Search Engine Optimization (SEO) presents a huge opportunity for medical practices. Unfortunately, many medical practices have difficulty effectively using their websites and SEO to obtain new patients. It is critical for medical practices to understand the value of SEO and how to get started in order to maximize growth opportunities.
What is SEO?
Let’s start with the basics. SEO is the process of improving the quantity (and quality!) of traffic to your website through search engines, like Google or Bing. When a potential patient searches for a service or procedure your practice performs, you want them to land on your website. So, how do you make sure your website shows up in their search results? That is where SEO comes into play.
Why SEO is Important for Medical Practices
- Patients first stop is Dr. Google to search symptoms they are experiencing or to learn more about a diagnosis of an existing condition. SEO will help ensure your website shows up in these searches. Having a website that answers their question makes you the expert, increases their familiarity with you (or even gives them brand new exposure to you!), and puts them one step away from making an appointment.
- Many targets have low competition. While it can be very difficult to rank for a term like “surgeon,” there are a lot of keywords that have less traffic but are much easier to obtain (we call these “long tail keywords”). Targeting some of these long tail keywords can bring quick wins and bring in new patients. For medical practices, there are many opportunities for these “long tail” opportunities and many under-represented areas online that can bring you some quick wins and easy revenue. Good keyword research can help you quickly identify some of these targets.
- Find patients while they’re in “buy” mode. When you buy a billboard, you are showing an ad to a large number of people. The hope is that someone remembers you when they need your services or that you just happen to catch someone at the right time. When you invest in SEO, you’re hitting a potential patient when they have the services you provide on their mind and they are actively looking for them. You’re capturing a prospective patient when they are most likely to contact you.
- Medical practice SEO has high, measurable ROI. At Points Group, we have obtained ROI for our clients as high as 120 times their investment. While this is not a guarantee, we do routinely see very high, measurable ROI for our clients and look at SEO as a “no-brainer.” We track all leads that come through organic and paid search (both contact forms and phone calls) to show you exactly what your campaign is bringing you.
Common Medical SEO Mistakes
As you start to explore partnering with an agency for SEO, there are a few things to keep in mind to make sure your campaign doesn’t fall flat. Here are three common mistakes that we see from practices when they come to us from other agencies:
- Many marketing companies will tell you that SEO is the same no matter the industry. This just isn’t true. There are many nuances that make healthcare SEO unique. You need a company that lives and breathes healthcare marketing, or you have a much higher chance of seeing a low ROI. At Points Group, we’ve specialized in healthcare marketing long enough to know that there are some key differences:
- Healthcare search behavior is different. We know the types of keywords to look for. For example, many agencies target specific procedures, while we have data that shows users typically search for symptoms or conditions, not necessarily procedures.
- Accurate content is important. Content is a critical component of SEO. You need to make sure that your content is accurate and can be written in a timely (read: cost-effective) manner. Agencies that don’t specialize in healthcare aren’t able to produce the same level of content at the same cost.
- Know your audience. While SEO is technical and a science, it is also psychological and an art. Knowing your target audience is going to help you reach them much more effectively. That’s what an agency specializing in healthcare can provide.
- Ensure the agency is transparent. You need to know the results of your campaign as they happen so that it’s not a build up and shock later. There are ups and downs in SEO. Search engine algorithms make minor adjustments. It is also common to see ups and downs depending on your practice area. However, the general trend should be up. You should see this in traffic and rankings, but most importantly in new, measurable leads. Ask the agency how they report and make sure you get answers to your questions.
- When choosing an agency, make sure you feel like you can develop trust with them. If you don’t have a good impression right away, it may be time to look at a second agency. Remember that cooperative partnerships work much better. Work on building a good, trusting relationship with an agency over time.
How to Get Started
Ready to get started with SEO? Here are three things you need to do to prep for your campaign:
Know Your Budget
Know how much you have to spend. Being up front about this budget will help an agency tell you right away whether or not you are a good fit for each other, and will help an agency plan an appropriate budget the first time. When developing a budget, also keep in mind the return you anticipate getting. For example, if a surgical procedure brings a profit of $4,000, you know you only have to bring in two leads to surpass a spend of $6,000. Remember you are investing, not adding an expense.
Know Your Needs
What are you looking for? Is it SEO only? Do you have other needs? Are there certain areas you want to expand more than others? Knowing exactly what it is you’re looking for, and where your current shortfalls are, helps you plan well and create a more effective program.
Develop a Strategy
This is something that some practices can start on their own, but most will need an agency to help. Agencies like Points Group often provide a website analysis for you to show you where your current needs are from a digital marketing perspective and a general plan to move forward. Contact us if you would like a free online analysis and want to discuss how to begin developing a strategy for your online marketing.
SEO for medical practices is a high value service when done right. Most practices we work with see significant ROI, and we have long lasting relationships with our clients. Have any questions? Let us know, and we can talk about how to develop a strategic partnership to help your practice grow.