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Episode Transcript: How to Beat Other Practices in Your Market with Smart SEO
Hello everybody, and welcome to another episode of the Medical Marketing Podcast – the show where we give you actionable tips and advice on how to improve your practice marketing, grow revenue, and take patient experience to the next level.
I’m your host, Crawford Ifland, and today we’re going to talk about local competition and how you can use a few simple SEO tactics to provide users and Google alike with a better experience designed to win you more patients. Let’s dive in.
On-Page vs. Off Page
Before we begin, it’s important to note that SEO is made up of what we call “On-Page” and “Off-Page” SEO.
- The primary way to rank higher in search results is to build Off-Page signals, like backlinks and mentions of your business around the web.
- But Off-Page signals come after On-Page work.
Think about On-Page experience as the foundation of your online presence.
If you don’t have a good foundation on your website, the Off-Page work you do won’t matter as much.
- Even if you rank highly for valuable keywords, if someone lands on your website and doesn’t convert by booking an appointment, it’s all been a waste.
- Even if you have great authority around the web, if Google lands on your website and has problems crawling it and indexing your content because your website’s code is a mess, they’ll move on, and your competitors will rank higher.
So in this episode, we’ll primarily focus on user experience and other On-Page metrics so that when you begin building links and mentions around the web, Google and patients alike have a good experience on your website.
Tactic #1: Do a Competitor AnalysisThe first step in beating your competition is to define who the competition really is.
You probably think you know who your competition is. But do Google’s results agree?
To complete this step, you’ll want to come up with a list of keywords that you’d like to rank for – 10 or 15 should do. Next, simply type them into Google and make note of which competitors consistently come up – and how their websites rank against yours.
Once you’ve done this and have found commonalities among your competition, do a quick spot check of each of their sites. Google wants to surface content that is useful to people who are searching, so try to answer the following questions as objectively as you can:
- What features do your competitors’ sites have that yours doesn’t?
- How do their sites perform on mobile? How does yours perform on mobile?
- Who offers the best information on conditions and treatment options?
- Who offers the most convenient ways to schedule an appointment or take the next step?
Doing this exercise will help you understand your competition better and identify areas where you can improve your site’s content and structure to provide patients with a better experience.
Tactic #2: Do an On-Page Audit
The On-Page Audit: this is where it gets technical.
Once you have your competitors’ sites in hand, use an on-page audit tool to see underneath the surface and uncover what’s really going on.
There are lots of great tools out there to do an On-Page SEO audit, but our two favorites are Ahrefs and SEMRush. Both of them have generous, inexpensive plans that allow you to audit the competition.
You may be limited in what you can uncover on competitors sites (because you don’t have access to the backend of their website), but try to get as much information as you can. We don’t need to get too “into the weeds” here – even a high-level overview will be useful.
Once you’ve done the audits, compare your competition to your website. The goal here is to identify tangible ways that you can improve the code and structure of your website to give Google’s crawlers a better experience.
Most of the recommendations these tools uncover won’t ever be noticed by humans, since they happen at the code-level of your website, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t useful. Google cares a lot about how quickly a website loads, and how “good” of an experience it provides to users.
Remember, part of the On-Page experience is for humans, and part is for robots. If you don’t give humans valuable, relevant, easy-to-find content, they’ll leave and won’t convert. Conversely, you can build all the backlinks you want, but if you don’t give Google a good experience, they aren’t likely to rank you highly
Audits can uncover lots of things, but here are a few to consider:
- How fast do your pages load?
- How does your website look and function on mobile devices?
- Are there any “404” errors or broken links?
- Are there unnecessary redirects that make Google jump through more hoops than is necessary?
- Do your pages implement SEO best practices, such as Schema markup, no “thin” content, descriptions for images, and other items?
Once you have an overview of how your site compares to your competitors, do everything you can to improve the on-page experience – both for humans and computers alike. And of course, if you need help running an audit, understanding your results, or implementing any of the changes, please reach out to our team at firstname.lastname@example.org – we’d be happy to help you.
Tactic #3: Conduct User Testing
In the last tactic, we spoke about optimizing your site for computers, but humans are an important element of SEO, too. After all, it’s real humans who enter your practice and drive revenue.When it comes to understanding and improving your website, there’s no substitute for user testing.
There are a few ways to do this.
If you have an email list, consider sending a survey out to patients asking their feedback on your website. Ask questions like these:
- What do you like about the website?
- What do you dislike?
- Let’s say you were researching ___________ condition. How would you go about finding information on that condition on our website?
- How likely are you to recommend the practice to a friend, based on our website alone?
- Explain how you would use our website to schedule an appointment.
- Let’s say you want to contact the practice. Explain how you would do that, and where you would look.
Aside from past patients, it’s also valuable to conduct paid user testing to get the unbiased opinions of people who have no prior relationship with your business at all. There are many useful services that conduct paid user testing on your behalf, but our favorites are UserTesting and PickFu.
Both of these services get real people to evaluate your website and answer common questions. By investing some money into paid user testing, you can get the unbiased insights of real people that can help you identify blind spots and help you build a better, more useful website.
Final Step? Improve Your Site
Now that you have a better idea of who your competition is, your site’s technical flaws, and how real users feel about your website, you can work to improve each area.
While these improvements may not lead to an immediate change in rankings, it’s important to take the long view. Google – and patients – will definitely reward your practice over the long run with better rankings and more revenue when you provide them with a good experience.
Improving your website’s usability for both humans and bots alike is a relatively easy, high-leverage investment you can make that will pay dividends for quite some time.
And when you think about it, this makes sense. Some things will never change:
- Patients are always going to want a website that’s easy to use, loads quickly, and provides useful content and convenient ways to take the next step.
- Google is always going to want a website that has clean code, is easy to crawl, and provides real people with useful information in a way that conforms to SEO best practices.
If you can do the research and work to improve your site, you’ll be poised to rank higher, attract more patients, and build that practice you’ve always dreamed of.
Well, that’s all for today’s episode of the Medical Marketing Podcast – thanks for listening.
Next week, we’ll take a deeper dive into advertising on Google as a medical professional by looking at Google’s policies. We’ll explore what you can and can’t say in your advertisements, some of the limitations and restrictions that Google places on healthcare practices, and common reasons for ad disapprovals. If you’ve ever run into problems advertising your practice online, this episode is going to be very valuable, so you won’t want to miss it.
And if you want more practice marketing resources, check out our website at www.messenger.md. We’re always sharing helpful tips and know-how to help you improve your practice marketing, grow revenue, and take your patient experience to the next level.
That’s all for today’s episode – I’m Crawford Ifland. See you next week.
Crawford Ifland is the CEO of Messenger Healthcare Marketing. Messenger is a digital marketing agency specializing in custom healthcare website design, healthcare SEO, promotional videos, and more. Messenger gives the nation’s leading physicians and healthcare organizations the tools they need to grow their organizations.