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‘SEO’ or search engine optimization. You’ve probably heard of it before. Some doctors invest a significant portion of their marketing budget into healthcare SEO while others prefer other marketing platforms such as social media or Google Ads.
What is healthcare SEO?
SEO or search engine optimization is the process of improving your website rankings on search engines. Effectively, the goal of SEO would be to rank your healthcare website on the 1st page of search engines such as Bing and Google.
If you are a cardiologist with your own practice in Singapore, you’ll want to perform SEO for keywords such as ‘Cardiologist Singapore’, ‘cardiology clinic’ or ‘heart surgeon’ on google.com.sg.
Why Google? Well, Google is the largest search engine in the world with a global market share of more than 85%. This means that majority of your potential patients are searching via Google for your treatments and procedures.
What are the prerequisites for healthcare SEO?
For starters, you’ll need to ensure that your website is mobile, user and SEO-friendly to be recognized on Google.
As Google focuses on mobile-first indexing, websites that are mobile-friendly would have a higher chance of ranking higher on the search engine.
Compared to a desktop computer, mobile-first indexing focuses on how your website renders on mobile devices. This is then taken into consideration when Google’s algorithm determines the rank of your web page.
In order words, mobile-friendliness is an important factor, if you want to rank your healthcare website on Google.
Optimal content for healthcare websites
For your website to be recognized, its content has to be unique and sufficient.
MOH advertising regulations
Doctors in Singapore have to adhere to the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) Private hospitals and medical clinics (PHMC) (Advertisement) regulations as well. This means that the use of laudatory terms is subject to MOH’s regulations.
Adding blog articles to your website on a regular basis is good for SEO. This allows your website to appear for online queries, catering to patients doing research or looking for specific symptoms, increasing your clinic’s visibility for these search terms.
Well written blog articles help you to build credibility as well, allowing new patients to recognize you as the subject matter expert in your healthcare speciality.
Clinic contact details
As the majority of inquiries for healthcare institutions are via phone calls, having your phone number displayed clearly on the top of every page is an effective method to increase the chance of an inquiry.
How does SEO benefit your healthcare practice?
In today’s digital economy, consumers are doing research online before they make a decision, in this case, visiting a healthcare institution.
The goal of SEO, as mentioned above, would be to rank your website on the 1st page of Google. By appearing on the 1st page of Google, you’ll be able to target potential patients that are interested in your treatments leading to inquiries and appointments.
Is SEO effective for healthcare establishments?
Yes, it is, however, there are a few factors that determine whether your SEO campaign is cost-effective. This requires prior analysis by researching online search trends based on historical data.
An important healthcare SEO factor to consider would be to evaluate if you targeting the right keywords. This can be done via the Google Keyword Planner. Check out our Google keyword planner guide to analyze the search demand for your keywords!
In many cases, you could be optimizing for keywords that are not optimal. Ranking keywords that have no or low search volume, for instance, would be of no use since your patients are not searching for these keywords
For instance, if you are in the field of aesthetics providing laser treatment, it would be unwise to target keyword such as ‘laser and aesthetic centre’. It would be more strategic to rank your website for keywords such as ‘laser clinic Singapore’ and ‘laser treatment Singapore’.
If you have not done SEO before, you might take a long time to rank your website. This because you’ll be racing against other healthcare websites that have been running SEO for years especially in a competitive field.
In analyzing keywords, it’s essential for us to evaluate the competitiveness of different treatments. This allows us to understand which keywords are highly sought after.
We can see that there is lower competition for the keyword ‘laser clinic Singapore’ as compared to ‘laser treatment Singapore’. This means that there are fewer advertisers bidding for the former keyword on Google, signifying that the latter potentially has a higher rate of inquiry.
SEO-optimization for healthcare websites
There are 3 types of SEO optimization, on-page, off-page and technical SEO.
This focuses on the SEO efforts on your website such as:
- Optimizing meta titles and descriptions
- Writing sufficient unique content
- Placing sufficient internal and external links
- Adding an alternate text to images
- Identifies headings and sub-headings using HTML elements (h1 to h6)
These factors allow search engines like Google to better recognize your website. Content optimization is generally easy, although it can be time-consuming.
Check out our SEO copying writing guide if to optimize your website’s content!
This involves SEO efforts outside of your website, predominantly building backlinks to improve your website’s credibility. Simply put, backlinks are links from other websites that direct users to your website when clicked upon.
Note that Google, for a long period of time, used to only consider do-follow links. Links with a ‘no-follow’ attribute are now used by Google as a signal in ranking websites.
The key for long-lasting rankings would be to build backlinks on recognized websites that are recognized by Google.
This involves ensuring that your healthcare website:
- Has a fast loading speed
- Uses the HTTPs status code with an SSL certificate
- Utilizes a XML sitemap
- Is free from crawl errors
- Does not have keyword cannibalization
- Has an optimal robots.txt file
Local SEO for healthcare websites
An important factor for healthcare institutions, local SEO promotes your treatments and procedures to local patients.
The number of ‘clinic near me’ searches in Singapore has been increasing steadily. Searches for ‘clinic near me’ peaked in December 2019 while this trend saw a sharp decline in the first quarter of 2020, largely due to Covid-19. This is explained by the social distancing measures implemented in Singapore, as well as the increased number of people staying and working from home.
Will ‘near me’ searches pick up once Covid-19 blows over and people start going out again? Yes!
Local SEO Signals
For instance, adding a paediatrician may include the words ‘paediatrician Singapore’ on their website’s content instead of ‘paediatrician’. This is one of the many hints or signals to search engines that your practice is based in Singapore.
Your social media page addresses, check-ins, and page post locations add to the collective local signals that occur outside of your website. Nevertheless, these are valuable local signals that will help to boost your website’s local rankings.
Links that contain local terms in their anchor text would definitely help with your local SEO efforts as it provides the context of your healthcare practice.
NAP stands name, address and phone number, providing your local SEO data to search engines. Google looks at data from business listings and directories such as yellow pages, street directory, apple maps and foursquare.
It’s important to note that consistency is key for NAP. Inconsistent NAP information would negatively affect your SEO rankings.
Clinic Map Listings
Google My Business
This is one of the easiest ways to showcase your website on Google map listings, increasing your local visibility and as SEO rankings.
You’ll have to select the right categories for your healthcare practice. Ensure that they are accurate and use as little categories as possible to get optimal results!
Utilizing photographs and images of your clinic increases the credibility of your local listing to Google, thus improving your local ranking!
Note that once you’ve signed up for a Google My Business Account patients can leave online reviews and testimonials! Having an overall positive rating on your listing is definitely an added bonus for patients deciding which clinic to seek consultation.
While Bing has fewer users, some patients still search via Bing. Optimizing for Bing searches would add to your healthcare website’s overall SEO results, visibility and patient appointments.
Another business listing would be Yahoo Localworks. As with Bing, you can reach out to the minority of patients searching via Yahoo. Note that Yahoo Localworks is not free unlink Google My Business and Bing Places.
Healthcare SEO considerations
Running an SEO campaign is by no means a short term effort. Results will usually take time depending on the competition in your healthcare practice or speciality. However, once you manage to rank and maintain your website on the 1st page of search engine results, the benefits and inquiries will be well worth the investment.
SEO is essential if you want to be found by patients looking for the treatments that you provide. Whether you are a dermatologist or an orthodontist, online visibility is important if your goal is to generate new patient inquiries.
Need help? Let our healthcare SEO experts help!
If you’re a busy healthcare practitioner or if these technical jargons are not your cup of tea, consider engaging a professional SEO agency such as Rogue Digital. Our team of SEO experts can certainly improve your rankings to generate more awareness, traffic and patient appointments.
Feel free to contact us for a non-obligatory website and SEO analysis today!