SEO 101 & Marketing for Healthcare Professionals

Defining SEO

SEO, short for Search Engine Optimization, is the process of tailoring your website so it can appear in the first pages of search engines and connect to as many relevant related searches as possible. For example, a clinic with better SEO will be more easily found by local clients looking for those services on Google. 


SEM, short for Search Engine Marketing), is the process of marketing your business through the purchase of sponsored ads on search engines. SEM results appear in the sponsored ad section at the top of a google search page, while webpages with strong SEO will appear within the first organic results underneath the advertisements. 

On top of only being effective while you are actively paying for the service, SEM also comes with other downsides; the most prominent of which are the ferocity of the competition and the negative brand image associated with paying to intercept search results. Potential customers may feel interrupted or bombarded by these ads, cheapening the valuable service offered by your practice. On the other hand, spending marketing resources on SEO is a one time expense that has a permanent positive impact on your website’s search rankings, which is less expensive compared to long term spending on SEM. 

Further, the frequency at which consumers interact with sponsored advertisements are very different from organic results. According to a specialist at the University of New Hampshire, close to two thirds of click-throughs go to the five top ranking organic search results. In the medical field where client trust is of the utmost importance, maintaining a strong presence in the organic results is a direct reflection of quality, support and professionalism. In short, SEM is a high-cost and short term solution to online marketing in comparison to an effective SEO strategy. 

Pillars Of A Strong SEO Strategy 

The four major pillars of strong SEO that Google recognizes can be described from the point of view of a potential client at your clinic. For our example, we will use a customer named Sam who lives in Toronto, Canada. Sam is using Google to search for a massage therapy clinic to treat his anxiety and depression. Sam searches “massage therapy for anxiety and depression”.

1. Context 

Google uses Sam’s location and search settings to direct his search results. It directs him to a page showing some sponsored ads for local clinics and other clinics in the results underneath. The top ranked pages under the ads are tagged properly with current clinic location and operating information, allowing them to appear higher in search results (ie. better SEO). 

Sam scrolls past the ads and browses the first page of links. 

2. Relevance 

Sam first looks at clinics closest to his house, but notices some of the websites seem outdated. Sam refines his search to look for “massage therapy clinics for anxiety and depression Toronto 2022”. Google will use the keywords in Sam’s search to find relevant content in the searches. Keywords are the most common signal to link a website to a search, and the more relevant content containing these keywords a website has, the better it may rank in search results. 

Sam now looks through a number of massage clinics that specialize in anxiety and depression in the city. 

3. Usability 

Google also uses what it calls “page experience aspects” to determine which clinics appear higher in these results. The accessibility of the website, load-times, use of video, and if the page is mobile-friendly can all be factors impacting how google ranks the content. 

Since Sam included 2022 in his search results, clinics with more modern websites and relevant results are now being displayed. 

4. Quality 

The final and most important pillar of strong SEO strategy is the quality of the content and the services offered. Google specifically will prefer a page that “demonstrates expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.” A major factor in determining this trustworthiness rating of a website is if it is linked or referenced within other “prominent” websites and trusted content. 

Sam notices, a trusted medical information platform, on the first page of Google. It is linked to one of the local therapists in Sam’s search results. He watches a video made by the massage therapist about how important massage therapy can be for patients with anxiety and depression, how it can trigger serotonin to relax your body and how it can improve your overall quality of life. Sam feels confident in the practitioner and moves on to book the appointment.

Get More Clients Online with Strong SEO & Professionalism 

In today’s fast paced digital world, time is of the essence for everyone. The ease of use of your website, how effectively customers can navigate it, and pristine content are a start to standing out, but there are other important factors to consider. All of these attributes are rendered useless if the customer cannot find your website, and allocating marketing dollars and time to an effective SEO strategy can not only help you stay relevant and competitive, but can provide a competitive advantage over other businesses. 

By putting resources in place to optimize your position in search results, you are conveying to your customer that their time matters to you. It acts to display both professionalism and digital courtesy to your clients who are putting their sensitive medical care in your hands. As more and more people make the shift to finding medical practices online, a strong SEO strategy is a preventative action against irrelevance and a “digital fishing net” to catch as many potential clients as possible. 

Aisha Mills
Wellneste Editorial Team

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