Healthcare Marketing and SEO: Best Practices For Success

In a heavily regulated industry with often times constrained paid advertising options, strong SEO provides the best means to shine and stand out from the crowd.  

Healthcare Marketing and SEO

Let's talk about the fundamental principles of effective SEO marketing.  

In the healthcare and medical industry, the ability to rank for targeted keywords has become crucial in connecting medical professionals with patients, and HCPs to your product.  

As an increasing number of individuals turn to search engines for medical information, symptoms, treatment options, and healthcare providers, medical websites must employ strategies to improve keyword rankings for medical SEO. This ensures that accurate and trustworthy medical content appears prominently in search results.  

This blog will showcase exactly what to focus on for a robust SEO strategy that supports healthcare driven KPIs. 

By focusing on SEO best practices, healthcare institutions can effectively reach potential patients and disseminate credible health information to the public. In an era where telemedicine and online health resources are growing rapidly, a well-executed SEO strategy serves as an essential tool for healthcare accessibility, fostering patient education, and enhancing engagement. 

On-Page vs Off-Page vs Technical SEO 

In the healthcare and medical industry, the ability to rank for targeted keywords has become crucial in connecting medical professionals with patients.

By focusing on SEO best practices healthcare institutions can effectively reach potential patients and disseminate credible health information to the public. In an era where telemedicine and online health resources are growing rapidly, a well-executed SEO strategy serves as an essential tool for healthcare accessibility, fostering patient education, and enhancing engagement. 

On-Page vs Off-Page vs Technical SEO 

There are several different types of SEO, each focusing on different aspects of optimization. On-page SEO, off-page SEO, and technical SEO are essential aspects of search engine optimization (SEO) that work together to improve a website's visibility and ranking in search engine results. Let's explore these terms: 

On-Page SEO

On-page SEO refers to optimizing individual web pages to rank higher and earn more relevant traffic in search engines. On-Page SEO is things you can see on your website. More specific examples include: 

  • Keywords infused in the copy
  • Image optimizations 
  • SEO linking strategy

Off Page SEO

Off-page SEO involves activities performed outside the boundaries of the individual website, such as building back links from other reputable sites, social media marketing, and influencer outreach, to improve the site's position in search engine rankings. More specific examples include: 

  • LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter/X 
  • Paid/sponsored articles on reputable websites  
  • Mentions from influencers or popular figures in your healthcare sector  
  • Back links from guest blog posts 

Technical SEO

Technical SEO refers to the “under the hood” aspects of a website that impacts crawling, indexing, UX, and rankings. Technical SEO lives on the back-end of the website and is like the foundation of a house. Just as a well-built foundation supports a house, technical SEO ensures that a website's underlying structure is optimized. More specific examples. 

  • Site Speed 
  • XML Sitemaps
  • Noindex Tags
  • 301 Redirects

On-page, off-page, and technical SEO can get mixed up, especially when working on different types of campaigns at once. Here’s an easy way to remember:  

To summarize, On-Page SEO is things you can see on your website. Off-Page SEO is everything that is outside of your website. Technical SEO is everything on your website that you can’t see when viewing the page. 

All 3 SEO pillars help create a brand that is present in search volumes, social media, and cross referenced by other figures in your community. This helps to build up another important ranking in SEO: your brand’s domain authority.  

The Importance of Domain Authority 

Domain authority, originally created by software company Moz, refers to a search engine ranking score that predicts the likelihood of your website ranking highly in search engine results. This is based on various factors such as content quality and website age.  

Building quality back links from reputable websites in your industry is another crucial factor for establishing domain authority. Remember, using SEO to build credibility for your website is a long-term strategy that will play a huge role in how many people see your content.  

On a scale of 0 to 100, the ideal domain authority depends on your industry. A domain authority under 15 is considered below the benchmark. However, your domain authority score should be measured against your competitors to create more accurate benchmarks relative to your industry. This is a critical component to understanding if your score is “good” or not.  

In healthcare, technical SEO plays a large role in building good domain authority. This includes running regular reports, ensuring there are no broken links on your website, and monitoring all other aspects that encompass “under the hood” website health.  

What is Black Hat and White Hat SEO?   

There are two methods that can be used to improve SEO (and ultimately domain authority). These methods are white hat and black hat SEO. Although both of these tactics may improve SEO, one option is better than the other. Here are the differences:  

Black hat SEO refers to tactics that attempt to trick or manipulate search engine algorithms. Common black hat tactics include: 

  • Keyword Stuffing: Adding keywords from an on page and technical SEO perspective in ways that aren’t relevant to the topics shown/covered 
  • Link Farms: A website that solely exists to create links to other websites 
  • Content Scraping with AI: Utilizing AI programs to duplicate or recreate content that’s been scraped from other popular websites  
  • Cloaking: Cloaking in SEO refers to a deceptive practice where the content presented to the search engine spider is different from what’s shown to the user’s browser  
  • A cloaking example could involve the incorporation of “invisible text” that’s infused with keywords, and embedded in the website’s backend. Although this text is visibly concealed, this hidden text is detected by search engine crawlers. This manipulates the site’s SEO ranking 

White hat SEO on the other hand is leveraging SEO practices that align with search engine guidelines by focusing on providing value to the user. White hat SEO tactics fall under the three main pillars of SEO, and all strategies discussed in this blog. Some specific examples include: 

  • Proper Titles and Keywords 
  • High Quality, User-Focused Content 
  • Ease of Navigation (UX) 

XDS recommends using white hat SEO methods only, which can serve as a long-term solution to achieving domain authority. Using black hat methods can raise red flags from search engines. This often results in penalization from these search engines, which can result in de-prioritization and lower keyword rankings. Content should be made for users first, rather than manipulating rankings. 

SEO 2023 Trends 

While a white hat SEO strategy sets your organization up for ranking success, it’s also important to stay on top of new trends. Listed below are some emerging SEO trends in 2023: 

In May 2023, Google held an I/O conference which touched on how writing content differently will become more important.  

Google is currently holding 85% of the search market share making it the most popular browser in the world. 

During the conference they called out: 

  • The increase of voice search 
  • The impact of AI in searching 
  • Ranking in the top 5 is crucial for visibility in AI chatbots 
  • Importance of Featured Snippets: In the context of healthcare, having a blog helps establish your brand as an expert in your field. It also serves to educate your patients and providers (depending on who you’re currently targeting) 
  • An increase in long-form content (both written and visual) 
  • XDS recommends a minimum of 300 words per page 

How Paid Search and SEO Work Together  

SEO does not exist in a vacuum, and in the next few sections we will cover how SEO enhances different teams in a digital marketing ecosystem. 

If you’re in the healthcare industry and looking to stand out, combining paid search and SEO is a great way to improve ranking. Paid search campaigns can improve: 

  • Increased Brand Visibility  
    • With a high-ranking website and paid campaigns sending new users to your website, brand awareness grows 
    • Prioritize creating a positive user experience  
  • More Real Estate = More Awareness 
    • When users see paid media content in combination with your website appearing at the top of organic search results, you double your viewership  
  • Enhanced Keyword Insights 
    • More data from paid campaigns  
    • Immediate access to data  
  • Optimize SEO strategy for Best Performing Keywords in paid search campaigns 
  • Improved CTR 
    • The opportunity to A/B test title tags and meta descriptions 
  • Increase of Domain Authority  
    • Positive results from a paid search campaign can help increase traffic, which will result in a higher domain authority 
  • Competitive Analysis  
    • Paid media outlets allow you to see what keywords your competitors are bidding on 
    • Provides insights into the competitive landscape of each keyword (based on bidding)  

SEO Tips for Web Designers  

Interaction metrics such as engagement and bounce rate are important SEO ranking factors. In addition, if a user discovers your website, but has a negative experience while trying to navigate, you are less likely to rank.  

Examples of a negative website experience:

  • High bounce rates  
  • Low average session duration 
  • Low engagement rates

    The collaboration between design teams and SEO is crucial to ensure that a website’s design elements (user experience and technical implementation) align with SEO best practices. A successful collaboration with design and SEO will result in a visually appealing, user-friendly website that is also properly optimized for search engines.  

Design Best Practices for SEO: 

  • User Experience 
    • Always consider the user experience  
    • H1 and images should align with primary keywords 
    • Content buckets should align with secondary keywords 
  • Quality Images and Videos  
    • Content that can be shared to create organic backlinks  
  • Mobile First Design 
    • Include touch-screen friendly buttons 
    • A hamburger menu style 
  • Consistent Font and Spacing 
  • Social Media and Contact Buttons 
    • Include an email contact  

Other Important Features: 

  • Utilize bullet posts to make it easier for search engines to crawl and understand your website 
  • Include comment sections on blogs and press releases 

SEO Tips for Web Developers  

Proper implementation of SEO recommendations from the development team ensures that your website properly ranks. This is the last piece of the puzzle to create a website that is both search engine-friendly and technically robust.  

Best Practices for SEO and Web Development: 

Here are some best practices for an SEO and dev team to incorporate:

  • Early Involvement: Engage SEO teams early in the design and development process. Too often, SEO is an afterthought, applied only after a site is built. However, involving the SEO team from the start can ensure the site is designed with search engine performance in mind, which can avoid costly rework later. 
  • Education and Understanding: Both SEO and development teams should have a basic understanding of what the other team does. Developers should know how SEO works and why it's important, and SEO specialists should have a basic understanding of the development process and limitations. 
  • Open Communication: Regular meetings between the teams can help to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Open, honest communication can help to prevent misunderstandings and conflicts. 
  • Shared Goals: Both teams should have a clear understanding of the overall business objectives and how their work contributes to these goals. Aligning the teams in this way can help to ensure that everyone is working towards the same end. 
  • Documentation: Document all SEO requirements, changes and updates. This helps developers understand what needs to be done and why, and it can also provide a record for future reference. It also assists in interpreting analytics and KPIs. 

Project Management and SEO for Agencies   

Properly scoping and managing projects that involve several departments can make or break your strategy. In order to be successful, a project manager will set goals, manage current and upcoming tasks, and organize communication between the different departments working with SEO.  

Let’s take a website redesign as an example. How can a project manager ensure all SEO related tasks are executed efficiently? The following is a quick-start guide to scoping a website redesign for SEO:  

  • Initial Research (SEO) 
    • Domain analysis  
    • Competitor research 
    • Keyword research 
    • Technical SEO audit  
  • Sitemaps (SEO and Design) 
    • Selecting primary and secondary keywords  
    • Creating content buckets for each page 
    • Creating page titles 
  • On-Page Optimizations (SEO and DEV) 
    • Implementing technical sitemaps (title tags, meta descriptions, headers) 
    • Optimizing linking strategies  
    • On page keyword targeting  
    • Adding alt text to images 
  • Post-Launch (SEO) 
    • Website updates should trigger an SEO QA 
    • QA implementations 
    • Technical SEO monitoring  
    • Documenting all updates  
  • Monthly monitoring 
  • Off-page SEO opportunities  

Overall, project managers bring structure, organization, and leadership to SEO campaigns, making them invaluable for achieving successful outcomes in the competitive world of SEO in healthcare.  

Final Thoughts   

Overall, leveraging SEO is a long-term solution we frequently implement for clients. As a Senior SEO Strategist here at XDS, I work alongside Project Managers, Paid Media, Design, Development, and our Social Media Specialist to ensure our clients are gaining the visibility they deserve.  

About the Experience Design Studio

The Experience Design Studio is an award-winning digitally native customer experience agency founded in 2017 by two agency veterans, bringing their collective creative, user experience, marketing, SEO, social media, technology, and healthcare expertise together.  

XDS is a full-service digital agency that offers specialized healthcare SEO services. In addition, XDS provides strategy to creation, consulting, design, engineering, marketing, and analytics. Our aim is to provide seamless customer, patient, and HCP experiences across all digital touchpoints, with common sense sprinkled in.