In the health conditions and diseases category in the United States, WebMD ranks number one over all other websites out there. No surprise, right? It also ranks at the 125 website in the U.S. over all categories. Last year the site reached almost 150 million visits in one month. With all that SEO power and pages upon pages of content, how can your clinic’s website compete?
You’re asking the wrong question. While you might be competing with WebMD for keywords on specific illnesses or conditions, you aren’t competing with them for patients or for your specific geographic area. Although the chances of ranking ahead of the behemoth medical site for generic keywords is low, it’s not an excuse skimp on your website’s content SEO in order to reach your specific target markets.
If you’re goal is more organic website traffic for your clinic’s website, start with these SEO tricks and tools to move your site up in the rankings.
Short-tail vs Long-tail
“Short-tail” keywords include common or generic keywords like “high blood pressure”, “diabetes”, “flu” or “seasonal allergies”. These keywords have some of the toughest competition out there. When we used our HubSpot keyword tool to look at the search numbers we found over 300K people search for information on diabetes every month. Out of a 100 point difficulty scale, this short tail keyword has a level of 99, making it one of the most difficult terms to get ranked for on Google.
Now look at a long tail keyword “diabetic breakfast recipes”. The key word has a significantly lower search ranking at 2900 searches every month. Still, almost 3000 people search for information on diabetic breakfast recipes every month. Out of a 100 point ranking system, this keyword comes in at 76, which means with a little work you could manage to get your site to rank on the first page of Google for this keyword.
Now ask yourself, if someone is searching for diabetic breakfast recipes, would they not be as much your target market as someone looking for general information on diabetes? The answer is probably yes.
While we don’t recommend turning your clinic’s website into a recipe board, it’s a great example of how to think beyond the initial keywords. Check out this table for an idea of some other long-tail keywords to consider.
Great ways to get started with your list of “long-tail” keywords include:
- Make a list of questions your patients ask you
- Add “how to” plus an action verb related to the illness (how to diagnose, how to treat, how to recognize, etc)
- Write out a list of possible treatments
- Add your state or city’s name in with the condition or illness (i.e.Trends in flu diagnosis in Mississippi).
Focus on a topic
You can’t raise your SEO value on everything all at once–unless you have a very large team of content creators who can churn out multiple blog posts every day. So pick your top three to five illnesses or conditions you want to rank for first. Take the long-tail keywords and create multiple articles on each topic. By consistently publishing on some very specific topics, Google (along with your patients) will soon see you as an expert. (In addition to be great SEO tips, they are also inbound marketing best practices.)
As fun as writing blog posts can be, it’s not the only way to increase your SEO rankings. In fact, it’s not the first place to start. Comb through your existing webpages. Do you see those conditions or illnesses mentioned in the regular pages of your site? No? Then you need to look at your website content first. Website content doesn’t just mean the frontend content your patients are reading. Also look at keywords in these strategic places:
- Image descriptions
- SEO Title
Our website, and most of our clients, is build on the WordPress platform. WordPress makes adding these SEO building blocks very easy. Your website developer probably already added a plug in for it into the backend of your site. If not, talk to your developer about where you can find this information and what changes may need to be made. Here’s how ours looks:
Cover the Basics
We haven’t really talked about deep SEO tactics for medical websites. Thinking through your keywords and paying attention to frontend and backend content are pretty basic methods. Your website also needs to pay attention to other best practices for medical websites (or websites in general.
One of the most common problems we see are websites that aren’t upgraded to be mobile friendly. Over fifty percent of website traffic is from mobile devices and Google ranks non-mobile sites lower than mobile sites. So forget about WebMD. If the clinic down the road is mobile and you aren’t, you’ve already lost the SEO competition. Find out if your website is mobile friendly here.
Other basic SEO tactics include:
- Making sure your clinic’s phone number is in the top right hand corner of your website (it’s easy to find).
- Referring to your community, providers and services multiple times throughout your site
- Ensuring your site’s directory listings throughout the web are consistent
- Updating your Google business listing
- Posting links to your blog on appropriate message boards (don’t be spammy though)
Once you have a plan put together you’ll want to measure your success by tracking how many organic visits to your website you receive, which pages people visit, if you’re reaching the right geographic areas and, of course, if you’re increasing patient visits for illnesses and conditions you are promoting.