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Healthcare SEO

If you are in the medical field and you want your clinic or services known, you should consider relying on search engine optimization in order to get potential clients and patients to find you. But what does healthcare SEO entail?

How can you know for sure that you’re getting the right medical SEO services? Find out the answer to these questions and much more in today’s article, so keep on reading!

What is SEO for healthcare?

Most people tend to think that SEO just means using the right keywords in their content, whether on their main pages or their blog posts. 

But the truth is that search engine optimization is a bit more complicated than that, and it is composed of a variety of techniques that you have to integrate into your strategy. 

In the following sections, we’re going to discuss on-site and off-site SEO, as well as local SEO. We’ve also included some information on several medical search engines in case you can get yourself listed in one of them through actual medical research. 

On-site SEO

On-site optimization deals with everything that you can do on your website. This could mean changing your code, improving your loading speed, or making sure that your website is optimized for mobile devices. 

Site speed

No matter the exact type of healthcare services you offer, you should know that people these days do not have the patience to wait for a minute or more for your site to load.

In fact, most Internet users lose their patience in just several seconds. So if your site takes more than 2-3 seconds to load, you’re going to have a huge bounce rate, and your CTR is going to be negatively affected, too.

For the best results in improving your site speed, we suggest that your SEO (freelancer or company) closely works with your developers. It can be challenging to get the both sides to collaborate properly, but it will pay off over time. 

Mobile responsiveness

Your website content should also be able to be displayed on mobile devices. Half or more than half of all individuals who perform online queries are now using their smartphones or tablets for the purpose, so you’re definitely missing out on prospective clients if your site isn’t mobile-friendly. 

Sometimes, it can just mean that your developer needs to install a template that comes with an integrated mobile-friendly version — creating a separate one can cost a lot of money and is quite complicated, too, if you’re looking to get a customized one. 

But for branding purposes, the customized mobile version of your site is the best you can get. 

Title tags, meta tags, image tags

What do all of these mean? The title tag is the title that anyone performing a query on Google or any other search engine sees first. It needs to be as enticing as possible, but it should also ideally contain your main keyword and be no longer than 60-70 characters. 

Your meta description for each page and post also matters, and it needs to be up to 160 characters these days. 

If you use images or any other type of visual content (infographics work great for the healthcare industry, too!) in your content, they have to have the right name (also preferably containing at least one of your main keywords), but also the correct alt tag. This will help Google’s crawlers understand what the images are about and match that information with what your content is about. 

Keywords

Everyone knows that using keywords is important and one of the main ways Google sifts the wheat from the chaff since its main purpose is satisfying user intent. 

Talk to your SEO about what the proper keyword usage in your specific case is. Just make sure you do not overdo it. 

For finding the right search terms, you can use a tool such as Ahrefs or SEMRush, but there are plenty of free ones (although definitely not offering the same great amount of detail as the paid ones) available out there, too. 

Headings

The heading structure of any page or post you have on your site can also tell Google how your information is organized. If you use an incorrect one, your content might not rank properly for the right keywords. 

There are some misconceptions about headings in the SEO world, but what you should know is that your page title is always the H1, so you should start with your H2s. Everything that deals with a specific topic from that H2 should be an H3. Once another topic is addressed, you have to create an H2, and so on. 

Header tags are essential as they communicate to all search engines what your content’s about. 

Internal linking

This is where a lot of people make mistakes (and even some SEOs). If you have several different categories on your website, you have to make sure that you link to and from the posts in those categories, always depending on them. 

For example, if you are a plastic surgeon, chances are you might have at least two categories — cosmetic and reconstructive procedures. All of the posts in the cosmetic procedure category should link to others in the same category, not to your reconstructive surgery one. The same goes for sub-categories, such as fat reduction, body lifts, any breast procedures, and so on. 

Your content

Creating a great website for branding purposes is excellent, but you should know that Google and other search engines tend to rank websites also depending on how frequently they publish something new. 

It’s not all that difficult, after all. You can create blog posts based on the procedures that you have performed, fill them with videos of you detailing the techniques you’ve used, use patient testimonials, and anything else that can help in this sense. 

We suggest updating your website with fresh content at least 2 to 3 times a month (that is a minimum, by the way). 

Also, if you have a team of specialists whose works were published or that were named in other places across the Internet before, don’t be wary of asking them to sign some of your articles. You have to establish authority and trust as best as possible. 

Off-site SEO

Off-site SEO deals with everything that happens outside of your website. This can refer to listing your site in some specific directories, which deal with your industry, blogger outreach, or making sure your Google My Business listing is on par. 

Press releases

If you’ve recently launched your practice, a new service, or a new product, you can get in touch with journalists and a variety of medical publications and ask them whether they wouldn’t want to publish your press release. 

Keep in mind that this link building technique usually costs a lot of money since the links you are going to acquire come from high-authority websites that have been established for many years. 

But press releases are amazing both because they spread the word to people about your business and from a purely SEO standpoint, too. 

Social media

While there are some SEOs that argue that social media isn’t as important for some industries as it could be for others (and in some cases, it might not offer the same results), the truth is that there is such a thing called ‘social signals’. 

Just to be on the safe side of things, you should have social media pages on the networks that actually work for you. 

A Facebook page might work, of course, but Twitter might not for your specific field. Even Instagram or Pinterest might not be the best choices if you do not plan on creating visual content for them. A LinkedIn page can be quite useful if you want to hire people in the future. 

Reviews and reputation management

Did you know that the average consumer reads about ten (or sometimes even more) reviews before deciding to call a business and ask about the services that are available for them?

Ideally, you should have someone in-house that can reply to comments, be they positive or negative or turn the latter into positive ones. Whatever happens, your patient’s identities should be protected, so make sure that you never disclose any personal information. 

Some sites where people can post reviews of your business are obviously Google (your GMB listing), but also Yelp and other such directories. 

Acquiring other links 

Link building is important, without a doubt, but you should keep the links you acquire as relevant to what you do as possible. For this reason, depending on the exact type of healthcare services you offer, it might be challenging first to discover and then convince bloggers to link to your site. 

Nevertheless, the best SEO firms for healthcare will usually have a database of bloggers and sites that they can get links from using a variety of methods, including traditional outreach. 

Local SEO for healthcare

Your Google My Business listing

You should probably claim your listing even before you build a website so as to make sure that no one else does that before you. Yes, it can happen, and it can be a negative SEO technique that competitors can use.

Your GMB listing should contain your business information, such as your company name, address, telephone number, website, and a series of pictures of your storefront, for example, so that people can find you as easily as possible.

Your operating hours should also be correct as you do not want people to come and ask you something only to realize that you’re closed for the day. 

If you make any changes to your business, such as your location or your phone number, the first thing to do is to update your GMB listing. 

Read more: How to optimize for near me searches

The right medical search engine and directories

Since getting backlinks should be an important part of your SEO strategy, acquiring one from the best and most commonly used medical search engines is definitely the right way of going about things. 

Some of the most popular and critically acclaimed ones are showcased in the medical search engine list below:

  • Scopus

Although it is not nearly as well-known as some of the others we have listed here, Scopus is a medical research engine that contains more than 1 billion cited references going all the way back to the 1970s. 

It is a citation and abstract database, which means that you can either use it as a reference or you can do your best at acquiring a backlink from it by getting in touch with the editors or doing traditional outreach. 

  • ScienceDirect

ScienceDirect is aimed at providing scientists and healthcare professionals with citations and medical journals owned and published by Elsevier. If you didn’t know, Elsevier is one of the largest academic publishers in the world. 

To date, ScienceDirect contains several thousand medical journals — all of which are peer-reviewed. All in all, ScienceDirect contains over 15 million articles, as well as over 40,000 ebooks. While some of these are free to visualize without you having to log in, others do require a ScienceDirect subscription (and it’s not cheap!). 

  • Pubmed

This one is perhaps one of the most popular medical search engines out there, especially since it’s been active for more than 20 years now. The best thing about Pubmed is that it is completely free, which means that you can consult a variety of resources in a wide range of fields, from behavioral sciences to bioengineering. 

While it does contain over 30 million entries, not all of them can be consulted in their entirety. However, for those that are available, the platform will put a link at their readership’s disposal such as to the website of the publisher. 

  • Google Scholar

This Google medical search engine is completely free to use. It enables you to search for scholarly literature that’s aggregated from heaps of databases. 

Some healthcare-specific directories where you can list you business are the following:

  • RealSelf
  • MedlinePlus.gov
  • HealthGrades
  • RateMDs
  • Wellness
  • ZocDoc
  • DocSpot
  • BetterDoctor 

Working with the right healthcare SEO companies

There are some factors that you should keep in mind when hiring a freelancer or beginning to work with a healthcare SEO firm. Although the information that we’ve showcased in today’s article is pretty basic, you should ask what you can expect in terms of optimization. 

SEO can be hands-on, meaning that the firm or freelancer actually does all the changes on your site for you, or they can just point you in the right direction. But in that case, you’d have to have someone in-house or another freelancer hired for the job. 

Regardless of the path you choose, you should know that SEO offers excellent results along with paid search. So you need a generous budget for both, and it’s not uncommon even for the smallest SEO companies to ask for fees such as $3,000 a month. 

Read more: Content Optimization – An In-Depth Guide

The typical hourly rate of an SEO freelancer can start at $100 or more depending on their experience, who they’ve worked for in the past, and what exactly they specialize in. 

As a final word of advice, you probably know that healthcare is a serious and professional field, so you want all of the SEO techniques that are used for improving your site’s rankings to be as clean and correct as possible. 

Try to avoid using black-hat techniques to rank for a certain keyword as they might have serious negative effects such as a penalization. 

Need help with your SEO or digital marketing efforts? We have lots of plans and courses available. Get in touch to find out how we can be of assistance!

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Craig Campbell

I am a Glasgow based SEO expert who has been doing SEO for 18 years.

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