The way people engage with healthcare resources has seriously evolved since the birth and rise of the internet.
In 2024, first consultations aren’t at clinics anymore, they’re via Google searches!
And that’s why healthcare SEO (search engine optimization) is as important as ever.
It consists of strategies to gain visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs) when people search for these health-related terms.
Unfortunately, healthcare SEO can be as complex as the human body.
An effective SEO strategy requires detailed planning, careful implementation, and constant monitoring.
However, once you master this form of digital marketing, you’ll see that it’s well worth the effort.
So, don your scrubs as we dive deep into ten essential strategies to elevate your healthcare platform’s online visibility, credibility, and bottom line.
You’ll Learn About:
Let’s scrub in!
What’s Healthcare SEO All About? (And What Are the Benefits?)
When your patients look for health info online, they invariably start via a search engine like Google.
But, in most cases, they won’t type in the name of a medical practice in their Google search.
Instead, they might look up their symptoms (E.g., “chest pain”) or a service in their area (E.g., “best pediatric care Boston”).
Now, the big question is:
Will your healthcare website appear on that coveted first page of those Google search results?
That’s why healthcare SEO matters.
It’s all about improving your rank on Google to boost your visibility, organic website traffic, and conversions.
But SEO in the healthcare industry is unique.
Because the same healthcare marketing plan that works for a B2B medical equipment supplier won’t work for a B2C local medical practice.
And although the same shoe won’t fit every healthcare niche, you can still adapt some fundamental strategies and best practices to meet your needs.
See, regardless of the niche, an SEO strategy involves:
- Creating content that matches what your prospective patients or customers are searching for
- Sprucing up your website design to appeal to both searchers and search engines
5 Benefits of Healthcare SEO
When executed effectively, a healthcare SEO strategy can yield remarkable advantages for your medical platform, including:
1. Boosting Discoverability and Brand Awareness 📈
If you’re not showing up where people are looking, you’re basically invisible.
Healthcare SEO ensures that your website pops up on the first page of search results when someone searches for health-related queries. This means more eyes on your content, more clicks, and ultimately more appointments and inquiries.
It also builds brand awareness. When potential customers see your content repeatedly, your name sticks with them and becomes more trustworthy.
2. Establishing Authority 🎓
Your healthcare website is your space to share expert advice, insights, and solutions. With solid SEO practices, you can position your medical establishment as a go-to source for health-related information.
In turn, search engines will rank you more readily and customers will be more receptive to your products, services, and offerings.
3. Capturing Organic Traffic on a Budget 💸
Paid ads (E.g., Google ads, social media ads) can be very costly, especially for highly-competitive keywords.
On the other hand, SEO is like planting seeds that grow into a healthy crop of visitors, all without paying for every click.
Your SEO content becomes a traffic source that keeps giving – unlike paid ads, which stop working when you stop paying.
4. Gathering Data about Clients 📃
SEO isn’t just about keywords and rankings – it’s a treasure trove of insights into your audience.
Through SEO analytics and data, you can learn about your visitors’ preferences, behaviors, and needs. You’ll uncover the questions they’re asking, the topics they’re interested in, and the trends that matter to them.
Armed with this knowledge, you can tailor your healthcare marketing strategies to meet your clients exactly where they are.
5. Acing YMYL (Your Money Your Life) Standards⚕️
As you know, healthcare is a serious business where people’s decisions impact their well-being and finances. So, search engines have stricter guidelines for healthcare content.
By adhering to SEO best practices and delivering high-quality, accurate information, you’re building trust with your audience and search engines. Whether it’s medical advice, treatment options, or financial implications, your audience will know they can rely on you.
Sounds like a worthy investment, right?
Now, let’s delve into how to initiate an SEO campaign tailored to your medical organization.
10 Essential Healthcare SEO Strategies
Many believe healthcare SEO is all about churning out blog posts and crossing your fingers for a high ranking.
But it’s way more intricate than that.
It’s like a patient treatment plan, involving careful strategy, expert execution, and ongoing care.
We’re here to break down the nitty-gritty of these 10 crucial healthcare SEO strategies:
- Content Creation and Keyword Research
- Local SEO
- On-page SEO
- Internal Linking
- Site Auditing and Technical SEO
- Optimizing UX, UI, and Site Structure
- Link Building
- Updating Content
- Considering Legalities
- Monitoring Results
1. Content Creation and Keyword Research
You don’t have to be a healthcare professional to know this science slogan:
In the same way, your content powers your SEO strategy and results.
But before you take pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), you need to understand what people are searching for when you want them to see your content.
These search terms are called keywords.
You’ll need a strategic approach when deciding which ones to target and in what order.
Here’s a crash course on keyword research and content strategy:
A. Keyword Relevance and Metrics
The best way to nail keyword choice and timing is to take note of these three north-star keyword metrics:
- Keyword Difficulty (KD): This measures how tough it is to rank high for a specific keyword. If the competition is fierce, the KD is high.
- Search Volume (SV): How many times a keyword is searched per month. This tells you how popular a term is and how much traffic potential there is.
- Cost Per Click (CPC): This represents the cash amount advertisers pay for every click on their sponsored result.
If the CPC is low and the keyword is relevant, it may be worth bidding for paid Google ads to secure a high SERP placement.
To illustrate, let’s look at the keyword “headaches”.
This is a highly competitive short-tail keyword. It’s got a super hard KD of 85 but a lot of potential traffic (28K monthly global searches, 15K in the US). The CPC is moderate at $1 per click.
A short-tail keyword like this would be challenging to rank for with organic SEO, and near impossible as a new blog.
You’d be battling for a top spot against extremely well-established university, government, and medical resource domains.
That’s because search engines want to serve searchers the safest, most helpful healthcare content.
To rank for keywords like this one, you must build your credibility, domain authority, and brand awareness.
How do you do this?
You start with more attainable long-tail keywords. Although these will have lower KDs and SVs, they help you attract website traffic and engagement to build your reputation.
Instead of targeting the parent keyword “headaches”, you could go after something like “headaches at night”.
That looks much more manageable, doesn’t it?
Remember, while high-SV keywords have greater traffic potential, you can’t benefit from them if you can’t rank.
All in all, you should use keyword metrics to guide and prioritize your content strategy.
High KD or low SV shouldn’t disqualify keywords, but it’s all about timing.
Once you’ve built up some domain authority and search engines get to know your content, you’ll stand a better chance at ranking for those competitive search terms.
B. Healthcare Keyword Types
We covered long and short-tail keywords above, which are fundamental classifications for any SEO strategy.
However, you can identify granular keyword types to target for healthcare SEO specifically.
Some examples of common healthcare SEO keyword types include:
I. Informational Keywords
Top-of-funnel searchers often begin their journeys by seeking out informational, educational content on a topic.
They turn to search engines with “what is”, “how to”, and “difference between” queries — That’s a non-exhaustive list, of course.
Informational search queries (like “what is penicillin”, “when to see a gynecologist”, or “how to choose a therapist”) present a golden opportunity to educate searchers and promote your offering.
In the process, sharing your wisdom helps build brand awareness and cement your position as a trusted healthcare advisor.
II. Medical Specialties
Each branch of medicine contains its own rabbit hole of specialized keywords you can target.
For example, if you run a hospital, you can create content around each care division you provide.
You can start with parent keywords like “dentistry”, “oncology”, “neurology”, “dermatology”, etc.
Then, begin expanding into the subtopics of each one.
Take a look at the Rochester General Hospital blog (called the “Health Hive”) where you can browse content by topic:
Take note that they’ve chosen to frame the topics from the patients’ perspective, saying “Heart” instead of “cardiology”, for example.
And here are some articles in the Heart topic:
As you can see, this keyword type is a goldmine for content ideas.
III. Problem and Solution (Symptom, Condition, Treatment)
Problem and solution keywords are related to problems your patients face and the available solutions.
However, their knowledge of these problems and solutions will affect the search terms they’ll use.
In the B2C healthcare industry, searcher awareness often follows this pattern:
- Stage 1: They’re unaware of their exact medical problem, so they may enquire about their symptoms. E.g., “recurring headaches”, “pain when exhaling”, “ringing in ears”.
- Stage 2: They’re aware or suspect they have a particular condition and seek general information about it. E.g., “what is diabetes”, “symptoms of ADHD”, “signs of a bladder infection”.
- Stage 3: They want to find treatment for their symptoms or condition. They may search for at-home treatments (E.g., “best migraine remedies”), service providers (E.g., “migraine specialist near me”), services (E.g., “migraine management program”), or medications (E.g., “best migraine painkillers”).
Create content for all three awareness stages. This way, you can help searchers discover a path to better health and improve the chances they’ll choose you as a healthcare provider.
Note: The awareness stages will look different for B2C healthcare companies. For example, a hospital director may conduct searches about problems in the hospital (E.g., “reducing patient wait times”) or possible solutions (E.g., “hospital appointment scheduling software”).
IV. Audience Keywords
Healthcare is for everyone, and that means you can create targeted content for every demographic. What’s more, medical SEO content doesn’t need to focus only on patients.
What does this mean?
Well, take the maternity niche, for example.
Of course, you can create content for birthing people covering everything from getting pregnant to postnatal care — E.g., keywords like “prenatal vitamins”, “first trimester”, “postpartum care”.
You can also target keywords that could be of interest to birthing people and have tangential tie-ins to healthcare — E.g., “planning a babymoon”, “decorating a nursery”, “preparing for maternity leave”.
But, aside from birthing persons, you can also write for:
- Partners of birthing people
- Parents of birthing people
- People receiving a child from a surrogate or adoption agency
- Employers of pregnant employees
- Medical professionals dealing with pregnant patients
You can see examples of this kind of audience content on Dignity Health’s blog in the family topic:
People seek out healthcare services that make them feel safe, comfortable, and supported.
And they may even incorporate this desire into their searches using carewords like “safe”, “friendly”, and “reliable”. For example, instead of a Google search for “doctors office Washington”, they may search “friendly and safe doctors in Washington”.
While you can target these keywords with dedicated pages, you can also optimize your existing pages by adding carewords.
Another way carewords may come into play is through reviews.
Notice how, for the query below, Google highlights words like “nice” and “friendly” from reviews.
For this reason, it’s a good idea to encourage happy patients and clients to leave reviews.
VI. Evergreen, Topical, and Seasonal Keywords
It may not seem like it, but the healthcare niche has trends that come and go, just like any industry.
In terms of SEO, some keywords will see consistent traffic over time (evergreen), while others gain momentary popularity (topical) or peak at certain times of year (seasonal).
For example, “plastic surgery” is an evergreen keyword. It’s an established field of medicine that’s not going anywhere.
Check out the Google Trends data:
It’s had its ups and downs, but there’s a baseline interest level.
On the other hand, “buccal fat removal” is a plastic surgery trend that made waves in 2022 based on celebrity influence.
Notice how the Google Trends graph for this keyword features a massive but short-lived spike in December 2022:
And what about seasonal keywords?
A perfect example is the keyword “allergies”, which peaks every year in April or May when many people experience spring-summer seasonal allergies. There’s a secondary peak in September as the weather changes from summer to fall.
For evergreen keywords, focus on building out comprehensive information and keeping it updated. These stable keywords can drive consistent traffic to your website.
However, timing is everything when it comes to topical and seasonal keywords. Strike while the iron is hot, producing content during topical events or two to three months before seasonal trends. This can provide healthy boosts to your organic traffic and brand awareness.
VII. Branded Keywords
Occasionally, searchers will include brand names in their queries — E.g., “HCA Healthcare hospital near me”.
Whether you’re a B2C or B2B healthcare business, you need pages optimized for your branded keywords. That’s so potential customers can find your website quickly and easily.
But what else could be ranking for your branded keywords?
It’s a common SEO practice to create content or sponsored pages for your competitors’ branded keywords to try and attract some of their customers. This also means they can outrank you on your keywords.
Additionally, third-party review and comparison sites can give you a run for your SEO rankings.
Take a look at this SERP, where two unaffiliated healthcare facilities have sponsored ads placed above the website the searcher is looking for:
This is somewhat unscrupulous because the sponsored pages aren’t optimized for the keyword and their contents don’t match the headline. Valleypro doesn’t even seem to offer services in New York.
It’s probably nothing to worry about because sponsored results get a much lower CTR than organic results. Also, searchers are likely to bounce if they feel deceived or unsatisfied. But it’s worth keeping an eye on.
The New York Presbyterian Hospital may want to combat this tactic by running their own ads for the branded keyword.
VIII. Comparative Keywords
Comparative keywords are common among users weighing their options before they take an action.
They often contain terms like “vs”, “best”, “difference between”, and “comparison”.
Sometimes, searchers will compare two similar symptoms or diagnoses to understand the differences.
However, in the healthcare industry, searchers may also use comparative keywords to decide between:
- Healthcare providers or facilities
- Treatment options and medications
- Health insurance providers or plans
- Medical device brands
When people use these keywords, they’re essentially saying, “Show me the pros and cons to help me decide.” By creating content that speaks directly to their comparative mindset, you’re positioning yourself as the trusted advisor who’s got their back.
These keywords also allow you to promote your offering over competitors’ — Just remember to keep it factual and professional.
IX. Life Events
In many cases, a need for a medical product or healthcare service arises in response to a big change — sometimes predictable, sometimes unexpected.
Here are some examples:
- Requiring a physical exam for a new job
- Undergoing fertility testing and treatment
- Getting pregnant
- Approaching menopause
- Receiving a new diagnosis (example below)
- Preparing for and recovering from surgery
- Losing or gaining weight
- Quitting smoking or other addictive habits
- Dealing with grief
- Experiencing a pandemic
During such major life events people will need guidance from trusted medical entities.
You can create content for events like these to show visitors you care and provide solutions.
Question keywords are similar to informational ones but tend to be more long-tail. And yes, this means they may be easier to rank for!
Owing to the rise of voice search, we’re seeing more full question keywords – I.e., “Where’s the nearest doctor’s office?” instead of “doctors near me”. In fact, approximately 65% of voice searches are conversational or question-based.
Fortunately, there’s an easy way to discover what questions your audience is asking via a keyword tool like Ahrefs.
First, open the tool and search for a broad healthcare parent keyword such as “doctor”, “hospital”, “pharmacy”, etc.
Then, click on the Questions tab. Now you can see thousands of related question keywords and explore their KD and SVs to figure out what to target.
There are over 700,000 question keywords under the term “health” you can look through for content ideas.
XI. Insurance Keywords
Many people can only choose healthcare providers that are registered with and approved by their health insurance providers. They may search for keywords like “hospitals near me that accept [insurance]” or “dental services covered by [insurance]”.
When you target these insurance-related keywords, you make it easier for folks to find the healthcare they need and can actually pay for.
If you’d like to learn more about insurance SEO, read our comprehensive guide.
C. Search Intent and Quality Content
Healthcare and SEO have something important in common — using science and data to guide your decisions.
Intuition and guesswork will lead you astray when it comes to identifying what searchers really want when they look up a keyword. A real SEO expert uses an analytic approach to assess search intent.
Imagine that your healthcare company makes and sells blood pressure monitors, for example.
Would it be realistic for your product page to rank on the parent keyword “blood pressure”?
When you look at the SERP, most of the results are informational posts covering:
- What blood pressure is
- What constitutes a high or low blood pressure
- Causes and symptoms of high or low blood pressure
In other words, this keyword has an informational search intent (SI).
There are three other types of search intent:
- Commercial: Searchers are weighing their options and want comparative content (E.g., “vs”, “best”).
- Transactional: Searchers have explicit purchasing intent (E.g., “buy”, “book”).
- Navigational: Searchers are looking for a particular website or page (E.g. “[company name]”, “[company name] services”).
Back to our blood pressure monitor scenario — Trying to rank a transactional page for an informational keyword won’t work. That’s because it doesn’t match the search intent or give searchers what they’re looking for.
So, what can you do instead?
You can create an informational post about blood pressure that addresses the search intent thoroughly, and advertise your product somewhere in the post.
Have a look at how this ranking article provides the relevant information and then includes a CTA (call-to-action) for visitors to book a doctor’s appointment.
The competition on the SERP is still pretty tough, though. You’ll be up against some very established figures in the industry, including non-profits and government resources.
Follow these tips to create quality content, smooth-talk the search engines, and climb up the ranks:
- Consider the target demographic of the searchers – E.g., Who is searching for information on blood pressure, and how do I appeal to them?
- Emulate the format of the ranking articles. Google has selected them because they address the SI. If most of the posts are listicles, in-depth guides, or short answers, you should do the same.
In this case, the ranking articles are relatively short and concisely cover a range of blood pressure topics.
- Ensure your content is unique and valuable. Include accurate information and original content (E.g., opinions, research, or graphics) and write with the reader in mind, not just the search engine.
For example, several articles ranking for “blood pressure” contain a handy chart like the one below to add unique value for the reader.
- Follow Google’s EEAT (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness) Guidelines by exhibiting these characteristics in your content.
2. Local SEO
Say you want to find a reputable healthcare practice in your vicinity. Your initial step might involve searching for phrases like “top healthcare clinic in [your city or region].”
Local SEO strategies allow your healthcare business to take center stage in local search queries and become a trusted presence.
A. Start With Your Website
Begin by displaying your company’s essential information – Name, Address, and Phone number (NAP) – prominently on your website, typically in the header or footer.
This practice gives search engines and prospective patients a reference point for your location.
Additionally, incorporating an interactive map facilitates easy navigation to your clinic.
To reassure visitors that you’re the real deal, include images of your healthcare practice, staff, and equipment. Think of these elements as a virtual introduction to your clinic, fostering a sense of familiarity before patients step through the doors.
Check out NYU Langone’s website, which allows you to browse locations on a list or map:
B. Set Up a Google Business Profile
Ever noticed the informative panel that pops up next to search results for local search queries?
Here’s an example:
That’s the Google My Business panel. You can claim one for your healthcare company and fill in your up-to-date details.
Navigate to google.com/business and follow the systematic prompts to add your:
- Company name
- Operating hours
- Contact information
- Website URL
- Logo and images
Another factor to do with this:
Your Google Business profile displays your star rating and customer reviews. This can be a major factor in whether a potential client chooses your company over a competitor.
Encouraging satisfied local patients to share their experiences adds credibility and authenticity. All it takes is a quick email, text message, or phone call to prompt clients for a review they might not have thought about leaving otherwise.
In the case of less favorable feedback, professional and empathetic responses can display your commitment to patient satisfaction.
Note: There are also other online directories (E.g., Facebook, Yelp, Zocdoc, RateMDs) that display your location and other info. Search engines won’t like it if your details don’t match across directories. So, you’ll want to check they’re accurate everywhere.
You can do this by searching “[your company name] phone number/ address/ operating hours” and assessing the results. Alternatively, you can use a listing management tool like Birdeye or SOCi.
C. Landing Pages for Local Services
It might seem that highlighting your primary location means you’ll only surface in search engine results for queries within that vicinity.
But what if you serve multiple regions nationally or globally?
You can rank for endless location-based queries by creating different location-focused landing pages.
These pages are distinct from your blog posts and other site content, and they’re primarily discovered through search engine results pages (SERPs), social media ads, or email marketing.
They should also be conversion optimized, guiding users to take actions like sharing contact details, making bookings, or purchasing.
For example, Walgreens is a pharmacy chain with stores across the US. If you search “pharmacy Seattle”, you’ll see a landing page for a Walgreens store location in Seattle.
The landing page contains details like the address and operating hours. It allows you to send prescriptions to the location, book a vaccine, and make purchases.
You can even split up your services and make landing pages for each healthcare service and location combination. E.g., “orthodontist in Seattle”, “optometrist in Seattle”, “orthodontist in Las Vegas”, “optometrist in Las Vegas” etc.
But won’t this take a lot of time?
It could be a lengthy process, sure. But, by templatizing the pages, it’ll actually be quicker than making blog posts for each topic.
Start by making a landing page template that’s optimized for UI (user interface), UX (user experience), and conversion factors. Then, add topic-specific information for each service-location combo.
3. On-Page SEO
On-page SEO refers to the optimization techniques that help search engines and visitors understand the content of specific web pages.
You should be able to manage these elements easily on your CMS.
WordPress, for example, allows for extensive and easy customization.
A. Title, Heading, and Meta Tags
These components are your signboards, letting searchers and algorithms know what a page is about.
Searchers see your title and meta description on the SERPs, so they significantly affect your clickthrough rate (CTR).
Meanwhile, headings break up your content into manageable chunks and inform search engines what it covers. The search engine algorithm may even scrape your headings and rewrite your meta description to include them, like below.
These three elements must be detailed, accurate, and engaging, but not so imaginative that they hinder understanding.
Take, for example, an article about repetitive strain injury (RSI).
- Bad title: RSI: The Injury You Can Get From Using a Computer
This might be engaging for a social media post title, it doesn’t convey the post’s most critical sections or address the search intent.
- Better title: What is Repetitive Strain Injury? (Causes, Treatments & More)
It accurately summarizes the content and addresses the search intent (to learn about RSI)
- Bad heading: RSI Solutions
While this accurately describes the section, it isn’t very engaging or user-centric.
- Better heading: 7 Effective Strategies for Managing and Healing RSI
This heading communicates more value to the reader. It tells them how many strategies you’ll provide and the benefit of following them.
- Bad meta: Everything you need to know about repetitive strain injury.
This meta isn’t specific or detailed enough.
- Better meta: Learn about repetitive strain injury, its symptoms, and its causes. Discover the best methods to prevent and treat it.
This thoroughly describes the contents and value of the article.
B. Images and Alt Text
Adding images to web pages and blog posts is great for user engagement.
Here are some image best practices for medical SEO:
- Always include descriptive and relevant alt text for each image. Alt text is an image description written into the website code so that search engines and visually impaired readers can process the image. Not only do they help search engines understand and index the content, they’re also a vital part of website accessibility.
- Give images descriptive file names that include relevant keywords. Avoid generic file names like “image123.jpg” and opt for something like “healthcare-clinic-interior.jpg” to improve search engine indexing.
- Large image file sizes can slow down your website. Compress your images to keep them under 1MB without compromising on image quality.
- Look up appropriate image dimensions, keeping in mind the layout and responsiveness of your website.
- Use JPEG file format for photographs and images with complex colors, PNG for images with transparency, SVG for vector graphics, and GIF for animations.
- Opt for original images over stock images wherever possible. Doing so can boost your organic traffic by 12%, brand awareness by 38%, and user trust by 54%.
As you know, most pages or articles you create will target one main keyword – E.g., “gut health”. But you won’t convince Google you deserve to rank just by using the phrase “gut health” throughout the article.
See, search engines like Google analyze pages under a topic keyword and collect data on the words used within them. They take note of commonly used words and phrases that seem to signify closer relevance to the topic.
If we saw these word clouds without knowing the topic, we’d know they were about the same thing. That’s because of the similar words they use — E.g., “bacteria”, “probiotic”, “food”, “health”.
In other words, there’s a collection of smaller keywords beneath your topic keyword. And you need to sprinkle them throughout your posts so search engines view the content as relevant.
4. Internal Linking
Internal linking is a form of off-page SEO because it doesn’t affect individual pages but is important behind the scenes.
Think about the electricity in your home.
Everything is connected to the electricity source through a series of wires. And you can’t turn on any appliance that’s not plugged in.
That’s just like internal linking for your website.
Search engines use links, like wires, to crawl and discover your website’s pages. If a page can’t be reached (because it’s not “plugged in” via a link), the search engine can’t index it or display it in search results.
Internal linking also matters because:
- It helps search engines understand your website content based on what it’s linked to. E.g., If it discovers a cluster of interlinked pages about “teeth” and “dentistry”, the algorithm starts to understand that you may offer dentistry information and services.
- It provides visitors with paths to find more information. For example, on a page about “children’s dentists”, a visitor can find a link to more general information about dentists (the parent topic) or more specific details on “children’s orthodontist” (another subtopic).
Does that mean you should focus your efforts on linking every page on your website to every other?
No, that’s only going to confuse search engines and visitors.
You should only place internal links when the connected pages are relevant to each other.
Try this simple method:
- Start by identifying topic clusters for your content – E.g., for different medical departments or product types.
Create a pillar page for each one. This page will contain some general topic information and link to the subtopics.
- Create pages or blog posts covering the subtopics and link each one back to the pillar page.
- Add links in your content to other subtopics and keywords only where relevant.
For example, in an article about “heart health for seniors”, you can link to pages about “blood pressure” and “cholesterol for seniors”. But you shouldn’t link to an irrelevant page like “root canal procedure”.
This approach to internal linking ensures a proper flow of “link juice” — from the pillar pages to the sub-pages, and from the sub-pages back to the pillar pages. ⚡
It also clarifies your website’s topic clusters and internal hierarchy for search engines.
Here’s an example from the Emory Healthcare Advancing Your Health blog, which has 10 pillar pages:
In the Brain Health section, you’ll find links to all their blog posts on the topic. If a searcher lands on a blog post like the one below, there’s a link to the Brain Health pillar page on top.
Inside the article, they’ve placed links to other stroke-related posts.
5. Site Auditing and Technical SEO
Technical SEO applies to your website as a whole, ensuring optimal performance, user experience, and search engine visibility.
Conducting regular site audits helps identify and rectify issues that could affect your website’s performance.
Here are key technical SEO components to consider:
- Page speed: Assess your page load speed using tools like Google PageSpeed Insights or GTmetrix.
Optimize images and use efficient coding practices to enhance page loading times. Websites that take longer than two seconds to load show exponential increases in bounce rate. Loading speed is also a top Google ranking factor.
- Mobile optimization: Ensure your website works well and looks professional on mobile devices. Test your site on screen sizes to guarantee a seamless experience for all users.
- Content management system (CMS): Choose a CMS that supports medical website SEO best practices, including easy content optimization and clean code generation.
We recommend WordPress because it’s highly customizable, well-established, and hosts many high-traffic sites.
- Sitemap & robots.txt: Sitemaps list all the content on your website to help search engines index it effectively.
Ensure your website has an XML sitemap (most CMSs create one automatically).
Additionally, implement a well-structured robots.txt file. This file tells search engines what not to access and index.
- Content delivery network (CDN): Use a CDN to distribute your website’s content across multiple servers, reducing server response times and improving user experience.
- Site security: Ensure your medical website uses HTTPS to encrypt data and protect user information. Regularly update your security protocols and plugins to prevent vulnerabilities.
- Structured data: Implement structured data markup (e.g., Schema.org) to provide search engines with clear information about your healthcare services, locations, and articles.
This can enhance the visibility of your content in rich snippets and featured snippets in search result pages.
- Accessibility: Ensure your website is accessible to all users, including those with disabilities.
Use proper HTML markup, provide alt text for images, and maintain a logical site structure. Regularly check for compliance with WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines).
6. Optimizing UX, UI, and Site Structure
A user-centric design approach can positively impact your medical website SEO efforts and conversion rate.
Studies have repeatedly shown that UX and UI play a huge role in whether or not visitors trust a website.
For example, this study from the University of Saskatchewan concluded that perceived aesthetics and usability accounted for over 50% of the variance in a website’s perceived credibility.
When visitors see a well-designed website (aesthetically pleasing and intuitive to use), they see it as more credible. They’re more likely to stay longer on your site, engage, return, and proceed further down the user journey.
In turn, these engagement signals contribute to improved search engine rankings.
Consider the following tips and best practices to improve the design and useability of your site:
A. Site Architecture, Hierarchy, and Navigation
Imagine a new patient entering a hospital looking for a specialist’s office. They’ll need direction from the receptionist and signposts to find the right room in the building. Rooms of the same departments should be grouped together logically.
Wandering aimlessly through a maze of passageways will likely make the patient extremely frustrated.
In the same way, your website should be well-organized and easy to navigate so visitors and search engines can find what they’re looking for.
Take care of the following:
- Create a logical hierarchy that categorizes related content together.
- Make vital pages such as medical services and healthcare resources easy to find and not more than 3 clicks deep in the website architecture.
- Include intuitive navigation elements, such as clear menu labels in the header, footer, and sidebars, and a user-friendly search function.
MedlinePlus is one site that has excellent navigation features. Here’s what the homepage looks like:
It’s short and sweet with clear links to its main pages. Let’s go deeper into the architecture by clicking on the Health Topics page.
Here, it offers several ways to find the page you’re looking for through well-organized sub-topics.
It also offers an advanced site search function.
B. UX and User Journey
Your website should be easy to use and designed with the user journey in mind.
For example, if you sell medical equipment, it should be easy for visitors to:
- Find the product they need
- Read all the necessary information to make their purchasing decision
- Add the item to the cart, check out, pay, and track their shipping
- Reach out for additional support
To assess this, you can:
- Test the website yourself, going through the entire user journey to identify friction points.
- Ask users for feedback using chatbot messages, pop-ups, or emails.
- Use a heatmap or session recording software like Hotjar or Inspectjet to analyze user journeys and see where they scroll and click. Such software can also reveal UX red flags like “frustration clicking” or clicking multiple times on the same element.
Notice how the MedlinePlus website has user feedback built into it’s pages:
C. UI Design
User interface design is the visual representation of your healthcare website’s professionalism.
We recommend that you:
- Employ a calming color palette, reflecting the serene environment of a healthcare facility.
- Choose legible fonts that evoke a sense of trust and authority.
- Ensure forms don’t have too many fields or ask for unnecessary private information.
- Use a clean, organized layout with ample white space to avoid overwhelming visitors.
- Maintain visual consistency throughout the website.
- Incorporate imagery such as authentic photos of medical professionals and facilities to build trust and connect with users.
- Showcase patient testimonials and other forms of social proof (E.g., third-party reviews, accreditations, professional partnerships) prominently.
Let’s go back to our MedlinePlus example again.
It’s an interesting case study because it’s the 10th highest-ranking health website in the world but its UI design isn’t very modern.
We’ve already covered its solid site structure and UX approach.
And despite looking a bit dated, the UI design has some positive features:
- Its blue and green color scheme is calming and evokes thoughts of good health.
- There’s a common design theme throughout the site.
- The font is exceptionally legible.
- The website loads quickly and works well on mobile devices.
So, what’s the takeaway?
It’s not just a “pretty” website that matters.
UX, UI, and site structure are all equally important and must work together. You won’t get the desired results if the website is beautiful but hard to navigate, or well-structured but buggy.
Instead, design and test your website with user satisfaction in mind.
7. Link Building
Backlinks, also known as inbound links, are hyperlinks on external websites that direct users to your healthcare website.
They tell search engines that third-party sites found your website content valuable and reliable. This could boost rankings to an extent if the backlinks come from reputable sources – i.e., websites with high domain authority.
The importance of backlinks for SEO has evolved over time, with the focus shifting from quantity to quality.
You can gain backlinks organically by creating high-quality, informative, and engaging content. Such content will naturally gain backlinks from websites that want to share your insights with their audience. Original content, in particular, is a backlink magnet. 🧲
But you can also employ strategic link-building tactics to boost your backlinks beyond the organic inflow, such as:
- Guest blogging: Contribute insightful articles to reputable healthcare blogs and include a link back to your website.
- Infographics and visual content: Create visually appealing and informative infographics or videos that other sites want to reference.
- Outreach and networking: Establish relationships with healthcare professionals, organizations, and influencers, requesting them to link to your valuable content.
- Online directories and citations: Ensure your medical website is listed and linked accurately in relevant online directories and healthcare databases.
- Press releases: Share research or newsworthy updates about your healthcare organization to attract attention and potential backlinks from news sources.
Wondering how to check up on your backlink profile?
You can use SEO tools like Ahrefs, SEMrush, or Moz to see which domains link to your website. You’ll also see the domain authority and relevance of the linking domains.
Alternatively, you can use a free tool like Ubersuggest’s backlink checker. It allows you to see your own backlinks and your competitors’.
Here’s a glimpse at Johns Hopkins’ backlink profile:
Many of these backlinks come from sites linking to Hopkins’ press releases.
This is a case of original content winning backlinks. But it’s also a solid link-building tactic when you create press releases and keep them in an easy-to-find location, like Hopkins’ Newsroom.
8. Updating Content
Imagine searching for medical information online and coming across an article written five years ago providing suggested treatments.
Would you trust this article?
It could contain outdated information that could even be harmful.
Healthcare is dynamic, with new treatments, guidelines, and breakthroughs emerging constantly.
That’s why you must systematically update your SEO content regularly to ensure it’s current and correct. It’s your responsibility to provide accurate information to readers so you don’t mislead, misinform, or harm them.
Additionally, search engines reward fresh and relevant content with higher rankings. Especially in the healthcare niche, they are likely to punish outdated material.
9. Considering Legalities
Healthcare is governed by strict laws and regulations that extend even to your website content.
From what you can and can’t say about medical treatments to ensuring patient privacy is maintained, the healthcare industry has its guard up for a reason.
You must be conscious of these rules as you embark on your content marketing journey.
The laws and regulations vary by state and country, so we recommend consulting with a legal professional to get started.
In general, remember these do’s and don’ts for your digital marketing language:
- Never make unprovable claims – E.g., “This procedure is guaranteed to…”, “This healthcare provider is the best in the world”.
- Never make false claims or exclude information in an attempt to mislead readers.
- Don’t place moral pressures on people to buy a product or service – E.g., “If you don’t purchase our equipment, you’re harming your patients”.
- Don’t include pricing information except for your own products and services.
- Always back up scientific claims with evidence.
- Always protect private patient information.
10. Monitoring Results
An effective SEO strategy is far from “set it and forget it”.
You’ll have to constantly work to perform keyword research, create new content, update old content, and improve your site design and content.
All decisions you make to optimize your content should be based on data analysis.
For pretty much every aspect of SEO we’ve described in this article, there are tools and metrics to measure success.
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of metrics you can track and how to go about it:
- Keyword rankings: Keep track of your website’s keyword rankings on search engine results pages (SERPs). Watch which keywords rise or fall in rank, reach page one, place in the top 5, etc.
Tools: Google Search Console, SEMrush, Ahrefs, Moz, Accuranker.
- Website traffic: Monitor your website’s traffic trends, including traffic sources, bounce rate, average session duration, etc.
Tools: Google Analytics, SEMrush, Ahrefs, Moz
- Backlinks: Monitor the quantity and quality of backlinks pointing to your website.
Tools: Ahrefs, Moz, SEMrush, Ubersuggest, OpenLinkProfiler
- Site speed: Ensure your website loads quickly for a better user experience.
Tools: Google PageSpeed Insights, GTmetrix, Pingdom.
- Mobile compatibility: Verify that your site is mobile-friendly, as mobile UX is a key Google ranking factor.
Tools: Google Mobile-Friendly Test, Mobile Moxie.
- Click-through rates (CTR): Analyze how often users click on your search result links.
Tools: Google Search Console, Google Analytics.
- Conversion rate: Track the percentage of visitors who take desired actions (e.g., sign-ups, purchases).
Tools: Google Analytics, conversion tracking within your CMS.
- Crawl errors: Identify and fix crawl errors to ensure search engines can access your site.
Tools: Google Search Console, Screaming Frog, Moz Crawl Test.
- Local SEO: If applicable, monitor your local SEO effort for location-based businesses.
Tools: Google My Business, Moz Local, BrightLocal.
- Competitor analysis: Keep an eye on what your competitors are doing in terms of SEO.
Tools: SEMrush, Ahrefs, Moz, SpyFu.
For all these elements, you’re looking for signs or patterns in the data that indicate how you must adjust or pivot your strategy to maximize your success.
You may be thinking, “I’m a healthcare professional. I can’t dedicate time to all these SEO tasks.”
We hear you!
Just like doctors need nurses to provide proper care, you may need to employ healthcare SEO services to effectively manage your content marketing strategy.
When to Hire an SEO Agency
As you can see, SEO is a complex undertaking.
The planning, data analysis, and content creation never stops.
The good news is that you don’t need to become a healthcare SEO expert. SEO agencies can manage your content marketing end-to-end and with your active participation.
If any of the following scenarios resonate with you, enlisting an agency for SEO services can be a lifesaver:
- You can’t dedicate the time and resources to learn and manage SEO in-house.
- You’ve tried to implement an SEO campaign but saw mediocre results.
- You’ve had some success with content creation but struggle with more technical elements like site structure and conversion optimization.
It could be time to call an SEO ambulance. 🚑
Start Your Healthcare SEO Journey with Startup Voyager
In healthcare SEO, there should be no compromise on quality.
You need a holistic approach, as a narrow focus can cause you to miss life-saving details.
That’s why we at Startup Voyager don’t think of ourselves as an SEO agency.
We’re a growth agency.
Our SEO services include:
- Performing keyword research, strategizing, and creating top-notch, well-optimized content.
- Tracking data to adapt the content strategy as needed.
- Analyzing your website to identify areas of improvement in terms of UI, UX, and conversion elements.
- Creating conversion optimized landing pages and getting them to rank with organic SEO.
Take the leap and contact us to level up your healthcare SEO strategy.