Search engine optimization is impacted by many things, some of which a medical practice can control and some that it does not. On-Page SEO is any changes and optimizations a medical practice makes to its own website. These changes and improvements are to parts of the website directly controlled by a medical practice or their marketing team. The overall goal of on-page SEO is to improve the search rankings of a medical practice’s website on search engines, like Google or Bing, for their target keywords.
As a doctor or owner of a medical practice, you know that a digital medical marketing plan is key to the growth and success of a business. A significant part of that digital marketing plan is the search engine optimization of a website or SEO. While many owners may be aware of SEO, they do not know that various facets of SEO need to be examined. The experts at PatientGain.com are well versed in many of the critical areas that make up a well-developed SEO plan, including on-page SEO.
Why would a medical practice want to work to improve on-page SEO?
Why would a medical practice want to work to improve on-page SEO?
The higher the organic search rankings of a medical practice’s website, the more traffic they will see to their website. More traffic from the target audience they are seeking will lead to higher conversions and more overall patients. Most people looking for health care solutions will make their decision in the top several search results, and virtually no one will look past the first page of results. A high organic ranking can fuel growth and success in a medical practice.
What are some things a medical practice can do to their website to optimize it to improve their on-page SEO?
Several things impact the organic ranking of a website that a medical practice can optimize. These things optimized by themselves, they will not have much of a noticeable change in organic rankings. However, if these aspects are optimized together, they can have a powerful, positive long-term impact on a medical practice’s search engine optimization and organic ranking.
Below are some areas of a website that should be focused on for on-page SEO.
How can a medical practice optimize its URL to improve its on-page SEO?
The URL of a medical practice is going to be the first place it can improve its SEO. Many medical practices do an excellent job at including the name of their medical practice in the URL, and some even have the name of where they are located to boost their local organic rankings.
For example, if the name of a pediatrician’s practice was “Happy Face Pediatrics” and they were located in Altoona, PA a good URL would be www.happyfacepedatricsaltoona.com. If this doctor had another location nearby in State, College PA, they would need:
- A separate URL for that, such as www.happyfacepedatricsstatecollege.com
– or –
- One website, but with different sections, one for Altoona ( www.happyfacepedatrics.com/altoona/) and one for State College (www.happyfacepedatrics.com/statecollege)
Another part of the URL that is often neglected is the URL for content pages providing more information about services and treatments. Again, keywords should be inserted into the URL to help improve on-page SEO for a medical practice. Continuing our examples:
An unoptimized URL would be: www.happyfacepedatrics.com/page-1
An optimized URL would be: www.happyfacepedatrics.com/seasonal-allergy-treatment
To a search engine, that URL combined with the seasonal allergy content on a website will improve that medical practice’s organic ranking for parents looking for seasonal allergy treatments near them for their children. When selecting keywords to include in the URL, do not overload it with keywords. Try to limit an URL to two keywords, so it is readable and makes sense. Too many keywords will look less legitimate and not be very visually appealing to the reader.
How can a medical practice improve its on-page SEO using title tags?
A title tag is a piece of HTML code that names the title of a content page. However, this name only appears in search results and in the browser tab. To denote what the title tag is, <title> needs to appear before the words, and it needs to end with </title>. Sometimes the title used in the title tag will be the exact title of the content page, but they often perform better if more detail is given. Continuing to use our example in the previous section, a pediatrician may have a content page on seasonal allergies, and the title of that page could be:
“Seasonal Allergies in Altoona”
Selecting that would be a good title for the title tag. However, a more effective and optimized title would be:
“Altoona Seasonal Allergy Treatments | Happy Face Pediatrics”
That title in search engine results looks more professional and will have a higher click thru rate. That title only needs to appear in search results. Having every content page’s title end with “| Happy Face Pediatrics” does not look very visually appealing and, therefore, should be left to the title tag only.
How can a medical practice improve its on-page SEO using meta descriptions?
Like a title tag, a meta description only appears in search results. While meta descriptions do not directly impact the organic ranking of a website, they can help improve conversions by giving those looking over search results a preview or an idea of the website page. When a meta description provides a brief summary using keywords a potential patient used in their search, Google will highlight those terms in bold. These words will stand out and hopefully, catch the attention of the person to click on the site. Meta descriptions can be as long as you want them to be, but search results will only display the first 160 or so characters. Continuing with the seasonal allergy example above:
A bad meta description:
“Many people in the Altoona, PA area have allergies. They likely pass these allergies down to their children. Here at Happy Face Pediatrics….”
A better meta description would instead look like this:
“Happy Face Pediatrics in Altoona, PA treats children suffering from allergies including Pollen, Hay Fever, Ragweed, and more.”
How can a medical practice improve its on-page SEO using Heading Tags?
A properly written content page on a medical practice’s website is going to have more than just a few sentences. It will likely have at least 500 words or even 1,000 words to talk about a treatment or service. This is a lot of information for a current or potential patient to read, and it often flows better if broken up into sections. In addition to the page’s title, each section and sub-section will also need its own titles. To help a search engine understand which parts of the content are titles and subtitles, heading tags, also known as H1, H2, H3, and H4 tags are used to denote this information. Like title tags and meta descriptions, these tags are not seen by those exploring the site but are HTML codes that are put around groups of words. So, a seasonal allergy page may have:
H1 – Seasonal Allergy Treatment near Altoona, PA
H2 – What causes allergies?
H2 – What are some common allergies?
H3 – Ragweed
H3 – Hay fever
H3 – Pollen
H2 – What allergy treatments are available?
In the above example, the allergies page is broken down into a few sections, and one section has three sub-sections of information. These tags help a search engine organize the information for it to understand what keywords are relevant to this page. For a site visitor, the information is organized to make it easy to read, improving the user experience and increasing conversions.
How can a medical practice improve its on-page SEO using Alt Tags?
The goal of an alt tag is to provide more information about elements on a website that are not text, like images, videos, and other multimedia. Search engines are very good at reading and understanding text. Although search engine companies are working on it, search engine algorithms do not do an excellent job at seeing or reading pictures and videos on a website. An Alt Tag provides some description for a search engine to read to better understand the object on the website. The Alt Tag is generally not seen by the casual website user, although highlighting an object can often display it in a bubble. Alt Tags are also helpful for those with vision issues and use a computer to talk to them by “reading” a website.
For example, on a Seasonal Allergy Treatment page, there might be a picture of a child sneezing. The Alt Tag for that picture could be, “A child sneezing from seasonal allergies.” This helps a search engine associate this picture with the content on a page. It is generally a good idea to include some keywords in Alt Tag descriptions. 10% of all Google searches are from Google Images, so adding these keywords to images is critical.
How does using images on a website help a medical practice’s on-page SEO?
Images, like pictures, charts, or graphics, help people understand the content. A content page that is all text will be a little boring to read and may have difficulty maintaining the visitor’s attention. Images can help break up content and repackage information in a way that a visitor might better understand. Charts and graphics might work better to explain processes or complicated treatments better than a paragraph.
When using images, they must be optimized for speed. A hi-res image that is slow to load on a desktop or a mobile device will drive down site speed, significantly impacting overall SEO. Images need to load quickly and, as mentioned above, include an Alt Tag to perform as best as possible.
How does page speed impact a medical practice’s on-site SEO?
How fast a website loads and allows a visitor to explore it is generally regarded as the page speed or site speed of a website. A medical practice needs its site to load as quickly as possible or risk a potential patient losing interest and returning to search results. A website’s page speed are factors in organic ranking for Google search results. If two well-written websites compete for those top spots, then site speed may be a deciding factor. Optimized images, a responsive website, hosting videos on other websites, and updating any code on a site can go a long way to improving the overall site speed of a medical practice’s website.
How can a medical practice use internal linking to improve its on-page SEO?
Internal linking is when a medical practice links pages on their website to other pages on their website. Internal links are often underutilized on websites of medical practices but can play a significant role in improving overall SEO. First, internal linking makes it easier for patients to find information on the site without having to go back to the menu or a home page. For example, if someone is exploring a page about seasonal allergies and the page mentions that allergies sometimes share symptoms with the flu, there should be an internal link to the flu page. Visitors can quickly visit the flu page without returning to the menu or a services landing page. This will improve the conversion rate of a website. Some case studies have shown a 40% increase in traffic due to great internal linking.
For search engines, web crawlers will explore links just like visitors do. Seeing the relationship between pages and how they are connected to the pages will help search engines know what pages are relevant to keywords. It will help improve the overall organic ranking of a website and help search engines discover new pages to include in those results.
Why should a medical practice’s site be mobile-friendly, and how does that help on-page SEO?
Today, a medical practice needs to have a mobile-friendly site that will function on a smartphone just as it would on a desktop computer. Over 60% of web traffic to a medical practice’s website will come from mobile sources. Google makes the mobile-friendliness of a website a significant factor in rankings, especially on mobile devices. A website may not even appear in mobile search results if there is not a mobile-friendly version of a website. This means less traffic and will drive down organic rankings on desktop search results.
The best choice for a medical practice is to have a responsive website. A responsive website will automatically rearrange itself to fit the screen it is displayed on. With that said, a web designer does need to help decide where things will be rearranged on a screen. It will not do it automatically. A medical practice wants to ensure that pictures don’t cover up important text and that images resize correctly. Another key to mobile-friendliness, as mentioned above, is mobile site speed. How sites a rearranged and how elements are displayed on mobile devices can impact mobile friendliness.
The experts at PatientGain.com are available to help you create a high-performance healthcare website that implements the best practices of on-page SEO. Contact us today, and let us show you what we have done for other practices across the country!