Search engine optimisation for doctors and dentists
Search Engine Optimisation for Doctors and Dentists
“Your losing patients and income – Why and where are you going wrong?”
What is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) for Doctors?
Search Engine Optimisation for doctors is about maximising the number of potential patients that find your practice’s services using a search engine such as Google, Bing or Yahoo.
With rising medical practice running costs, increasing competition and the alarming trend of patients shopping around to compare healthcare costs, it’s more important than ever to be found first online.
Below is an exert of the results of an extensive study done in 2013 from Search Engine Watch showing the amount of organic traffic businesses receive from Google search results given their positioning on the page:
Google search results
Average traffic share
Number 1 position
Number 2 position
Number 3 position
Number 4 position
Number 5 position
Number 6 position
What affect does this have on your medical or dental practice?
Here are the results from a Google search for a “Dentist in St Kilda” – 13th March 2015: (This example will apply no matter your area of medical expertese or speciality).
The top 3 spots on the left hand side of the page with this symbol beside them are paid advertisements as are all the 5 dentists listed in the column under the map.
Given the statistics:
St Kilda Dentist - Will receive 32.5% of traffic to their website giving them first chance to land these potential patients.
Grey Street Dentist:
Grey Street Dentist - Will receive 17.6% of website search traffic. Thats just over half the traffic the St Kilda Dentist received.
Your positioning on Google has a profound impact on your practice.
Patients are the lifeblood of your practice
Most medical and dental practices I interview are doing well but they are missing some key Search Engine Optimsation fundamentals that could take their practice from good to excellent – More patients = more income, the opportunity to expand or for the owners, take a step back from the practice!
The statistics – Patient research:
84% of potential patients perform a search online to find medical care.
90% of patients will check your website before contacting your clinic.
What are the two items Search Engines use to find your medical practice?
The aim of search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo is to show patients the results that are deemed to be the most relevant to their search query. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) for doctors is the science that combines the following two broad reaching factors:
What search engines look for on your website to give potential patients the most relevant results they are searching for.
The way real people like to read and interact with your website to give them fast and accurate information to help them make a decision.
There are over 50 factors involved that influence Search Engine Optimisation in the above two areas.
1. What do search engines (like Google) look for to find your practice?
The way Google and other search engines organise search data results is through an algorithm.
Google must search through millions of pages of information to find the most relevant results to display to patients about their search request.
The algorithm ranks the importance of information based on a how your practice’s website presents its content. This includes:
Your website’s address (or URL)
Page headline or title
Target keyword the patient has typed in (in this case “Dentist St Kilda”)
Mention of keyword (or slight variation) the patient searched for in the first 100 words
Images and how they are named on your website
Videos and social media
Local search factors (your practice’s location)
Links to and from your website
How much authority your website has (does it receive a lot of visitors)
Where do most practices go wrong?
Would you go to a dentist if you had a sore foot? Quite simply most practices I come across write their website copy themselves.
Website copywriters have specialist skills in Search Engine Optimisation and this working knowledge gives your practice the best chance of being found.
Do you know the 50 factors that influence Search Engine Optimisation? You have already seen the profound difference in traffic that Google can make to your practice in positions one and two alone. Would you rather have 32.5% of visitors or 17.6% of visitors to your practice?
2. The way real people like to read and interact with your website.
Just when you thought there were only 50 factors to consider when optimising your website…..
You must also consider the human element….your patients!
How do patients like to find, read, interact and process information on your website to help them make a decision to use your medical or dental practice?
This is about how your website:
Look and feels
Is the colour scheme warm and inviting or cold and corporate?
Design – Is it old and tired or cutting edge?
Is it easy to navigate around?
Does it have the relevant factors that build trust?
Your website reflects the personality of your practice. It must also contain all the content to convince and capture potential patients. In short patients must feel convinced that you will meet their needs and address all their concerns. Your website must make that connection.
It’s also about how people like to digest your website’s information:
75% of people skim read your website – Break up your website copy with headlines, bullet points and images
80% of people are more likely to watch a video on your website
90% of people like to read and info-graphs
Do patients easily understand the language you use on your website?
Patients use their own algorithm to decide if they would like to use your practice’s services.
Your practice is about meeting patient needs. Patients decide to use your clinic based on their own algorithm of importance factors including:
Ease of accessability/availability or;
If another practice in your area meets a patients needs and is found first in search engine results the chances are very high that the patient will go to your competition.
But there is far more to it than this…
Some practices I come across are almost spoilt by the amount of patients that come to their doors.
Yet most practices are still not performing anywhere near their potential - Why?
Most practices offer a number of different services through allied health professionals. Under one medical practice roof you may find:
Other medical specialists
Massage and acupuncture therapists
Many more services
It’s common for Doctors to refer their patients to their in-house allied health professionals. There are many reasons for this including to maximise appointments and income, assist with the smooth transfer of patient information and trusted, known practitioners.
The truth is medical practices could be driving a lot more potential patients into their practice and allied health professionals.
Practice managers and doctors usually get together to determine the information contained on their website. Not only does website copywriting require specialist skills you also need to consider:
Your practice’s strategy and key income streams
Keyword research – What words are commonly used to find your practice?
What are the major factors patients want and look for from your website?
The patient decision making journey – What builds trust?
How do most people read website information?
Most medical and dental practice websites simply do not have enough:
Patient friendly information or;
Search Engine Optimised content – Copy, images, graphs, logos and video
So what steps do you need to take to improve your website?
List your key practice income streams
Look at the content/pages of information you have on your website in relation to the items from your list
MEDICAL PRACTICE MANAGERS FREE WEBSITE TOOLKIT!
“10 features your website must have to improve income and patient care”.
Every income stream must have its own page that contains at least 700 words complete with images and headlines. Most pages that rate well in Google have about 1200 to 2000 words per page.
Rating well or highly in search engine results does not happen overnight – Or everyone would have already done it. Search Engine Optimisation needs to work on two levels (1) on-page and (2) off page work. Usually it takes 3 to 12 months to see some results.
Think of it like building your business – Its not a success overnight, it takes specialist skills and knowledge to deliver improved results.
A website copywriter that specialises in Search Engine Optimisation is a great investment
Where would you like your medical or dental practice to be in search engine results and what it could be worth:
I am happily married to a doctor and have been for over 10 years. I know medical practice staff are always busy so I decided to use my website and online skills to help free up time, drive practice excellence and improve patient care.