When typing a search query into Google, the majority of people (75 percent) do not navigate beyond the first page of results, according to Moz. Instead, they click the first one or two results, scan Page 1 for the most relevant answer to their queries, or visit multiple results on Page 1.
Because most people never reach Page 2 or beyond, earning a top spot on search engine results pages (SERPs) for your specialty and location is essential to attract more patients. Read on for healthcare SEO best practices that are proven to improve a healthcare website’s local search ranking.
How to boost your healthcare website’s local search engine ranking
1. Use localized keywords
Incorporating the right keywords throughout your website content is one of the most important elements of healthcare SEO. Start by conducting keyword research to see what your prospective patients search for when looking for a practice like yours.
For example, a podiatry practice in Glendale, AZ, might use keyword phrases like [podiatrist glendale], [ankle sprain glendale], and [ingrown toenail glendale]. Just be mindful when choosing keywords, as keyword stuffing — i.e. aimlessly filling a page with keywords in an effort to boost your ranking — can negatively affect your rank.
A study conducted by Ahrefs revealed that sites commonly rank for two to three keywords with more than 1,000 searches per month. However, they rarely rank for more than one keyword with more than 10,000 searches per month. Keep this in mind when deciding which keywords — and how many — to weave into copy.
2. Create individual service pages
Your practice offers a variety of services to patients. Make sure each gets the attention it deserves by dedicating a page on your healthcare website to it.
This is a crucial element of SEO for doctors because it will allow each page to rank for the specific service noted. It also makes it easier for search engines to crawl your site because it creates a more organized site map.
The same rule applies to practices with multiple locations. If your practice has more than one office, boost local search results by creating a separate page for each location.
3. Publish blog posts
Not only does blogging engage your patient base, it’s also an important SEO for medical technique. Crafting informative blog posts on a regular basis takes time, but it’s worth the effort.
According to HubSpot, blogging boosts your SEO rank by positioning your site as relevant to patient questions. The company recommends creating evergreen content and repurposing or updating it as needed to keep the information current.
You might like: 10 blogging tips from Allan Frankel, MD
4. Practice backlinking
If you’re not familiar with backlinking, it’s the process of obtaining links from other websites back to your healthcare website. This is important for healthcare SEO because search engines use links to help determine your page rank.
In addition to scanning page content, search engines look at the number and quality of links pointing to the page from external websites. Typically, the more high-quality websites that link to your page, the better your chances of scoring a competitive ranking.
5. Optimize page speeds
Site speed has been a Google ranking factor since 2010. It’s not as significant as some other factors — like page relevance — but it’s important to pay attention to all elements that play into your SEO ranking.
Google recommends having a time-to-first-byte — i.e. the amount of time the page takes to start loading — of less than 1.3 seconds. A slow page speed also means search engines can crawl fewer pages with their crawl budget, according to Moz.
Page speed is also a user experience issue. The average mobile landing page takes approximately 15 seconds to load, according to Google. This isn’t good, considering 53 percent of mobile visitors leave a page with a load speed greater than three seconds.
Healthcare SEO isn’t a one-time effort. Long-term success requires an ongoing time commitment — one you can’t afford to ignore. Your website visibility depends on its search engine ranking, so give it the attention it deserves.
Want more on the topic of healthcare SEO? Check out the blog post “7 SEO misconceptions you need to let go.”