A guide to search engine optimisation for clinics

Arran HayesBusiness news0 Comments

SEO Image

There’s no point in having a website if no one can find it. No matter how packed with information or beautiful-looking your website is, if it doesn’t rank high on Google, your patients and potential patients won’t see it. That’s where search engine optimization, or SEO comes in.

Example of SEO

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is the practice of increasing and improving the quality and quantity of traffic to a website through organic searches. To understand this sentence better, we will break it down and explain each part:

  • Traffic – the people who visit your website.
  • Quality of traffic – you only want the people who might buy your services to visit your website. An example of poor quality traffic would be if Google told visitors you sell Apple products when really you’re a farmer selling apples. This is not quality traffic because the visitors are not interested in the products you sell.
  • Quantity of traffic – once you know the right people are clicking through to your website, increasing the volume of that traffic is the aim.
  • Organic results – these are search engine results which are not paid for. The screenshot below shows the difference.

SEO determines the ranking of a website. If done well, your website will rank highly and it will be one of the first results to appear when relevant search terms are entered into a search engine.

So how can a clinic owner use SEO to help their website rank highly? We will consider four aspects of SEO which we think will make a difference to your website: the content of your pages, the page title tags, internal links and external links.

Content

The most important factor of SEO is to have good quality content on all pages of your website. Your website needs to provide the user with a reason to  stay on it and visit more pages. For this to happen, the content has to be interesting, it has to be aesthetically pleasing and it has to be relevant to the reader. Once you’ve created good quality content by writing about the treatments and products you offer, it’s very important that you research the keywords your patients are likely to search for.

You must remember that not all patients will understand technical terminology or industry jargon, and so are not likely to search for it. For example, your clinic’s website may have a page about ‘Avoiding Melanoma’ and this page may contain medical terminology to describe the ways to prevent skin cancer. However, if the page doesn’t contain keywords that the user is likely to search for, such as ‘preventing skin cancer’ then the search engine may skip it completely.

To summarise, the content of a website has to be written in the right language for its target audience, using keywords that will effectively answer the search queries of the user.

Page URL, page title and page description

The URL of your page (or its web address) should describe the page in simple and obvious terms. For example, if your page is about botox, make sure it’s shown as ‘www.myclinic.com/botox’ and not ‘www.myclinic.com/tx1-btx’ or something obscure or technical. This is a minor factor in Google’s ranking algorithm, but relevant to user clarity.

More importantly, make sure your page titles are correct. A ‘title tag’ is an element of HTML that specifies the title of every individual web page. You will normally see title tags displayed on search engine results pages as the headline for a particular web page, and this is where the user clicks to be taken to the page. A title tag is supposed to be an accurate and concise description of the content of the page and is very important for usability, SEO, and social sharing.

Page title tags are important as they help the search engine understand what the page is about, and also give the first impression of the page to the user. If the user thinks the page is not relevant to them, they won’t click on it. There are many things to consider when choosing the title tags for each page, so to find out more about how to write effective title tags, we recommend you read this article.

Page title and descriptionThe page description is not important for SEO ( as Google does not consider the page description in its ranking algorithms) but it is important in persuading the user click through to your page. A user reads the description and decides whether or not the page seems relevant to them. A page’s meta description should intelligently (so in a natural, non-spammy way) employ the keywords that page is targeting, but also create a compelling description that a searcher will want to click. It should be directly relevant to the page it describes, and unique from the descriptions for other pages. For more about meta descriptions, read this article.

This screenshot shows where you will see the page URL, title and description in a Google search.

Internal links

An internal link is a hyperlink that points to a link within the same domain. Simply, internal links are links that point to another page on the same website. They are commonly used in the main navigation bar and can also be used throughout the text. Internal links are useful for several reasons. Firstly, they allow users to easily navigate around a website and establish the information hierarchy for a given website – links make it easy to find the page you wish to visit without having to sift through pages of irrelevant information. Internal links also help to spread ‘link juice’ (or ranking power) around your website. According to Google, a multitude of quality links are one of the most important factors for gaining top rankings.

External Links

An external link is a hyperlink that points to another domain. If your website links to another website, this is an external link. If another website links to your website, then this is also an external link. External links are useful for many reasons. A lot of search engine optimisers believe that external links are the most influential aspect of determining how a website ranks. However, it is important not to include external links just for the sake of it, because search engines will be able to tell that the links are pointless or created simply for SEO, and may bump you down the rankings.

Search engines consider high quality external links as third-party votes. If another highly regarded website links to your website, you gain ranking power (or ‘link juice’) from this. For example, if you are a physiotherapist and the website of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy mentions and links to your website, perhaps by a listing or even by a mention in a blog post or a news story, your rankings will benefit.

Domain factors

Some things are harder to control, like how long ago your domain was registered. Google considers domains registered for longer than a year as more trustworthy, and the longer they have been registered, the better. Also note that if you are trying to target a particular local market, having a domain which is country specific, so .co.uk in the UK or .ie in the Republic of Ireland for example, will help to achieve better rankings for that location.

If you would like to find out more about search engine optimisation for your clinic, please do not hesitate to contact us. Although we do not offer SEO services, we’d be happy to pass on your details to our marketing company, Assembly Marketing, who can provide more information.