At a Glance
- Ranking highly on Google is important for healthcare practices because 77% of patients search online for doctors.
- Identifying keywords patients search for that relate to your services and location is key.
- Optimize your website for search with the right structure, optimized title tags and meta descriptions, mobile responsiveness, fast load times, and a focus on ranking for local searches.
What makes or breaks a new practice and is a key part of healthcare website design? How you show up in search results and rank on Google.
According to Tebra’s Patient Perspectives report, 77% of patients search online for doctors either often or sometimes. Since search is a prominent way that patients find new healthcare providers, it's essential to learn how to stand out and rank on Google and other search engines.
But what does “ranking” even mean?
Ranking on Google generally means having your website appear on the first page of its search results. Google’s search algorithm uses various factors to rank websites, such as how relevant the content is to the search, quality backlinks that point to your website, the user experience, and website authority in your industry. Taking steps to rank highly on Google is part of an effective healthcare marketing strategy.
“Taking steps to rank highly on Google is part of an effective healthcare marketing strategy. ”
While there are no shortcuts to ranking at the top of the first page, there are ways to optimize your website with good healthcare website design. But first, let’s dig into the basics.
The ins and outs of Google Search
To rank on Google, you need to know how it works. Here are some important considerations for ranking success.
It’s all about local
Whenever someone searches online for something offline, like an auto repair place, a restaurant, or a doctor’s office, Google automatically prioritizes results in the local area.
This means that part of ranking on Google is beating your local competitors. If you’re a general practitioner in Sacramento, California, you’re not going up against doctors in Laguna Beach. You’re going up against other general practitioners in central California. This is called “implicit local search.” Google infers a user’s intent by their search query and location.
There’s also “explicit local search.” That’s when a user includes the location in their search terms, for example, “dermatologist Los Angeles” or “LA dermatologist.” Optimizing for local search by building it into your healthcare website design can help you rank higher on Google.
A branded search is when patients know what they’re looking for — in this case, the practice or provider name — and query it specifically. They intend to either use the search as a way to navigate to your website, or to find third-party reviews (a good reason to invest in reputation management and ensure your information is correct across all online profiles and review sites).
A discovery query is when patients know the service or type of provider they want but haven’t narrowed down who they want it from. This could be an explicit local search, like “therapist near me,” or it might include other qualifiers, like “therapist open Saturdays,” etc.
“There’s been 8x growth in “near me open now” health searches in the past 6 years. ”
Find your keywords
Keyword research is an important part of search engine optimization (SEO) that often gets skipped. The right keywords to use across your website should match what your patients are searching for and provide plenty of variations.
Start with your target audience. Identify which words they might use to search for a practice like yours. Think about the types of medical services you offer, your location, and the demographics of your target audience. Brainstorm technical and non-technical words for your specialty and what makes you unique. For example, a nephrologist may want to include “kidney doctor” as a keyword.
Use tools online to help you narrow down your keywords, and use them as you craft the content on your website.
How to make your practice website rank on Google
Ranking on Google depends on your website but also depends on your specialty, local market, and competition. Put your best foot forward with these tips.
Start with basic website anatomy
Focus on these 5 areas of your healthcare website design:
- An about page: Many practices throw up a dry about page with minimal information, but it’s often the second most-visited page (after your homepage).
- A contact page: Make sure your contact information and address is prominently displayed and accurate. It’s also beneficial to give your patients multiple ways to contact you, like via phone, text messaging, and email.
- People: Patients want to know more about their providers. Share information about your providers, assistants, and staff. This will also help with rankings when patients search for specific people.
- Services: Dedicate a separate page to each of your services. This will help patients to understand what you do and search engines to pick up on the keywords you use for each service.
- Testimonials: Bring your pages to life and get patients to stay on your website for longer (and eventually convert) by featuring positive testimonials from recent patients.
Perfect your display results
Your display results are what show up from your website on search engines. They include your URL, website title, and meta description.
Your website title (or title tag) should be descriptive, clear, and include a top keyword or two. SEO software provider Moz suggests keeping your title under 60 characters.
Your meta description should include a mix of key phrases that patients are searching, but it should also be engaging. Your name and meta description are what will get prospective patients to click.
Don’t forget the technical aspects
Google favors websites that work well for users. There are 2 factors to pay special attention to in your healthcare website design:
- Mobile responsiveness: Does your website design work on mobile devices? Google penalizes sites that aren’t mobile-friendly.
- Speed: Both users and Google prefer sites that have fast load times. Users tend to leave sites that take longer than 3 seconds to load.
Rank on Google to reach more patients
Don’t make it hard for new patients to find you online. Use these techniques to improve your healthcare website design and climb Google to the top of the first page.
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75% of people look online to find a doctor. Patients take a critical look at web presence, online business profiles, and reviews when they decide to pick a health provider. Learn where your practice should be online in the 2023 Patient Perspectives report.