- Posted by Nigel Edelshain
- On June 5, 2014
A client recently asked us if they really needed to bother with SEO for their medical practice.
I have to say that my answer is “yes”. SEO really is a necessity for medical practices.
I know it’s annoying, but sadly it’s true. I know SEO seems complex and confusing and it takes a long time to kick in. So it’s something you’d probably much rather forget about. But the problem is it works.
Not optimizing your site for search engines these days is rather like saying you don’t want your practice in the Yellow Pages or the phone book. It would be like saying you want to keep your business a secret.
So unless you run a very selective medical practice for the stars only, you probably want to optimize your site for search. Not only that you probably want to show up near the top of the rankings for the keywords you believe your patients search on (especially since the research shows that the search results on page 1 get 92% of all the users’ clicks, leaving only 8% of the traffic for everyone else.) Not only that but you probably want to show up higher than your competitors for the keywords you believe your clients search on.
From every website I’ve run and the research out there, you’d probably be right to want to rank well on search engines. That is if you believe in the kind of digital marketing process we espouse (below). You see this digital marketing process says you need to get people to your website before you can turn them into leads. It then says you can convert some of those leads to customers with some good “nurturing” (a marketing term for staying in touch, usually by email.)
The fact is the most websites I’ve seen get something like 50% of their traffic from organic (i.e. free) search. This is born out by research conducted by Conductor that looked at thousands of sites.
SEO takes a while to kick in. An article in Forbes compared optimizing your site to investing in the stock market. You won’t make an overnight fortune but in the long run history says you will be ahead. In a medical context you might think of SEO in a similar way to exercising or eating well. You won’t see the results next week but in the long run they are essential.
In business we’re in a competitive environment. We’re “running” against each other. If you exercise and eat well you will beat your competitors that don’t. So it is with SEO if you keep optimizing over a long period of time you will win the “race” to the top of the search results. If you don’t, your competitors will be there. And they will be there for a long time.
Here the six steps we mentioned before for optimizing your site:
Step 1: Think SEO while building your website. Your site needs to have good content so visitors stay to consume it; clean functionality so its easy to use; and an attractive aesthetic so people enjoy spending time on your site. Your site should also be architected in a way that is easy for search engines to crawl and index.
Step 2: Make a local keyword list. Think of the words and phrases your patients use to find you, for example “plastic surgeon” or “ENT”. Now consider which towns in your local area most important to you, i.e. where you want to draw patients from. Then include those towns in combination with your first keyword list.
Step 3: Create a separate “services page” for every service you offer. If you offer several services, create a web page for each service. Also create a separate web page focused on each town and service combination.
Step 4: Create a Google+ Local listing for your business.
Step 5: Add yourself to local directories. Some of the major directories you should start with when seeking to be listed are: Yelp, Yahoo Local, Bing Local, Manta, MerchantCircle and Superpages
Step 6: Keep your website growing. The more web pages you publish the more chance one of them will be found. As you add web pages you can be found for more and more search terms. To make it feasible to quickly add web pages you will need some form of content management system (CMS) on your website. Blog software actually is a content management system and the most popular blog software is WordPress.
So “yes” you do need SEO for your medical practice. It keeps your digital marketing healthy.
If you’re interested in how blogging can improve your SEO, grab our ebook below.