The Intake

Insights for those starting, managing, and growing independent healthcare practices

5 local SEO strategies for doctors in 2023

Expand your client base and grow your practice by implementing these local SEO strategies.

person learning local seo strategies for doctors

You’re a physician, not a computer coder. So, why should you care about SEO? Actually, now that you stop and think about it, you’re probably wondering … what is SEO? After all, you have a website. That should be enough, right?

All of the work and effort you put into your website was a fantastic start. But that’s precisely what it was — a start.

You probably had lofty and altruistic goals when you decided to become a physician. Chances are you still do. However, if the people in your targeted area don’t know you exist or why you are the best option for their healthcare needs, how can you possibly fulfill your destiny?

Here are the tools to expand your client base and help more patients and prospects on their journey to quality healthcare.

Defining SEO and its importance

SEO stands for search engine optimization (SEO). Essentially, it means you have adjusted specific items on your website and within your content. Your goal is to attract search engines, such as Google, Bing!, or Duck Duck Go, to ensure they are interested in displaying your practice on the front page of their search results.

The more you’ve optimized your site and content, the higher on the search results page it will appear.

SEO is not an event. It’s an ongoing self-improvement process. ”

The inherent challenge with this concept is that it is more of an art than a science. It’s also not a one-and-done exercise. Search engines occasionally like to play with their algorithms and change their parameters. Said differently, SEO is not an event; it’s an ongoing self-improvement process.

SEO requires you to shift some paradigms about what you’re capable of doing. It’s not hard, even if it seems complex at first. Here are a few initial ways to improve your SEO.

Make sure your site is discoverable

Many website owners do not realize that one of the best ways to begin their SEO journey is to invite Google to crawl their site. Once this has happened, your site is indexed for search results.

If you’re unsure if your site has been indexed, type into the browser search bar and hit return. If you get results that display individual pages from your website, your site has been indexed, and you’re ready for the next step.

However, if you don’t get any results, don’t worry. Take these steps:

  • Review (or have the site administrator review) the site’s uniform resource locator (URL) (your site’s address name) in every field in which it appears on your hosting platform. This needs to be done to ensure there aren’t any typos, which would result in contradictions that confuse the search engine’s bots and result in a non-indexed page. 
  • Ensure (or have the site administrator ensure) that there isn’t a message in any of your site’s hosting platform fields that instructs the bots to skip those pages or to skip your site entirely. These messages would include programming code that looks something like this:
    • <meta name=”robots” content=”noindex”/>
    • <meta name=”robots” content=”nofollow”>
    • user-agent: *
    • disallow: / 

It isn’t uncommon for site owners to ask their site developers to include these blocks because they think they’re a security measure. Patient privacy and site security are essential. However, refusing to allow search engines to crawl through your site is counter-productive and does not ensure your site’s security is effective.

These steps should resolve any issues with getting your site indexed. If they don’t, you will most likely want to get your site developer to create a site map and determine if you have any broken links associated with your site.

5 essential SEO strategies to improve your practice’s site traffic

Now that patients or prospects can find your site if they search for it, here’s how to move your site up in the rankings if they search for your type of services more broadly.

Publish relevant content

If you want to connect with current and potential patients, post content about current health concerns in your community and how to resolve them.

You already know that patients want their providers to care about them as individuals instead of as a cohort. What are some of the concerns you have for your patients? For example, depending on your specialty, your patients might wonder:

  • When are temperatures too high or too low for safe outdoor exercise?
  • What are the best steps to search for and remove ticks after being in fields or the woods?
  • Which flora and fauna exacerbate specific allergies, and how can patients manage their exposure and symptoms?

Publishing a current blog post to your site every week, or even every other week, demonstrates that you are concerned about what your patients need. Additionally, consistently publishing relevant content improves your opportunity for better rankings.

Use popular keywords

Keywords are those words or phrases people consistently use when conducting web searches. Some of these will seem obvious. If you’re writing about identifying symptoms that indicate a stroke, you already know that “stroke” and “stroke symptoms” will be words you need to include in your blog headline and content.

To rank well and ensure that your content matches the headline, your subheadings should directly tie back to the topic of the post. ”

Here’s a trick about that, though. To rank well and ensure that your content matches the headline, your subheadings should directly tie back to the topic of the post. Therefore, include keywords in some of your subheadings.

Go beyond the obvious when contemplating keywords related to your blog post. Also, think about:

  • Different disorders with similar symptoms: What might someone search for if they’re confused about what they or a loved one is experiencing? For instance, blurred vision and leg weakness may also lean toward a heart attack.
  • Recommended treatments for the topic: What might a patient expect the next steps to be after a diagnosis?
  • Specific information about your practice and location: When a user is new to an area, they often search for “doctors near me.” Ensure you have all relevant information, including your specialty, on each blog post.

If you’re feeling stuck and unsure what keywords may be relevant, look at the search results for your topic. Rather than paying for a tool or subscription, look below the paid ads. There, you’ll see a section called “related searches.” Determine what additional words you can find and implement in those recommendations.

Provide relevant graphics with descriptors

The more mobile we get as a culture, the less we are able to focus. According to a study on attention, the average human attention span is only 8.25 seconds. 

To work with this, provide photos, charts, GIFs, and graphics — with alt text — that support your content. When inserted throughout a blog post, you have a better chance of getting your readers to stop and stay on your page.

Why is this important? Well, the longer people stay on your page, the higher search engines score your SEO because you’re clearly hitting the reader intent bullseye.

When you add media to your blog post, you can add a descriptor to assist visually or audibly challenged users. These alt text descriptors should always include keywords, describe the contents of the image or video, and inform how the media relates to the article.

Show your work

Just as when you were in school, you will want to cite your sources, in this case, using hyperlinks. Demonstrate your expertise and improve your SEO ranking by having at least 1 to 2 quality external links (sources other than your own blog or site) and 1 to 2 internal links (sources that lead people to related content on your website).

As you format your post in your content management system, look at the settings for each link to make sure that they all open in a new tab or window. This keeps readers on your site for longer. 

Keep your blog fresh

Put a note in your calendar to update your blog posts 9 to 12 months after publication. When you refresh your content with new research or expound on what you previously published, you notify search engines that your content is up to date and isn’t dormant.

The more activity you have on your site, the better your SEO ranking will be.

Make time for SEO

If you feel a bit overwhelmed, let yourself take a breath and think about how much better this process is than when you were in the middle of your clinicals. You will be able to master this new process, and relevant patients will find you as a result.

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