Whatever you do, whoever and wherever you are, you need Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to succeed in this dynamic digital age.
Well, because there are over 70,000 searches conducted on Google – the main search engine – per SECOND. Yes, that’s right.
Plus, 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine, and 67% of people click the first 5 search results on the first page of Google.
This means that only the web pages that are ranked highly get the majority of the traffic while others are as good as dead and buried. Let this sink in.
Hence, it comes as no surprise that every site wants to feature at the very top and rank higher on search engines.
What is SEO?
The internet is perhaps the first source of information all of us turn to. Anything we want to find out about, a quick Google search delivers the answers within seconds.
These search engines are usually so accurate that with the first few results that pop up, we don’t need to scroll further. But how do Google or Bing know precisely what we are looking for? How do they rank the websites that appear on top of our search results?
This process takes place through Search Engine Optimization commonly known as SEO. It is a comprehensive marketing tool businesses use to rank themselves higher in search results by becoming searchable, relevant, and visible.
Through SEO websites depict to search engines that they are the very best when it comes to relevance and quality for particular keywords.
SEO for Healthcare
A couple of years ago, we used yellow pages or extensive directories to locate our nearest healthcare services. Today, yellow pages have almost disappeared – 80% of patients book their appointments online.
Search engines are more efficient for several reasons:
- Pinpointed Location
Consequently, doctors and physicians are interested in optimizing their standings on search engines for the following reasons.
Patient-Doctor meetings are still going to take place in person. However, the initial information or contact is online. For doctors to be able to reach out to potential patients they must maintain a reasonable online presence.
Large scale advertising is both costly and has a temporary impact. On the other hand, using SEO to rank services higher is a more effective marketing technique – cheaper and longer-lasting.
It allows smaller clinics to compete more fairly with larger hospitals in terms of the services they provide instead of customers being overwhelmed by heavy marketing.
Users often leave a web page within 30 seconds of visiting it. This is referred to as bouncing.
If they are not willing to spend even that amount of time on the website, it is highly unlikely that they will be tempted to pay an actual visit to the doctor.
Therefore, engaging and interactive site content is absolutely vital. The more time customers spend viewing the content, the higher it will be displayed on search engines.
Google or Bing is able to do this through a combination of General and Local SEO – a more specific subset of SEO.
How does SEO work? What features are taken into account?
Search engines identify relevant articles through the use of keywords. For example, what is the type of clinic and where it is located?
Sites with updated content and a number of active pages take preference over slow and inactive ones. As the number of users increases and more time is spent on a website, its ranking improves.
- Site Reputation
The site should not be linked with any spam or harmful websites. As a result, they decrease the rating of that website. On the other hand, if it is connected with more active and reliable sites, its ranking goes up.
How Does Local SEO Work?
When searching for doctors or physicians, people do not want general results to appear – for example, a dentist in another city. They want to know about the best one closest to them.
Local SEO combines a number of localized factors to provide the most accurate information to the users. Thus, limited and more relevant results. Whereas, through General SEO, a host of unnecessary information is likely to show up.
It is easier to understand with the help of an example. A patient types in ‘Cardiologist Near Me’ on Google. He expects to find the best cardiologist in his town.
Google does the following:
1. Specific Information
The patient does not need to know about an orthopedic or general physician at this time. These results are automatically pushed down with cardiologists appearing first.
The first few results that it shows are accompanied by a Google Maps location. This makes it easier for the person to identify exactly how near the clinic or hospital is.
People leave reviews after visiting a healthcare center depending on the satisfactory or unwelcome treatment they receive. Naturally, more positive reviews will help the site rank better.
Before booking an appointment, patients want to know the timings of the doctors. If a certain specialist is not available in the timings suited to the patient, they might look elsewhere.
5. Associated Websites
A doctor can be listed on various sites and online directories. The reputation of these sites directly impacts the reliability of the doctor. If these sources are credible, then most likely the doctor’s website will be ranked higher.
Using SEO Effectively
Reaching the topmost search appearances is a gradual process; immediate results cannot be expected. However, by focusing on the following aspects of SEO, doctors and healthcare providers can improve their ranking.
- Targeted Keywords
The content must be to-the-point and aligned with the audience the doctors are trying to capture. The keywords should be direct – specific treatment, location, services offered, etc.
- On-Page SEO
Before an individual clicks on your website, they read the few lines under your Google search rank. These are known as meta-tags and are extremely important in grasping the attention of the viewer.
For a high ranked site, create unique meta descriptions (155-160 characters long) with adequate keywords, and those which tell exactly what your site/page is about. The more direct and relevant the information, the more a viewer is encouraged to click and visit.
- Fresh and Engaging Content
Content can be in the form of blogs, images, or videos.
Its purpose is to keep users engaged long enough for them to think about availing the doctor’s services.
Firstly, the content must be relevant. A patient wanting to know more about heart treatment does not want to waste time on what steps to take in case of a sore throat.
Secondly, it must be simple enough for the reader to understand and connect with. Most readers do not read past the introduction if they feel the information is too difficult. Patients are looking for basic knowledge and are mostly unaware of medical terminologies.
To keep the users interested, visual aids like charts and photographs can also be made use of.
Another important aspect are the Header tags – also called the H1s and H2s. They tell the search engine what your site stands for, and thus work best with direct keyword usage. As a plus point, they are also great to grasp a visitor’s attention when they are simply skimming through a site.
It is also important for content to be regularly updated. A dormant site with outdated articles or videos is discouraging for potential clients. Especially, in the medical arena, research and developments occur frequently and must be incorporated.
With lots of quality content available, viewers on the pages are expected to increase. Search engines monitor this activity and rank these websites higher.
- Local Search Optimization
Patients prefer doctors that are available in their town or city. In case of any emergency or follow-up visits, they don’t want to travel longer distances.
Health clinics should make sure that their addresses are clearly visible and do not contain any ambiguity.
Also, registering on Google Maps makes locating the clinic that much easier. Before the users even open the site, the search engine shows the location.
- Off-Page SEO
Some factors that are not directly available on the website contribute its ranking in search results.
Through registering on Google My Business, the doctors provide details of their clinic including contact information and timings. These details show up on the search and patients can conveniently contact the doctor.
Doctors and physicians can also have themselves listed on online directories that link back to their original website and improve their reliability.
Similarly, linking their website with Social Media sites increases the amount of traffic they receive by broadening their reach. Another way to engage more clients is by participating in online discussion forums. This way the site’s online presence is more noticeable.
- Technical SEO
Most people use the internet through their mobile devices. Thus, it is necessary to keep the website mobile-friendly and at the same time, it should not take more than a few seconds to load.
Users leave such websites before even viewing the content. To ensure a smoother process, technical staff can be hired.
Having dead-links is another major No if you wish for a high search engine ranking. As sites continue to improve and rebuild, the links continue to change. Not having the right link can result in the infamous “Error 404”, leaving a potential client feeling discouraged.
Therefore, always ensure correct redirecting of URL.
SEO is an incredibly effective tool that doctors and physicians can utilize to get more patients and provide better healthcare opportunities.
As the world turns into a global community, divided by borders yet united by the web, SEO brings everyone closer in their times of need.
In short, doctors can give their businesses a significant boost by leveraging SEO.
So, what are you waiting for? Invest in SEO today!