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SEO Basics for SEO-challenged health professionals – Part 2

SEO is such a highly technical strategy within Internet marketing that many times healthcare marketers get easily discouraged to the point of writing it off altogether.

But that shouldn’t be the case. Healthcare marketers have the advantage of optimizing for local search, which is easier to learn and implement because there is (usually) less competition for key phrases.

Elephant on display at museum

A page that is well optimized for local-search stands out clearly and is easy to find

Image credit: Shashi Bellamkonda

In the first part of this series I outlined some SEO basics such as optimizing the header of your page, optimizing the copy (body), and using internal links in your content.

Keep in mind that these are tactics to be used every time you create fresh content on your website page. In other words for each new page of content, you should optimize the header, the copy, use internal links and so on. My hope (and assumption) is that before you embark on any kind of SEO work, you have done plenty of research about your industry, keywords, target market and competition. This cannot be skipped otherwise anything you attempt to do thereafter is worthless.

Picking up from where we left off last time, here are some more sections of your page that need to be optimized as you continue to create your content:

Optimize Images

Since search engines cannot understand the meanings of images, they rely on the context of the page on which those images are found to give relevance to the query in question. That’s why it is important to attach metadata to the image e.g. file location and name, alt tag, title tag.

  • Alt tags are literally the ‘alternate text’ used to describe the image when the image is not available (say because there’s an error loading the page). A good alt tag is a simple phrase that is also key-word rich and sufficiently describes the image.
  • Caption is the image title and it simply helps the visitor to understand the context of the image in relation to the rest of the content. It should therefore be accurate and detailed.
  • A word about the images themselves. Because you want to give your site visitor a good user experience try to use high quality images that attract both interest and links from other sites (such as Pinterest). If you do use your own images decide if you want to give others permission to use them in exchange for a link back to your site. If you’re using other people’s images, be sure you have permission to use them so as not to get entangled with copyright violation issues.

Using meta-descriptions

Search engines are able to scan the text of your website and extract a snippet of the content based on the user’s search query. However you still need to decide if you’ll rely exclusively on those algorithms, or create your own descriptions. Keep in mind that the purpose of including a description about your page is to convince potential customers to click on your link in the SERPs. Make it convincing and use your keywords.

Optimize for Local Search

Recently search engines have began to emphasize local search results in the main results page. If a user searches for a hospital or a pediatrician’s practice, the search will return local suggestions of such providers in the area near the user. This is good news for healthcare marketers, but it also means that they have to pay special attention to optimize for local search. Here are some tips for local search optimization:

Geo-specific keywords: Basically, you will follow the same SEO basics as mentioned before (H1, H2, meta-descriptions etc.). However you will also need to target geo-specific keywords among your other keywords. For example you might use, “sports doctor Baltimore County” or ” internal medicine Baltimore City” (but do your research and see what location words you will rank well for).

Physical address: Also be sure to include your physical address on all your website pages. If you have more than one location, then dedicate at least one page on your site for each location. This is better than listing all your locations on a single page, which would be harder to return relevant results in a user’s search query. Also add other details including maps, directions, hours of business and so on.

User-generated ratings: These are reviews, comments and ratings from other customers, which include geo-specific words. These help to raise awareness of those pages (on your website) with search engines.

Key Takeaway

Sometimes SEO can feel like a lot of hard work with no idea where it is pointing to. But remember that no matter how compelling your website it, it does no good if no one sees it. SEO is about increasing the visibility of your website so that new visitors and customers can find it. Healthcare marketers in particular can focus on local search optimization, which has the potential of bringing in more paying patients through your doors.

Over to you: Would you like to increase the visibility of your healthcare practice? Let’s talk – email to discuss your SEO challenges.


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