All SEO is not created equal.
The average cosmetic brand or fitness brand can take the usual approach with SEO. Optimize some images, start ranking for keywords.
Medical SEO, on the other hand, is an entirely different animal. Search engines use different techniques to rank medical sites. There are serious limitations on both what you can and cannot say, with serious consequences if you make a mistake.
If you’re new to medical SEO, it can be a lot to manage. Fortunately, I’ve put together a list of tips that should make your medical SEO journey significantly easier.
Why Do Healthcare, Medical Professionals and Businesses Need to Understand SEO?
Don’t the jargon fool you, the concept of SEO is actually pretty simple. SEO, or search engine optimization, is the process of making your site easier to find on Google.
Essentially, Google has a series of factors it uses to calculate how relevant a site is to a particular search. The more relevant you are, the higher you rank. Simple, right?
There are plenty of reasons healthcare professionals should focus on medical SEO, but the biggest selling point is usually the influx of new patients via website traffic. The better your SEO is, the more likely you are to get new patients.
10 Tips for Healthcare and Medical SEO
SEO is generally viewed as one of the building blocks of most successful digital marketing strategies. If you’re serious about making an impact online, SEO provides a relatively straightforward path to marketing success, as long as you know what to focus on.
1. Think of Your Patients and the Search Terms They Use to Find Medical Professionals
If you want to elevate your SEO, it’s important that you start considering the search terms people are using to find medical professionals. Keywords are one of the most vital elements in the SEO landscape, and medical SEO is no exception.
Search engines use keywords to connect users and their searches with relevant information. If you want search engines to find your brand online, you need to choose the right keywords. Of course, that still leaves us with an important question. How on earth do you identify high-quality keywords?
Fortunately, identifying the best keywords for your brand is less about stumbling onto a magic search term and more about understanding user intent. Eventually, you’ll want to start isolating pain points and cross-referencing your potential search terms with your competitor’s highest ranking keywords.
2. Focus on Earning a High EAT (Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness) Ranking
Keywords might be important, but they’re just the tip of the SEO iceberg. Search engines like Google have systems like EAT that can seriously impact your page rankings.
Search engines have a singular real commodity. When they help you get the answers you need fast, that’s a successful session. Search engines live and die by their ability to find users the right answer. In other words, if you want to rank highly and eventually end up on their first page, you need to provide genuine value. That’s where EAT comes in.
EAT stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness, and it’s considered one of the most important factors for Google when determining overall Page Quality Rating. This is one of the ways Google separates the average amateur from the knowledgeable authority.
Understanding this system is particularly important for those in the medical field because of the unique approach to improving it. If you want to achieve a high EAT score, your content should be created by those with expert medical knowledge. Beyond that, that content should be regularly updated and reviewed.
3. Understand Language Limitations Specific to Healthcare and Pharma Fields
When it comes to medical SEO, there are some rather serious limitations to what you can do. For starters, the AKS or Anti-Kickback Statute establishes both criminal and civil prohibitions against knowingly and willfully offering, paying, soliciting, or receiving any remuneration directly or indirectly to induce or reward.
Plus, we can’t forget about the Stark Law. If a physician has a financial relationship with an entity, then they may not make a referral to the entity for the furnishing of designated health services.
Make no mistake, these aren’t suggestions. These limitations come with hefty price tags, with as much as $100,000 for trying to get around them. That’s why as you develop your medical SEO strategy, it’s important you constantly ensure you aren’t violating any of your industry limitations. Competitor analysis is a great way to identify safe copy and content options if you’re ever unsure.
4. Make Your Site Navigation Easy and Intuitive for Users
When users can easily navigate your site, something interesting starts to happen. Simply put, the user actually sticks around. A site that’s confusing, poorly designed, structured, or optimized tests the user’s patience and creates friction. Sites that are easy to navigate improve your chances of keeping the user’s attention.
Beyond that, intuitive sites make exploring the site a more natural process. Your user should be able to quickly access the information they need and be presented with data that addresses their other pain points within your industry. The longer the user spends on your site, the more meaningful engagement you’ll receive.
Listen, there’s no denying that improving your user experience can improve your SEO. That being said, you shouldn’t just improve your site navigation because you’re developing a medical SEO strategy. Beyond the binary improvements to page ranking, your users will genuinely enjoy their time on your site, and I’d argue that’s just as important.
5. Adhere to Google’s YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) Rules
Medical SEO might have its own series of unique contributing factors to success, but easily one of the most important is what Google calls YMYL which stands for Your Money or Your Life. As far as Google is concerned, medical web pages are YMYL pages. Categorized as pages that could impact the future health, happiness, and financial stability of the users, Google holds medical pages to a high standard.
Why? Well, the answer is simple. The standards are higher because low-quality pages can be both dangerous and present serious medical consequences for users. One of the easiest strategies for improving your YMYL SEO ranks? Create high-quality content that’s both medically relevant and engaging. Speaking of creating content, let’s talk about content marketing.
6. Do Content Marketing
The term “content marketing” gets thrown around quite a bit in the digital marketing landscape, and with good reason. Creating valuable content is one of the easiest ways to both engage with and assist your audience.
If you’re not sure where to start, creating a regularly updated blog is typically a strong choice. Think of it this way. Your keywords and search terms are the bait, attracting users to your site. Your expertise and capacity are what users eventually agree to, once they see your value. One factor impacts the beginning of your user relationship, the other impacts the end.
Developing a content calendar and consistently making valuable content is the connective tissue between these two. When you have free content that people enjoy, you’re able to bring in traffic with your content. That traffic will then make it easier to improve your SEO through data and improve your visibility.
To be clear, you shouldn’t focus only on blog posts and white papers. Social media can indirectly impact your medical SEO ranking because you can get referral traffic. Don’t be afraid to branch out in other forms of media. With changing consumer behavior, video is maintaining its popularity.
7. Use Short, Logical URLs
It may not seem like a massive issue to you, but short URLs can have a massive impact on the way users interact with your brand.
URLs typically go unnoticed, because there are so many other exciting options to focus on for medical SEO.
Of course, this goes back to the issue of user experience. When users have negative experiences with your brand, they’re less likely to make that crucial first conversion. Likewise, when you reduce friction throughout your brand experience, users take notice.
Short, logical URLs are just one of many signs that you care about your audience’s time and experience. Attention to detail matters and your site should be optimized for medical SEO at every angle.
8. Include Images of Staff, Your Office, and Your Equipment
You might think that just because we’ve been talking about blog posts and white paper, that there’s no room for other kinds of content on your site.
Fortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. Visual content can be a powerful tool, and visuals of your staff, office, and equipment are some of the most useful styles of content you can share.
Right off the bat, adding these images increases the chances that your users will trust your brand. Beyond that, they’re a great way to increase conversions. Here’s a little trick you may not know about. You can add keywords to your own images. By placing your keywords in the image file manually, you can further optimize your medical SEO.
9. Identify Healthy SEO Practices
There are some guiding principles that you should be aware of, whenever you’re trying to identify healthy medical SEO practices.
As a general rule, you should be making copy, content, and pages primarily for users. There’s a temptation to create pages with SEO primarily in mind, but this is a common trap that businesses fall into.
Does it matter if Google thinks you’re interesting? Absolutely.
Is the user experience infinitely more important than some keyword optimization? Without a doubt.
Never try to trick your users into doing anything, it always backfires. Identify what makes your website unique, and what expertise you can bring to the site today to elevate the user experience.
10. Complete Your Google My Business Page
When it comes to SEO, there are certain contributing factors beyond your own site. One of the easiest ways to improve your SEO without touching your site is by completing your Google My Business page.
It might seem simple but make no mistake. This page can drastically change the way users experience your business online. Not only will this make local SEO more efficient, but it also puts you in Google’s local pack.
A local pack is a group of 4-5 business listings, appearing above organic search results. The logic here is that Google believes local results are more valuable than generic page results for a specific search term. In other words, you get a free boost in page ranking because you’re closer and more likely to be valuable.
Healthcare and Medical SEO Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take for medical SEO to work?
Like any other form of SEO, medical SEO is not a quick fix. The idea is that gradually, over time, you’re creating an online presence that will outshine your competitors.
Are there healthcare SEO experts I can hire?
Absolutely! There are plenty of digital agencies that specialize in healthcare SEO, and some even offer free evaluations before getting started.
Is it better to use broad or specific targeted search terms in medical and healthcare SEO?
Generally, I like to experiment with both and use my results to inform future decision-making. That being said, focusing on specific terms makes content creation much easier.
Is it better to target diagnoses or symptoms when choosing keywords for healthcare and medical SEO?
It depends on your strategy. If you’re creating educational content, diagnoses can be pretty straightforward. If you’re trying to cast a wide net, and you have a good idea of what a symptom typically indicates, focusing on symptoms can be useful too.
Healthcare and Medical SEO Conclusion
The world of medical SEO might seem identical to your average SEO strategy at first, but looks can be deceiving. Medical SEO has plenty of unique challenges that businesses have to overcome, and quite a few limitations complicating things.
Still, the foundational elements of SEO are there. Focus on improving the user experience at every turn. Be thorough and reduce friction wherever you can. Establish online authority through content creation and create opportunities for meaningful engagement. If you’re able to do all that, your medical SEO strategy will blow your competition out of the water.
What’s your favorite SEO tactic that most people don’t know? Let me know in the comments below.