Your Essential Guide to Healthcare SEO
With every technological development, the healthcare industry grows even more competitive. Why? Not only do customers judge the quality of your products and services; they’re also influenced by your online presence, including your website. How easy is it to use? Does it load quickly, and is it easily found on search engines? This is where SEO and user experience comes in.
SEO can help healthcare organisations expand their digital presence, reaching new and wider audiences online. While navigating this may seem like a minefield at first, by focusing your efforts on the below strategies you can deploy an efficient and effective healthcare SEO strategy!
1. Target relevant healthcare-specific keywords
Fundamentally, users search online for the products or services they are looking for. In order to appear in front of these users online, you need to organically include targeted keywords on your website. These keywords or search terms should be specific to your industry, and cover terms commonly searched by your target customers i.e. the healthcare products and services you offer. If you’re unsure where to begin, Google’s Keyword Planner can help you choose the right keywords for your organisation.
It’s important to understand the consumer’s intent behind these keywords, and this can help you decide what type of content or strategy to implement. Consumer intent is the user’s goal, in picking up their device and searching the keyword. There are three types of consumer intent, which most searches will generally fall into.
- Transactional intent is often seen for products—where the user’s goal is to buy something. To spot transactional search intent, Google will show shopping ads with a range of products.
- Navigational intent is where the user aims to navigate to a certain page i.e. a login page, or their emails.
- Informational intent is when the user is looking for an answer to a question, such as “how to relieve neck pain”.
The graphic below shows you what these searches often look like on the search engines, showing you how to understand the user’s intent by looking at the type of results that come up for your business’ target keywords.
Once you’ve considered which type of user intent best matches your business, you can start planning your complete digital content strategy. Digital content strategies focus on the idea of content “clusters”. These clusters are related articles published over a period of months—to build your domain authority for relevant search terms in your industry.
When you have a list of targeted keywords and terms, start using them where they will make the most difference i.e. in title tags, meta descriptions, H1s and H2s, and anchor text links. This is known as technical SEO. These small, targeted changes can quickly improve your organic ranking.
2. Flesh out your website with high quality content
Increasingly, consumers seek answers from Dr Google and rely on trusted information sources found online – especially relating to their health. Once you’ve determined which keywords are important to your healthcare organisation and have addressed any technical SEO issues, the next step is adding these terms to your web copy.
By optimising for these keywords in your website copy, you can also improve your rankings in organic results; Google’s algorithm determines rankings based on its assessment of Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness (EAT). This concept comes from Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines, and came into play for the healthcare industry in August 2018 when Google rolled out a core update (algorithm change) known as the Medic Update.
For this OTC healthcare company, organic traffic was impacted by both the Medic Update and the following core update in March 2019 of the following year. Both algorithm changes focused on targeting sensitive topics such as health.
- 53% drop in organic traffic in August 2018
- 62% drop in organic traffic in April 2019
To recover from these changes, our SEO specialists’ strategy involved updating the website’s structure and content, to enhance their authority on their core topic. Any irrelevant content pieces were removed as our team reinforced the site’s Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness on the key topics the client needed to rank for.
By incorporating relevant keywords into your website, you can create quality content that is easy to read, as well as being informative and full of natural language and relevant links. On top of this, the search engines are more likely to reward you with rankings in search results. Think about publishing content like:
- A detailed list of all the services you offer.
- An FAQ with the most common questions about your product or service.
- Profiles of the medical professionals within your practice.
- Helpful guides for common ailments you treat.
All of your content will need to be supported by proper keyword research. SEO content writers can help you plan and create content crafted around the goals of your healthcare business. This is even more crucial for the healthcare industry, as low quality content could be misconstrued as medical advice and have costly repercussions with regulatory agencies like the Therapeutic Goods Association (TGA).
3. Optimise for local SEO
If you’re a business who targets customers locally or based on their geographic location, you should review your Google My Business (GMB) listing. A GMB listing appears to the right-side of organic search results, and looks like this:
This is how local patients/consumers find what they are looking for, and Google lists a handful of relevant businesses above the organic search results. This means if your GMB listing is optimised, you have the best chance of reaching an audience that wants to use your services.
By including this essential information, you’re one step closer to achieving an optimised listing:
- Type of business (e.g. local GP, specialist, dentist).
- Primary phone number and address.
- Opening hours.
- Business description.
- Google reviews of your business (from former and existing clients).
4. Optimise your website for a better user experience (UX)
Google rewards websites that offer their users a good experience; especially since their announcement of Core Web Vitals as a ranking factor (a factor Google takes into account when deciding where to rank your page in organic results). People don’t want to endure long loading times and unresponsive pages when they visit your website. If they are frustrated by the online experience, they will simply click away and find another business. This will increase what’s known as your bounce rates—in turn, Google will penalise your content in organic results. Your website should be fast, secure and optimised for all types of devices, especially mobiles. A mobile-friendly site is absolutely essential today, as more than half (55.77%) of all online searches are conducted on mobile devices. This not only improves the overall experience for your potential clients, but it directly relates to how your website ranks in Google. Using a free tool like PageSpeed Insights can help you see where your problem areas are.
While healthcare SEO strategy alone can certainly help improve your online visibility—it’s most effective when implemented as part of a complete digital strategy. This can bring you closer to your business’s goals, but takes time to get right. Many healthcare organisations require the assistance and expertise of an experienced and full service healthcare digital marketing agency, as it means you have access to a dedicated account manager focused on generating ROI for your business. Contact us today or call (02) 8006 8100 to find out how our proven expertise in the healthcare industry can help your business grow.
A HTML element which shows the title of your webpage in search results, and in the browser tab.
Meta descriptions describe the content on a particular page of your website. These are HTML elements, and often appear in search result pages.
H1s and H2s
H1s and H2s are part of a HTML document: code which specifies the layout of headings and other elements on a webpage.
Anchor text links
Anchor text is the visible, clickable text in a link.
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