SEO Best Practices for Healthcare Digital Marketing Success

Healthcare is a unique industry with a distinctive subset of challenges. On one end, there is the constant importance of complying with HIPAA standards, and on the other end, there is a growing emphasis on providing high levels of patient satisfaction in the post Affordable Care Act era. Needless to say, search engine optimization (SEO) and digital optimization also carry a unique set of challenges and opportunities for those operating within the healthcare industry.

Fathom’s SEO Tips for Healthcare Marketing Success

Don’t Ignore Local Search

There are very few instances in which healthcare organizations have no need for a local presence. In our own experience, we’ve found that local search is often one of the most widely overlooked aspects of healthcare organizations’ digital marketing efforts. Additionally, we’ve found that expanding local search efforts will nearly always have a direct and measurable impact on growth and visibility.

Suggestions for healthcare local search optimization:

  • Hospitals and clinics should all have physician profiles available and visible. Not only do current patients want to learn more about the physicians providing their care, prospective patients often research physicians and doctors before choosing a care provider.
  • Doctors and care centers should at least have Google local listings at the very minimum for the purpose of visibility and reviews.
  • It’s important to use schema code for hospital address locations as well as physician profile pages. For many health systems that use a template for physician profiles or location pages, we’ve found it can save a lot of time to simply add the schema code to the template itself, so that each page does not require the code to be manually added.
  • Add locality-oriented keywords to key service line pages. Some of the most common and lucrative searches prospective patients may perform are question-based, such as “Heart Transplant Institute in Columbus Ohio”. For this example, we would suggest trying to insert “Columbus” in relevant places on the Heart Transplant page, so it has a chance to rank higher in local search queries for heart transplant providers.

Optimize For Mobile Search and Usability

If you’ve ever been in a hospital, clinic, or other medical facility, do yourself a favor and look around the waiting room. In the era of smartphones and tablets, hospitals have become environments of mobile browsing, and tablets are now the go-to device for improving patient satisfaction and comfort. Needless to say, it would be out of place for a hospital’s website to not comply with mobile usability standards. When optimizing pages and designing a website, mobile should always be taken into account. Most important, we strongly suggest making an active effort to improve website speed whenever possible, and making sure navigation and accessibility is seamless for mobile devices.

Reduce Complex Writing

Nomenclature used within the healthcare industry can be complex and varied. While precise verbiage is important, especially from an academic perspective, it can also be confusing and ambiguous to prospective patients.

Especially for pages associated with medical service lines, we suggest auditing the terms that are used and finding ways to replace them with more common, simple language. Similarly, we suggest replacing acronyms with plain-English terms that don’t require knowledge of the acronym to understand the sentence. This will not only help to reduce confusion, it will also better align a website’s pages with high-volume search queries.

For example, an organization using the word orthopaedic, may switch this term to orthopedic for better search recognition. On the whole, pages that are intended for patient use should be easily understood at a sixth grade reading level.

Consider Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)

Increasing visibility, traffic, and exposure is only one piece of the puzzle. While it’s always beneficial to increase traffic, increasing the conversion rate can often provide a higher return-on-investment (ROI) than an increase in traffic would provide. An especially important consideration for CRO is that it can have a direct impact on service lines that depend more on medical referrals for patient acquisition, whereas an increase in traffic and visibility for these service lines may not be particularly useful for acquiring new patients.

Suggestions for improving conversion rate

  • Consider A/B testing and heat-mapping pages that are critical for converting new patients.
  • Analyze the consistency, location, and visual appeal of calls to action (CTAs). Are CTAs readily visible above the fold? Do they stand out and grab visitors’ attention easily? Do CTAs provide an easy path to convert visitors?
  • Do most pages feature relevant visual assets? Websites that make good use of imagery on the whole have better engagement metrics, convert better, and rank better in organic search. Additionally, adding quality, human-focused images can improve the overall feel of empathy, which is critically important for care-based organizations.

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