Google is the #1 driver of patient acquisition for many healthcare practices, so you can't afford to not rank well.
Search engine optimization audits are an important step for anyone looking to improve their SEO rankings. This is especially true in healthcare because Google holds doctors to higher standards with their websites.
In this article, we'll explore why SEO audits are important and provide tangible steps that doctors and their marketing managers can take to improve their website rankings.
What is an SEO Audit?
An SEO audit is a detailed examination of all aspects of your website. This includes both technical and content elements that affect how Google ranks your site in search results pages for specific terms or phrases.
The purpose of an audit is to identify opportunities for improvement so you can create high-quality content and a better patient experience. A combination of great content and good patient experience will help you rank higher on Google – and lead to more patients.
Before we dive in, I should note that these opportunities aren't always visible. An SEO audit isn't just about how your website looks on the surface or how easy it is to use.
Often times an audit can reveal technical problems and opportunities that lie "under the hood", so to speak. Even though these aren't visible to patients, they're still important.
Google doesn't just care how your site looks. It cares about technical aspects, too, like how quickly it loads, how optimized the code is, etc. The changes you make may be invisible to 99% of your patients – but you should still make them.
Why do Doctors Need SEO Audits?
When it comes to their websites, most doctors think that "if we build it, patients will come."
Healthcare – more so than many industries – is extremely reliant on Google search for new patients. This is especially true for elective surgical practices, where the patient does their own research before coming in for an appointment.
To put it simply, Google is the lifeblood of your practice, whether you realize it or not.
That's why it's important to routinely audit your performance and look for opportunities to improve.
You probably do quarterly or yearly performance reviews for your staff. You shouldn't treat your website any differently.
An in-depth SEO audit of your practice website should be a vital, routine element of your practice marketing. If you don't regularly examine how your site is performing, there's a very good chance you're missing out on potential patients and leaving revenue on the table.
That's a missed opportunity for practice growth – an unforced error.
A high-quality SEO audit should reveal:
- How your practice website as a whole performs against relevant keywords
- Which pages of your site are ranking well (or not so well) for specific search terms
- How your website stacks up against the competition
- Which content is most effective at driving traffic to the site (and converting leads)
- Any technical issues or errors that are holding your site back from better performance
Running an SEO audit doesn't have to be expensive. It doesn't require additional ad spend or an expensive marketing campaign. All you need to do is to examine your site carefully and check for blind spots.
Here are a few things to look for.
How to Conduct a Healthcare SEO Audit
You can run an SEO audit yourself, but only if you know what to look for. If you aren't very technical, don't have a background in SEO, or aren't very involved in managing your practice website, we recommend you leave the job of an audit to someone with deep experience in SEO.
If you decide to run an audit yourself, here are a few tips:
- Run audits regularly. Websites change over time. For best performance, you should run an SEO audit at least once a quarter. Especially if you are regularly writing content for your website or using a Content Management System like WordPress, things can go wrong. Pages can become "bloated" with large images and unnecessary code. Running an audit to check performance at least once a quarter (if not more often) will help you stay on top of your game.
- Pay attention to speed. Website load times are now officially a factor in Google's ranking algorithms, so it's important to make sure your website is as fast as it can be. Any good SEO expert should be able to provide a detailed report of how fast your pages load and recommendations on how to make your site faster.
- Check your links. Links and content are still the most important pieces of Google's ranking algorithms. Sites can attract links from a number of places – and if your website is old, chances are you may have links from less-than-reputable sources. Don't worry, it happens to everyone. Take a deep dive into the websites that are linking to you and disavow any that are especially toxic. You don't want to risk your reputation.
- Don't forget mobile. Over 50% of Internet browsing is done on mobile devices, so Google wants to make sure your site looks great and performs well on phones and tablets. In fact, I would go so far as to say that your mobile website experience should be your primary focus. There are a number of tools to help you assess and improve your mobile website experience.
- Don't just check yourself – check your competitors. Don't be afraid to run an SEO audit on your biggest competition. There are a variety of free tools out there to help you understand how you relate to the competition. Check their mobile experience, page load times, and navigation. Look at their links. See if there's anything they're not doing that can do to get a leg up.
Need Help Improving Your SEO?
Running a site-wide SEO audit is an important step to take for any practice looking to grow.
By spotting holes in your website’s performance and correcting them, you can work your way to higher Google rankings and more patient leads while improving your user experience and patient satisfaction.
If you need help running ranking higher or running an audit, contact our SEO experts today.