Online presence can have a profound effect on the success of your medical practice. With the majority of patients first taking to the Internet to research physicians before scheduling an appointment, the importance of online presence in the medical industry have never been greater. Is your practice doing all it can to ensure to ensure online success? Good online presence involves much more than a functional website. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is just one of the many methods you can use to elevate your practice’s online presence to new heights. 

What is SEO?
Competition is quite fierce within the medical industry. Your physicians may be among the best in town, but newcomers won’t be able to locate you unless your website is optimized for search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo. Not only is a user-friendly website imperative for showcasing your services, but it can serve as a gateway to new business. Excellent SEO can put you at the top of the list when users search for doctors or dentists in your area. A variety of factors contribute to good SEO practices, including content, back-links, and the proper use of keywords, to name a few. This type of competitive advantage is well worth the investment of a SEO professional who can revamp your site.

How can SEO help my practice?
An investment in SEO can be the best type of advertising for your practice. A SEO consultant, for example, can evaluate your website’s current practices to pinpoint possible improvements.

If your website doesn’t include a blog updated on a regular basis, you might want to consider starting one. Blogs can serve a wonderful purpose in providing opportunities for SEO. However, only quality content will help attract visitors. Useless information isn’t impressive, and nor is repeat content pulled from other sites. Opt for original, engaging content to attract visitors.

Keyword Research
Good SEO practices are hard to conduct if you aren’t using the right keywords. It can be a daunting task to come up with keywords with the best potential to boost your online presence. Luckily, search engines like Google offer tools to make the process much simpler. Use Google Adwords Keyword Tool, for instance, to determine search habits of local users.

Online reviews are important to any business, but bad ones can be especially damaging within the healthcare realm. Positive reviews can do wonders for your online reputation. Employing a system that monitors these reviews can also be a great step in earning trust among patients. If someone from your practice notices a complaint or poor review, get to the bottom of the situation and reply accordingly. Acknowledging and rectifying a problem within your practice demonstrates good commitment to customer service.

Beware of SEO Pitfalls
It would make sense that a flashy website would attract attention among users, but is it the right kind of attention as far as SEO is concerned? While applications like JavaScript and Flash can help the look of your website, they may be doing more harm than good. Google recognizes things like ease of use in websites. Slow loading times are just one that can also affect your site’s ranking. When it comes to practice websites, simplicity is often best. Avoid all the bells and whistles and instead opt for a clean website that’s easy to navigate. A good graphic designer can help you set up your website in a way that’s visually appealing while highly functional.

Jamming in keywords with no regard for tone or flow can harm your site more than help it. If your website contains shoddy writing, your creditability can take a beating. Your goal should be to host content that evokes thought, and encourages sharing among patients, colleagues and others in the industry. If you or those within your practice lack the time to write thought-provoking pieces in a professional, error-free manner, you may find it beneficial to hire skilled freelancers capable of creating great content. Consult a local marketing agency, or scour the web for one or two talented writers.

It may be tempting to cut corners in regard to online content, but never underestimate Google’s capabilities to discover these tactics. Some websites utilize invisible text to jam more keywords into their content, which is a no-no for a variety of reasons. Avoid shortcuts like this, as they can get your search ranking lowered even further, which can offset what progress you’ve made in building your online reputation.

Like with many aspects of running a thriving business, it’s important to track your success when using SEO techniques. Were more visitors drawn to your site? Did you see a dramatic increase in new patients after implementing a new SEO campaign? If so, keep up the good work. Improving your practice’s online presence can reap major benefits in more ways than one.