Even if you’re creating great content, you may be missing a key ranking factor.
For patients and providers alike, there’s no doubt about it: health care has changed significantly over the last decade. For providers, the shift towards value-based reimbursement models has presented a real opportunity to improve quality of care. For patients, the surge in high-deductible health plans has engendered a much more information-driven patient who approaches choosing a provider from a more active position. In fact, studies show that an overwhelming 85% of patients actively research their physician and treatment options before choosing to engage with a provider.
What are patients searching for online?
Very broadly speaking, patients are looking for:
- Tips for healthy lifestyles
- Educational information about specific conditions
- Information on treatments for their specific conditions
- Tips for managing chronic conditions
- Physician reviews
For providers, this active and information-driven patient presents a unique opportunity to establish expertise and gain trust that will ultimately lead to sustainable new patient growth.
How can you harness this change to grow your practice? As patients take to the omniscient annals of cyberspace in search of valuable information, search engine results determine which websites will be presented to them — and if you know how to fully leverage medical SEO, you can increase the likelihood that they will come across your practice.
Where most in-house medical SEO campaigns fall short
It’s not enough just to have a website that’s SEO-optimized in terms of site structure and content. Today, what makes a medical SEO campaign successful is that your marketing team understands the different categories of information that patients are looking for, and creates valuable content to address them. If you’re creating content that speaks to your patients, that’s an excellent start. But it’s probably not doing all it could be doing to improve your Google rankings if you’re only posting it on your own website.
If you have a blog, you’re well on your way to being able to provide your patients, potential patients and visitors with expert information that they will find truly valuable. However, if you are relying only on your blog activity and on-page content optimization to give your practice or organization a competitive advantage in the coveted real estate of the first page of search result rankings – you’re missing a key piece of how search engines assess and rank results. Actually, this is where the vast majority of in-house medical SEO campaigns fall short.
If another reputable website posts your content, with a link back to your site, those links have a significant impact on your search rankings. These are called “backlinks,” and they’re one of Google’s strongest ranking factors. Having a strong backlink profile — meaning, a wide range of authoritative, high-ranking websites linking back to your site using natural-looking link text — increases the likelihood of your own site ranking on the first page far more than on-page optimizations alone could do. Learn more about link building and backlinks.
The difference might be subtle at first glance, but to search engines and the ominous algorithms they use, it is a very meaningful difference. An analogy would be to consider yourself an expert in a certain medical specialty versus having other respected medical professionals consider you an expert. Creating content that not only patients consider to be valuable but other recognized media in the industry also consider to be valuable is one of the most under-utilized and most important aspects of search engine rankings.
That being said, there’s certainly far more involved in a successful SEO campaign than posting links. Your campaign is more likely to succeed if you have a trained professional on staff overseeing the website and working with the content creation team.
With the impact of the information age upon us, most health care professionals and organizations know that medical SEO is necessary to even have a chance at engaging with potential new patients. Very few organizations are able to execute on a comprehensive strategy to tackle both the on-page and off-page aspects of medical SEO campaigns. Providers who are able to successfully implement and execute marketing campaigns that not only communicate deep, valuable and authoritative expertise on a specific set of conditions or treatments but also engage with and create content for other websites related to their area of expertise will have a measurable advantage when it comes to acquiring new patients.