Five SEO Best Practices to Help Your Practice Attract and Acquire New Patients Online

Feb. 21, 2014
With 77% of people today seeking online health-care information starting their sessions at search engines, where your site shows up on search engines is a main determiner of how much traffic ...

By Diana P. Friedman, MA, MBA

With 77% of people today seeking online health-care information starting their sessions at search engines, where your site shows up on search engines is a main determiner of how much traffic (and how many new patient calls) is generated from a website.

Consumers searching online almost always click on the first results they see -- 87% of all clicks from organic search engine traffic goes to the first five results. To capture the attention -- and clicks -- of prospective patients, a practice's website must secure these top spots in relevant searches for specific keywords.

Search engine optimization is the "process of improving the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine's ‘natural' or unpaid (‘organic') search results." The right SEO strategies, supported by the right website, will help a practice attract and convert more prospective patients. Here are five ways you can optimize SEO efforts.

1. Prioritize Fresh Website Content

If your webpages are frequently updated with fresh content, search engines will deem them more important, increasing the chances they make the first page of results. Update your website monthly if possible. Focus on creating content that site visitors will value since this type of content also tends to help with search-engine rankings. Updating a link or two in the navigation bar is unlikely to help your search rankings, but adding a new blog post or new site content might.

2. Include Appropriate Keywords

Including the right keywords in website copy where appropriate will help a site rank higher in prospective patients' searches. Ask a few patients what search terms they used -- or would use -- when searching for a dentist online. Better yet, track your Google Analytics to evaluate what search terms are most often used by your practice website visitors. Then, weave these words and phrases into your website copy as appropriate.

3. Optimize Your Site Experience for Any Device

By 2014, mobile Internet use will surpass desktops. Today's mobile devices come in many different forms. In order to rank highly on mobile searches, a practice's website must optimize viewing experiences for any type of device prospective patients might use, whether it be a smartphone or iPad. An optimized method (and one recommended by Google) exists to help a practice do this. This method, called responsive design, allows you to create a main website that looks and functions effectively across all devices and screen sizes. Responsive design makes it easier for search engines to index a website, improving its ability to be found in native search results. Just as importantly, providing visitors with an optimal viewing experience will improve new patient conversion.

4. Include Videos

Prominently displaying videos on a site will engage visitors and increase the chance that they will stay engaged. In fact, 46% of website visitors see video as a key reason to seek out more information on a product or service. Video content can also positively impact search rankings. Video content is proven to increase the amount of time a visitor spends on a website, which prompts search engines to increase relevance ranking.

5. Measure Results

You won't know if your SEO efforts are working unless you have a way to connect these activities with site traffic increases and new patients. Website analytics programs such as Google Analytics let you identify exactly how many visitors arrive at your site via search engines during a given time period. This allows you to link increases in search-engine traffic to specific SEO activities. Tracking referral sources for every new patient will also help determine the connection between your SEO activities and new patient acquisition.

SEO helps websites get found by more prospective patients, ultimately allowing a practice to optimize its site as a tool for acquiring new patients.

For more information, please search for "Diana Friedman" on

Diana P. Friedman, MA, MBA, is president and chief executive officer of Sesame Communications. She has a 20-year success track record in leading dental innovation and marketing. Contact Diana at [email protected].

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