The Three Biggest Healthcare SEO Mistakes Medical Practices Make

There are tons of tactical mistakes practices can make when attempting to improve their website, but there are three big strategic mistakes that stand above all the rest.

7 months ago   •   8 min read

By Crawford Ifland
Table of contents

If you want to fill your patient pipeline, healthcare Search Engine Optimization is a must.

SEO can help you rank higher on Google and other search engines, which helps more patients find your website. Increased web traffic from search leads to more patient inquiries, which leads to more appointments, more revenue, and so on...

SEO is one of the most powerful marketing strategies medical practices can use because it can continue to deliver results long after you've published content that's interesting and useful to your readers.

In the world of healthcare marketing, it's the gift that keeps on giving.

Common Mistakes

But too many practices make the same common medical SEO mistakes when they start trying to improve their websites: over-optimization. Designing a website that is cumbersome to use on mobile devices – or worse, isn't mobile-friendly at all. Keyword stuffing. Neglecting to carefully research relevant keywords – or choosing the wrong keywords to begin with. Not writing meta descriptions or unique page titles. Not writing unique page titles. And the list goes on and on...

There are tons of tactical mistakes practices can make when attempting to improve their website, but there are three big strategic mistakes that stand above all the rest:

  1. Writing low-quality content lacking the right keywords
  2. Thinking that healthcare SEO is a "set it and forget it" strategy
  3. Viewing SEO in isolation from other marketing channels that could be beneficial for your practice.

Healthcare Search Engine Optimization Mistake #1: Writing Low-Quality Content

In Google's eyes, content is king. If you want to perform well on Google and attract links to your site from around the Internet, the first place to start is by writing high-quality content.

Good content needs to be informative and address the topic in full, answering any questions the user may have and providing a concrete example of what the user is looking for. Above all else, it needs to be helpful to the user - that's Google's "north star" in determining how to rank content on its search engine results pages.

Model: @Austindistel
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Photographer: @breeandstephen
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Guidelines for High-Quality Content

Here are some tactical guidelines to follow when creating high-quality content for your website:

  • Your page must contain a meta description that describes what the content is about
  • Your page titles should be unique (i.e. your website should not have multiple pages with the same title)
  • You should place a link to any other relevant articles on your site within the body of the page
  • The page should contain several instances of the keyword phrases you want to rank for – ideally with multiple words (these are called long-tail keywords)
  • Images should contain "alt text" for accessibility purposes
  • Writing a blog post? Blog post titles should address the topic, but leave the user wanting to click to learn more

Healthcare Search Engine Optimization Mistake #2: Mistaking SEO as a "Set It and Forget It" Marketing Strategy

Everyone knows that optimizing your website is a powerful strategy to help you rank higher on search engines and attract new patients from around the internet.

But the most successful physicians know that it requires investment – and a lot of it.

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The game of ranking well on search engines is constantly changing, and a lot of work is required to craft a successful SEO strategy. Your website has to be user-friendly, especially for people browsing on a mobile device. Doing keyword research and writing good meta descriptions for your website is time-consuming. Finding relevant long-tail keywords with high search volume and low competition, creating unique title tags, and optimizing low-quality content on your website? There's no way around it: that takes a lot of time and effort.

The work required to optimize your healthcare website is not for the faint of heart, but it is worth it. This brings us to one of the most common SEO mistakes most doctors make when it comes to medical SEO: choosing a "set it and forget it" approach.

Too many doctors think that they can work on their search performance for a few weeks or a few months, and then throw in the towel and expect better rankings in search results to come.

But ranking well on Google isn't a one-time thing. It takes dedication and continual monitoring to perform well. Adopting a "set it and forget it" approach doesn't work – in fact, it does more harm than good.

When you fail to see SEO through? When you don't form a habit of doing SEO well? When you don't continually invest? That's when SEO will fail to work for your website.

SEO doesn't work if you don't do the work.  If you want to be successful in your rankings, you need to stay the course.

What It Takes

An SEO strategy that works is one in which you continually invest time and money to improve your rankings. Successful medical SEO strategies dictate that you spend time and effort building links, optimize websites to load quickly, and research the right target keywords to display for. It means optimizing your website to be mobile-friendly and keeping abreast of the latest trends to stay one step ahead of your competition. In short, it requires focus.

Once you begin on the quest to improve your rankings, you never really stop.

Like it or not, you can't buy the #1 spot on Google overnight - you need to make a continual investment if you want your site to appear at the top when patients search for your most valuable keywords.

Benefits of Good SEO

The benefit of doing things the hard way? SEO becomes easier over time. Once you've built up your reputation and demonstrated expertise in Google's eyes, it becomes far easier for new content you write to become one of the top-performing pages in search results on Google. When you put in the effort, your medical practice website will become a more valuable asset over time – one that ranks for more keywords and makes your marketing easier. It's the flywheel effect in real life.

No more throwing money into the void, hoping something works. No more keyword stuffing or shady link-building techniques.

All of this hard work increased traffic to your website and a higher demand for your services. More revenue. A full schedule and fewer headaches.

Too many doctors miss out on the benefits of SEO. They give up too quickly because they don't play the long game. If you really want to succeed, you need to take the high road, play the long game, and focus on the correct optimization strategies that actually will pay off.

Healthcare Search Engine Optimization Mistake #3: Viewing SEO in Isolation

The final key mistake many doctors make with healthcare SEO is viewing it in isolation from other patient acquisition strategies and techniques.

It's an easy trap to fall into: SEO seems great, doesn't it? It seems like the perfect strategy: write good content, get to that #1 spot, and receive free organic traffic and patients from there on out.

But SEO isn't a "magic bullet". This myopic view fails to recognize the merits of other marketing channels.

When SEO Isn't the Perfect Fit

Optimizing your medical practice website is great, but it's not the perfect fit for every practice in every situation. The vast majority of successful practices employ more than one digital marketing channel to reach their target audience.

Here are a few examples of times when SEO may not be the best strategy:

  • What if you're new and need patients right away?
  • What if you're struggling for revenue and can't wait months for a page to rank high?
  • What if you have a conversion problem on your website, where more traffic doesn't always turn into potential patients?
  • What if you're trying to build brand awareness for your website quickly?

Search Engine Optimization can't solve all of these problems. If your practice is facing one or more of them, you will likely need to take a more holistic approach to patient acquisition.

Gaining a deep understanding the problems that customers face is how you build products that provide value and grow. It all starts with a conversation. You have to let go of your assumptions so you can listen with an open mind and understand what’s actually important to them. That way you can build something that makes their life better. Something they actually want to buy.

SEO is great, and there's plenty it can do for your practice - but when you view it as the "be-all-end-all" marketing strategy, you miss out on the benefits other channels have.

What the Most Successful Physicians Do

If there's one thing we've noticed about the practices that perform the best on Google, it's that they tend to bring their "A" game to all marketing channels. They don't just succeed on Google – they have the right mindset to dominate every patient acquisition channel they employ.

These practices know that they can't put all their eggs in one basket, and so they don't try to make SEO the only strategy they use. They diversify and bring their best to each channel.

The truth is, if you view search engines as the "magic bullet" that will solve all your marketing problems, you aren't likely to solve very many of them. Different problems require different solutions, so be sure that you aren't viewing SEO as the "one and only" marketing tactic to implement.

Want Search Engines to Promote Your Site? Don't Make These Mistakes

When they're executed well, SEO strategies can be a powerful way to attract more patients and help your site perform well on search engines – but you need to follow through if you want to experience success. It takes continual investment and monitoring to be successful, so make sure you have the right mindset and resources going into it.

Need Help?

If you're looking for a team of experienced marketers to help improve your site performance, our healthcare SEO services may be a good fit for you. We'd love to learn more about your practice and see how we might be able to help. Contact us for a free audit of your website today.

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