Marketing your hospital or practice means learning some complex terms and sorting through a lot of jargon. You may have heard that, in healthcare, SEO can help you increase your search engine rankings. But what does that really mean for your bottom line? Will you see new patients? And is it worth the effort?
SEO stands for search engine optimization—in other words, optimizing your website for the top search engines like Google and Bing. If you’re an orthopedic surgeon, you want someone to type “spinal surgery” into Google and find your practice. If you're a dentist, you want the term "dentist near me" to bring your name up first.
Proven healthcare SEO techniques can help you get there. Many people associate SEO primarily with keyword optimization, an important factor in your rankings. But keyword stuffing (simply repeating the keyword you want to rank for as much as possible on each page of your website) is a thing of the past. Google cares more about natural, readable, informative content. But this is only the beginning of what's involved in SEO.
It can be a lot of work, but it offers some pretty enticing benefits as well.
The primary reason a practice or hospital would use targeted healthcare SEO is to get to the top of the search engines. With a soild SEO strategy, people will find you based on your target keywords in organic search. (It’s not the same as what you see at the very top of Google—the paid search or PPC articles. More on that later.)
As mentioned above, you’ll do this by targeting certain keywords, but that's not all you have to do. It’s also important to make sure your Google My Business profile is completely and accurately laid out for local search, as well as optimizing meta descriptions, tags, and so much more.
The goal of search engine optimization is to let Google know what your primary services are (and that you're an authority in your field) and to start ranking for those primary terms. When your SEO strategy is done well, you’ll start ranking for terms people actually type into the search bar—and that actually have something to do with your business.
Remember, people aren’t typing “musculoskeletal disorders.” They’re more likely to type in “spinal surgery,” or even simply “back pain.” These are the types of terms your writers and SEO specialists should focus on so that people can find you when they have a pain point. You can start helping prospective patients now, when they need information, and gain their trust so they remember you when they're ready to schedule an appointment.
SEO can also help you to establish some authority in your specialty and in your location. In general, people trust that the first result in Google search is a reputable source of information. In fact, if you’re ranking first in Google, it means you are considered a valuable resource. Google recognizes when content is well-written and informative, and rewards you for your efforts.
Besides, a major part of SEO strategy is having consistent content, and the best way to do this is with a regularly updated blog. A well-written, consistent blog with can help you gain a reputation as an authority in your area of expertise.
In some ways, ranking for the right healthcare SEO terms is simply the right thing to do. 85% of people in the U.S. have used the internet for information about health. They want to know what treatment options are available, why they are having certain symptoms, how to manage illnesses, and when to see a doctor.
If you’re able to provide an answer to these concerns, you assist people in getting the help they need. Ranking well in the search engines with quality, informative content should be a point of pride, knowing you may be helping people whether or not they seek out your services.
Here’s one thing SEO cannot do for you: it won’t get you immediate results from people ready to schedule an appointment.
It takes time to build up your reputation with the search engines—usually a few months or more. This is especially true when you have competitors who have been working on their SEO for quite some time and already rank for some of your key terms.
If you want to see results quickly, that’s going to take paid advertising. It’s something you should be doing anyway if you hope to see more conversions in your area. Paid search ads appear in the first 3-4 results on Google, and typically hit patients when they're ready to schedule an appointment. The best strategies combine paid search and search engine optimization—with SEO paying off in the long run and paid search (with a well-planned strategy) providing fast results from patients in need.