One way to approach content writing at your medical website is to create a list of keywords — words and phrases your customers use to look for goods and services like yours online — and to write a great page for each one. Sending a list of the medical keywords you want to work on to your web firm is a great thing to do, and it’s worth doing on a fairly regular basis.
So how do you come up with the right keyword list for your medical website? We’ve written before about keyword research, and you should read some of those posts if you’re trying to do your own keyword research:
- Using Google Trends for Keyword Research
- Keyword Myths
- Keyword Variations
- Keyword Development Strategies
- Keyword Research (video)
But there are some differences for medical websites in particular. According to the Pew Research Center, more than two thirds of Americans look online first when they have a medical problem, and 82% start at a search engine. Google has found that people looking for medical information follow a fairly consistent pattern with their searches, and Pew found that few people looking for health information start with Wikipedia or social media websites. Search engines are the main source of information.
And more than half of those who go online for medical information end up consulting a medical professional… after they’ve made up their minds what they need.
But they’re not necessarily looking for the medical keywords that come to your mind first.
Your customers are looking to solve problems.
While people who need a new office chair will search for “office chair” or “buy office chair,” people who need a chiropractic headache treatment don’t usually start by searching for “chiropractic headache treatment.” Ditto for those who need a colonoscopy or a stint in rehab. For one thing, your patients may not know just what they need before they see you. For another, they may not know the name of the specific procedure, or they may use different terms from the ones you use.
Instead, they’re most likely to use a description of the problem they’re experiencing. They’ll search for “headache” or “lower back pain,” and those are the keywords you should start with. Specifically medical keywords may not be what they start with. Think about more common health-related terms.
Get specific with keywords.
Once your potential customers have learned more about their conditions, they may look for specific procedures and products. “Da Vinci robotic surgery” or “Invisalign” will be good choices for reaching people who are at this stage of their path to purchase.
People who make searches like these are not necessarily ready to buy or even to call for information. Modern consumers often do a lot of research online before they’re ready to talk with you. So make sure that the pages you create for these keywords are still informative rather than sales-oriented… at least at the top of the page.
It’s good to start by focusing on procedures that differentiate you from your competitors, and also on those that are profit centers.
Make sure you look good when you’re found.
After learning more about their symptoms and possible solutions, patients hone in on specific providers. At that point, having made a decision to consult a doctor or other healthcare professional, they’re ready to talk with you. But they may not be looking just for the name of your practice or facility. Here are some of the other options:
- Your name or the names of other providers at your practice
- Generic terms like “physical therapist” or “kids’ dentist”
- Phrases like, “family practice doctor who takes Blue Shield insurance”
Try out as many possibilities as you can, checking your Search Console, Adwords, and Google Analytics data as well as simply asking your patients how they found you.
You may be dismayed to see that a search for one of your doctor’s names turns up a negative review right there on the search engine results page, or that one of the common terms your patients use (like “Main Street optometrist”) brings up a competitor’s website right next to yours.
Add those keywords to your list. If you’re sending the list to your digital marketing professionals, be sure to specify the problem so they know it’s not a question of just showing up for that keyword.