Looking to learn more about SEO for doctors and integrative practitioners? In today’s competitive healthcare industry, digital marketing and a strong online presence are necessities for physicians and medical practices. According to a recent survey, 72% of patients in the U.S. read online reviews as their first step when looking for a healthcare provider. (7) This informs their opinion about a practitioner or medical practice. Statistics have shown that blogging regularly with an effective SEO strategy in mind is one of the best ways to grow a medical practice on a budget. And professional blogging, in particular, comes with a list of benefits for a medical business.
As a doctor or healthcare provider, there are a variety of different online marketing tactics that you can use, but one of the easiest ways to grow your online presence is through consistent blogging. We’ve broken down the basics of SEO for doctors, and how the anatomy of a successful blog works.
What is on-page search engine optimization (SEO)?
SEO, which is an abbreviation for search engine optimization, is how your business shows up in search results, how Google and other search engines rank the content of your blog, and how patients often try to find practitioners. On-page SEO is the practice of optimizing individual website pages (i.e., blog posts) for them to rank higher and earn more relevant traffic in search engines. Both the content (i.e., whatever you have written) and the HTML source code of a page can be optimized.
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What factors do search engines use to rank for SEO?
Google, which is the most popularly used search engine, uses over 200 ranking factors in their algorithm to determine the top-page search results. Taking into account all 200 ranking factors is a lot, but Google says that ‘high-quality on-page content’ is among its top three most important ranking factors. (5)
Did you know? Websites listed on the first page of Google search results, generate 92% of the traffic from an average search. (7)
What does blogging have to do with SEO?
Blogging helps improve SEO by positioning your website’s content as a relevant answer to your customers’ questions. By consistently publishing blog posts that take into account a variety of on-page SEO tactics, you will gain more opportunities to rank higher in search engines and get more prospective patients to visit your site.
Did you know? 51% of all website traffic is generated by organic search, 10% from paid search, 5% from social, and 34% from all other sources. (3)
Why practitioners should care about SEO rankings for their medical practice
With the majority of adults in the U.S. looking online for their health information and often searching for doctors by name, SEO is more important than ever for medical professionals.
Did you know? Strong online practitioner ratings and patient reviews can bring more business to your practice, as evidenced by the fact that almost half of respondents (48%) would go outside their insurance network for a provider with favorable reviews and ratings. (4)
Looking up health or medical information online is one of the most popular activities on the web these days. According to a study released by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 80% of all internet users, or about 93 million adults living in the U.S., have searched for a health topic online.
SEO for doctors and integrative healthcare practitioners: Top tips
It’s almost impossible to have a practitioner’s blog end up on the first page of search engine results without consistently churning out new, SEO-centric content. All successful blogs, medical or not, have a solid foundation of well-researched content and consistent postings.
However, consistently publishing compelling on-page SEO blog posts that drive traffic organically is no easy feat. Since most practitioners already have enough on their plate, we’ve put together all our expert on-page SEO tips to researching, writing, and publishing health-related blog posts for your benefit.
These days, if you want someone to read your posts from a professional health blog, it’s not just about putting out quality information. Topic selection, research, writing, and publishing all have a significant impact on whether you have content that may generate on the first page of Google.
Did you know? 52% of respondents on a recent content marketing survey agreed that blogging is the most critical content marketing tactic. (1)
1. How to research for on-page SEO content creation
Outlined below are some tips to keep in mind during the on-page SEO research process of writing a blog post.
- Have a key phrase or keyword in mind while researching. For example, if you are writing about the benefits of vitamin C, your keyword could be ‘vitamin C benefit’ while a related keyword phrase could be ‘what are the benefits of taking vitamin C’.
- Use a free keyword research tool such as Answer the Public (2) or Google Keyword Planner.
- Stick to trustworthy sources, and avoid sourcing back to a random blog. The National Institute of Health has a great write-up on reliable health resources (8) for healthcare providers to help you get started.
- Search the web and collect research on LSI keywords as if you are the reader. You can easily search the keyword or topic in Google and research what content comes up.
Did you know? A keyword or key phrase is a word or phrase (such as back pain or sudden back pain spasms) that is made up of multiple keywords that a user will enter into a search engine when looking for answers about or related to the key phrase or keyword.
2. How to write and develop a content strategy for health blogs
Keep these tips in mind during the actual writing process.
- Write with your specific reader in mind. Is it geared towards your patient or a colleague? For patients, it’s crucial to define scientific terms. For example, don’t assume patients already have an understanding of certain terms, such as basal metabolism or insulin sensitivity.
- Write with a specific key phrase or keyword in mind. Use it during your introductory paragraph.
- Use H2 header for your introductory paragraph, which makes you more likely to be selected for a featured snippet in Google search engines. Use H3 headers for subheaders under H2 content.
- Use your related key phrases throughout your piece.
- Keep sentences short and simple.
- Keep article/blog titles to 70 characters or less.
- Keep paragraphs short. Keeping paragraphs between three and five sentences is ideal.
- Aim for a post length of 700-2,000 words. Longer posts around 1,800-2,000 words tend to perform better.
- Make content more manageable to take in by using lists and bullet points.
- Break up written content by including images and visual aids.
- Share personal health journeys. Everyone loves to know how practitioners address medical questions in their personal lives. Be open to sharing, or asking your patients to share.
- Tight on time for writing? Hire a ghostwriter or assign content creation duties and SEO-styled blog postings to an office manager.
- Read what you wrote out loud or send it to a friend before publishing it.
- Check your grammar and spelling. There are a lot of great tools that are free and very user-friendly, like Grammarly. (6)
3. On-page SEO checklist for publishing posts
Keep these things in mind during the publishing process.
- Do you have a point-person for publishing and uploading?
- Have you entered your key phrase or keyword into your content?
- Do you have a unique meta description that includes your key phrase?
- Did you create short and specific URLs so Google can find the blog post easier?
- Take the extra step and add some LSI keywords to your content piece.
- Make sure your formatting is correct.
- Did you provide quality sources?
- Have you provided outbound links to your sources? Do your outbound links open in a separate window?
- Have you checked to see that your keyword or phrase is not accidentally linking to another site?
- Have you linked relevant blog posts on your site, in your blog post article?
- Is your keyword listed under alt attributes for your feature image?
- Are your images optimized? Are they captioned?
- Did you write alt text for images/infographics and videos?
- Turn off auto approval on the comments section of your posts on the back end. This way you have control over negative comments and the time needed to create a thoughtful response.
Did you know? One in every three adults in the U.S. says that at one time or another they have gone online specifically to try to figure out what medical condition they or someone else might have. (4)
How can you tell when SEO blog content is paying off?
Writing blog posts and wondering how you can tell if your SEO efforts are paying off?
You should use an analytics tool, such as Google Analytics or parse.ly, to figure out which content is drawing the most views and what the content loading time is for patients. Also, are you seeing trends of positive movement that correlate with recent SEO improvements? Chances are if you’ve been consistent about your blog posting and have used our recommended SEO tactics for three to six months, you should see more traffic on your website. Remember all the tips, keep blogging, and measure your online activity.
The bottom line
When it comes to SEO, there’s no excuse for not getting started. After all, you get to establish what the topic or goal of your blog will be. You get to decide who your target audience is. And you can choose your target keywords and phrases you want to focus on. All you need to do is come up with an SEO content creation plan and stick to it.
If you are consistent, you will find that the rewards of applying on-page SEO tactics are well worth the effort. You can surely be on point with on-page SEO to help grow your business or medical practice!
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- 2017 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America. (n.d.). B2B. https://contentmarketinginstitute.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/2017_B2B_Research_FINAL.pdf
- AnswerThePublic. (n.d.). AnswerThePublic. https://answerthepublic.com/
- BrightEdge Research: 2019 Channel Share Report. (n.d.). BrightEdge. https://www.brightedge.com/resources/research-reports/channel_share
- Fox, S., & Duggan, M. (2020, August 14). Health Online 2013. Pew Research Center: Internet, Science & Tech. https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2013/01/15/health-online-2013/
- Google’s 200 Ranking Factors: The Complete List (2022). (n.d.). Backlinko. https://backlinko.com/google-ranking-factors
- Grammarly. (n.d.). https://www.grammarly.com/1
- Hedges, L., & Couey, C. (2022, September 6). How Patients Use Online Reviews: What You Need to Know | Software Advice. Top Business Software Resources for Buyers – 2022 | Software Advice. https://www.softwareadvice.com/resources/how-patients-use-online-reviews/
- NCCIH. (n.d.). Finding and Evaluating Online Resources. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/webresources.