Healthcare and medical search queries account for about seven per cent of Google searches each and every day. When you consider the unlimited topics you can search for on Google that number is…*huge*.

In fact, according to Google via The Telegraph, seven per cent amounts to more than one billion daily searches or about 70,000 per minute.

These numbers make it highly lucrative for medical practices or clinics to crack page one of search results. Afterall, we know that the first page accounts for about 70% of all clicks…making the phone ring regularly for those who feature.

What is healthcare SEO?

Healthcare SEO, also sometimes called Medical SEO, is the practice of optimising a website’s content to be appropriately and more easily scanned (or crawled through, more on this later) by Google’s search engine bots.

SEO within the healthcare industry can be challenging. Healthcare is more highly regulated and Google has stricter search rules for practices just like yours. In addition to this, medical websites in Australia also have to play by the rules and regulations of government regulator, AHRPA.

Wait…what is SEO again?

In a nutshell, Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO, is the process of improving the appearance and positioning of a website in search engine results.

Since most online traffic never gets past the first Google page, SEO is incredibly cutthroat as it is lucrative. Businesses at the top of the search results, including medical practices, have a steady flow of leads and new patients.

When you search for anything, Google Spiders (yup, that’s what they call them) crawl through millions of pages all over the internet faster than a blink of an eye. Spiders skim through web content and metadata (the details a normal searcher does not see), determining the credibility of the website.

Google’s search process is so exceptional that it has almost wiped out all of its competition – these days Google enjoys 90 per cent market share. Only Bing really holds a candle as a competitive alternative, although artificial intelligence including Chat GPT will most likely shake things up in 2023.

How to Do Healthcare and Medical SEO in 2022/23

Declare your website’s purpose

According to the GSQR, or Google Search Quality Rating guidelines (Google’s SEO Playbook), websites are required to declare their purpose to their audiences. Putting the website’s intent on its ‘first fold’ (what you initially see when you land) helps Google identify if your website will be beneficial to searchers.

When it comes to intent, clarity is king. Be clear with the problem you are trying to solve. In the case of a medical practice, this means identifying what type of practice you are (what you do).

Here are the four types of search intent to serve as a guideline.

  1. Transactional: users wanting to go through a purchase
  2. Navigational: users want to locate a specific website
  3. Commercial: users looking for products but not yet ready to make a purchase
  4. Informational: users searching for informative content to fix a problem or answer a question

Understanding search intent is paramount to providing value to users and getting them to spend more time-on-page (an important metric for Google).

So what does all this mean for medical practices? When you land on your website, it should be immediately clear what type of medical practice you are, the area/region you represent and you should have an obvious call to action (e.g. “book an appointment”).

Understand the YMYL Category

The medical and healthcare field falls under the YMYL category, which stands for Your Money, Your Life….but don’t worry, this is not a threat to your wellbeing 😊.

Instead it means all information and transactions in the YMYL category may affect the users’ financial, physical, and emotional well-being. It is important stuff and therefore requires a more thorough and professional approach in the eyes of Google.

Google’s extra vigilance on YMYL websites is the result of countless examples of people (including wannabe medical practices) doing the wrong thing. This has included misleading information on blogs and incorrect metadata, with the aim of tricking Google spiders into ranking well on search engine results pages.

According to Google, content on YMYL websites must be written by subject-matter experts. You can increase your credibility by applying the EAT theory.

Apply the E-A-T theory

EAT stands for Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness. You can increase your EAT through simple tweaks and adjustments to your healthcare SEO strategy, including:

  1. Adding author bylines, bios, and contact details on your web content

This is Google’s way of ensuring that the author is a real expert in the subject matter and can be reached by readers, if required.

2. Cleansing your website of poor-quality content

If you don’t know by now, Google hates poorly-written content….including information that offers little to no value to its users. So, either rewrite your dodgy content or get rid of it.

Don’t crowd your website with ads.

In March 2017, Google rolled out the Google Fred Update. It’s a new set of guidelines intended to penalise websites with ‘thin’ content. Along with this update is the rule of putting a distinctive label on ads in order to minimise confusion among users.

This is in an effort to separate sponsored content from the main content. So, suppose a website has text-based image ads placed deceivingly inside your content. In that case, it will be marked as spam and thrown away into the dangerous dungeons of Google, where pages are quickly forgotten.

Build authority by starting a blog and uploading content regularly

One of the best ways to let your audience know you can be trusted is by sharing your expertise through blogs. From a website visitor point of view, service and product pages are just sales pitches aiming to convert them into buyers or clients. On the other hand, blog pages are places where they can get value without giving anything in return.

Medical practices are never going to be short on ideas for blogs. They can therefore offer tremendous value to both existing and potential patients.

Use videos to your advantage

Videos are far more engaging than a sea of copy. Nearly all of us are visual creatures, so it makes sense to accommodate this as much as possible. In the past few years, YouTube has been like a secondary Google for just about anything video related. You can take advantage of this trend by uploading videos on YouTube and embedding them on your website (once again, medical practices should never be short on ideas for content, but if you are, check out what your competitors are doing).

You can optimise your videos by adding information like metadata, uploading correct captions or subtitles, and targeting keywords on titles.

What’s great with videos is that you can rewrite blogs into scripts or vice versa and reuse pieces of content for multiple channels, thereby increasing your online reach.

Optimise your website’s performance

Lastly, paying attention to your page loading time, responsiveness, and navigational ease is extremely important. Google measures a website’s bounce rate (the number of users clicking out or exiting a website without taking any action) and uses this as a metric in their rankings. Poor website load time in particular is known to increase bounce rates.

Your website may have hundreds of blogs that are credible and written by experts. Still, if it takes more than few seconds to load, time-poor users will bounce, and the effort you put into writing high-quality content will be a waste.

Healthcare SEO Key Takeaways

  • Medical and healthcare SEO needs a more sensitive approach because of Google’s updated SEO guidelines when it comes to YMYL websites.
  • Your website must have clear intentions and remain true to its purpose and aligned with the searcher’s intent.
  • Your website and its content must have Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness (E-A-T).
  • Avoid ads or at the very least, be sure content and ads are not blurred.
  • Start a blog and update it regularly.
  • Use videos to engage with patients and potential patients.
  • Make sure your website is optimised and loads as quickly as possible.

Google is particularly more vigilant to healthcare and medical websites because low-quality pages may present serious medical consequences to searchers. The best way to rank up as a YMYL website is to create high-quality content.

Ready to jumpstart your SEO in 2023? Your Medical Marketing helps medical practices rank highly for the relevant and lucrative keywords (we will make your phone ring!).

If you are ready to bring your medical practice online, we can help you!

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