- Posted by Richard Iurilli
- On March 4, 2016
- Blogging, SEO
If you have a blog, you’ve probably tried targeting some of the top keywords for your hospital’s specialties. But targeting only top keywords isn’t the most effective strategy.
You could be missing out on a lot of potential traffic—and potential patients—because it’s hard to rank for top healthcare keywords. And even if you could rank for all of them, those top keywords still account for only a small percentage of all searches.
Enter long tail keywords. Long tail keywords—phrases of three or four or even more words—have less search volume overall than shorter keywords, but it’s often easier to rank for them and the users you acquire from them are usually more likely to convert.
Why use long tail keywords?
Long tail keywords have two main advantages:
Because there are so many long tail keywords, it’s impossible for anyone to target every one. Less competition for keywords means a better chance of the content you create ranking for them.
User intent is important. Users searching for long tail keywords are more likely to buy something—or call a doctor’s office, or make an appointment.
Finding long tail keywords
You don’t need many tools to find good long tail keywords. You may already be using two of the best to find basic keywords people use and analyze search volume and competition.
Google Keyword Planner
The Google Adwords Keyword Planner is the first stop for most people doing SEO. Usually you’d look for keywords with a high search volume, but when you’re looking for long tail keywords, you won’t do that. Instead you’ll look for keywords that are longer than two words. For this post, I started out by searching for “knee surgery.”
The Keyword Planner showed nearly two million searches for “knee surgery” in January 2016. It would be almost impossible to outrank sites like WebMD and Mayo Clinic—sites with tons of useful content and extremely high domain and page authority grades.
So I clicked on the keyword ideas tab and looked for longer keywords like knee replacement surgery recovery, arthritis knee replacement and problems with knee replacements. Some of these are still highly competitive keywords, but the next tool will help you focus them even more.
UberSuggest takes keywords or phrase and spits out dozens or even hundreds of long tail keyword suggestions. I typed in knee replacement surgery recovery and got 154 results. That’s a lot of keywords to sift through, but we can rule some out right off the bat like those that are specific to other geographies.
When a suggestion looks promising, click the arrow and then on search in Google. You’re looking for search terms with fewer results or those that have other hospitals and health systems ranked highly instead of WebMD and Mayo Clinic because that’s a pretty good indication that your hospital can rank for the keyword too.
Keywords like knee replacement recovery flying and knee replacement recovery golf are not only questions that can be easily answered with a blog post but also search terms most likely used by people considering the procedure for themselves or a loved one. These people are a lot more likely to convert once they’re on your website.
Using long tail keywords
Once you’ve identified long tail keywords to target, you can use them in your blog posts the same way you would any other keywords. Patient stories are a great way to use long tail keywords naturally—like a patient’s return to the golf course after a knee replacement.
When using a long tail keyword in a blog post, make sure it’s located in all the places you’d put any other keyword:
Post headlines are always the most important place for your keywords. They’re the first thing users see, and they’re vital to search engines as well. Post titles should automatically show up in the HTML title tag as well.
Putting the keyword in the meta description won’t have much of an impact on your ranking but it can have a significant impact on click-through rate. A well crafted meta description can be the difference between getting someone intrigued by a headline onto your website and seeing them go somewhere else.