Website SEO for Rural Healthcare

Let’s face it, most people in your area don’t have a good idea of what healthcare services are being offered in the local community. Having a good understanding of Google goes a long way toward one of your marketing assets; your website.

Starting with the essentials. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is basically making sure Google (and other search engines) show your website to people who are using a search engine. Most searches start with people entering a few key words regarding what they want. SEO optimization is a strategy used to get your website to show up in those searches.

While there is an art and science to SEO optimization, the basics are simple and intuitive.

First – Think about what you offer

You want to start by making a list of the products and services you can offer patients. This should include specific services like “flu shots” and more general ideas like “medical advice”. Then you want to think about synonyms and related words that people might use for searching for these services in your area.

That brings us to another important point. Since rural healthcare is largely an in-person business, people are going to be searching using the name of the place they live in. It’s a good idea to write down the towns, cities, counties and so forth that you service and where your customers are likely coming from.

Second – Target content to specific search terms

For each service you offer, think about what kind of content you can create on your site to talk about it. It can be as simple as describing the services you offer in this area in some detail. Write up the text of the content first. Try to make sure the key words you identified are included in the text in as natural a way as possible. Putting the key words into titles and headers is a good way to emphasize them.

Also consider what pictures you can include as part of the content. Naming the image file so that it includes one or more keywords is also good. There are also ways to label your picture in the website code that will help search engines understand it is related to the subject of the page.

You want to avoid arbitrarily using your target keywords. The content should sound like perfectly natural speech about the intended subject. Ideally it should also be of some use to potential patients looking for services or information. Once they find the page, you want to impress them.

Be sure to include one or more geographical keywords in your page. This is what will help your page come up against all the other hospitals that have similar content but are not in your customer’s local area. Google can take this into account even if people don’t explicitly use those terms in their search.

Thirdly – Add the content to your site

Once you have worked out your strategy, text, and graphics, its time to update your website. Each targeted subject should get its own page or blog entry. It is fine to have more than one with the same subject, but it isn’t a good idea to cram multiple subjects into one page. The search engines are looking for focused quality content to provide to their customers.

Your front/home page is a bit different. Its job is not so much to pull in search traffic but to convert visits to your webpage into business for your hospital. Front pages need to be super easy to use and give visitors the key information they need to make appointments. They also serve as a means to find all the other content on your site. The most essential keywords here are the name of your hospital, the locations it serves, and words like: “Hospital”, “Clinic”, “Doctors” to catch people who are specifically searching for you or making very general searches.

Finally – Monitor your search traffic and search terms

If you were thoughtful in the above, you will likely see a nice increase in the number of people finding your site through search engines. Now, you want to improve and refine this effort. You can’t do that unless you monitor the visits you get and the search terms that were used to find your site. Information you are looking for.

  • What pages are getting the most traffic
  • What search terms are most popular for each page
  • Which search terms are people using that you hadn’t targeted
  • Which search terms you targeted that people aren’t using

SEO optimization is a long-term game. Search engines will find your page very quickly, but they tend to trust somewhat older content a little more for these kinds of searches. It also takes some time to dial in the right content to hit the best keywords.

Use the knowledge you gain from your monitoring to edit and improve the pages you have over time and turn them into powerful magnets for consistent traffic. Then, turn your attention to turning that traffic into appointments.

Want some help?

Designing and maintaining a fantastic rural healthcare website isn’t easy. Fortunately, Steven R Jolly, CEO of SRJ Marketing Communications, created its first website for a hospital in 1995, and he has been honing his marketing skills for 40 years now. He and his team can help you, and for less than you might expect. For a consultation, just call 214-528-7557.