Healthcare websites are motivating many users to take action. Real or perceived, there’s often an urgency to make an inquiry, appointment, or purchase.
That’s why healthcare websites need to ensure two things so that they’re ready to help visitors who are primed for action. There can be no downtime and there must be strong SEO (search engine optimization).
Understanding why you can’t afford for your site to be down is straightforward. To shed light on the importance of SEO, we offer 5 strategies to gain visibility in search results.
1. Page Optimization
Every page of your website has visible and hidden information. The goal is to make all information valuable to search engine algorithms.
It starts with the page URL. Keep it short and relevant to the content on the page. For example, yourwebsite.com/filling-prescriptions is better than yourwebsite.com/blog/161208.
Images and the metadata attached to them are important to SEO. Google and other search engines give extra “credit” to pages with relevant images and video.
How do they assess relevance? With metadata.
Pay close attention to the alt text, description, file name and caption metadata fields for each image and video file.
Alt text is a brief description of the image. It’s what you see when you hover over an image. Accessibility devices for visually-impaired users read the alt text.
Search engines use alt text to assess contextual relevance to the page and across the site so try to include the page keyword.
A description is like alt text but with more detail about the image file itself. Examples of what could be in the description field are copyright information, photo date, and Photoshop notes.
If you choose to have a caption appear below the image, keep it short and relevant. This is another place search engines look for the page keyword.
Include the keyword or another word that relates to the content of the page when naming your image. It boosts the page’s relevance “rating” with Google.
The text on your page also influences SEO. At a minimum, you want each page or blog post to be 500 words. The upper limit is generally considered 3,000 words with an ideal count of 1,500-2,000 words.
But don’t throw any words on the page. Google’s algorithms are sophisticated and can “understand” the content. Unnatural language or an abundance of words that don’t relate to the page or site topic will prompt a red flag.
2. Keyword Management
Google’s ability to assess content and context is called semantic SEO and it affects keyword management.
For years, keyword stuffing was the way to land on the first page of results. Now, it will tell Google that you’re forcing content and your site will be “penalized”.
With semantic SEO, pages that use keywords naturally and not too often, have greater value. The good news for healthcare websites is that Google understands that to properly discuss some topics, keywords will be repeated often.
That’s why they check usage against the content and context of the entire site. For example, healthcare websites with many instances of the keyword “prescription drugs” aren’t going to be penalized. But a site that’s supposed to be about puppies would be suspect.
Google’s goal is to position “experts” higher in search results. And the more naturally you write about the topic, the more the algorithms will view the page and entire site as “expert”.
Voice search is another recent development that affects keyword management. People use different words and phrasing when search by voice command compared to typing. Generally, the search terms are longer and less exact.
Good keyword management takes this into consideration and mixes short and long keywords across pages.
3. Quality Backlinks
Links from other sites to yours are backlinks. Search engines store data about every website so they know who is linking to your site.
If the source site belongs to a major company, professional, or expert, Google algorithms deem it reputable. Those are quality links and you want them.
But links from junk sites or unknown people? You don’t want those backlinks.
The bigger and more reputable your business is, the more important backlink checking becomes. There are many free and subscription backlink checking services that can provide you with real-time reports.
Getting a site to remove a link to your site often takes time and patience. And if diplomatic communication with the other site doesn’t work, Google offers a process to disavow low-quality backlinks.
Make backlink management a standard part of your website maintenance process to help keep your SEO healthy.
4. Mobile Readiness
There’s no question that tablets and smartphones are being used more often to search the internet and make online purchases.
In response to this shift, Google updated its algorithms to lower the ranking of static sites.
In short, a static site has all content and functionality coded into each page. The page can only be displayed one way.
Dynamic sites store information about how and when to display content in files separate from page files. This allows the site to “know” what kind of device is being used before displaying the site.
With dynamic sites like Canadian Pharmacy King, interfaces and navigation automatically adapt when viewed on smaller mobile screens. The user experience is better. So is the SEO.
Google is always trying to point its users toward the best information and experiences. They’ve tweaked the algorithms to promote the development of dynamic sites.
If your website isn’t already dynamic, address that right away. Your customers and Google now expect it.
5. Structured Data Markup
Structured data markup, or schema markup, is a “shared vocabulary” created by schema.org, a collective founded by Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Yandex. Their mission is to “create, maintain, and promote schemas for structured data on the Internet.”
There are two valuable reasons to make sure your site uses structured data markup.
First, it’s central to search engines “understanding” context and content when ranking pages. It’s a powerful SEO tactic.
Second, despite there being no reason to not use structured data markup, few websites do. That means businesses that do use it gain an advantage over less SEO-savvy competitors.
Bonus Tip About Healthcare Websites
Customer reviews and ratings also tell Google and other search engines about your status as an “expert”.
If you don’t already have this functionality on your site, consider implementing it. It’s a great way to gather authentic and unsolicited feedback and product reviews.
If users can already leave comments or write product ratings and reviews, make sure you encourage participation.
Customer interaction is good for building a positive reputation and for boosting your SEO. But the value of everything falls if your site goes down.