What is SEO for Medical Practices?
SEO, or search engine optimization, is essential for the success of any website or eCommerce business. With effective search engine optimization, your website can climb the rankings on search engine results pages (SERPs) like Google and Bing and reach more potential customers and clients. While SEO has long been a fundamental tool for eCommerce businesses, various niches of this digital marketing strategy have evolved, such as medical SEO.
But what exactly is SEO for medical practices, including doctor’s offices, clinics, and even hospitals? In what ways is medical SEO similar and different from the traditional SEO tools and strategies that can help your website climb the Google SERP ladder. To help you understand the unique nature of medical SEO, we’re answering these questions and more. Here, we’re taking a closer look at SEO and why this key component of digital marketing is critical for medical practices. With medical SEO, you can take a specialized approach to SEO designed for physicians, doctor’s offices, hospitals, or any medical practitioner that will help you reach even more potential patients.
What is SEO?
Search engine optimization is a set of tools and practices designed to help websites gain more visibility online. How does this work? It all begins, and in a sense ends, with search engines. When a web user is searching for something, whether it’s a new pair of shoes, a historical fact, or a lasagna recipe, they do so by entering a search query into Google or one of the other top search engines (Bing, Yahoo, etc.). Search engines then display a list of results that are intended to offer the web using the most relevant, useful, and trustworthy content. We all know how vast a space the internet is, which is why the ability to sort through this information and deliver the best content is so invaluable.
But how does a website show up on those SERPs? Google and other search engines look for certain qualities in a website that align with their own definitions of a good and trustworthy website. Google is able to do so via sophisticated algorithms that effectively rank websites on how well they meet these criteria for high quality. Sounds simple enough, right?
However, it’s a bit trickier. Search engines don’t exactly reveal their ranking factors, leaving digital marketing experts continually guessing and searching for specifics on these factors. On top of that, search algorithms are continually changing, adapting, and improving to keep up with the massive wealth of online information. These algorithms are truly living, evolving things as they continue to shape how pages rank.
To gain the most exposure, and thus, potential clients, you want to land on the first SERP. In fact, according to Search Engine Watch, roughly a third of organic traffic clicks through the very first result on Google’s search. Talk about some valuable digital real estate. And this is exactly where SEO can help take you. SEO helps you understand and design your website to align with Google’s quality metrics. Some of the most classic and long-standing SEO practices include high-quality content, reputable backlinks, high levels of site security, and a fast, responsive page that users enjoy. All these metrics help point back to Google that your website is valuable and worth of attention—and clicks.
What is Medical SEO?
Medical SEO is very much what the name suggests—SEO strategies for medical professionals and their websites. While many of the key strategies of traditional SEO remain true for medical SEO, such as keywords and quality backlinks, there are key differences to be aware of.
Medical SEO is becoming increasingly important as more and more services shift online. While, years ago, most people would select a doctor based on their family, friends, or other local references via word of mouth, now most people find everything they need online—including doctors and medical specialists. In fact, according to one 2020 study, roughly 80 percent of individuals searched online for medical information or services.
To help doctors advertise their services and match with more potential patients, SEO can prove to be a critical tool. Like any other service or business, doctors need to connect with those who could benefit from their work. With so much competition—especially online—the type of visibility provided by effective SEO is invaluable.
What makes Medical SEO Unique?
Medical SEO adheres to many of the same tenets of traditional SEO. Medical websites still need quality, authoritative content that informs web users. In fact, high-quality content is even more important for medical sites because Google recognizes the importance of safe and accurate medical information. Just think: a medical website dispensing inaccurate or blatantly false information can actually negatively affect the health of countless people. Google does everything it can to prevent this from occurring.
That’s why medical websites are held to an even higher standard than many other types of sites. This is referred to as YMYL (your money, your life) SEO. Any type of site that could affect the monetary or physical wellbeing of an individual is held to a higher standard. Thus, these websites need accurate, reliable content, high levels of site security, and an authoritative presence that can be developed via backlinks and trustworthy content.
Reviews are also incredibly important for medical SEO. Online reviews effectively function as our modern-day version of word of mouth. When potential patients visit a doctor’s website and only see poor and negative reviews, this is a major red flag that will most likely lead them to search elsewhere. As a doctor or physician, you should work to garner as many positive reviews as possible. Not only does this establish trust, but it also provides unique insight into your services and areas of expertise.
Nowadays, we can find almost anything we need with a simple online search. Shoes, restaurants, or the score of last night’s football game—it’s all available with a few simple clicks. But now, many potential patients are using web searches to find the right doctor or medical practitioner. This is why medical SEO is now essential for the success of any healthcare provider. By adhering to traditional SEO rules and adapting your site to medical SEO principles, you can welcome even more patients.