As a doctor, your website is the most crucial aspect of your marketing strategy. Your website is almost always the first touchpoint that patients have with you, so it's important to rank high on Google for important terms.
But many doctors' websites have hidden problems lurking beneath the surface that make it difficult – if not impossible – to rank on Page 1.
Not being on Page 1 means minimized visibility and reduced revenue.
We've analyzed hundreds of physician websites over the years, so we've observed countless doctors make the same mistakes time and time again.
Understanding these mistakes will help you fix them quickly and put your best foot forward with Google – which means higher rankings, more patients, and revenue growth.
The Top 6 Technical SEO Issues Found on Healthcare Websites
Hey everybody, and welcome to another episode of the Medical Marketing Podcast.
I’m your host, Crawford Ifland, and today we’re going to look at the most common technical SEO problems that keep doctors from ranking on Page 1 and growing their practices.
We'll explore each issue in-depth and provide you with tangible steps to improve performance and boost your rankings.
Let's dive in. Issue #1: Bad Site Architecture.
Issue #1: Bad Site Architecture
Poor website architecture is a key reason why so many practice websites perform poorly on Google.
Whenever we audit a practice website's SEO and see that it isn't ranking very well, the first place we look is at its architecture.
Think of your website as a house.
Poor site architecture could mean one of two things: either it's hard to navigate, or it's not structurally sound.
Have you ever been in a house whose layout is just funky? You probably know what I mean: maybe you have to walk through someone else's bedroom to get to a bathroom, or there's a lack of storage space in key places.
I was once in a house that had a huge kitchen...but no storage space for food! The home was large, and the pantry was clear on the other side of the living room. Not a good look.
Structural problems are often harder to see: is your website built on a Content Management System that's easy to make changes, or are pages hard-coded and hacked together in an ad-hoc way?
You don't want to do this to your patients - or to Google.
From a patient's point of view, your website should be easy to navigate. They should be able to find all of the resources and information they need within a click or two - whether that's information on your services, a form to request an appointment, or resources regarding financing.
From Google's perspective, your key information should never be more than 2 clicks away from your homepage. This practice helps Google find, understand, and index your content quickly so it can serve the most relevant resources to patients who are looking.
If you have poor site architecture on your website, then search engines may be unable to crawl and index new pages properly. This will hurt the visibility of those web pages in Google's search rankings.
So if you want to rank well, make sure your house is in order.
Issue #2: Lack of Supporting Content
The second technical SEO problem we see most often is a lack of supporting content. Too often do we see practice websites that list their services...and nothing else.
If a patient wants more information about a procedure like LASIK – say, information about how it works, how long it takes, how much it costs – and they find a page on your website with two sentences saying that you offer LASIK, are they going to choose you?
No way! They're going to click to another result from your competitor, whose website answers all of their questions and goes above and beyond to provide the information and resources they're looking for.
This isn't just bad for patient experience. It's bad for Google, too.
Google has specifically told their Quality Raters to train their algorithm to recognize websites whose content is insufficient. If your website doesn't provide enough information to answer a searcher's question, Google isn't going to promote it on Page 1.
So if your goal is to rank high on Google - and it should be - then make sure you have enough supporting content.
In addition, all of your other pages with important technical information about a procedure or treatment need to be linked from that service's main page – otherwise, there may not even be any links for those pages in search results.
And when you're writing your content, remember: these webpages don't just have technical SEO value; they also help tell the story of what will happen when someone decides to choose your practice over others.
As a doctor, you need to appeal to emotion as much as you need to appeal to reason.
So while we recommend adding relevant resources such as videos, FAQs, or financing information, it's always a good idea to add content that tells the story of a procedure and how it can enhance a patient's life.
So that's a little bit about content. Next up: mobile performance.
Issue #3: Poor Mobile Performance
The third technical SEO problem that we often see is a lack of mobile-friendly design.
Fixing mobile performance can have a huge impact on the bottom line.
We often find that practices with poor mobile websites suffer in terms of their key revenue-driving metrics: self-tests, appointment requests, and phone calls to their office. Improving their mobile websites to make them load more quickly and make them easier to use has a direct correlation to increases in the number of patients requesting appointments when they're browsing on their phones.
If you think about it, this makes sense. Mobile devices make up the vast majority of all Internet traffic, so it's important to get your mobile website right. If your practice website isn't optimized for mobile, that could mean that more than half of your users are having a bad first experience! Not a great way to kick off a relationship with a prospective patient...
Things have gotten better in recent years with the advent of responsive design, but you can't just assume your website is good on this front - you have to check!
When Google released its "mobile-friendliness" ranking factor, they said it was to prioritize faster-loading pages and give searchers more relevant results based on location. In effect, sites with good mobile performance will rank higher over those without.
And it's not just Google that prefers good mobile websites.
Bing and other search engines now include mobile friendliness as a ranking factor, so a lack of attention to your mobile website can hurt your performance across the board.
And as if that weren't enough, the speed and usability of your mobile website can have effects on and advertising your practice does: you are more likely to pay higher cost-per-click rates and see fewer conversions on platforms like Google Ads if you're sending people to a landing page on your website that performs poorly on mobile.
So how do you know if your site is mobile-friendly? There are plenty of tools online that let you check for yourself: we recommend one called "Google Mobile-Friendly Test." Simply type in the URL of your homepage and see what it says. If there's anything wrong with the page layout or design of key elements, the tool will tell you what you need to fix. Make sure to fix those technical SEO problems before they start hurting patient conversions!
Issue #4: Lack of Links
Links are still a core part of Google's algorithm - they always have been.
As Google's Gary Illyes at a recent conference, "Google likes links. Links still matter."
There are two main types of links that can help with technical SEO:
- Internal Links. These are the links to other pages, content, and resources on your own website. They give Google more context about what else is related to the topic at hand. They help Google show relevant related information to patients who are searching.
- External Links. These are links from outside websites linking back to your website – and they are hugely valuable. Just like internal links, external links are a proxy for how much weight and importance people place upon the quality of your page when it comes up in search results.
If there are no external links coming into your website, you may have an issue with your content. Are you blogging? Are you providing valuable resources to prospects who are searching for your services? If not, then you're missing out on a key technical SEO opportunity!
To troubleshoot this issue:
- Make sure to link internally within your content. You should be linking back to any important topics or ideas that you mention in the text of each page and also linking across different pages if necessary for context.
- Link externally as well. Find other sites or blogs with related information about what you offer and contact them - telling them why they should consider including your website link in their posts too. This helps Google understand the reputation and quality of your content. The more links your pages have attracted, the more likely it is to rank high.
You should also hunt down "broken links." Broken links are links that are no longer functioning on your site – either the page you link to has been deleted, or it isn't working for some reason. Broken links can significantly hurt your technical SEO.
So if you want to improve your rankings, you've got to focus on your links.
Issue #5: Site Performance and Page Speed
We talked about poor mobile performance earlier, but you can't just focus on mobile devices. You need to ensure that your site performs well and loads quickly on all devices and across all browsers in order to provide the best patient experience possible.
You can use tools like Google's PageSpeed Insights to get technical ideas and suggestions on enhancements that will improve site performance and loading speed.
The problem with technical SEO issues is that they're often hard for the average doctor or marketing manager to diagnose. They require technical knowledge, time, and effort to fix - and if you don't live and breathe SEO 24/7, it can be hard to discern what's important and what's not.
When it comes to site performance and page speed, you're likely better off hiring an expert to help you fix these issues than to try and address them yourself. It's a wise investment to get site performance and loading times right, and too many things can break in the process of doing it yourself...so if your site needs some TLC in this area, we suggest you reach out to an expert.
Issue #6: Lack of Schema Markup
The final technical SEO issue we see with many healthcare websites is a lack of medical schema markup.
Schema markup is code that helps search engines understand the content on your site and how to display it in results.
Schema markup is a technical way of telling Google what type of service you provide, who provides these services, where they can be found, contact information for scheduling an appointment, etc.
Schema markup is considered "structured data". It helps Google and other search engines categorize your practice, services, and other key business information successfully. Correctly integrating schema markup into your website can make you eligible for additional search enhancements on Google. That means that when a prospect searches for you, your website will take up more real estate on their screen and your practice will look differentiated from the practice down the street that hasn't used schema markup.
Until Next Time...
Well, that’s all for this week’s episode of the Medical Marketing Podcast – thanks for tuning in.
You can subscribe to The Medical Marketing Podcast for free on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. And if you like the show, let us know by writing a review on Apple Podcasts – we’ll have a link in the show notes.
If you want more practice marketing resources, check out our website at www.messenger.md. We’re always sharing helpful tips and know-how to help you improve your practice marketing, grow revenue, and take your patient experience to the next level.
That’s all for today’s episode – I’m Crawford Ifland. See you next time.
If you have a website that's struggling to rank on Page 1, it may be because of technical SEO problems. These are some of the most common issues, but this is by no means an exhaustive list.
If you're struggling with your rankings and want to get more patients, contact our SEO experts today. Our team can audit your website, fix any technical SEO issues you face, and give you the solid foundation you need to grow your practice.