Digital Marketing   |   Clock Icon 8 min read

Mastering SEO for Healthcare Providers

by Reilly Phelps   |   Apr 30, 2024

Gone are the days when people went to the closest doctor or asked friends or family for referrals. While word-of-mouth referrals are still viable, according to studies, 77% of people look for doctors online.

Healthcare providers must appear in search engine results when users are looking for relevant services, ideally in the first few results. The best way to do this is to optimize your site through search engine optimization (SEO). In this guide, we'll share best practices for optimizing your healthcare website to increase your traffic and help you acquire new patients.

Essential Elements of Healthcare SEO

By optimizing your website and content for keywords related to your practice, you can improve your rankings on search engine results pages (SERPs). This increased visibility makes it more likely for potential patients to find your services when searching online.

💡 More: Why is Digital Marketing Important in Healthcare?

Keyword Research

Keyword research starts with understanding how potential patients search for information or services related to your practice. Put yourself in the patient's shoes; what would you type into Google if you were searching for medical information or a medical provider?

Create an initial list of all of the terms you can think of. Include broad keywords like "dentist" and more specific, long-tail keywords like "dentist that accepts Blue Cross insurance." Be sure to include informational queries like relevant questions people would ask that pertain to your services.

Once you have your initial list, plug it into a keyword tool to help you find additional keywords and refine your list.

Keyword tools such as Google Keyword Planner and Semrush can help you find high-value keywords with low competition. Tools will vary based on the platform but generally can help you refine your keyword strategy based on the following criteria:

  • Monthly search volume: The average number of times a term or phrase is searched for on Google.

  • Search intent: This is the "why" behind a search. For example, a healthcare-related search could have the intent to find a doctor or be informational to find answers.

  • Competition: Keyword competition helps you determine how difficult it is to rank for a specific keyword. You're more likely to rank for less-competitive keywords, but want to include a mix of long-tail keywords and terms users are searching that make sense for your practice.

Working with an SEO team can ensure you're targeting the best keywords for your business and perform in-depth keyword and competitor analysis to help you outrank your competition.

On-Page Optimization

Once you've identified relevant keywords, you should incorporate them into your on-page elements, such as titles, meta descriptions, headings, content, and images.

You want to ensure you're doing this strategically and in a way that makes sense, rather than adding as many keywords as possible or "keyword stuffing."

Follow these best practices:

  • Ensure your titles and meta descriptions are descriptive and include target keywords.

  • Headings (H1, H2, etc.) should be relevant to the content on the page and include primary keywords where appropriate.

  • Content should be well-structured, informative, and engaging, with keywords naturally integrated throughout.

  • Images should be optimized with descriptive titles and alt text that includes relevant keywords.

Technical SEO

Technical SEO is crucial to ensure search engines can crawl, index, and understand your website.

Some essential components of technical SEO:

  • Site speed measures how long it takes for your website to load. It can affect your rankings and can significantly impact user experience.

  • Mobile optimization and creating a responsive site ensures mobile users can access your site from their phones or tablets.

  • A clear and logical URL structure helps search engines understand the organization of your website's content.

  • A well-organized site architecture ensures that users and search engines can navigate your website easily and efficiently.

  • Secure your website with HTTPS encryption to protect user data.

These are just a few of the many aspects of technical SEO that can help your site perform well in search. An SEO agency can perform a full technical audit to assess and fix any issues with your site.

Local SEO for Healthcare

Local SEO is essential for attracting patients in specific areas. Keep your Google Business Profile (GBP) updated with your name, address, URL, contact info, and services. You can also add pictures of your staff and reviews and share content to help users, such as promotional offers and newsletters to help boost your local rankings. Ask patients to leave reviews to help you build credibility and social proof.

Beyond GBP, you can improve local visibility by updating your profiles and asking for patient reviews on platforms, like HealthGrades and ZocDoc. Many prospective patients search these sites to find local doctors or healthcare providers.

Content Strategy for Healthcare SEO

Beyond your primary website pages, healthcare organizations can create helpful content like blog posts, videos, guides, and more to build brand awareness and become a trusted resource for potential patients.

Creating High-Quality Content

Searchers aren't always looking for a medical provider; in some cases, they could be looking for answers or informational content. To capture these searchers, create authoritative content that addresses patients' needs and concerns, such as blog posts, FAQs, case studies, and patient education materials.

You can establish yourself as an authority in your field by creating content to answer frequently asked questions and providing insights on health conditions and treatments.

Incorporating E-E-A-T Principles

The acronym E-E-A-T stands for Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. Demonstrating your experience and expertise is vital for healthcare providers and can go a long way in building brand awareness, a loyal following, and search engine rankings.

Some ways to establish E-E-A-T for your website include:

  • Having qualified professionals create and review content.

  • Including byline and author bios on website content so users know they can trust the content is accurate.

  • Establish authority through reputable backlinks and citations.

Content Promotion and Distribution

Creating authoritative content is important, but you must promote and distribute it effectively to reach the right audience.

Promote Content on Social Media

Share blog posts, articles, infographics, videos, and other helpful content on your social media channels. Use engaging visuals and captions to get users' attention and encourage interaction. Respond to your social followers' comments and questions to engage and build relationships.

Create Email Marketing Campaigns

Create email campaigns to share blog posts or a newsletter and send them to patients and subscribers who have opted in to receive communications from your practice. You can deliver personalized content based on interests, healthcare needs, and preferences.

Ensuring Your SEO Strategy is HIPAA-Compliant

Following HIPAA regulations is essential for healthcare providers to protect patient information and avoid legal action. This means any SEO and marketing strategies must comply with HIPAA guidelines to safeguard sensitive medical information.

Be careful to check your website, blog, and social media content for Protected Health Information (PHI). This includes identifying information such as names, addresses, phone numbers, social security numbers, dates, and more.

On the technical side, Implementing secure browsing protocols, encryption techniques, and access controls can help protect private data, maintain HIPAA compliance, and optimize website performance.

Monitoring and Measuring Success

You won't know if your healthcare SEO strategy is working unless you track your performance.

Tracking key metrics such as organic traffic and keyword rankings can help you measure the impact of your strategy. After optimizing your site for target keywords, you should see an uptick in rankings and traffic. However, keep in mind that SEO results take time and effort, and it can take between 3 and 6 months on average to see performance improvements.

You can track organic traffic and user behavior in Google Analytics and clicks and impressions in Google Search Console. You can also track keyword rankings with tools like Semrush.

By regularly monitoring traffic, rankings, and user behavior, you can see what's working and adjust your strategy accordingly.

If you found this blog post useful for navigating SEO in healthcare, be sure to explore our comprehensive guide, 'From Patient to Advocate: Your Healthcare Marketing Guide' This guide covers everything from Paid Search (PPC) and Analytics to HIPAA compliance and more!

Attract New Patients with Healthcare SEO

By incorporating healthcare SEO strategies to optimize their websites, create authoritative helpful content, and comply with HIPAA regulations, healthcare teams can increase website traffic and improve search engine rankings, helping them attract more patients.

Even with the best SEO strategy, results aren’t guaranteed and it can be helpful to work with a team of experts. Need help getting started? See how Workshop Digital can help you optimize your website to acquire more patients.

Contact us to learn more.

Portrait of Reilly Phelps

Reilly Phelps

Reilly joined Workshop Digital in January 2022 after working in marketing for a few companies, ranging from childcare to recruiting. She graduated from James Madison University in June of 2022 with a degree in Marketing concentrating in Digital Marketing, and a minor in Communication Studies. The various organizations at JMU sparked her love of digital marketing, specifically in the organic field.

From small businesses to international corporations, Reilly has had the opportunity to work with a variety of clients across multiple industries. She enjoys putting together strategies and analyzing performance to find the right steps forward. When she isn't working, you can find her spending time with her corgi Maisie, listening to Taylor Swift, or reading.