Whether you’re looking for a place to eat, trying to remember the lyrics to a song, or researching medical facilities in your area, your destination is probably the same: Google. That’s why organic search rankings are universally coveted.
A carefully planned multi-channel effort to improve those rankings is called Search Engine Optimization, or SEO. A thoughtful and robust SEO strategy can help your medical practice, clinic, or organization be in the right place (or, on the right page, as it were) to provide timely solutions and answers directly to patients.
By helping you become more visible to patients, following medical practice SEO best practices can put you in a position to succeed–not just today, but in the years to come as well.
The Modern SEO Landscape
In June and July of 2021, Google introduced a significant new algorithm update. This particular update was designed to help identify spammy backlinks. Which means that if your SEO strategy has been cutting corners, you might be in trouble.
These kinds of algorithm updates aren’t unusual. Google will typically introduce major updates to their core search algorithm every six months or so (and minor tweaks more often than that).
And that can make success with SEO feel intangible, like you’re chasing a phantom. What’s the point, you think, of doing all this work to optimize your website when Google can come around and change the rules on you?
That’s why modern SEO strategy is focused on the user motivations that drive Google searches in the first place. When you’re providing good information to your patients and creating unique content that people want to engage with, you will enjoy long lasting organic search success.
Knowing How to Help My Medical Website’s SEO
If you’re wondering, will the latest Google update hurt my practice SEO, the answer… really depends. It’s true that Google places extra scrutiny on medical and healthcare websites. That’s why medical practice SEO best practices focus on something called EAT.
While you might use Google to search for restaurants, EAT has nothing to do with food. Instead, EAT stands for Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness.
- Expertise: You’re an expert. An organic SEO strategy will likely make sure that visitors to your website (and, therefore, Google) know you’re an expert. This strategy may include creating an About Us page for your website and ensuring that physicians associated with your clinic have profiles (both on your website and on Google). Make sure to list any associations, awards, board memberships, and so on.
- Authority: Who considers your website to be an authority on topics? Your SEO strategy should position your clinic as an authority in your area of expertise. You can then leverage that authority to generate high-quality backlinks. If patients know that you offer an authoritative take on a topic, they’re more likely to visit your website and read (or view) what you have to say.
- Trustworthiness: On page content that is stuffed with keywords doesn’t come across as trustworthy. SEO strategies that don’t place the user experience first will eventually fail because patients won’t feel comfortable using your website.
Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness are not direct factors when it comes to Google’s algorithm–that is, Google does not measure and rank your authority or expertise. But keeping EAT in mind as you create your website content can help you connect to audiences and patients–improving your rankings as a result.
As part of a broader SEO strategy, improving your website’s expertise, authority, and trustworthiness might include:
- Ensuring your website uses SSL authentication (that is, your website uses https instead of http).
- Being transparent about your qualifications and fields of expertise.
- Reviewing all information on your website to ensure it’s medically correct. This is especially true if any of your content has been written by third parties. (There’s nothing wrong with using third parties to create content–but adding “reviewed by Dr. Smith” can help strengthen your website’s authority in the eyes of both users and Google.)
Is Google Really Paying Attention?
Websites that provide incorrect information regarding health or monetary topics can cause a lot of trouble. That’s why Google levels extra scrutiny towards websites that fall under the umbrella of YMYH (Your Money or Your Health).
Because all medical and healthcare websites will fall into this category by default, it’s reasonable to assume that Google is definitely keeping a closer eye on your clinic’s web presence. That’s why one of the best ways to build on the success of your organic search strategy is to focus on EAT and build your credibility.
Building Content and Making it Accessible
Once you’ve established your credibility in the eyes of users (and also Google), the key to any good organic search engine marketing strategy is to build content. Not just any content. To succeed, your website needs high quality content. A content based SEO strategy could include:
- Articles and web pages that directly address patient questions. For example, an orthopedic website may create a page dedicated to sprained ankles. That way, when a patient searches for “how to treat a sprained ankle,” your website can be well positioned to provide useful, relevant information.
- Content that is easy to share. Social media is a valuable tool for reaching new patients and delivering your brand message; content gives you relevant, branded information that you can use to drive engagement. But that’s only possible when you’re creating high quality content; low quality content will never drive clicks.
- Evergreen content that’s easy to link to. When other high authority websites link to your clinic’s “sprained ankle” web page, Google takes notice. So make sure you aren’t placing that content behind paywalls, floating graphics, or pop ups that can make your web page difficult to read. (To be sure, paywalls and pop ups have their place and their uses–just make sure they play nice with your SEO strategy.)
The Best SEO Strategy Puts the User First
You’re thinking: I need to know how to help my medical website’s SEO. The answer is to think about your users first, to think about patients before you think about Google. This could include:
- Focusing on keywords that make sense for your practice or clinic (both in terms of relevance and competition).
- Making sure your website loads quickly and efficiently.
- Designing your website to function well in both mobile and desktop formats.
- Meeting accessibility requirements in accordance with ADA guidelines (this includes using alt text in all of your images).
A good organic SEO strategy can help you achieve lasting, long term growth in a way that’s more sustainable than pay-per-click or than PPC or targeted social media ads. Find out how you can start reaching patients in a more organic, natural, and valuable way.
About the Author:
PatientX is a healthcare marketing company that specializes in helping care providers create better patient experiences. While placing an emphasis on the patient experience, PatientX works with members of the healthcare industry to achieve higher standards of patient care and satisfaction, and helping them achieve their goals of growth and success.