Optimizing your practice website and blog is a critical part of your content marketing strategy. SEO is a powerful way to bring patients to your medical practice and increase brand awareness.
If implemented correctly, SEO can bring the best ROI, and the results can be long-lasting. The website ranking can improve considerably, and you can attract organic traffic for months. While it is easy to stay on top of most optimization techniques, there are basic SEO mistakes that must be avoided. If you do not utilize SEO carefully, it can hurt your website and medical practice. Instead of seeing increased traffic and better conversion rates, the results can be just the opposite.
SEO strategies have evolved over time, but what not to do is as important as what to do. Here are some of the common medical SEO mistakes that you must avoid:
- Not hiring an SEO expert: Hiring an SEO expert can be one of the most important decisions in the success of your SEO efforts. These professionals will ensure your rank improves, mistakes stay low and service quality remains high. SEO requires in-depth knowledge of current trends, marketing strategies and algorithm updates. Many marketing professionals know the basics and start doing their own SEO. The fact is, most of them learn the hard way. Trained SEO professionals stay on top of all the latest trends and are experienced enough to understand what works and what does not. You certainly will not want to experiment with your website and create issues that will take a lot of time and money to fix.
- Not choosing the relevant keywords: This is one of the most common mistakes marketers make as it is easy to fall into the trap of generic keywords. You must avoid mistakes like optimizing for global keywords if you only offer services to local customers or stuffing your content with keywords that only attract visitors looking for free information, and not potential customers who are genuinely interested in your services. You must also avoid broad keywords that have lots of competition. It is best to be as accurate as possible when choosing keywords and phrases. Focusing on generic keywords might bring you traffic initially, but the results will not be long-term. You can use tools available online to come up with a variety of keywords that your target customers will search for when looking for your practice. Be sure to include long-tail keywords, which will help attract relevant traffic that is ready to convert. Long-tail keywords are highly specific to what you are offering. Although long tail keywords have lower search volumes, they are likely to get you more conversions due to less competition.
- Duplicate title tags and meta descriptions: Every page of your practice website should have a unique title. It is important to have descriptive and unique titles for your webpages as these titles usually appear as text when someone bookmarks your website. Always keep in mind that the purpose of a title tag is to educate both search engines and visitors about the topic of the webpage. Title tags are one of the most critical on-page factors that determine your ranking in search results. In addition,using the same title may get your website flagged for duplicate content.
Typically, meta descriptions are a 160-character sales pitch for your webpage within search results. You must aim to make each meta description as unique as possible. Your homepage and other pages of your website should include a custom meta description that will make potential patients want to click on your listing in search results.
You can check for duplicate title tags or meta descriptions using Google Search Console or a Screaming Frog crawl. It is important to check for duplicates as they may affect your rankings as well as the click-through rate. Unique tags will tell Google what your webpage is all about and inform customers what they are clicking on.
- No local optimization: For most medical practitioners, good SEO means staying local. Unless you want to encourage international patients or foster medical tourism, you should focus your efforts on reaching patients in your area. In an attempt to market to anyone and everyone, you may lose sight of the local audience. Experts believe you should optimize your practice website for local search in order to reach your target audience. In addition, you must get yourself listed in local online directories such as Google My Business and Bing Local. This is because when potential patients search for nearby doctors, your online listing will show up in search results. You can also consider including region-specific keywords and phrases in your page titles and meta descriptions and include your address and a local number in the header or footer of your webpages.
- Keyword stuffing: You might think using relevant keywords in every sentence of your webpage would boost your ranking. This thinking could not be more wrong. When a potential patient comes to your website, it should be informative and useful, not a bad case of over-optimization. Also, stuffing your content with targeted keywords and phrases may get your website registered as spam by search engines, which will end up hurting your website ranking. This is the reason keyword ‘stuffing’ is not crucial to the success of your SEO efforts. This approach will also make your content read unnatural and forced. In fact, Google is in the process of employing Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI), which will recognize your content’s theme without the need for stuffing your content with target keywords.
- Low-quality, duplicate, insufficient or irrelevant content: The single focus of search engines is to help visitors find good-quality and relevant information quickly, and search engines are becoming more effective at filtering out poor content. So, if your content is not relevant to your keywords and does not answer customer queries, it will not rank well. You should focus on creating a quality that corresponds to the needs of your target audience. Do not upload low-quality content on your website just for the sake of having content. It will do more harm than good. If you want to improve your website ranking, you will have to invest time and money in creating good-quality content that will inform, educate and empower your patients.
- Not investing in a mobile-friendly website: SEO optimization is not only about quality content and relevant keywords. It is also about the performance of your website, particularly on mobile devices. Having a mobile-friendly site is critical to the success of your SEO efforts as well as user experience. A bad user experience may lead to a lower conversion rate. Your rating on search engines can be jeopardized if your website is not mobile-friendly. The same goes for website load speed. A slow website usually leads to lower SERP. You can use online tools like Pingdom to analyze the speed problems and how to fix them.
- Not focusing on link quality: To get the best from SEO, the quality of links included in the content is more important than their quantity. It is advised to link to relevant and well-ranking websites with a proven reputation. One link from a reputed website may do more benefit for your search engine rankings than hundreds of low-quality links. Such links are difficult to get, but that is the reason search engines trust them. Good-quality links are a reliable measure of the quality of your website. It may also help to link back to websites that have linked to you as this may help bring back traffic.
- Ignoring internal links: It is obvious to think about promoting your top-performing pages by placing links to them in your content. This is one of the best ways to give them visibility and create additional traction. However, make sure you do not include internal links just for the sake of having them in your content. Only place links if they match the topic and are relevant. As with keyword stuffing, it is important not to overdo internal linking.
- Ignoring user experience: Google has stated that its top priority is to provide the best possible user experience. If you want to improve your ranking, it is mandatory to meet Google’s user experience criteria. The following factors could affect your website’s ranking:
Speed: Your users will want your website to load quickly. Google also measures the speed with which websites load, and if yours is slow, it may lower your rankings.
Take the first step to protect your online reputation and request your Online Reputation Assessment.
Mobile-responsive: With Google paying extra attention to mobile-friendly content, if your website is not mobile-friendly, your ranking will most likely get a hit.
Safety: If your website contains malware and viruses, it will be considered unsafe by Google and may get blocked.
Flash: Flash is bad news for SEO. This is because search engines cannot see all the text in Flash. There are better technologies than Flash, so try to refrain from using it.
These are some of the SEO mistakes made by physicians and medical practices, but there are many more. SEO is an indispensable part of any content marketing strategy. While you can find loads of trusted tips online, making mistakes is quite common. It is better to learn from the mistakes others have made and avoid them in your marketing efforts. You must keep in mind that improving your search engine ranking is a gradual process, but as long as you can avoid making these mistakes, you will get your website to where it belongs.