Healthcare Medical SEO: Step By Step Guide For Hospitals, Clinics, and Medical Professionals

by Manas Chowdhury
11 minutes read

Not all SEO strategies are the same. 

While a retail store or fashion website can follow standard SEO strategies like putting out content and doing basic on-page optimization, healthcare SEO requires a different approach. 

Search engines use unique criteria to rank medical websites whether you have a small clinic or founder of a hospital. 

There are strict regulations that dictate what you can and cannot say, with serious repercussions. For newcomers to healthcare SEO, it can be overwhelming. Fortunately, we compiled a list of tips to simplify your healthcare medical SEO efforts.

Let’s dive in!

What is SEO for Healthcare?

Medical SEO refers to strategies that help healthcare practices improve their website visibility and ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs) for relevant keywords. 

For example, let’s consider a dental clinic specializing in cosmetic dentistry located in New York City. 

Through medical SEO marketing, the clinic’s website can be optimized to rank higher for keywords like “cosmetic dentist NYC” or “teeth whitening in New York.” 

This optimization involves various strategies such as keyword research, on-page optimization, building high-quality backlinks, and so on.

These effective strategies bring more visibility to the dental clinic’s website.  

The increased visibility can lead to more inquiries, and appointments, ultimately helping the clinic grow its patient base.

Why Do You Need Unique SEO For Medical Practices?

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) benefits most businesses, but its approach varies for different industries. 

The healthcare sector has diversified professionals and businesses from individual doctors to medical suppliers and pharmacies. 

What works for one healthcare company may not work for another due to a completely different audience and objective. 

The SEO strategy for a local family dentist will be quite different from that of a medical billing software development company. 

While the dentist’s goal is to attract patients in their area searching for dental services, the medical billing software development company aims to reach hospitals that will benefit from billing software. 

The first one is B2C business while the second one is B2B business. Each requires a distinct SEO approach tailored to their specific audience and objectives.

Similarly, consider the difference between a hospital’s SEO strategy and that of an online pharmacy. The hospital needs to optimize its online presence to attract patients seeking medical services, while the pharmacy focuses on reaching consumers searching for medications and health products.

After working with thousands of medical practitioners, we have created this guide that helps with SEO for medical practices and institutions.

That said, before we go to the steps to start with SEO let’s understand why it is so important in the healthcare industry.

The Importance Of SEO for healthcare practices

Did you know?

On average, there are 1 billion health-related queries on Google daily. 

Let’s say you are a dentist. 

What if your target audience searches for queries like “signs of the cavity” and you are there to answer them with credible information and the best tips?

They will automatically remember your business, view you as an expert and chances are they book a consultation call. 

That’s why SEO is important for healthcare businesses. 

Healthcare SEO matters because it lets people find out about your medical services. When you use search engine optimization on your medical website, it ensures the information and expertise you have gets to people looking for medical advice. 

You might think, can’t paid ads do the same for us? 

Paid ads can indeed help promote your services, but they come with a cost. A report shows that many healthcare marketers focus a lot on Google Ads to attract this traffic. Hospitals especially spend about 85% of their budget on paid digital ads.

However, they only get a clickthrough rate of 6.11% which doesn’t cover the expenses.

With SEO, your content appears organically in search results, making it more trustworthy to users. Plus, when you consistently provide valuable information through SEO, you build a reputation as an expert in your field. This increases your visibility and boosts credibility, making potential patients more likely to choose your services. So, if you are tight on budget and have to choose one, SEO is surely the one to pick.

However, if you have the budget, combine both SEO and Ads to get the results.

How to Do SEO for Medical Practitioners: 8-Step Guide

Step 1: Get to know your audience

Understanding your target audience is essential. It shapes every marketing decision you make. 

For instance, offering free health screenings at a large community event may seem like a good way to reach many people. 

However, if your target audience consists of busy professionals concerned about preventive care, hosting lunchtime seminars at corporate offices or providing virtual consultations during after-work hours could be more effective in engaging with the right individuals.

To get started with a basic idea of the audience use Google Analytics.

The tool gives you access to analytics, offering valuable insights into your audience. 

For example, by using this tool a women’s health clinic in Portland, Oregon discovered that a large portion of their website visitors are women aged 25-40 from nearby suburbs like Beaverton and Hillsboro.

Here are a few other effective ways to understand your target audience: 

  • Conduct Market Research: Study industry trends to find gaps in the market that your product can fill and adapt to emerging customer needs.
  • Analyze Competitors: Understand who your competitors are targeting and how they’re doing it to refine your own target audience strategy.
  • Create Personas: Develop detailed profiles of your ideal customers based on data and insights to guide your marketing efforts.
  • Define Who Your Audience Isn’t: Identify which demographics don’t align with your product to focus your marketing efforts more effectively.
  • Continuously Revise: Regularly update your target audience profiles based on new information and feedback to stay relevant and effective.

Step 2: Identify how people are searching for you

Once you understand who is searching for you, look for how they find you or your competitors. 

If you are a neurosurgeon in LA, people will probably look for “best neurosurgeon in LA” , “top rated neurosurgeon” etc. 

When someone searches for these terms, also known as keywords, Google looks for websites with similar keywords to show in the search results.

That’s exactly why this is a step that is necessary before even creating a website for your practice. 

If your page has the right keywords that match what someone is looking for, it’s more likely to show up at the top of Google’s search results. But if your keywords don’t match what people are searching for, your page might not rank as high.

The best way to find keywords relevant is by using keyword research tools like Google Keyword Planner.

Focus on both general terms related to your specialty and specific phrases that potential patients might use.

Here are a few more ways to find out how people search for you: 

Monitor social media platforms for discussions related to healthcare topics, your specialty, or local healthcare needs. Pay attention to common questions, concerns, or trends among users.

You can also look at online reviews for similar healthcare practices in your area. Note down the keywords and phrases patients use when describing their experiences or mentioning specific services.

Once you have gathered insights from these sources you can use them to build your website. A website is the first yet non-negotiable step for SEO. 

Let’s get into the details in the next step. 

Step 3: Build Your Website: 

Once you understand the services your audience is looking for, build your website UI and content accordingly.

Let’s say you found out your target audience consists of athletes recovering from injuries, and they frequently search for the phrase: “best physical therapy for sports injuries.” Your website should be designed to cater to this need, with a clear focus on this specific service. 

Make detailed pages for your sports injury services and keep a blog with helpful articles and guides. Share success stories with pictures and videos to show how you’ve helped other athletes. 

Ensure your website is easy to navigate, has clear buttons for booking appointments, and provides all necessary contact information.

Here are some tips to make your website great:

Keep things simple so people can find what they need fast. Have clear links to important pages like services, about us, and contact.

Use your clinic’s colors and style to make the website feel like it belongs to you.

Use buttons that say things like “Book Appointment” or “Contact Us” to make it easy for people to take the next step.

Add photos and videos to make the website more interesting and break up all the text.

Make it responsive, since lots of people search for doctors on their mobile devices.

You must have a phone number, address, and opening hours displayed on your website. Put them at the bottom or top of every page as well as on the “Contact Us” page.

This way you can create a website that helps patients feel confident about choosing your clinic for their healthcare needs.

Step 4: Start Creating Content:

Creating content is a powerful way to attract more patients to your local healthcare practice. Content helps improve your ranking in search results by driving more traffic to your website. You attract this traffic by creating well-informed or interesting content for prospective patients.

Here are some examples of content you can create:

  1. Local Event Information: Share details about events you’re hosting or attending, like a wellness fair or a flu shot event. For instance, if you’re organizing a flu shot clinic, write a blog post about the event and why flu shots are important.
  2. Feature Articles: Introduce new team members with a feature article. For example, if a new dermatologist joins your practice, write about their background and specialties.
  3. Service Updates: Inform patients about the new services you offer. If you start offering telemedicine, create a video explaining how it works and the benefits for patients.
  4. Health Tips: Create seasonal health tips. If you’re in a cold area, a video on staying healthy during winter can attract views and build trust.
  5. Local Focus: Highlight services for specific areas. If you have multiple locations, write content tailored to each area, like “Pediatric Care in [City Name].”

When creating content, use location-based keywords. Mention your city and neighborhood throughout your content. This helps local patients find you more easily. For instance, use phrases like “flu shots in [City Name]” or “best paediatrician in [Neighborhood Name].”

Here are some tips for effective content creation:

  • Find relevant local keywords that fit well with your site’s content. 
  • Decide whether a blog post, video, or infographic is best for the topic. 
  • Regularly update your content to keep it relevant. 
  • Track how your content is performing. 

Step 5: Invest In Local SEO For Medical Professionals:

When it comes to promoting your healthcare practice online, local SEO is your best friend. It helps your business get noticed by people near your practice’s physical location.

Here’s why it’s important and how you can make the most of it:

Say, for example, someone in your practice location is looking for a dentist. They pull out their phone and type “dentist near me” into Google. 

If your practice doesn’t show up in the search results, you could be missing out on potential patients. While you sit there and wait, your competitors will steal new patients from you. . 

Local SEO for healthcare professionals increases your business’s online visibility within its physical location. About 46% of all Google searches are usually looking for local information, so it’s important that your practice is among the top-rated businesses locally. 

Internet users also use the ‘near me’ option a lot to narrow down their search results. If your healthcare practice is among the top practices, you’ll gain many potential repeat clients.

The good news is that most of the local SEO for medical professionals are free. They include:

  • Setting Up Google Business Profile: Start by setting up your Google Business Profile listing. This literally puts your practice on the map. Make sure to fill out all the important details like your address, phone number, and hours of operation in GMB.
  • Managing Your Local Listings: List the information about your practice on various websites and directories like Yelp and Healthgrades. It’s crucial to keep this information accurate, up-to-date, and consistent across all listings. You can use tools like LocalFX to manage your listings across multiple platforms and directories.
  • Patient Reviews: Regardless of the business, people always want to be 200% sure about their decision. They don’t want to waste their hard-earned money. Hence to back up any decision they want solid proof in the form of recommendation, word of mouth, etc. 

That said, what better way to give your potential patients a reason to trust you than authentic reviews? 

Encourage your patients to leave reviews on platforms like Google Business Profile and Yelp. Make sure you respond to both positive and negative reviews to show that you value patient feedback.

Step 6: Optimize With Best on-page and off-page practices

Optimizing your website is crucial for attracting more patients to your healthcare practice. This involves both on-page and off-page SEO practices. Let’s dive into what you can do specifically for healthcare practices.

On-Page SEO Practices: Optimize Page Content, Titles, and Meta Descriptions. Use relevant keywords in your content, titles, and meta descriptions. For example, if you run a dental clinic, use phrases like “best dental care in [your city]” or “affordable braces for kids” to improve your search rankings.

Use Headings in Your Content: Headings make your content easier to read and help search engines understand your page structure. Use clear and descriptive headings, such as “Our Services” for a page detailing the treatments you offer.

Ensure Your Website is Mobile-Friendly: Many users search for healthcare services on their phones. Ensure your site adapts well to mobile screens. For instance, a paediatric clinic’s site should be easy to navigate on a smartphone so parents can quickly find information.

Reduce Page Load Time: Slow websites frustrate visitors. Optimize your images, enable browser caching, and minimize JavaScript to speed up your site. A fast-loading site can make a great impression, especially if someone urgently needs medical information.

Optimize URLs: Create short, descriptive URLs like “” instead of “”. This is especially useful for a dermatology practice sharing tips and advice.

Use Internal and External Links: Link to other pages on your site and reputable external sources. For example, a cardiology clinic might link to their own articles about heart health as well as trusted resources like the American Heart Association.

Off-Page SEO Practices

Participate in Medical Forums: Engage in online medical forums to share your expertise and link back to your website. For instance, a physical therapist might answer questions about back pain on a health forum, driving traffic to their site.

Be Active on Social Media: Keep your social media profiles updated and post engaging content regularly. A family practice could share patient success stories or tips for flu prevention during flu season.

Influencer Outreach: Connect with influencers in the healthcare field. They can help spread the word about your services and attract new patients. A paediatric clinic could collaborate with a well-known parenting blogger.

Write Guest Blog Posts: Contribute articles to authoritative sites in your industry. For example, a nutritionist could write a guest post on a popular health and wellness blog about balanced diets, linking back to their practice’s site.

Optimize Your Social Media Profiles: Ensure your profiles are complete and optimized with keywords. This helps potential patients find you more easily. A chiropractic clinic should include keywords like “back pain relief” and “chiropractic care in [your city]” in their profiles.

Using both on-page and off-page SEO strategies is crucial for healthcare practices. On-page SEO improves your website’s content and structure, making it easier for search engines to understand. Off-page SEO builds your site’s authority and drives traffic from external sources. By combining these approaches, you can improve your website’s visibility, attract more patients, and grow your healthcare practice.

Step 7: Check Your Site Health

You know how much health matters way better than anyone, right? 

Just like you take care of your patients’ health, it’s crucial to ensure your healthcare practice website is in the best shape too. 

It’s exactly why you have to check your site’s health and fix any technical issues. It ensures your website is performing at its best.

Here’s why checking your site health is important:

Ensures smooth functionality: Technical issues like broken links, slow loading times, or errors can frustrate visitors and drive them away from your site. By regularly checking your site health, you can identify and fix these issues promptly, ensuring a smooth user experience for your patients.

Boosts search engine rankings: Search engines like Google prioritise websites that are well-maintained and free of technical issues. By fixing any issues on your website, you can improve its chances of ranking higher in search engine results, making it easier for potential patients to find you online.

Enhances security: Healthcare websites often contain sensitive patient information, so it’s crucial to ensure they are secure from cyber threats. Regularly checking your site health can help identify any security vulnerabilities and address them before they become a problem.

Here are five issues you must fix immediately: 

Broken Links: Check for broken links throughout your website, including internal and external links. Broken links can frustrate visitors and negatively impact your site’s user experience and SEO. Use tools like Google Search Console or online link checkers to identify and fix broken links promptly.

Page Loading Speed: Slow-loading pages can lead to high bounce rates and lower search engine rankings. Monitor your website’s page loading speed using tools like Google PageSpeed Insights or GTmetrix. Optimize images, minimize HTTP requests, and leverage browser caching to improve page loading times.

SSL Certificate: Security is paramount for healthcare websites, especially when handling sensitive patient information. Check if your website has an SSL certificate installed to encrypt data transmitted between your server and users’ browsers. A secure connection is indicated by a padlock icon in the browser’s address bar.

404 Errors: Monitor and fix any 404 errors (page not found) on your website. Use tools like Google Search Console to identify pages returning 404 errors and set up proper redirects to relevant pages. Ensure users are seamlessly redirected to the correct content to prevent frustration and improve user experience.

Regularly checking for these errors and promptly addressing them can help maintain the health and performance of your healthcare practice website, ensuring it provides a positive experience for visitors and supports your practice’s goals.

Step 8: Test, Analyze, Repeat

Alright, so you’ve gone through all the steps to ensure your healthcare practice website ranks. 

Now what? 

Well, SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes 8-16 months to brew results. 

So what do we do?

Apart from the basics of adding valuable content, optimizing pages, etc, you have to go the extra mile if you want to stand out. 

Test, analyze, and repeat!

This is the last step that can differentiate your business from others, yet we have seen businesses neglecting it a thousand times. 

You have to keep refining your strategy. Think of it as an ongoing cycle of improvement.

First, start by testing different elements of your website to see what works best. This could include A/B testing different headlines, call-to-action buttons, or page layouts. For example, you might test two different versions of your appointment booking page to see which one leads to more conversions.

Once you’ve collected enough data, it’s time to analyze the results. Look at metrics like website traffic, conversion rates, and user engagement to see what’s working and what’s not. Maybe you notice that a particular blog post is driving a lot of traffic to your site, or that users are spending more time on your services page than your about page.

Based on your analysis, make adjustments to your website and marketing strategy as needed. This could involve tweaking your website copy, optimizing for different keywords, or investing more resources into content marketing. The key is to keep experimenting and learning from your results.

And finally, don’t forget to repeat the process every month. It’s important to stay agile and adapt to changes as they come. 

By continuously testing, analyzing, and refining your website and marketing efforts, you can ensure that your healthcare practice stays ahead of the curve and continues to grow.

How Can you Measure the Success of you Medical SEO Strategy?

Let’s clear one thing right here! 

Your website won’t rank overnight and probably neither will it in 1 month…2 months, 4 months….

It takes a while for Google to analyze your website content and index your site. On average it takes 5 months to a year to start seeing results.

While you keep your A game on, measuring the success of your medical SEO Marketing is crucial to making the right decisions. 

Here’s how you can do it:

Website Traffic: Keep an eye on the number of visitors to your website. An increase indicates that your SEO efforts are driving more people to your site.

Keyword Rankings: Monitor where your website ranks for important keywords related to your medical services. Moving up in search results means your SEO strategy is working.

Conversion Rate: Track how many website visitors take desired actions, like booking appointments or contacting your clinic. A higher conversion rate shows that your SEO is attracting relevant leads.

Bounce Rate: Check the percentage of visitors who leave your site after viewing only one page. A lower bounce rate indicates that visitors find your content engaging and relevant.

Backlinks: Keep tabs on the number and quality of websites linking to yours. More high-quality backlinks can improve your website’s authority and search engine rankings.

Online Reviews: Monitor online reviews and ratings to gauge patient satisfaction and reputation. Positive reviews can indicate that patients are happy with your services and are likely to recommend you to others.

The trick is to focus on the most important metrics to your medical practice and not vanity metrics like DA, DR, etc. 

How Much Should I Spend on SEO for Medical Practice

Healthcare marketing and SEO typically cost between $600 and $10,000 per month. 

This covers deliverables like analyzing your website’s SEO health, finding the best keywords, making sure your pages are optimized, getting quality backlinks, etc. 

Factors affecting the cost: 

  • Agency expertise: Experienced providers charge more due to their expertise, often driving better results.
  • Your goals: The complexity and aggressiveness of your SEO strategy can affect the overall cost.
  • Competition in your niche: Industries with high competition require more intense SEO efforts, increasing costs.
  • Your current website ranking: A strong existing online presence may result in lower upfront costs for SEO work.
  • The extensiveness of the plan: More comprehensive SEO plans, including tasks like content creation, may incur higher costs.
  • Number of locations: Targeting multiple locations in local SEO increases workload, potentially raising expenses.

The best service providers create a customized plan for your business. 

A custom plan is the best way to ensure your SEO strategy meets your unique needs and drives the desired results.

Wrapping it Up

Now that you know what to expect from healthcare SEO strategy is it worth the investment?

In our opinion that depends. 

Investing in healthcare medical SEO depends on your goals, online presence, competition, budget, and patient behavior. 

For example, a local clinic that wants to attract more patients online and outshine nearby competitors would find SEO a valuable investment.

One thing is for sure, when done right, healthcare SEO brings considerable ROI, with nearly half of marketers saying organic search yields the highest ROI. 

SEO helps your practice appear higher in search results, attracting more patients who research providers online. 

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