Healthmark’s Guide to Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) for Medical Clinics

May 27, 2024

When it comes to doing SEO for medical clinics - the first thing to understand is that SEO is a long-term investment. If you’re prepared for that, let’s continue.

SEO is a digital marketing strategy to drive organic traffic to your website from search engines, primarily Google. Think of it as a way to make your website more visible and easily discoverable to potential patients searching for medical services or doctors online.

Several factors go into SEO:

  • User Experience (UX): Providing a positive experience for visitors to your website. This includes factors like page speed, mobile-friendliness, easy navigation, and secure browsing.
  • Keywords: Identifying the words or phrases (keywords) that people commonly use when searching for medical services, eg. “best cardiologist singapore”, “total knee replacement surgery cost”, “GP near me”
  • On-page optimisation: Optimising your website content to include these cluster keywords strategically. This means integrating these keywords into your website's titles, headings, body text, meta descriptions, etc.
  • Quality Content: Producing high-quality content pieces by topic clusters to improve the expertise, authority and trustworthiness (EAT) of the site. This not only helps in SEO, but also provides value to visitors - sharing a doctor’s insights, medical advice, and updates through blog posts, articles, or FAQs.
  • Authority and Backlinks: This can be achieved through earning backlinks from reputable websites, such as medical journals, healthcare organisations, or news outlets. Backlinks act as endorsements from other sites, signalling to search engines that your website is trustworthy and valuable.

Getting started on SEO

The first steps that go into doing SEO for a website are not identifying the keywords, and/ or performing on-page & off-page optimisation. It is making sure the website is structurally SEO-friendly. Is it hosted on a fast website hosting provider? Is it using the best WordPress builder?

Next, comes identifying the keywords we want to target, and where along the marketing funnel they fall on. An example for an orthopaedic surgeon would be: 

An example of search terms for an orthopaedic surgeon

By targeting keywords relevant to each stage, the objective is to ensure your online presence is strong and helpful throughout the patient’s journey.

Lastly, it’ll be a continuous hustle of high-quality content, and on-page & off-page optimisation.

I want to rank for specific procedures like “ERCP” and see patients for that!

Sure, it’s not a difficult keyword to rank for but you’re not likely to get patients coming in for that.

Most laymen do not know what ERCP is. So, who searches for “ERCP”? It could be your medical students, or patients who already have an ERCP arranged with their doctor who wants to research it.

This doesn’t mean we should forgo this keyword entirely. It is still beneficial to rank for it to position you as the go-to ERCP doctor, however, you will not get patients walking in saying “Hi doc, I wanna do ERCP.”

I want to rank for specific conditions like “Trigeminal Neuralgia” and see patients for that!

Similarly to ranking for specific procedures, most searches for terms like “Trigeminal Neuralgia” are for research purposes. However, you do get occasional searches from people looking for a second opinion - especially for more complex conditions.

Strategically, it is reasonable to allocate some SEO resources to such keywords. On the other hand, we will not recommend SEM for such keywords - You wouldn’t want to be paying Google every time a medical student researching clicks on your ad.

How does Healthmark do SEO differently?

We approach SEO with a unique perspective. Rather than fixating solely on a predefined set of 20 to 30 keywords, we base our SEO strategy per service/ product.

Search terms encompass a wide spectrum of user intent, ranging from informational to transactional queries. This is why we optimise our SEO strategy for the entire marketing funnel, reaching users across all stages of the patient journey, ensuring that your online presence resonates with users at every touchpoint.

I see overseas agencies that provide SEO services for $500.

While it may be tempting to engage overseas agencies that provide SEO services at a fraction of the cost, there are several important considerations so as not to affect the quality, effectiveness and your reputation.

SEO is not just about stuffing keywords and buying backlinks. Especially for medical practices in Singapore, it involves a deep understanding on search engine algorithms, patient behaviour, and PHMC publicity guidelines.

Cheap SEO services often use cookie-cutter approaches, risky shortcuts and black hat SEO techniques (eg. keyword stuffing, link farms) that can lead to penalties from search engines. 

When can I see results?

Unlike SEM which can deliver immediate results, SEO focuses on gradually improving your website’s organic visibility.

The timeline for getting your website on the first page varies. Factors include:

  • Competition: Are you fighting for highly contested keywords like “orthopaedic surgeon singapore”, “colonscopy screening singapore”, or niche keywords like “myasthenia gravis surgery singapore”?
  • Website age: New websites generally take longer to rank
  • Content: How often are we producing high-quality content?

Typically, we tell doctors it takes about 6 months to start seeing results for niche keywords, and 12 to 18 months for competitive keywords.

By Nate Wang

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