We talk about SEO a lot, Robyn, one of the new additions to our team, has some thoughts!
For the last couple of decades, SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) has been a foundation of any digital marketing strategy. When the fledgling internet space was more akin to the Wild West than the multi-billion dollar industry we recognise today, the name of the game was building links, proving relevancy and keyword stuffing.
The world of SEO evolved and became more refined, dictated by the Google gods and their algorithmic whims. The strategies to appease Google have also grown more subtle and complex, to the point that reaching the ever sought after first page rankings for top tier keywords can feel an impossible feat, only achieved by throwing an enormous amount of money and resource to that end.
The Final Nail
While SEO is still a major player in certain industries, its prominence has dwindled for healthcare clinics. There are a couple of different reasons behind this, but mainly it is to do with how patients are using the internet. If you are on the hunt for your perfect clinician, you aren’t searching for an in-depth investigation on the damage you have done to your rotator cuff – because essentially you don’t need to know about the problem, that is why you are looking for someone to fix it! Instead of discussing the pros and cons of the latest therapies, you want a clinic close by, with good reviews and up to date equipment, within your budget.
This leaves blogs by the wayside. Without the client’s consumption of that information, who is going to be reading it? Other physios or those interested in the industry? These people do not translate into paying customers which makes the entire exercise somewhat pointless. When this is factored in with the time it takes to see results for an SEO campaign (around 6 months for any real traction) and the cost in wages/agency costs, those resources may as well go to an avenue where you will see better results in a more reasonable time frame – looking at you PPC.
The BERT algorithm introduced in 2019 saw the focus shift from keywords to intent, as shown by the featured snippet. Instead of matching a string of keywords, the buzz around relevance and engagement began. Understanding what information you potential patients need to see on your site and offering it to them in a straightforward and high speed fashion will gain you more traction than 5 haphazard blog posts ever will.
This feeds into the holistic approach that any good marketing strategy should take. Understanding your target audience has long been the underpinnings of traditional marketing. Why should SEO be any different?
What this boils down to is having a high-quality website that offers a great user experience. Your potential patients want the answers to questions quickly, without having to look for them. They want information presented in accessible language and they want it offered on their mobile and at high speed. If you aren’t giving them that, then you need to address the problems with your website.
It’s All About Trust
E-A-T (Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness) may as well replace SEO for many clinics as Google shifts more importance onto these aspects. Offering content that demonstrates your knowledge and professional brand voice will always help you dominate and assure potential patients of your value (which will, in turn, lead to conversions) but actions speak louder than words on this occasion. That means ensuring minimal technical issues on site and putting site security in a prominent place.
The ever-encroaching tide of fake news has also taken its toll as internet users get more discerning. Saying you’re an expert is one thing, but proving your authority, listing your credentials and displaying accredited institution logos for all to see lends authority and real weight to your message.
So where does that leave your marketing strategy? Local SEO is still important but SEO should really be a very small part of your overall strategy. You can make your advertising money work harder and faster if it isn’t put into traditional SEO. Pouring that money into ensuring you have a decent quality website or a good PPC campaign will help you secure valuable conversion that will translate into real money. It also helps you maintain relevance, which is what your patients are really looking for, not another blog on Tennis Elbow.
At HMDG, we offer an SEO package that works for our healthcare clients. By focussing on local listings, Google My Business and On-Page Technical SEO, we make your money go further (we charge a huge £49 a month) and help your business rank higher.