Posted: January 10, 2018

Keywords are the backbone of your SEO strategy, like the phrase, “If you don’t stand for anything, you’ll fall for everything.” Except, in SEO, it’s more like, “If you don’t rank for important keywords, you’ll lose out on prospective patients, brand equity and the resulting revenue.”

Creating a keyword strategy is the best way to ensure you’re reaching your target audience within your key market areas, while providing value, variety, and educational content for your patients. Use the tips below to start or update your keyword strategy so you can start out-ranking competitors in organic search results.

Tailor Keywords to Specific Services
When developing your keyword strategy, focus on both overall keywords for your practice locations and those that are related to specific services you offer. It can be easy to forget about the latter, but these hold the greatest opportunity to reach prospective patients during the start of their research journey. By focusing on each service line, you can reach a wide range of potential patients, from those who need long-term care to those who may be looking for immediate medical attention.

Create SEO-Focused Landing Pages
Make a list of the services each of your hospitals provide, and pair each landing page with the top 3 to 5 keywords related to your offerings. As you build this list, you may realize that additional sub-specialty pages are needed (ex. Joint Replacement Surgery may need its own landing page in addition to the general Orthopedics landing page) in order to properly target each page with relevant keywords.

Once you’ve finalized the structure of your content, build your 3 - 5 keywords into each landing page while explaining the service and other pertinent information like providers, educational seminars, etc. The content should be keyword rich but not keyword stuffed. A good rule of thumb is to use keywords when they sound natural.

Don’t forget about smart SEO placement, putting keywords where Google expects to see them, including:

  • URLTitle of page
  • Page metadata
  • Headings and sub-headings
  • Multiple times throughout content
  • Anchor text for internal links from other pages

Use Keywords to Create Variety and Value
Keywords should be used site-wide, not just in your metadata. They’re important for ranking in search engines, in addition to making a positive and impactful impression on those who search a topic and find your website. Here are three important ways to use your top keywords.

Create high-ranking, high-value content: Place emphasis on your top-ranking keywords by using them to add variety to your content roster. Plan blog posts, new releases, and other interactive content that is already engaging and valuable in Google’s eyes. When paired together, this is a potent SEO combination.

Educate Healthcare Consumers: With the power to research and compare in the hands of your healthcare consumers, it’s your job to remind them why they should choose you. Use your top searched keywords to create content that educates and builds trust, like seasonal guides and in-depth blog posts.

Market Your Strengths: Find keywords that allow you to promote the providers and service lines where your hospital excels (think minimally invasive surgery options for weight loss). This will help you attract patients looking for these services, and help to build a stronger local brand prominence for this service line.

Make Keywords Unique to You
When developing your keywords into landing pages and other content, consider how your particular services can stand out among competitors. For example, if all the hospitals in your area have a labor and delivery unit, how will you stand out in organic search?

  • Are your rooms more comfortable?
  • Has your labor wing been recently updated?
  • Are you catering to a specific segment of the population?
  • Do you have a nationally recognized doctor?
  • Do you specialize in anything related to this specific service?

Make keywords your own so as you begin to rank, you aren’t just on the first page but with your optimized meta description can speak to the reason why you’re the best choice for a patient’s care. Also, don’t forget to include location-modifier information when adding keywords to metadata and content, which will allow for added local relevance in the eyes of Google and your prospective patients.

Consistently Track and Optimize
If you want your keyword strategy to work, you have to track results and tweak your optimization as you go. Luckily, there are many tools that can help you do this and healthcare specific service teams that can offer advice and best practices. Create a plan to check regularly to see what’s moved up, what’s moved down, and where you have the most potential to grow in rankings in the coming months.

Also consider reviewing organic traffic performance reports to understand the results of your organic rankings. It’s simply not enough to just be ranking well, but you need to also know if this is generating more traffic to your website, and subsequent conversion actions like an Appointment Request form completion.

This data will inform any changes to your SEO and content strategy, as the two go hand-in-hand. Keyword strategy dictates content, and content and on-site SEO optimization dictates how successful your strategy is.

Know What You Know — And When to Hire Out
At the end of the day, SEO is complicated. Instead of guessing about which keywords to focus on or how best to place them throughout your site, consider hiring an expert. Look for an SEO services team with specific healthcare marketing experience. You’ll want to work with someone who not only knows the landscape but who also has expertise in handling healthcare specific marketing roadblocks and challenges.

Want to learn more about tactics for optimizing your SEO to rank in healthcare? Read our local search best practices eBook: The Quest to Be Found.