Online reviews are critical to private healthcare practice success and medical SEO. Social proof is a key factor in patient decision-making and also impacts your site ranking.
According to Tebra’s Patient Perspectives report, 93% of patients say reviews are at least somewhat important when choosing a healthcare provider.
Your star ratings are important for your reputation, but they’re not the only thing patients consider when looking at reviews. The top 3 things that factor into their decisions are:
- How recently the reviews were posted (43%)
- Average star rating (38%)
- Total number of reviews (15%)
Collecting continuous reviews is important for improving your site authority and attracting new patients.
Patient review best practices
How do you get more patient reviews? You ask for them. More and more patients are willing to leave reviews, and 1 in 3 patients has posted a review of their doctor in the last year. Here are some best practices to encourage your patients to leave and share their experience at your practice:
- Make it easy to review your practice: Send patients digital surveys after each appointment to collect feedback when it’s still fresh.
- Use automated request tools: The best way to ensure you don’t forget to ask for feedback? Automate it. Cut out the busywork and embrace automation to request feedback from patients.
- Offer incentives: Sometimes patients need a little nudge. Host a raffle and enter patients’ names when they complete a review, offer to donate to a charity of their choice, or discount extra services. Just make sure you comply with local laws.
Respond gracefully to bad reviews
Bad reviews happen, but they have no immediate consequences on your medical SEO. As for damage control, the best thing to do with a negative review is to respond to it.
It may seem contrary to your instinct (many people tell you to ignore negative comments), but responding can help your reputation. In fact, 64% of patients say they would go back to a medical practice if the practice responded to their concerns.
When Google reviews a site, it considers how recently the content was posted. That’s why blogs and other forms of content are incredibly important to SEO success: they show that your site is active and up to date.
Content marketing is the act of creating helpful, relevant content for your audience, which also happens to provide fresh content for the Google algorithm.
How to create valuable content on a budget
Content marketing can cost you tens of thousands of dollars a year — but it doesn’t have to. You can create quality content and make the most of it with these tips.
- Trade guest posts: Guest posting is a great way to get more content on your site and earn backlinks while you’re at it. (A backlink is when another website links to yours.) Backlinks build your authority, and if you have fewer than your competitors, it will impact your ranking.
- Repurpose every piece of content: Don’t just write or commission a blog post and hide it on your website. Use different parts of your content in different ways across your marketing efforts. For example, a blog post can be turned into an infographic, a marketing email, and several social media posts.
- Refresh content at least once a year: Updating old content is a great way to refresh your site and boost your medical SEO. Go back and flesh out answers to patient questions, update seasonal information, or add new data and tips to older articles.
How long does SEO take to work?
Once you’ve moved past the basics, e.g., a fast-loading site, metadata, and claiming your Google Business listing, SEO is a practice in patience. It takes consistent work to capture more keywords, see your business climb the ranks, and attract more visitors to your site.
Some key factors that might prevent your site from ranking quickly include:
- Site maturity: How long a website has been active factors into your search ranking. The newer your site, the less authority Google gives you, and the lower you’ll appear in the rankings.
- Competitors: In a competitive local market, it can be hard to create enough content to keep up with other practices at the top — especially if they’ve been at it for a while.
- Backlinks: Sites that have been around for longer and have published more quality medical content will have more backlinks than a practice website that’s just starting to pay attention to SEO.
So how long will it take medical SEO to work? It depends on a number of factors, such as whether you have a dedicated SEO specialist, content writers, a marketing team, etc. Here’s a loose guide as to when you can expect to see results, by tactic:
Month 1: Technical and on-page optimization
- Fixing technical SEO issues will have fast results on your website. Repair broken links, ensure your site is optimized for mobile, improve your page load speed, and ensure you have website architecture that makes sense.
- Work through on-page optimizations by adding relevant keywords, meta descriptions, header tags, and linking internally across pages. You should start to see upward movement on those keywords within the first month.
- Claim your practice’s Google Business profile for a boost within a few days.
Month 2–3: Content creation
- Content creation is a long game, but once you’re posting regularly you should start to see results around the 3-month mark. Mix up content between blogs, infographics, videos, case studies, and more to gain traction faster.
Month 4–6: Link building and reputation management
- Building high-quality backlinks from authoritative websites in the healthcare industry will have a big impact, but it takes time to earn that trust. Create unique, informative content that other websites want to source, guest blog, or reach out to others in the medical field to be featured on other sites.
- Positive reviews across popular medical review sites will impact your search ranking. Make sure to ask patients for reviews and monitor review sites regularly.
Frequently asked medical SEO questions
Still wondering how to make medical SEO work for your practice? Take a look at these frequently asked questions.
Q: Does posting a lot of new content matter for SEO?
A: Posting new content impacts your success, but it’s not the only factor. Take on what your medical practice is comfortable with and commit to consistent quality content.
Q: Are there search engines other than Google I should try to rank my practice on?
A: Google is the most popular search engine, so we recommend you spend most of your time and efforts there. However, there are other search engines like Bing and Yahoo, and other places people conduct searches, like Yelp, Instagram, and TikTok. Make sure you claim your listing across search engines and directories to cover your bases.
Q: I need help! What should I look for in an SEO service?
A: Experience in SEO is critical, but an understanding of the healthcare industry is even more so. When vetting any service to support your practice growth, look for healthcare-specific experience or past clients, comprehensive data security where relevant, and strict compliance.
Q: Who can I hire for healthcare SEO expertise?
A: Tebra is a full-service healthcare operating platform that’s invested in healthcare practice growth.
Q: Is there a quick way to keep track of all my SEO checklist items?
A: Visit and download Tebra’s free and comprehensive medical SEO checklist for independent practices.