On-site search engine optimization (SEO) involves optimizing the content and all the other elements of your medical practice’s website. For this blog post, we will focus on optimizing the content, including written content, title tags, meta descriptions, internal links, and URLs.
Great content accomplishes two things:
- It gives your audience a better experience.
- It helps search engines better understand your website.
High Quality Content
Your practice may have the best surgeons, nurses, and staff in town. However, if your website has poor content, many prospective patients will look elsewhere for their medical needs.
The text needs to be easy enough for an 8th grader to read and free of obvious errors. But readability alone will not earn better search engine rankings. Publishing expert, trustworthy, and authoritative content that is relevant to your audience’s search queries will.
Generally, Google rewards comprehensive content pages with high search rankings. Comprehensive content addresses topics in full. This serves the audience by giving them all the relevant information about the topic on one page.
On the wrong side of things, Google punishes poor content and short content pages that lack content and or address topics only in part. Google has a name for this kind of content: thin.
Let’s take a look at the difference between thin and comprehensive content in the case of two imaginary orthopedic surgeon practices.
Surgeon Practice 1: Thin Content
The first practice intends to publish informational pages about all their main surgical operations under a ‘Procedures’ tab. Their target audience is made up of patients and prospective patients.
So far, there is nothing wrong. They go ahead and publish a dozen content pages. Each page is around 350 words and deals with a specific surgery. One page is titled, ‘Minimally Invasive Hip Surgery at San Francisco Orthopedic’. Weeks go by, but this practice sees no improvement in search engine rankings after all this work.
Surgeon Practice 2: Comprehensive Content
The second practice has the same goal: To inform their audience about their surgical procedures. But during their consultation with an SEO agency, they learn that one of the keys to creating great content is fleshing out topics in full on each page.
So, instead of focusing on specific types of surgery such as minimally invasive hip surgery, the orthopedic practice publishes a page on the whole topic: ‘Hip Replacement Surgery at Orlando, Florida Orthopedic’. A few weeks after publishing a few 1,500 to 2,000-word pages like this, the practice’s website starts climbing up the search rankings.
That’s the power of comprehensive content.
To rise above the competition in search results, content needs to be valuable and unique.
Providing value consists of publishing content with well-written prose and compelling insights from a medical practitioner with extensive knowledge. Medical experts should provide the latest information in their field, along with research studies and examples. Content becomes more compelling to patients and future patients when content creators incorporate various content types, such as images, screenshots, videos, and infographics.
As a medical practice, it’s your duty to thoroughly inform patients and prospective patients. Text-only content is one dimensional and, in general, far less engaging than content packed with research studies, patient testimonials, infographics, and blog posts.
But content is only valuable when it’s crafted with expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness for a medical – especially content for a medical practice.
Uniqueness is all about offering something your competitors lack. That can be new research studies or new insights into treatments, surgeries, and procedures. It can also be a more user-friendly website with better customer service.
A simple way to find new ideas for content is to answer common questions patients ask. If you are an orthopedic surgeon, patients may want to know how long it takes to heal from knee replacement surgery or the difference between partial and total knee replacement surgery.
You can recall questions like these from interactions with patients and or search through the FAQ’s on your own site and the websites of other successful practices.
Content must contain keywords relevant to user search queries to rank highly. Effective keywords are based on competitiveness and relevancy to search engine searches.
What Are Keywords?
Phrases searched in search engines, such as “orthopedic surgeon near me” and “hip replacement surgery recovery time.” If your practice has pages optimized for the keywords users search, you have a chance to rank highly for these searches.
Optimized keywords are relevant to search queries. They also show search engines the topic of your content, which brings more traffic to your website.
How do you find good keywords?
Some keywords are obvious.
For example, the home page is the most important and most viewed page on any website. It should be optimized for a keyword phrase that includes the practice specialty and its main geographic service area. For example, a pain clinic in St. Louis, Missouri: “Stetson Pain Treatment Center, St. Louis.”
Some keywords require research. You can do your own keyword research by checking competitor websites to see keywords they rank highly for. Identify what keywords you have a chance to rank highly for based on competitor position.
For instance, if you were an orthopedic specialist and only one of your competitors ranked in the top five organic results for the term ‘5 things to know about joint replacement surgery,’ you could aim to rank highly for the term by publishing a blog post.
Where to place keywords in content?
Years ago, keyword placement and frequency within copy could manipulate search engine rankings. Back then, to achieve better rankings, it was common practice for content publishers would jam these phrases all over the text without worrying about the quality of the content.
Today, search engines reward high-quality content that stays on topic and penalize keyword-stuffed, off-topic content.
That said, content will generally rank higher when the keyword is included in the first 100-150 words of the body text. Using keywords early clearly communicates page topic to search engines.
Imagine an orthopedic surgeon practice wants to publish an information page about hip replacement surgery. Today’s sophisticated search engines realize the phrases ‘hip replacement surgery’, ‘minimally invasive hip replacement’ and ‘standard hip replacement surgery’ are related.
This means you don’t have to repeat the same phrase throughout your copy. In fact, Google might even penalize you for that if it doesn’t sound natural. Today there are no “magic” keywords that boost search rankings.
You need to assign a unique keyword (topic) to each content page. This will ensure your websites pages will not compete against one another in search engine rankings.
Specific vs. Broad Keywords
The broader the keyword, the lower it will rank in search engines. The more specific the keyword, the better the chance it will rank highly in search engines. Also, site visitors will be engaged with your site because you are providing them with the content they want to see.
Optimized Metadata, URLs, and External Links
Optimizing meta descriptions, tags, URLs, and including external links improves user experience and helps Google understand your site (which boosts your SEO).
Try searching for a keyword like ‘total knee replacement in Los Angeles.’ Notice how the top 3 results will have this keyword in the title. There is a strong correlation between top-ranking pages and optimized title tags (title tags with main keywords near the beginning) Also, title tag modifiers help you rank higher for keywords.
For instance, if you want to write a blog post about the attributes of a good orthopedic surgeon, write the title from the patient’s perspective, for example: “5 Tips for Finding an Orthopedic Surgeon.”
Meta descriptions are the text visible to searchers in search engine results pages that describe the content on a web page. They appear immediately below title tags. Google limits meta descriptions to 160 characters. Optimized meta descriptions include the main keyword and are limited to 160 characters or fewer.
Consider using a metadata template like this one:
- Title tag: This Is A Webpage Title Tag
- URL: https://website.com/page-title
- Meta description: This is a [content overview]. Learn how to get [special benefit] from this [content description]. This description should be no longer than 160 characters.
h1 and h2 Tags
Wrap the title of your page in h1 tags and subheadings in h2 tags in source code to help Google understand page topics. WordPress adds the h1 tag to blog posts automatically.
URL structure is an important ranking signal. Remember to make URLs short by including only the keyword and the necessary content. For example, the Orthopedic and Spine Institute of Los Angeles ranks in the top 3 for the search term ‘total knee replacement in Los Angeles’.
Their optimized URL: https://www.laorthoexperts.com/total-knee-replacement. It’s fine to include more words than the keyword in your URLs.
External or outbound links improve page ranking in search results. Users may not trust information that makes claims but includes no outbound links.
Time to go publish some great content!
Focus on creating a great user experience by publishing high-quality, comprehensive content, and higher search engine rankings will follow. This will bring more and more prospective patients to your website.