In the first part of the “Improving your SEO” blog series, we noted that the majority of patients looking for a new doctor or healthcare provider rely on the internet to find their best local options. PatientPop survey research from 2020 shows that 74.5 percent of patients have gone online to find out about a provider or care.
While prospective patients are online, they look through patient reviews (the most influential resource, per survey data), informative healthcare websites, business directories, and your own practice website to evaluate their options.
Today, we’ll focus on the difference your website can make in helping people find your practice, and converting website visitors into new patients. Here are important ways to optimize your practice website for SEO success.
Four steps toward improving SEO from your practice website
Evaluate how your website operates
Let’s begin with the four key attributes of a successful website, so you can evaluate how your practice site stacks up. Your website must be:
- Mobile-responsive. Your website must look great and work well regardless of the device your patients use to view it. Operating perfectly on mobile is imperative. Your practice site must either be designed for mobile or have what’s called a responsive design, meaning the site is developed in a way that it reacts and adjusts properly to the browser size of the user.
A good mobile experience is more important than ever because Google specifically indexes mobile pages to serve people searching on their smartphones.
- Fast. Your website load times should be quick on a mobile device, and even faster on a desktop. Google notes that as a page load time goes from one second to five seconds, 90 percent of people leave the site.
- Findable. Take all steps you can to ensure that your site can be found, crawled, and indexed by search engines.
- Clear about a call to action. Provide an action step on your site that urges site visitors to do something specific, including booking an appointment. Filling those appointment slots are really why you want to pull them in — that’s the end game.
Include critical pages on your website
Once a search engine finds your website, how does it choose which information to display in search results?
You’re informing a search engine based on the key pages of your website, with essential information included within the basic code of each page. Whether you’re creating your own website or working with a developer, you’ll need to specify items such as HTML page title and meta description, as each is used in the displayed search results for each page.
The following includes a list of must-have pages for your practice website to enhance your search opportunities, and connect with patients who find your site.
- About us. This is your basic practice ‘elevator pitch,’ where you note your critical mission, philosophy, services, and other essential details about your business, including the type of patients you serve.
- Contact us. Your contact information includes all relevant phone numbers, addresses, locations, driving directions, maps, and email addresses to book an appointment or get in touch with your practice.
- Your people. This is the place to talk about your providers, assistants, and staff. It’s worthwhile to hire a professional photographer to take great photos of your people and office, and feature them on your website. Patients want the opportunity to get to know you and your people, and understand the experience of visiting your practice.
- Services. Have at least one page for each service your practice offers, and go into detail about how you help people with their conditions. Dedicating each page to one service gives you ample opportunity to talk at length about a condition and your approach to care, building your authority on the subject matter with search engines.
- Patient testimonials. You want to update this section of your site on a weekly basis (at least, monthly), because it highlights your patients who advocate for you and the services you provide. New patients pay a lot of attention to provider reviews when evaluating a practice, so this is a critical area of your site.
Fine-tune your website navigation
When a new patient finds you, the contents and structure of your navigation can make their experience on your website clear and easy.
Your website navigation and the links on your site are important for search, because they tell a search engine how important you think a particular topic or set of details is. For instance, if you have several links to your ‘About’ page throughout other pages on your website, Google will identify that as an important page, and will be more likely to highlight it in search results.
When you create or update your website navigation (how your prospects will travel across your site) here are three tips to apply.
- Include your most critical links and pages in your website navigation. This will help search engines identify your key services and practice details. You can also link more deeply into other pages you think are most important, either within a page header, or within your website content.
- Make the text of each navigation point immediately understandable. Don’t use jargon or internal shorthand. Be clear for your patients.
- Link internally, between pages on your site, using keyword text. This is another form of navigation that exists within the body of your website. Internal links can help your site visitors move smoothly between topics or services, or to easily access further information on a particular topic.
Expertly present your website content
Ideally, you want a practice website that, compared to other sites, has more relevant content about your specialty and for your patient needs.
First, identify the right search keywords for your website to help people find your site and learn what your practice does. Your keywords help you attract patients, because they’re usually the words and phrases people type into a search engine to find information. The search engine scours the web for the words entered to find websites that can answer their queries successfully.
When determining keywords and content to use, review these questions:
- Which topics are of interest to your patients and prospective patients? What do patients ask you about most often?
- How do these topics align with your services, and those prospects you’d like to become patients?
The point at which these questions meet gets you the keywords and content to write about most on your website.
After you select the right keywords for your practice, include them consistently (and naturally) on your website. However, don’t overstuff a page or blog post with keywords. Google will recognize if you’re doing so.
Make your content readable, and give Google and other search engines enough information to let everyone know what your practice is about.
Also, always let your personality and tone come through. Be yourself. Throughout your website, authenticity is a great way to begin earning a patient’s trust, even before they visit your practice.
With these website optimizations in place, your practice is applying another set of sound strategies to improve SEO and raise your potential rankings in search results.