Ultimate Guide to SEO for Medical Practices and Healthcare Businesses

SEO is shrouded in mystery to most marketers, but even more so to the general public.

While some of what you have heard may be true, there is a ton of misinformation and horrible information floating around circles of small business owners. Not to mention the sea of fly-by-night "SEO Gurus" charging insane fees with little or no results.

I am going to give a basic rundown on what SEO is, how it affects your practice and debunk some of the crazy rumors I have heard.

What is SEO?

SEO is the acronym for search engine optimization. It is the term given to improving your businesses visibility in rankings on search engines.

When you perform a search into Google they use an algorithm to determine what results best fit your query. Anything you do to help improve your rankings is search engine optimization.

SEO is not the same as paid search results. Paid search falls into the category of search engine marketing (SEM), or as many know it, Google Ads (formerly AdWords).

Local SEO vs Global SEO

The goal of Google or any other search engine is to provide the answer to your question. When you search for a service category Google determines that you are most likely looking for a local business to fulfill your need.

A local pack is the results Google includes on the map.

For example, if you search "dermatologists" into Google at the top of the results you will see local business listings from Google Maps.

This can vary from device to device but they usually look something like this:

When you search for something a more general term like "skin cancer" you will be served global results.

Global SEO

Global SEO refers to ranking keywords for non-location specific search terms, like "best laptop for medical assistants".  

Although Google has and is improving results for queries like for you location, its more broad. You and someone on the other side of the country are likely to have similar if not the same search results.

Should Practices Care About Global Search Results?

Minus, a few situations, no. You as a practice owner should not worry about global results. They won't help you get you more patients, they probably aren't looking for a service you offer, and it takes much more effort than local SEO.

On the other hand, if any of these describe you or your practice it may be worth looking into.

  • You are trying to establish yourself as a thought leader in Healthcare industry
  • You offer online services, or telemedicine
  • You have locations across the country

How do you improve Local SEO?

There are millions of answers to this question online. My goal here is not give you an all encompassing answer or make any promises.

These are simply universal best practices that anyone with a laptop can do to improve local search without hiring an expert.

  • Claim and Optimize your Google Business Listing
  • Create and optimize your Facebook page
  • Post to Facebook and Google Business as often as possible (a couple of times a month is better than nothing)
  • Claim your business profiles on major directories (get a list of medical practices here)
  • Get reviews of your practice on Google, Facebook, & and Healthgrades (other places like Yelp are great, but focus on those 3 to start)
  • Respond to reviews within 24 hours
  • Make sure your business information is correct and exactly the same across the web

Again, this is just a baseline for your SEO efforts, but knock these out and your'e off to the right start.

SEO Myths For Medical Practices

Now for the fun part.

Here are some common SEO myths I have heard from small business owners that are absolutely not true.

1) You have to pay Google to rank for searches.

I think this stems from Google Ads, but in no way can you pay Google to rank your site higher in organic searches.

2) We should use our keyword as many times as possible

No, this is called keyword stuffing and in most cases you will be penalized. Write great subject matter content, don't focus on using your keyword 100 times on every page.

3) My website should rank for a keyword instantly

Ranking for a new service or keyword (even your practice name) usually takes several months or at least weeks. There are a lot of factors at play here, but if someone says they can rank your practice instantly, they are full of it.

4) SEO is cheap

When a practice reaches out to me for SEO, it's generally because they aren't happy with the results.

They usually ask me something like this, "I pay $50/mo for SEO, why are you so much more expensive?"

It's simple.

You get what you pay for.

SEO takes a lot of knowledge, time and effort. You wouldn't pay $50 for a root canal and expect good results would you?

5) You shouldn't worry about SEO

Unless your practice is booked out over the next 20 years, you should be investing into SEO.

It's not about getting patients tomorrow or next week. It's about building a sustainable that will put you in front of prospective patients for the life of your business.

I've many small businesses fall victim to this thinking.

Generally they feel like they are so far behind it's too late to start.

It's never too late to start. You don't have to invest thousands upfront. Do the basics and work towards ranking for some select search terms and expand from there.

The alternative is constantly investing in paid search. That can get expensive fast.

Thad Warren

Thad Warren

I am a digital marketing and analytics guru with 10 years of experience leveraging analytics and tech to help identify high growth opportunities across entire organizations. I believe the best way to drive growth is by connecting all parts of an organization to a single message, brand, and strategy to create an experience customers love just as much as the product.

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