Medical Websites – 5 Fundamentals for Search Engine Marketing
When considering Medical Website Marketing for your practice, there are 5 key fundamentals that are important to the success of you online marketing campaign. Since Search Engine Optimization is a constantly evolving strategy, it’s important to understand the basics. Doing the basics of Search Engine Optimization will ensure that you can achieve quality ranking within search engines, while suffering little impact from search engine updates. While there are certainly ways to cheat the system (Black-Hat SEO), updates to search engine algorithms make these methods ineffective in the long run.
As a long term solution, SEO can be effective if done correctly. Following the 5 fundamentals listed below will ensure preferable search engine ranking for years to come.
5 Fundamental Elements for SEO and Medical Website Success
1. HTML Based Web Design
The days of using FLASH are dead. If you find that your current website is based heavily in FLASH, it’s time to update your site. Providing quality content on your website for prospective patients is quite simply the most important thing you can do to enhance your Search Engine ranking. If you use FLASH, it is invisible to search engines and return to Google as a blank page. With new developments in HTML, medical website designers and developers can now achieve the same effects that FLASH offers, but will also be recognizable to a “search bot.”
2. Page Titles, Descriptions, Keywords
The second most important thing you can do to maximize your on-site SEO is to enter effective page titles, descriptions, and keywords. Search engines are giving you an opportunity to tell search bots what you do and what your website represents. Don’t waste this opportunity. Granted, it can be time consuming entering these in on each page and identifying keywords. Trust me when I tell you, it is essential to ranking well within search engines and you should make this step a priority in your Medical Marketing plan.
- Page Titles: This is the most important of the three. This is your opportunity to tell search engines about you and your practice in 70 characters or less. This is the text that will appear in bold on the search engine results page. Titles should be concise, specific, and relevant to the page content.
- Descriptions: This is the short description that appears in the search engine results page. This can also be used to tell search engines what any given Typically limited to 150 characters, a well written description can have a large impact on click-through-rate (CTR).
- Keywords: Keywords used to have much more value in the SEO world. You used to be able to rank for keywords by simply including them in you on-site SEO. This is no longer the case. While there is no data to show how much value keywords have, there is a chance that these have zero value. This area is commonly used for misspellings or keywords that may not be searched frequently.
3. URL’s – Search Engine Friendly
While this is hardly a new idea to SEO, it has gained importance with the popularity of Bing as a search engine. Recent studies have shown that Bing favors sites that use keywords in the actual URL. You want to use a keyword that has high search volume. For example if you are a plastic surgeon in Florida who wants to increase your traffic for breast augmentations, your URL might be: www.floridaplasticsurgeon.com/breast-augmentation. This will give your site a little more credibility than your competitors who may not be using this technique. (Read more about recent updates concerning Exact Match Domains)
You’ve seen the word on sites before, but do you really understand what they are and how they function? If you’ve ever clicked on a sitemap link, you’ve probably been taken to what appears to be a simple directory of a site. It’s not typically user friendly, and seems to serve little purpose. Guess again. Sitemaps are meant for search engines to read. A search engine can see every page of your site through the sitemap which increases the chances all of your pages get indexed for search. Keeping an updated sitemap will also help to update search engines when you make changes or add pages to your site to reflect immediately in search results.
(Note: When this article was originally published, some techniques were effective that are no longer effective. The below content has been updated to reflect changes within search engine algorithms)
Building links is the most effective way to generate credibility for your website. Each link that links to your site is essentially voting for you. They’re telling the world that they agree with your content and value it as a good resource. The important thing to remember is that links coming from a reputable site are always more valuable to your overall rank. A site that has no authority linking to your site is worth nothing. So unlike election season, not every vote counts.
Links out to other sites are also good, but who you link out to can be just as important. Links to reputable sites that are seen as experts in your given field can be valuable. Links to random sites that have no authority can actually bring down the inherent “value” of your site. You’re essentially putting your stamp of approval on a website, so make sure you approve first. Some believe that you lose value for each time you link out to another site. That you’re essentially telling search engines, they know it better, so they get the credit. Either way, links out to other sites should be carefully planned and used sparingly.
While these 5 fundamentals for search engine marketing success are not the total solution, this can be a great start to improving the marketing plan for your medical practice website. With new tools and programs coming out daily to help with conversion and click-through-rate (CTR), staying on top of your marketing plan will help to grow your practice exponentially.