Search engine optimization (SEO) is a prime way businesses build a local audience online, capitalizing on the 46% of Google searches that seek “nearby” services. And while SEO for medical practices is increasingly important—practices can reach a local audience—it’s not easy.
Growing organic traffic requires specialized knowledge. Investing in your website’s content, and getting a return on that investment (ROI), requires practices to understand how SEO works for them and what website improvements—from content choice to design—fuel success.
What Is SEO?
SEO is the process of improving a website’s ranking for unpaid (organic) search queries in the search results. It includes improving a website for popularly searched keywords, page usability, and content that other sites link to. Traffic increases as your medical website moves up through the search engine result pages. The end goal is to show up on page one for popular search queries that prospective patients are likely to use.
Every search engine uses a different formula to show users relevant results, from how current the content is to how fast the page loads. All of these results are then displayed on the search engine results page or SERPs for short. For Google’s search results, there are over 200 continually updated ranking factors. These ranking factors are what determines where your website will be ranked on the Google search results page.
Sixty-three percent of respondents to a survey commissioned by Doctors.com say a practice’s strong online presence is the prime reason they choose one healthcare provider over another. To compete locally for the right audience that will grow your practice, healthcare leaders should embrace SEO as a way of increasing the website’s ROI.
The Benefits of SEO for Medical Practices
Since 75% of people won’t scroll beyond the first page of search engine results, climbing to the top of the rankings is a tried-and-true way of getting eyeballs on your practice’s content. Aside from page one placement, here are some other benefits of SEO for your medical practice:
- Better-quality leads: Relevant content draws interested readers who are more likely to become patients. SEO can help a practice stand apart from the other 900,000 healthcare facilities in the U.S.
- Leads at the right time: Potential patients look for health providers when they’re ready to seek care. For example, the most common searches are for medical conditions like ADHD and opioid addiction. Providing helpful and useful information on topics that are important to your audience can help them choose you.
- Practice authority: A respected practice is more likely to make future patients feel at ease. When choosing a hospital, 94% of prospective patients value the facility’s reputation.
- Improved ROI: Strong SEO leads to greater value for a practice’s investment in content. SEO is a better value than paid advertising in the long run.
How to Do SEO for a Medical Practice
By optimizing your practice’s website for search engines, you can create content that will rank higher in organic search results, making it easier for potential patients to find the services they need. Here are a couple of ways to make that happen:
1. Get an SEO tool, take a class, or read a resource
Quality SEO resources can get a practice started, including:
- The University of California’s Coursera class, where you’ll find units addressing business strategies, off- and on-page optimization, and optimizing for local search.
- Hubspot’s shorter, but highly respected, certification, with units on fundamental topics such as choosing keywords. Add related courses on multiple advanced topics, like how to read SEO reports.
- Yoast’s SEO course for beginners. The company also offers advanced courses, conferences, webinars, and even a podcast for leveling up.
2. Run an audit
An SEO audit identifies your practice’s current strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for your medical practice website. It can focus on multiple aspects of SEO, such as:
- Off-page SEO, including the quality and number of backlinks.
- Technical aspects of a page, like speed and security.
- On-page factors, from meta descriptions to image alt text, titles, and headers.
- Content—identifying the best keywords and then analyzing content for quality, optimizing for Google’s Featured Snippet, or making comprehensive, linkable content.
- Local SEO – searches looking for medical services near the user
By using third-party tools like SEMRush, Ahrefs, or Google Search Console, you can audit your current SEO and design a roadmap for improvement.
3. Get an SEO agency
While learning SEO and running your own audits are possible, it’s also incredibly hard to figure out on your own. Agencies are more affordable than developing varied SEO skills in-house.
Agencies also have access to technical SEO tools that are beyond a healthcare practice’s expertise. The same is true of keyword research. Agencies can easily and quickly build a strategy for any healthcare practice using their extensive keyword research tools and knowledge of SEO rankings.
ROI on SEO for Medical Practices
As more patients book online, practices can increasingly tie performance to their SEO efforts. Here are some top trends that reinforce the importance of SEO for healthcare practices.
SEO ROI healthcare industry statistics & trends
- Eighty-three percent of patients will use a search engine in 2022 for healthcare information.
- Personal referrals have decreased by 44% since 2018. Patients use the internet to locate providers instead.
- Search engine users who book an appointment with a provider run three times more searches than those who aren’t ready to book.
- Twenty-eight percent of search engine users seeking a local service will make a purchase. And the number of searches for services “open now” and “near me” is increasing.
- Sixty-seven percent of patients want to book online and, similarly, 68% prefer a provider that lets them book online.
How to Measure ROI on SEO
Measuring website ROI on SEO can be straightforward. Here’s how to calculate the expected ROI on SEO:
ROI = (Profit from SEO Investment – Cost of SEO Investment) / Cost of SEO Investment
However, healthcare practices can’t always know how many visitors become future patients. To get better information on ROI, use online appointment setting and ask offline patients how they found the practice.
Calculations are more accurate when they incorporate customer lifetime value (CLV)—the average amount a single patient spends on services over their relationship with the practice. Consider using this formula to calculate SEO ROI based on CLV:
ROI = (CLV – SEO Investment Per New Customer) / SEO Investment Per New Patient)
This approach not only lets practices incorporate long-term customer value but also breaks down SEO spend by the average traffic it takes to acquire a new patient.
Partner with an SEO Agency for Healthcare
There are many ways for healthcare practices to grow ROI from organic search traffic. But mastering SEO and producing content that ranks can take time and expertise that few practices have.
Instead, providers can focus on healthcare while experts handle SEO. Schedule a consultation today and learn how Socius can help your healthcare practice website grow local traffic and increase its ROI.