Earned search rankings are becoming increasingly important as websites fight for visitors in the overly saturated healthcare marketing world. When every view counts, making it to the first page of Google search results may be just as thrilling as landing a story on the front cover of the New York Times. Effective search engine optimization can improve the visibility of a website and increase traffic leading to more patients. Fortune 500 companies and startups alike wonder what is the secret sauce to improve a site’s ranking in the ever-changing Google algorithms. In reality, a few simple SEO tips exist to improve your organic ranking, but never underestimate the value of testing, re-testing, evaluating, and adjusting all facets of healthcare marketing.
1. Key word research is critical
Without exception, every strong SEO campaign begins with keyword research. Identifying the key words that represent the content on your site and determining the market demand for those key words will provide the foundational information for improving optimization. A simple Google search for a term will quickly indicate the value level of the word. Search results labeled ‘Ad’ are an indicator that the word you are searching is in high-demand and likely yields strong conversion rates. Resources like Moz Keyword Explorer or Google AdWords Keyword Planner Tool provide necessary insights for keyword research.
2. Remember the long tail terms
In life and in SEO, the long game is important. An important consideration when choosing keywords is quality and relevancy. Some search terms that generally relate to your sight may have very high search rates but will yield few returns because they are common or vague. However, the “long tail” search is the more detailed, but less popular term where you should focus efforts. Consider this example. If Joe’s Imaging Center launches its website and fights both Cleveland Clinic and Mayo Clinic for the search term “radiology,” it will spend a lot of time and energy trying to rank number one for this word, while many people searching for radiology resources may not go to from Joe’s Imaging Center…yet. Here is the game changer. A “long tail” term that is more unique to Joe’s Imaging Center patient base, “outpatient imaging center,” will likely have fewer searches, thus being an objectively less popular word, but a term that will have a significantly higher conversion to radiology appointments for Joe’s Imaging Center.
3. Alt tags are a gold mine
Website images and icons improve the user experience and aesthetic appeal of a website, but they should also boost the SEO value. Google algorithms value the alt attributes of an image which describes an image and detail its site function. Not only is this a best practice for boosting search, patients using screen readers due to a visual impairment need to reference the alt tags for relevant information. Alt tags should be as descriptive and related to key word as possible. However, do not “keyword stuff,” or cram all of your keywords into the alt tag space. Google will view this as a spam.
For example a bad way alt tag for Joe’s Imaging Center would look like this:
<img src="radiology.jpg" alt=""/>
A strong alt tag for Joe’s Imaging Center would look like this:
<img src="donut.jpg" alt="Joe’s Imaging Center Outpatient Radiology Center In Tampa">
4. Use links to your advantage
Create content where links boost the search engine optimization and provide additional keyword value without appearing redundant. When linking within your site, or to a third-party site, always label the link.
For example, a bad way for Joe’s Imaging Center to link to his order page would look like this.
Visit the order page here.
A strong way for Joe’s Imaging Center to link to his order page would like this:
Visit Joe’s Imaging Center appointment page.
5. Churn out good content
Last but not least, strong content is the best way to achieve search engine rankings. When a website delivers content that is specifically targeted towards the interest of the patients using key search terms, rankings will automatically improve. If the content of a site is largely permanent, consider launching a blog to publish bi-weekly content that will continuously propel the site to the top of the search engines.
These five tips are just a start on your journey to a well optimized website. Depending on the infrastructure of your site, consider researching best practices that are particularly relevant. For instance, many more tips and tricks exist when working on a WordPress platform. As you begin the process, be patient and flexible. SEO Is often a combination of trial and error before you determine a mix of techniques and keywords that work well for your website, goals, and audience.