean “search the web.” Other search engines are Bing and Yahoo.
So, What SEO Strategies Can We Apply to Increase Traffic to Healthcare Websites?
In the past, content writers vandalized their writings with all sorts of keywords to land on the top page. They didn’t care whether the document is truly meaningful or of value to their readers. Their main goal was not to educate or inform, but merely to hook people to visit their websites.
In the end, reading these web pages was like eating junk food— full of calories but devoid of nutrients that add value to the patients’ health.
But now, this tactic no longer works. The search engines have become smarter. They can crawl the web and detect which among the websites are credible and authoritative.
Strategy #1 Make Your Website Authoritative
When other trusted websites link to your site, that is called a backlink. It’s like a doctor recommending another doctor to you. You believe your doctor referred that provider because he is authoritative in his expertise.
Why would they link to your website? Because it’s all about content.
If you have valuable, well-researched, and credible content, with details to support theirs, then they link to your site. It doesn’t make sense to reinvent the wheel and write redundant health articles.
Don’t clutter the web. You want to know what the patients are looking for and whether the answers are already out there. If yes, then can you clarify, simplify, or demonstrate those answers? Mind the gap in knowledge and understanding. Soon, you will find your niche.
Many people walk through the wide road and even trample on each other. Find the narrow door that only fits you. When you find your niche, people will soon be seeing you as an authority in your given field. You’re the only one in that particular arena anyway. You’ll soon amass backlinks without much effort.
According to SEMrush, the leader in SEO tools, there’s also another way to increase backlinks. Look for credible domains that you want to link with. A unified management interface will enable you to reach out to them and check if they built a link back to you.
You can also look at the backlinks of your rivals to identify those domains.
Sounds too technical? We at Content First Marketing specialize in content marketing. We provide SEO services and know targeted SEO campaigns to maximize the benefits of your website.
The easiest way to create backlinks is within your websites. Backlinking to your previous blogs will encourage reader engagement and reduce your bounce rate. This, in turn, improves your Google ranking.
You can also use directory listings and social media as a local SEO strategy and create backlinks from there.
When creating a link, make sure you look for authoritative and credible sources. Aim to find the true source. You don’t want hearsay to support your statements, especially in the healthcare industry. Even if you’re an expert in a given field, it will increase your authority if you cite sources that are also credible.
Usually, you don’t link to a mere blog or an expert opinion piece to support your health statement. You can look up the top ten sites that would show up for your given topic, and find the true source.
In the era of evidence-based medicine, there exists what you call levels of evidence. When finding sources for your claims, make sure you find the strongest level of evidence available. If those top ten sites don’t reference to Level 1 evidences, then you can compete by writing a piece that would have credible sources.
The strongest level of evidence will come from systematic reviews of randomized controlled trials, as shown in the pyramid below:
*Based from Table 4 – Levels of Evidence for Therapeutic Studies, The Levels of Evidence and their role in Evidence-Based Medicine.
Where do you find sources to link your scientific blogs and health articles to?
Try to avoid linking to hobbyist websites. Link to websites that end with *.gov or *.edu. These sites will lead you to quality studies that will give the strongest level of evidence.
Additionally, you can search your topic in:
- Pubmed NIH
- Google Scholar
If you practice this, then Google will recognize your pages as authoritative.
Niche words or vocabulary
When writing contents in your pages, consider your target audience.
If you run a chiropractic practice, what would your potential patients search for? Consider the words they would use. Chiropractor, manual manipulation, low back pain, adjustment, and subluxation are some of the words they may search on search engines. You, being an expert in the field, would also be using the same words on your web pages. This will result in a higher ranking.
At Content First Marketing, we use several tools to isolate keyword ideas and come up with niche vocabulary. One such tool is the SEOquake.
Below are the steps we take to ensure your web page contains niche vocabulary that will boost your web page ranking.
- Choose a quality website in your industry.
- Use the SEOquake “keyword density” tool.
- Note highly recurring words and phrases.
- Do steps 1-3 on several quality websites.
- Do the same steps on several low ranking websites.
- Compare the keywords for both results.
- Note what keywords to use and what to avoid.
- Run the same analysis on your website or page.
- Compare your results with those of quality and low ranking sites.
- Know where you stand and make adjustments if needed.
Strategy #2 Build your Local SEO
Let’s admit it, the majority of your patients would come locally and not fly in from out of state. Even large magnet hospitals would still have a majority of their regular census coming from the neighborhood and surrounding areas. It makes sense that your web presence should target the same local population.
How do you build your local SEO strategy?
- Ensure that your website has your right business name, address, phone number, and email address.
- Add a Google map or Mapquest on your website for directions to your facility and enlist yourself in these platforms.
- Use targeted keywords and phrases that contain your location when writing content for your website, for example, “optometrist in Dallas. TX.”
- Ensure that your practice is listed on top local directory listings and include your contact information, and that it matches your website exactly.
- Gather good reviews with reviewer locations and distribute on your listings and social media.
- Use data analytics to monitor the effectiveness of your local SEO campaigns and check your local SEO rankings regularly.
Strategy #3 Stick to White Hat SEO Practices
Technology evolves. SEO algorithm changes. However, white hat SEO withstands the test of time. These are honest methods of creating valuable content that meets the needs of the readers and not just the providers.
As a healthcare practitioner wearing the white coat, it is expected that you adhere to white hat practices. You may not have the time to build and maintain your websites, but you do have the option to choose a third-party that adheres to white hat practices.
So, choose one that provides evidence-based content that meets the needs of your target audience, i.e. your patients.
At Content First Marketing, we offer these best SEO practices. Contact us for your FREE review.
Mobile Fact Sheet. https://www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheet/mobile/. Accessed 26 Aug 2019.
The Patient Journey Begins Online. https://www.doctor.com/cxtrends2018#download-report. Accessed 26 Aug 2019.
SEO – Search Engine Optimization. https://www.webopedia.com/TERM/S/SEO.html. Accessed 26 Aug 2019.
Analytics Report: Back links. https://www.semrush.com. Accessed 26 August 2019.
Burns PB1, Rohrich RJ, Chung KC. The levels of evidence and their role in evidence-based medicine. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2011 Jul;128(1):305-10.
How Mobile Search Connects Consumers to Stores. https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/consumer-insights/mobile-search-trends-consumers-to-stores/Accessed 26 August 2019.
Arnott J. Content First Marketing: The Ultimate Guide to Building Authority, Establishing Trust, and Creating Lifetime Customers. Performance Publishing Group, McKinney, TX. 2014.