In today’s digital age, the healthcare industry is recognizing the immense value of online visibility and accessibility. As more patients turn to the internet for health-related information and services, the role of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) in healthcare has become increasingly vital.
In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the significance of keywords in healthcare SEO and how they can be leveraged to empower your private practice or other small business in the healthcare industry to grow and thrive. Let’s dive into the world of healthcare SEO and uncover the strategies that will help your practice thrive in the digital landscape.
The Significance of Keywords in Healthcare SEO
Understanding the role of keywords in healthcare SEO is fundamental to creating a robust online presence. Keywords are the building blocks of SEO, acting as bridges between what patients are searching for and the information or services your practice offers. They serve as the compass guiding your potential patients to your website and ensuring that your practice is discoverable amidst the vast digital healthcare landscape.
What is SEO?
Before delving deeper into healthcare SEO, let’s clarify the concept of SEO itself. SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is a set of strategies and techniques designed to enhance the visibility and ranking of a website on search engine results pages (SERPs). In simpler terms, it’s about making sure your website appears prominently when people search for relevant healthcare information or services online.
Why is Medical SEO Important?
The importance of medical SEO cannot be overstated if you own a business in the healthcare sector that you are looking to grow. It is the linchpin that connects your practice to the vast pool of potential patients actively seeking healthcare solutions on the internet. A well-executed medical SEO strategy ensures that your practice doesn’t remain hidden in the depths of the internet but emerges as a beacon of trust, credibility, and expertise.
The Basics of Keywords
Keywords form the foundation of SEO. They serve as the language that connects patients’ queries with your practice. Most good SEO strategy starts with identifying some keywords to target, though one danger I’ll discuss below is overthinking keywords. To harness the power of keywords effectively, we need to start with the basics.
What are Keywords?
Keywords are words or phrases that people enter into search engines when seeking information, products, or services. In the context of healthcare SEO, they represent the terms patients commonly use when looking for medical professionals, treatments, or health-related advice.
For example, if someone is looking for a new family medicine doctor, they might search, “family doctor near me.” Or, someone with a back injury who has heard a chiropractor might search “chiropractor in (insert city name) for back pain,” or someone might search “best SLP in (insert city name).” Any of those phrases in quotations would be keywords.
Types of Keywords in Healthcare SEO
Keywords come in various forms, each serving a distinct purpose in healthcare SEO. The two categories you’ll hear about most often are short-tail and long-tail keywords.
Short-tail keywords are concise phrases typically consisting of one to three words. They are broad and capture a wide range of search intents. For example, “family doctor” or “pediatrician” are short-tail keywords.
Long-tail keywords, on the other hand, are more specific and extended phrases. They often reflect a user’s specific query or intention, such as “family doctor in Los Angeles who accepts Blue Cross insurance.”
The Role of Keywords in SEO
Keywords are the compass that guides your online strategy. They influence the content you create, the structure of your website, and how you interact with search engines. Essentially, keywords are the bridge connecting patients to the healthcare solutions you provide.
That said, a problem I’ve often seen is people overthinking keywords. I’ve seen private practice owners spend literally weeks trying to choose the “perfect keywords.” So, while doing some keyword research truly is essential in keyword research so you have a direction to guide your SEO strategy, it’s also important to not let keyword research overwhelm you to the point where you don’t actually move forward with an SEO strategy.
At some point, you have to move beyond just identifying phrases your patients are using and start actually creating content they’ll find helpful or optimizing the content you have so they can find you.
What is SEO Content for Healthcare?
Once you’ve identified the keywords your patients are likely using to find your services online, the next step in your SEO strategy will be to begin creating content around those keywords. When you know what keywords to use, you have some idea what content people are looking for.
For example, if I’m a chiropractor and identify that people are searching for the long tail keyphrase of, “Can a chiropractor help with headaches,” that in and of itself is a FANTASTIC title for SEO content right there. Or, if you’re a functional medicine doctor and your keyword research leads you to discover that there are people Googling, “What is a functional medicine doctor,” that is exactly where you should start! Begin by writing a comprehensive piece of content on your website that goes into great detail about what it is you do.
I’ll be honest, this blog post right here is an example of SEO content. My own keyword research led me to discover that people have been searching for “healthcare SEO keywords” and that started me down the rabbit hole that’s leading to this pretty comprehensive article on the topic that is hopefully answering a lot of your questions about this topic.
So, you get the idea. SEO content for healthcare is any content you create that will answer questions or explain the concepts that your patients are searching for online.
Creating Content with SEO in Mind
SEO content in healthcare encompasses various types of content, including blogs, service pages, and any informative materials on your website aimed at engaging and educating your patients. This content not only serves your audience but also helps search engines understand when and where to rank your website.
Quality vs. Quantity in Healthcare SEO Content
While content is crucial, quality always surpasses quantity in healthcare SEO. Your content should not only be abundant but also highly informative, trustworthy, and relevant to your patients’ needs.
This is something that I feel is a bit of a dance. How do you get enough content on your website that Google really understands what your website is about why making sure it’s still high enough quality to truly help your patients? Honestly, it’s a dance. But it’s an important question to keep top of mind. Because while you do need a pretty decent amount of content on your website for search engines to really understand what patients you help and how you help them, you are ultimately responsible for the content on your website, so you do want to make sure it’s accurate and represents you well.
The Importance of Relevance
Relevance is the key to effective SEO content. Ensuring that your content directly addresses the questions and concerns your patients have is paramount to engaging and retaining your audience.
If you create content simply for the purpose of SEO or only to have a blog post that uses some keyword you’ve discovered has a high search volume, it may not help you as much as you’d like. Content that’s about some off-the-wall topic unrelated to your practice will stand out to Google as well. Furthermore, it won’t attract the right type of audience to your website.
The Process of Keyword Research
Now that we’ve covered the fundamentals, it’s time to dive into the process of keyword research, a critical aspect of healthcare SEO.
How do you actually do keyword research? What tools do you need? How do you go about choosing specific keywords to target? If you’re reading this blog, I know you likely have a lot of these questions. So, let’s dive right in.
What is Keyword Research?
Keyword research involves identifying the most relevant and effective keywords to target in your healthcare SEO strategy. It’s about discovering the terms your potential patients are using to search for healthcare services.
The Tools for Keyword Research
To embark on successful keyword research, you need the right tools. That said, there are a LOT of keyword research tools out there. And even our team uses a variety of tools. Furthermore, you’ll find that oftentimes using different tools shows you slightly different things. Here are a few different ones that we have used:
Google Keyword Planner
Google’s Keyword Planner is a valuable resource for discovering keywords. It provides insights into keyword frequency and difficulty for specific geographic areas, helping you tailor your strategy. I don’t personally find this one very useful, but have known a lot of people who have. If you already use Google Adwords, you might like this one.
SEMrush is a comprehensive SEO tool that offers keyword research capabilities. It provides in-depth insights into keyword competition and search volume, aiding your decision-making process. SEMrush is one of my personal favorites, but honestly, it’s a little complicated to use and a little expensive if you’re really only working on one or two websites.
Keywords Everywhere is a browser extension that offers keyword data while you search the web. It’s a handy tool for on-the-fly keyword discovery. This has a great Chrome extension and I’ve known a lot of different people who use this. Honestly, I have found myself using this one less and less over the years just because I find I get more helpful information from KWFinder or SEMRush.
KWFinder is through Mangools and is our favorite at Simplified SEO Consulting. Everyone on our team uses this one more than any other tool. You can choose a specific geographic location like your state or even a more specific city/metropolitan area. It gives a ton of information but isn’t too overwhelming. Generally, if people are going with just one, this is the one I recommend.
Answer the Public
Answer the Public is a unique tool that visualizes search query data in a user-friendly format. It’s excellent for uncovering long-tail keywords and questions people commonly ask.
For long-tail keywords, tools like Answer the Public are particularly useful. And long tail keywords are a very important part of your SEO strategy, because these keywords often have lower competition, making it easier for your practice to rank for them.
How Do I Find Unique Keywords for SEO?
First, I love that you’re asking this question. I was really excited when my own keyword research unearthed this as a popular search term. Why? Because we find that so many of our private practice clients want to use the same general search terms like “private practice physician near me” or “family medicine doctor near me.” Unfortunately, these more general terms are often very competitive to rank for and the patients looking for them might be less invested than someone looking for a more specific term like, “family medicine doctor specializing in geriatrics” or “functional medicine doctor.” So, unearthing unique keywords can be really, really powerful for your SEO strategy. But how do you find those magical keywords with less competition that will attract patients who get really excited about you as a practice?
Listening to Your Patients
One of the most effective methods is listening to your patients. Take note of the words and phrases they use when describing their healthcare needs during appointments.
Think of a newer patient you have who you are REALLY excited to work with. Someone who came in and you just knew you’ll be able to make a huge difference for them. What brought them in? How did they describe that pain? THIS is likely your ideal clients and the terms they used to describe why they sought you out are likely perfect keywords for you to target!
Examine the forms patients fill out when they visit your practice. These forms may contain valuable insights into their concerns and expectations. What symptoms are they checking off? Those might be keywords. What questions are they writing in at the bottom of the sheet in the blank space? There’s a fantastic blog post. These forms can’t be shared online of course (PLEASE always consider patient privacy-never take any SEO advice that would violate that!), but a look at what your patients are saying and asking on this type of documentation can give you great ideas for what kind of content would be helpful.
What are Good SEO Keywords?
In your quest to conquer the world of healthcare SEO, there’s one crucial truth to keep in mind: the most valuable keywords are those your ideal patients are genuinely using. While it may seem tempting to chase after the most popular terms in the medical field, it’s essential to strike a balance between keyword competition and difficulty.
The cornerstone of successful healthcare SEO is relevance. Your chosen keywords must align with the nature of your work and resonate with your ideal clients. Building your unique health keywords list is an intricate process, dependent on various factors such as the type of patients you aim to attract, the local dialect, insurance preferences, and more.
What Are the Most Searched-for Healthcare Terms?
We often get asked about the top medical keywords or for a specific list of keywords every medical professional in private practice should target. However, SEO isn’t that simple and keyword research certainly isn’t. You’ll want to develop your own health keywords list based on the type of patients you’re trying to attract, the dialect in your local area, what insurances you do or don’t take and a variety of other factors. So, while you might be curious about a definitive list of top medical keywords, healthcare SEO simply isn’t one-size-fits-all.
Healthcare SEO is about customization. You must develop a tailored list of health keywords based on your target patient demographics, local dialect, insurance considerations, and other factors.
What People Search for On Google About Health: Creating Helpful Content
Informative content is the cornerstone of successful healthcare SEO. By understanding what your patients are searching for, you can provide valuable answers and establish trust.
When you understand what your patients are searching for, you have the opportunity to truly answer their questions and doing so helps both your patients AND Google
What is SEO content for healthcare?
In the realm of healthcare, SEO content encompasses various forms of digital material, including blogs, service pages, and any information available on your website that aims to provide valuable insights and assistance to your patients. It’s more than just content; it’s a strategic tool that not only caters to the needs of your patients but also plays a pivotal role in informing Google about where and when to rank your website. By delivering genuinely helpful content that addresses patients’ queries and concerns, you create a win-win scenario—providing valuable resources for your audience while bolstering your online visibility and rankings within search engine results pages.
Navigating On-Page SEO with Keywords
Once you have your keywords selected, and you’ve created some awesome content, it is time to start optimizing that content. Optimizing content is when you take the content you’ve created on your website and start making sure there are keywords strategically placed so Google really starts to understand that this content should show up in Google search results when someone searches for that particular phrase.
On-Page SEO Optimization
On-page SEO involves optimizing individual pages on your website to rank higher on search engines. It includes various elements, such as page titles, meta descriptions, header tags, and keyword placement. There are a variety of components and we’ll only be able to touch on a few here, but this is a good list to get you started and a list that considers specifically where keywords can be used.
Incorporating Keywords in Page Titles
Page titles are one place you can include medical keywords when you’re working on SEO. Incorporate relevant keywords into your page titles to signal to search engines what your content is about. For example, if your keyword research showed that people are searching for “adrenal fatigue,” you want to include the term “adrenal fatigue” in the title of your article on that topic.
Most people are pretty good about doing this. However, occasionally we do see private practice owners write really fun titles that are meant to draw people in. However, sometimes these creative titles don’t actually use the keywords that the practitioner wants to rank on search engines. However, if you’re working on healthcare SEO, it’s important to remember that you want your titles to directly use the keywords your clients are searching for in the title.
The Role of Meta Descriptions
Meta descriptions are very short descriptions (usually under 160 characters) of what a page of your website is about. This is also a description of the page that you’re recommending Google use in SERP results (the list of results when someone does a search) to explain to someone what your page is about and why they should click on your website. Craft engaging meta descriptions that entice users to click while including relevant keywords.
Header Tags and Keyword Placement
Use header tags (H1, H2, H3) to structure your content. These tags not only enhance readability but also offer opportunities to include keywords strategically. When you’ve done a great job with creating SEO and patient-friendly headings, someone should be able to scan your page and have a good idea of what your page is about.
Local SEO for Healthcare Providers
Local SEO is especially relevant for healthcare providers as they often serve specific geographic areas. And, local SEO is something we get a lot of questions about.
Local SEO and Its Importance
Local SEO focuses on optimizing your online presence to attract local patients. It ensures that your practice appears in local search results when patients seek nearby healthcare services. Basically, local SEO is anything you do to help really communicate to Google where you are relevant.
Where do your ideal patients live, work, and spend time? Those are the locations you want your business to show up on Google for. Local SEO will help you communicate that to SEO.
Optimizing Your Google Business Profile
A crucial aspect of local SEO is optimizing your Google Business Profile. Complete your GMB listing with accurate information, including your practice name, address, phone number (NAP), and business hours.
Local Citations and NAP Consistency
Consistency is key in local SEO. Ensure that your practice’s name, address, and phone number (NAP) are consistent across all online platforms, directories, and listings.
Measuring Success with SEO Analytics
Ok, so you found some keywords and started using those to start optimizing your website. But how do you know if your SEO is working? How do you know if you’re getting a good return on that investment of time and/or money you’re putting into this? To gauge the effectiveness of your healthcare SEO efforts, you must delve into SEO analytics.
Analyzing Key SEO Metrics
First of all, if you’re targeting specific keywords we strongly recommend tracking how you’re ranking for those. There are lots of keyword-tracking tools out there. We use a custom dashboard for our SEO clients, but even keeping an Excel document that you keep a list of keywords and check how you’re ranking for those each month can give you some information. Then, you can begin to dive into other key SEO metrics such as website traffic, click-through rate, and average length of user sessions. These metrics provide valuable insights into your SEO performance.
What Are the Best Practices for Healthcare SEO?
Successful healthcare SEO is rooted in best practices that prioritize both your practice’s needs and the requirements of your patients.
Prioritizing Patients’ Needs
First and foremost, always prioritize your patients’ needs. Ultimately, your website is for your patients. And, Google rewards websites that provide an exceptional user experience and valuable information.
Following Google’s Guidelines
Staying aligned with Google’s guidelines is non-negotiable in healthcare SEO. Avoid shortcuts or blackhat techniques, as they can result in penalties. It’s worth noting that Google updates it’s guidelines from time to time so you do want to stay up to date with those updates.
Consulting an SEO Expert
Healthcare SEO is a specialized skill. And it does take a TON of time if you want to learn to do it yourself. So, you may want to consider outsourcing your healthcare SEO to an expert who understands the unique challenges and opportunities within the healthcare industry. Even if you do want to optimize your own website, I highly recommend getting some training specific to SEO in the healthcare field as it will take you a lot longer if you don’t have some support as you move through the process.
Common Mistakes to Avoid in Healthcare SEO
Avoid falling into common pitfalls that can hinder your healthcare SEO progress. It’s important to steer clear of unethical SEO techniques (in the field often called “blackhat SEO”) or SEO scams that promise quick results but often lead to long-term issues. Unfortunately, if it sounds too good to be true it likely is.
Embracing SEO Trends in Healthcare
To maintain a competitive edge, it’s crucial to stay updated on emerging SEO trends within the healthcare sector.
Emerging Trends in Healthcare SEO
Keep an eye on trends like voice search optimization and improving user experience through Core Web Vitals.
Why Is Medical SEO Important?
Medical SEO holds paramount importance in today’s digital age due to several compelling reasons. Firstly, it fosters trust and credibility, crucial for healthcare practitioners aiming to establish a strong online presence. By optimizing their websites, medical professionals not only gain credibility in the eyes of patients but also instill confidence in search engines, thereby enhancing their rankings. Secondly, it’s a powerful tool for attracting highly targeted patients. Effective SEO ensures that your healthcare practice appears prominently when potential patients search for relevant services, driving organic traffic of individuals actively seeking your expertise. Moreover, staying competitive in the healthcare industry necessitates a robust online presence, and SEO helps practices maintain that competitive edge. Lastly, by embracing medical SEO, healthcare practices empower themselves to reach and educate a broader audience, fostering patient engagement and enhancing the overall quality of care they provide.
Building Trust and Credibility
Building trust and credibility is a core aspect of medical SEO. When healthcare practices invest in optimizing their online presence, they signal to both patients and search engines that they are dedicated to providing valuable and reliable information. Patients are more likely to choose a healthcare provider whose website is informative, user-friendly, and ranks well in search results. This trust extends to the medical expertise of the practitioners themselves. Furthermore, search engines like Google reward trustworthy websites with higher rankings, reinforcing the practice’s credibility among both patients and the digital landscape. In essence, medical SEO is a pathway to creating a solid foundation of trust and credibility that forms the bedrock of a successful healthcare practice.
Attracting Targeted Patients
Effective medical SEO ensures that your practice attracts patients genuinely interested in your services, resulting in higher conversion rates.
It’s not just about getting to the top of Google for a few keywords. It’s not even just about getting new patients to call. It’s about getting the right patients to call.
Medical SEO Strategy Example: Functional Medicine Doctor SEO Strategy
Simplified SEO Consulting started dipping our toes into the world of SEO beyond mental health into the more general healthcare world by working with a couple of functional medicine doctors. We found that we really love working on SEO for functional medicine doctors. And, it was very important here to find the right keywords. What are the keywords the specific type of patients that are looking for that type of holistic approach to healthcare? That was our mission. If we had just taken a list of the most searched healthcare keywords on Google, it wouldn’t have gotten as good of results for those functional medicine results. Why? Because once somebody lands on the website, certain types of potential patients are more likely than others to turn into paying patients for those functional medicine doctors.
So, we identified keywords related to and created in-depth SEO content related to topics such as adrenal fatigue, hormonal issues, thyroid imbalance, gene testing, and other services that those functional medicine doctors were offering. Why? Because those were the topics that their ideal patients were searching for.
By increasing how a functional medicine doctor ranked for those types of words, we were able to drive more qualified traffic to their websites. Then, more potential clients reach out. And, that’s how we’re able to play a small role in the growth of functional medicine private practices.
Staying Competitive in Healthcare
In a competitive healthcare landscape, SEO is the key to differentiating your practice and staying ahead of the competition.
The truth is that the SEO landscape has gotten more, and more competitive over the years. And I feel like in the healthcare industry, COVID-19 really sped up the race for healthcare professionals to improve their digital marketing. Therefore, SEO takes a little more work these days.
Furthermore, SEO is a constantly evolving industry. Search engines are constantly looking for ways to make their search results better, for ways to improve the search experience for their user. And, that means that they’re updating those search algorithms. So, to stay competitive we also have to be aware of how the SEO landscape is changing.
Empowering Healthcare Practices with SEO
Empower your healthcare practice by embracing the potential of SEO. It’s not just about ranking higher; it’s about transforming your online presence into a patient-centric resource.
This is what we do at Simplified SEO Consulting. We get to know the healthcare practices we work with. We learn about who you serve and how you help. Then, we do that in-depth keyword research for you (or with you in our SEO training program) and develop a comprehensive SEO plan to help you reach your ideal patients and grow your practice.
Next Steps: Taking Action for Healthcare SEO Success
With a solid understanding of healthcare SEO principles, it’s time to take action. Implement these strategies, stay informed about evolving trends, and watch your practice thrive in the digital era.
If you’re ready to optimize your SEO, we’re here to support you on your private practice growth. Check out our SEO for Functional Medicine Doctors page (we offer the same services to other healthcare professionals in private practice) to learn about the specific services we offer to help grow your healthcare practice or just go ahead and book a free Zoom consultation with one of our team members. Our team members understand SEO and we understand the unique needs of healthcare professionals. We’re passionate about the work we do and we’d love to help you grow your business.