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Guide to SEO for Doctors

Resources - Exclusive SEO

SEO For Doctor: How Search Engine Optimization Attracts & Retains Patients


In the past, most doctors received patients through word-of-mouth referrals and repeat business. Now, the market has gotten more competitive, and online strategies like search engine optimization (SEO) are necessary to gain visibility for your practice.

When people look for a local healthcare provider, they usually turn to Google or another search engine to find local practices and explore websites. If you’re not on the list that appears in the first page, you could miss out on all those potential patients.

SEO expands your audience for a private practice, drives more traffic to your website, brings in new patients, and builds a long-lasting online presence.

What Is SEO for Doctors?

Whether it’s SEO for doctors, SEO for medical practices, or physician SEO, the core principles are the same – it’s the practice to align your website with the search engine ranking algorithm to make it easier to find, crawl, and index in the search engine results pages for relevant search queries.

Essentially, this is about making improvements to the content and website structure to make it discoverable for users searching for the services you have to offer. In this case, that’s medical care and services.

Why Does SEO for Doctors Matter?

Search engines are a popular way to seek information about any business, and doctors are no different. More and more people are looking for healthcare facilities, medical websites, and medical providers online. And more often than not, they rely on the top search results to determine which doctor to see.

If you want to gain new patients and boost awareness for your business, an optimized online presence is a must. As potential patients look for information online, such as “doctor’s office near me” or “best doctor in [city],” they’ll see your website and high-quality content, encouraging them to look into your business.
Guide to SEO for Doctors
It’s not just about visibility, however. Having an optimized website puts you at the top of Google search results for patients who are searching with intent to make an appointment with a doctor, rather than users who are just searching for information.

Related: Guide to SEO for Plastic Surgeons

Benefits of Medical SEO

Every time a search users types a query into Google or another search engine like Bing, it’s an opportunity for you to connect with them, solve their problems, answer their questions, and become a trusted medical resource.

Here are the benefits of SEO for medical practices:

More Website Traffic

When your site appears high in the search engine rankings, you generate more organic traffic to your site and content. Over time, people become more aware of your brand, leading to more traffic that signals to Google that you have value for searchers.

More Patients

A big part of optimization is using target keywords to attract potential patients. These keywords or phrases are the terms that your ideal audience is using to find relevant content, giving you more targeted traffic for your website.

Related: Guide to SEO for Dentists

Improve Brand Reputation

Ranking high on Google gives you more trust and authority with users. If Google has trust in your website and content, users will too. And as more users spend time looking at your site and content, it signals to Google that the result was relevant to the users, boosting your ranking even further.

Related: Guide to HVAC SEO

High Return on Investment (ROI)

SEO is one of the most cost-effective methods of digital marketing. You may have to invest in services from an SEO agency, but if you do it yourself, it only costs time and money. Either way, the upfront cost is quickly recouped by gains in qualified patient leads and patients.

Your upfront SEO investment also pays off in the long term. It takes time to grow, but it can drive results months – or even years – down the line.

Types of Medical SEO

There are several factors that come into play with ranking websites and content, which include:

On-Page SEO

On-page SEO includes ranking factors like site accessibility, site speed, page speed, optimized content, keywords, and title tags. It’s all the factors that you can change on your own.


Include keywords in your title tags, headings (H1s), and URL structure. Google puts more weight into these over your other copy, so it’s good to work your keywords into them to improve your ranking.

Though keywords are important, don’t overdo it. Keyword stuffing sacrifices the quality of your content, or worse, could be penalized by Google.

Page Load Speed

Google wants to provide the best possible results to users, which includes not just the information, but the page load speed. If your site takes a long time to load, users are likely to just click away and find relevant results they can get quickly.

You can check your site load speeds with Google’s PageSpeed Insights. This tool analyzes your site on mobile and desktop, then offers tips to optimize its speed.

Mobile Friendliness

With many users conducting searches on mobile devices, Google has prioritized mobile page loading speed as one of the top ranking factors. If you’re not sure if your site is mobile friendly, you can use the Mobile-Friendly Test from Google Search Console.

This test will alert you to critical site errors like hacked content and helps you manage how your content appears in the search results. Best of all, it’s testing the same factors that Google already uses to determine search engine ranking.

Page Content

You can get traffic directly to your website from people who are looking to book an appointment with a physician, but that’s not all the traffic your website will receive.

Some potential patients will find your practice website when they’re looking for medical information, not necessarily looking to book an appointment with a doctor right then. If you provide them with optimized content that addresses their concerns, you will encourage future visits.

Always make sure your content provides value first – not self-promotion. For example, if you’re a cardiologist, offer articles on heart health like “common signs of a heart attack in women” or “X ways to improve your heart health.”

Build Internal Links

Linking internally to other pages on your website helps visitors navigate it more easily, but it also has value for Google. With internal links that point to different areas of your site, Google’s crawlers can figure out the structure and hierarchy of your site and what content is most important.

When you add internal links, make sure the anchor text – the clickable text on the hyperlink – is relevant. The user should understand what type of content they’re navigating to when they click on it, rather than experiencing a “bait and switch” that leads them to click away.

Schema Markup

Adding structured data helps search engines understand the content on your page. It can also increase the likelihood that your site will become the “rich results” on the search engine results page, such as a step-by-step guide with images. Rich results usually have a higher clickthrough rate than other search engine listings.

Related: Guide to SEO for Roofers

Off-Page SEO

Off-page SEO includes the activities that are done off of your website to increase your search engine rankings, such as building backlinks, encouraging branded searches, and increasing shares on social media.

Building Backlinks

Off-page SEO focuses on the authority of your domain, which is gained through getting links from other authoritative websites. In linking to you, these sites pass some of their authority and credibility along with the link. A good example of this is a site like Wikipedia, which is always high in the search engine results pages.

But building backlinks is about quality, not quantity. If you want the links you build to earn you higher rankings, they need to be from credible, related sites, such as research studies or articles from medical journals. Taking a shortcut like purchasing links won’t work.

Brand Signals

Brand signals are indicators that Google uses to determine if a site is from a legitimate business. A branded search is how people search for a brand in Google, whether it’s through searches of the exact practice name or a word or phrase.

Research-Backed Content

Research-backed content directly boosts off-page SEO by building links and increasing social shares. While Google doesn’t consider social signals in search rankings, social sharing indirectly helps your off-page SEO by getting your practice in front of more people, leading to more branded searches and mentions.

Related: Guide to Drug Rehab SEO

E-E-A-T Guidelines

Formerly E-A-T, the E-E-A-T guidelines cover the experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness of a website. Within these guidelines, Google considers the reputation of the website and content creators, the value of the content, and whether it can be harmful – an important consideration for medical SEO.

A lot goes into E-E-A-T, including links from authoritative sources, author bios, the type of website, and the quality of the content. But one of the big factors is the number of positive reviews, which indicate that others value and trust your medical practice.

Local SEO for Doctors

Local SEO is crucial for small, service-based businesses like a medical practice. If your practice isn’t optimized for local search, you could miss out on a wealth of potential patients in your local area.

This process is designed to improve your search engine visibility with a brick-and-mortar location using signals like local content and citations.

There are several steps you can take to improve your local SEO, including:

Optimizing Your Google My Business Page

All local businesses need to be visible on Google My Business. Like other Google-specific content, your Google My Business profile is verified and supported by the search engine itself.

If you haven’t claimed your Google My Business page, start there. To do that, open Google Maps, type in your practice name and click “Claim this business.” Then, you can go through the steps to verify it.

Once that’s complete, you can include all the pertinent information about your business, such as your business name, hours of operation, address, and phone number. Having correct information is vital, not just for SEO, but for potential patients looking for your business.
Guide to SEO for Doctors
Optimize Online Directories and Citations

Google My Business is a big part of local SEO, but it’s not the only aspect you need to optimize. Making sure your information is consistent across directories like Yelp ensures that Google knows it’s correct. Otherwise, it may not show your practice in the search results.

Even small details like abbreviated names, misspellings, or a wrong number format can create issues. Make sure all the details are correct and consistent.
Guide to SEO for Doctors
Target Geo-Location Phrases

Every piece of content you create is an opportunity to include geographic search phrases and improve your visibility in the search engine results pages. When you create new content, optimize it with high-volume keywords in the URL, title tag, header, meta description, and body.

Include Location Pages

If you have multiple brick-and-mortar offices, create individual location pages for each of them. Location pages should include your name, address, phone number, and hours, as well as parking or transit information, location-specific promotions, and unique descriptions. All of these details differentiate your individual location pages and make them easier to find for local searchers.

Related: Guide to Personal Injury Lawyer SEO

Participate in the Community

The more active you are in the local community, especially as a doctor, the more digital PR you can gain. Sponsoring an event, having a volunteer day, or partnering with a nonprofit organization give you an opportunity to earn press and inbound links.

There are virtually endless ways for doctors to get involved in the local community, including volunteering with high school athletics, sponsoring local sports teams, and becoming an event sponsor for fundraisers.
Guide to SEO for Doctors
Generate Business for Your Practice with SEO for Doctors

If you want to grow your private practice, SEO strategy for doctors is one of the most important things you can do. Patients are increasingly looking online for information before booking an appointment, so SEO is one of the best marketing strategies you can invest in.

Why Is SEO for Doctors Important?

There are many advantages of SEO in general, but especially for doctors. The competition can be fierce, but SEO puts you in front of prospective patients who are looking to book an appointment.

What Are the 4 Types of SEO?

The 4 types of SEO are on-page SEO, off-page SEO, technical SEO, and local SEO, three of which we’ve covered here. Some aspects of technical SEO can be DIY, but it’s best to hire an SEO agency with SEO experts to handle some of the more complex issues.

What Are Some Examples of Keywords to Use for a Doctor?

It’s important to conduct keyword research for your healthcare practice and area to determine the ideal keywords. In many cases, keywords identify the service you offer and your location, such as “orthopedic surgeon near me” or “dermatologist near [city].”


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