How Important is SEO for Medical Practices?

SEO for Medical Practices

What is SEO?

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving your website visibility in search engines such as Google. SEO for medical practices applies specifically to “organic” searches and is not a form of paid advertising. Traditionally, medical offices such as physicians, dental practices, and chiropractors advertise on Google or other search engines to rank on page one for a particular search phrase – more commonly referred to as a keyword. Common keywords for medical practices are [practice type + location]. Therefore, a dentist in Boston would aim to advertise for “dentist Boston.”

Rather than paying Google to promote your website when someone searches for particular keywords, SEO encompasses practices to ensure that Google will see your site as the natural best match causing your site to rank above competing sites. There are many approaches to SEO, but only one practice has proven consistently successful. This involves ensuring your site is optimized for Google under the hood, having great content written on your site relevant to your target audience, and plenty of links from other relevant websites.

The idea here is to show Google that your website, and therefore your practice, is an authority based on well-written content and other authoritative sites referencing your content via what are known as “backlinks.” Using the dental practice example, if you were looking to promote new teeth cleaning technology that your practice specializes in, you would have expertly written content on the service and benefits of using it and other sites such as teeth whitening blogs or cosmetology sites referencing your article on their site via backlinks.

Benefits of SEO for Medical Practices

So, you’re following best SEO practices, including writing unique, relevant content, your site is running optimally, and you’ve reached out to other appropriate industry-specific site administrators who’ve agreed to feature links back to your content. What can you expect from all of that hard work?

You can expect to see more inquiries and patient registrations if you have a clear call to action. If not, you will see a bump in traffic, but you’re likely to miss out on additional patient registrations. The key to effective SEO for medical practices is to drive traffic to your website or relevant articles and then “capture” that traffic via a sign-up form.

Your return on investment will vary, as there are a lot of variables at work. By using SEO tools, you can estimate what you stand to gain from your investment:

1. Estimate traffic for a given keyword

2. Find the clickthrough rate (CTR) for the top position on Google (this usually hovers around 30-33% but does fluctuate throughout the year)

3. Determine your website or landing page’s conversion rate. This will vary by industry. If you don’t have your internal data, 5% is typically a safe estimate.

4. Last, determine the average annual revenue (AAR) per patient.

Your ROI for ONE keyword can be estimated using the following formula:

[traffic estimate for keyword] * [CTR for #1 position} * [website conversion rate] * [AAR] = prospective ROI for a given keyword

As an example, if a keyword has 1,000 monthly searches, the CTR for the top position in Google is 33%, 5% of people visiting your website fill out your registration form, and your patient AAR is $1,000, then:

1,000 searches * 0.33 clicks/searches * 0.05 conversions/clicks * $1,000 USD = $16,500 USD

Remember, this is the expected AAR of clients brought in from ranking number one on Google for ONE keyword monthly. If you rank number one for an entire year, you could expect to earn an additional ~$198,000 per year.

How long will it take?

Short term, you really shouldn’t expect to see much of a boost in traffic. It can take months for your efforts to pay off. Generally speaking, you can expect to see changes via Google analytics within three months. In our experience, 6-12 months is usually the time frame where you will start seeing impactful changes.

What to write about?

“The riches are in the niches” is a common saying in sales and marketing, and it applies here. Using a dental practice as an example, you likely wouldn’t want to immediately try to target “dentist Boston” unless you have a top-rated and established site that is already performing SEO.

Instead, your best course of action would be to pick “long-tail” keywords that are longer and more specific to your practice. These could be areas your practice specializes in or something that sets you apart from the competition. In this example, let’s say your practice specializes in cosmetic dentistry for young adults. You might target a long-tail keyword such as “cosmetic dentistry for young adults” and write relevant content about why this is important and how your practice can help with this.

The goal is to have your website recognized by Google as an authority in all things dentistry, at least as it relates to your practice. Long-tail keywords will be much easier to rank on page one for, and as your rank for more long-tail keywords, your website will have a significantly improved chance of ranking for your target keyword (dentist Boston.)

Wrapping Up

Although search engine optimization isn’t new, SEO for medical practices is often overlooked to this day. Many businesses still choose to pay for Google advertising, which, although temporarily effective, does not affect your organic ranking in Google. In other words, once you stop paying for traffic, the traffic is gone.

With effective SEO, your traffic builds over time. Most medical practices choose to work with an SEO agency, as there are many moving parts and time involved in any successful SEO campaign. While some medical offices may be nervous about the cost of bringing an agency on board, the truth is that the price is on par or less than Google advertising.

Consider that your average small business spends over $100k on Google Ads, and the cost of SEO seems insignificant by comparison. Best of all, you get to keep your traffic and improved website authority while ensuring that you stay ahead of the competition.


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