Medical spa SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is critical when marketing your medical or aesthetic practice. The marketing world revolves around our universal connector-THE INTERNET-and SEO is all about understanding how the internet works in relation to your website.
Simply put, SEO is the process of improving your website to increase your visibility on search engine results. If your SEO strategy is working well, your patients should see your practice listed near the top of Google’s search results when they search for treatments or information related to your practice.
Seems like a no-brainer, right? Unfortunately, for many, there is still a bad taste when the term SEO comes up. A negative perception persists that SEO is about manipulating the google algorithms, at a negative cost to your patient, in order to rank well.
We don’t believe that good SEO should lower the quality of your website for your patients. We believe that all SEO optimizations should only improve your patients’ experience.
To determine what SEO is really about, let’s begin by getting three wrong perceptions out of the way.
1. SEO is NOT a bandaid to cover up poor website design or lacking content.
We truly believe that if your content is solid, you will eventually be rewarded with a high listing. SEO optimizations are only the final adjustments to smooth out any rough edges in the way of advancing your website.
2. SEO is NOT separate from the needs of your patients.
Every optimization should AID your patients--whether it’s improving your load speed, making your content more digestible, etc. Run from any “SEO secrets” that seem shady like link farms, hidden keywords in code or backgrounds, keyword stuffing, etc. If they don’t help your patients, they’re not worth your time.
3. SEO is NOT a one-time thing.
SEO for your site is a continual process. It’s not enough to throw in a bunch of keywords one day and figure you’re good (SEO is way more than just keywords anyways!). Lasting SEO takes hard work and continuous effort. You need to be continually assessing your website design and content to make sure it’s working for both search engines and your patients.
Now that you know what SEO is not, let’s dive into the SEO fundamentals that organically market and drive patients to your practice.
Whether you want to tackle Search Engine Optimization on your own, of if you have an agency running your efforts, you'll want to know the basics so you can market your medical practice effectively.
Outlined below are seven core pillars of SEO. Read on to learn how Content, In-bound Links, Internal Linking Structure, Authority, Geo or Proximity, Speed and Mobile Usability all contribute to ranking well on search engines.
There’s a reason why CONTENT is listed as the first pillar of our SEO strategy. Everything revolves around your content being quality.
Your content needs to be rich and full of value to your patients as it details your practice's treatments and procedures. Every other aspect of your marketing will only be superficial bandaids if your website’s content is not EXCELLENT and well worth your patients’ time.
There are no rules in terms of word count. Content should be thorough and explain all aspects of the procedures and treatments. A great page answers all of the basic questions that people have about medical or aesthetic procedures.
Write on your patient’s level. Your website is not a medical review or textbook! Explain your treatments in a natural, down-to-earth way that can make sense to prospective patients that know very little about your treatments.
Content is also more than written text. Effective visuals also should work hand in hand with your written content. In the medical and/or beauty industries, one quality picture is often worth pages of content. For example, patients immediately comprehend the effectiveness of treatments when they can see before and after pictures.
In addition to pictures, video content can revolutionize your website. Patients are skeptical of marketing filled with self-promoting recommendations. An effective video cuts out all the disconnect by offering a view right into your practice. Patients can see for themselves that your practice looks professional, welcoming, hip, etc., and view firsthand the expertise of your team members.
After your content is full of value, you can implement some simple SEO optimizations to make your content more digestible for both your patients and the Google crawlers reading your site. Many of the content optimizations have to do with the phrases you want to rank for on search engines: KEYWORDS. You will not be rewarded for endlessly stuffing in the keywords you want to show up for (For example, don’t put… "Botox LA” in every line). Instead, seamlessly integrate the phrases your patients are searching for naturally as they make sense in your headers and content.
Remember, that NOT every keyword is created equal. Be careful not to be fooled by companies that help you rank for thousands of keywords. That's bullshit. We've seen countless of companies send reports that are worthless to clients. It makes absolutely no sense to rank number one for a keyword no one is searching for. Look for accountability in marketing companies to track and optimize PPC keywords that actually drive business results.
At the end of the day, Content is the most important pillar of your SEO strategy! Deliver quality content and your patients and Google will reward you with increased traffic.
We recommend using software to help guide you with medical SEO optimizations to make sure that search engines understand how to read your content and give it a great chance at ranking. The report below is a sample SEO page optimization report we send to clients after we have optimized a page for SEO and a keyword. In this case, the keyword was "Coolsculpting Newport Beach."
Google is looking to recommend the best of the best websites to its consumers. But how does it know which websites are of the highest quality? Inbound links, the hyperlinks that direct from one website to another, are a big help in informing the search engines’ decisions of which sites to rank first.
Think of it this way: if you asked a group of locals what their favorite breakfast place in their city was, and they all recommended the same restaurant, you would feel very confident in going to that place and expecting a delicious meal! Similarly, inbound links from other websites serve as “recommendations” or “reputation points” that your website is the best place to go for your services. The more (credible) sites that link to your site, the better.
However, not all inbound links are created equal. Links from a news article, Yelp, a Google listing, Wikipedia, etc. are all quality links. On the other hand, avoid links that connect to spammy or insubstantial sites. Remember, websites will generally link to other domains of similar quality. If you want trustworthy and worthwhile sites to link you, then be a trustworthy and worthwhile site yourself.
Google will also reward you for links that are relevant to your content and add “authority.” So for example, if you own a medical spa website and the “American Academy of Dermatology” linked to one of your articles, that would be a huge win. Both because that link is relevant to your business, and gives you more authority due to the prestige of the linking organization.
Remember, content is paramount if you want to build your medical spa’s link profile. Don’t try to manipulate the system, but seek to earn others’ links fairly by delivering quality content.
Build your reputation by strengthening your link profile. Work to make your website the highest caliber to earn high-quality links, and only link to reputable websites.
Have you ever been on a website that seems professional on the homepage, but as you click to other pages on the website, you notice a serious decrease in quality? Google recognizes this pattern too, and as a result, typically assigns lower ranking scores to the pages further out from the central homepage.
However, these lower rankings can be a shame, as often the pages off the main page have excellent specialized content. For example, subpages for a Medical Spa can focus on specific treatments like CoolSculpting, Botox, etc. Breaking down the treatments into subpages is extremely helpful to the reader as it gives them access to the specific topic they came searching for. In addition, a more specialized page often has a better chance of ranking well for keywords on a search engine.
So how can you improve the ranking of ALL the pages on your site? This is where “internal links” come into play!
Unlike Inbound links, which make connections between completely different websites, internal links point to different pages within the same domain/website. One of the ways Google calculates a page’s importance is by how many internal links are pointing to a specific page on your website. Generally, your homepage will have the highest ranking because it has the most links throughout your site, pointing back to the main page. However, the more internal links you can include to other pages in your site, the easier time Google will have crawling throughout your site and giving outer pages a higher ranking. And most importantly, these internal links aid your patients to find the information they are seeking on your site!
Internal links can be strategically placed in a variety of ways. They should show up in your website’s navigation tools (the top bar menu, sidebar menu, and footer found at the bottom of the site). They can be placed as suggestions in a “related pages” section under a page’s content. They also can be naturally included in your pages’ written content. For example, on a page detailing the aesthetic procedures your spa offers, you could include links to pages with specific topics like Botox or CoolSculpting.
However, make sure to not over-optimize or “stuff” your content full of links. It can be difficult and frustrating for the reader to read content continuously broken up with plugs for different pages, and this can negatively impact your SEO. Keep your internal links relevant and natural with the flow of your content.
Improve your rankings and give your patients a seamless and exploratory experience within your site through strategic internal links.
While anyone could type up an answer to an internet search question, viewers are best served by “authoritative” information and answers from the most qualified sources.
To illustrate, imagine you came down sick and were trying to figure out the cause. You might first ask a friend for their opinion, but ultimately, you would seek out a registered doctor for an “authoritative” diagnosis. You certainly wouldn’t do anything drastic, like committing to surgery or starting medication, based on the opinion of your unqualified friend.
Similarly, Google ultimately wants to promote the domains with the most “authority”-- the websites that have the expertise to best answer their searchers’ questions.
So how does your website prove to Google that you are an authoritative site? It checks your markers for quality content. For one, it crawls through your inbound links to see what kinds of pages are linking to your site. Reliable websites will only be linking to you if they feel your content is worthwhile.
Google also notes how comprehensive your site is in answering a search query. It appreciates a site that covers many related subtopics and aspects of a certain topic. So if you own a medical practice, you would be given greater “Authority” for your site if you had individual pages detailing your different aesthetic procedures, instead of just one general page that briefly mentioned them all. Also, your individual pages should expound on many common keywords connected to a topic. Make sure to preemptively cover all of the information that would answer the common questions a patient might have for a certain treatment.
Showcase the expertise of your clinic. Make the authority of your site match the authority of your Practice!
How we dread the call from the clients: "I searched for your practice and it didn't pop up on Google."
Why did this happen? While reviews and SEO ranking in the standard search results play a role, Google's factoring of where a patient is located/their IP address also plays a major part in what practices they will or WILL NOT be shown.
Google lists and displays local medical and aesthetic practices based on proximity to the person searching. However, sometimes it might not be accurate. IP addresses and how mobile phones ping off the towers can also determine how your medical and aesthetics website gets ranked in the Google Local Map Pack (which generally only has three listings).
Do your part to show up in local listings. Make sure your address is correct. Frequently include your location on all your platforms: web articles, social media, Yelp, etc.
In the case that Google fails to recognize your location, focus on other measures to increase your SEO to make sure you appear on Google’s listings.
See below the map pack for Dallas Texas Dermatology. If your practice was in the area, you would want to be featured! It is possible, however, that due to Google’s analysis of IP addresses you might need a multi-pronged strategy to get that result.
Google wants its users to have a great experience. They do not want to send a visitor to a slow, hard-to-navigate website.
Google and other search engines outline that website load times are a major factor in how well they rank. Unfortunately, while optimizing for site speed and load times is very important for your website’s success, it is also extremely technical. We do not suggest you try this yourself as you can take down your website or cause other severe issues.
Fortunately, most website platforms already optimize the basics for their client’s websites. However, it's the additional content like images, text, videos, social media, and forms that increase website load times for medical and aesthetic websites. This is where you can help optimize. For example, images need to be compressed in file size. The larger the file size of the image, the longer it will take to load and impact loading times.
The website's underlying code can also be a cause of slow loading times. Several free resources enable you to test the website load times of your medical or aesthetic website. We invite you to test your medical or aesthetic website by searching "website speed test" on Google.
Optimizing for speed and load times is a continuous effort as your website changes and expands. But it is well worth the effort as your patients WILL NOT stay on a site that is slow to load. Get the support and make the optimizations needed to keep your website loading quickly!
Let's look at what the optimization process looks like for our company. We've recently re-launched our website and are currently optimizing the home page as we make updates. As we update our homepage, we will regularly run it through a site speed tool to diagnose any issues and then quickly resolve them. These tests score from 1 to 100 and, most of the time, you can get to the site scoring near 100 with some really simple optimizations.
Let’s face the facts. Mobile devices are the primary way your (prospective) patients are interacting with your website. For example, our data shows that 60-75% of the traffic to this website comes through cell phones. So if your mobile experience is not up to par with your desktop setup, you will be turning away a big part of your potential following.
So how do you create the best mobile website experience for your patients?
In addition to the usual SEO optimizations, cell phones call for some extra modifications for a seamless experience. For example, “pop-ups” can be a huge setback. Virtually everyone can relate to the frustration of trying to find information on your phone, only to have your screen fill up with a pop-up that seems almost impossible to make disappear. This problem is only compounded when the internal links (like an escape x) appear tiny on the screen and are difficult to click for those with bigger fingers... and the problems go on and on. Make sure you eliminate these potentially problematic features.
Also, realize you are working with less screen space, so make the most of your headers and keep your writing concise.
Not only will your patients appreciate an optimized mobile experience, but Google also pays attention when ranking your website. While there are many ways to configure your site, Google favors a “responsive web design” that modifies your website to adapt to whatever size screen your viewer is using.
Expert Tip: It may seem impossible to optimize for every mobile device–especially as older versions are continuously being phased out for newer models. So instead of trying to optimize for every device out there, we suggest paying attention to your data and focusing on the top 5 cellular devices that are visiting your site.
Make the most of the unique benefits of a mobile website for your aesthetics practice. Prominently display quality images and tap into people’s extensive ability to scroll to show them the kinds of treatments they should consider.
Realize that alerts sent to patient’s phones can lead to instant bookings, so make your mobile website’s interface user-friendly and accessible.
Are you convinced yet that SEO is a MUST for your med spa? There is nothing dirty about it: Search Engine Optimization is a comprehensive strategy that refines your website on many different fronts. From improving the quality and readability of your content, to establishing your authority through quality links, to optimizing for speed/load times on both mobiles and desktop interfaces…Your website will only improve through this multi-pronged marketing approach!
Often the optimizations you put in place may seem small, but they will have a big impact on helping your patients and Google navigate your site. As your ranking increases, you will see increased traffic and bookings to your practice as well as heightened patient engagement.
Earn your practice a front-row seat on internet search results by committing to an ongoing SEO strategy!