SEO is a particularly important marketing channel for IVF and fertility clinics.
Patients generally prefer the privacy of performing Google searches over asking around for referrals or information on social media, making organic search particularly important during the patient’s journey.
Whether they are explicitly searching for a nearby fertility clinic or they are asking questions about IVF, Google is particularly important for couples looking to conceive without broadcasting their efforts.
In this article, I’m going to provide a comprehensive overview of what goes into SEO for fertility clinics—by the end, you should have a good idea of what goes into SEO and what you’ll need your SEO company to do to ensure success for your marketing.
What is SEO for Fertility Clinics?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the digital marketing practice of optimizing your website and its content so that it helps drive more qualified leads through search engines.
An optimized website will allow you to continue growing your practice for years to come.
How To Optimize Search Visibility For Your Fertility Clinic Website
With a focused strategy for your fertility clinic, you’ll be able to meet prospective couples where they are searching and increase the number of consultations coming from organic search. But without prioritizing the right strategies, you could perform a large amount of work without seeing results.
There are three pillars to an SEO strategy, whether for your fertility clinic or any business with a website.
1. Ensure Google Can Optimally Crawl and Index Your Website
With improper technical SEO, you can prevent Google from reaching your website or indexing it within search results. You wouldn’t build a house without a solid foundation, and you can think of Google crawling + indexing your website as the foundation of your website.
Crawling is the process of Googlebot visiting your website and crawling (reading) your web pages to understand the content. The search engine crawler must visit your website, crawl your pages, and determine your content’s value.
There are several elements to check to ensure your website is accessible and crawlable by the search engine. Two of the most important are your robots.txt file directives and noindex tags at the page level.
Your robots.txt should look something like this. Check to make sure that there is not a disallow or noindex for any pages or categories that you would want Google to index.
You can check if your robots.txt is blocking important pages through Google Search Console or the Technical SEO Robots.txt Validator and Testing Tool.
2. Maximize The Relevance of Your Content to Your Clients’ Searches
The second pillar of SEO is generally the focus of the SEO work we do for our fertility clinics—maximizing the relevancy of content on your website to prospective clients.
If your pages rank for keywords but are not converting, you could be targeting the wrong keywords. We refer to this as search intent, and it is crucial to ensure your clinic’s website does not become a ‘research’ repository.
An overwhelming majority of searches are for long-tail keywords. These terms have intent closer to conversion, which will ultimately drive more patient registrations. Specifically for treatment pages and blog posts, these long-tail keywords are vital.
3. Maximize the Authority of Your Website
Now that you understand the importance of your website’s technical health and the keywords you are targeting, the next area to understand is authority. This is how your website is viewed amongst other fertility clinic websites.
While Google does not provide a tangible metric for authority, we understand this as E-E-A-T (Experience, Expertise, Authority, Trustworthiness). Since fertility clinics impact the “future happiness, health, financial stability, or safety of users,” they are categorized as Your Money, Your Life (YMYL) by Google. This is a distinct category in which websites are expected to uphold high-quality content standards and present factually-accurate information backed by science.
An important strategy that can increase your website’s authority is acquiring backlinks. Earning links from reputable sources will help reinforce that your website is trustworthy and an authoritative source.
Take care to observe where you are earning your links from because not all backlinks are created equally. If a scientific journal links to your website, that is a much stronger signal to the search engine than a mommy blog. Additionally, a website that links to questionable websites or thousands of others non-reputable sites could actually hurt your credibility within the search engine.
Why Perform SEO for Fertility Clinics?
Now that you have an understanding of what comprises a comprehensive search engine optimization strategy, you may be wondering if SEO can actually drive more qualified leads to your fertility clinic.
In an industry where word-of-mouth recommendations to couples are less likely, providing these prospective patients with all of the information that they need to know in order to trust your clinic and book a consultation. Couples prefer to research privately, in the comfort of their home.
This is where a comprehensive SEO strategy can help you understand what content you should publish on your website.
We’ve seen across our experience within the healthcare industry that providing extensive information and answering these research questions can greatly increase the number of consultations that come through your website.
How to Use SEO for Your Fertility Clinic
SEO for fertility clinics involves content creation and content optimization more than other industries because of the extensive research prospective patients conduct before choosing the best clinic for their needs.
Know Your Targeted Audience
Picking the correct keywords to target requires an intimate understanding of your target audience and their pain points. With an established fertility clinic, you should understand who your ideal patient is and their common pain points.
Do you specialize in specific egg treatments, fertilizations, or LGBTQ family building? These are good starting points to begin understanding the pain points related to your specialties.
You’ll need to use this understanding to effectively target your potential patients.
The next step in utilizing SEO for your fertility clinic is conducting competitive analysis and research. This involves investigation of what your competitors are currently targeting with their service pages and understanding what they are ranking for.
Service page competitive analysis involves browsing your competitor’s websites to pages they have that you may not. If your competitor has a dedicated page to a treatment you offer but do not have a page for, you’ve found one to focus on immediately!
We conduct competitive keyword research by utilizing site explorer and the content gap tools from Ahrefs. This allows us to see what keywords your competitors rank for and compare it with your clinic’s website. Using this, we can provide recommendations on content optimizations that should be made to outrank your competitors.
Keyword research involves determining the keywords utmost relevant to the content on the page, not just those with the highest search volume.
Fertility/ IVF Keywords
Throughout our experience within the healthcare industry, we’ve been able to pivot keyword strategies for clients’ websites that resulted in increased rankings and more patient consultations.
Below is an example list of some of the main fertility/ IVF clinic keywords that could prove effective for your website:
- Intrauterine Insemination
- In Vitro Fertilization
- Fertility Egg Freezing
- Gestational Surrogacy (Surrogate)
- Male Infertility Treatment
- ICSI Fertility Treatment
(Example keyword list from Ahrefs)
Building a blog strategy is another tactic that will help your practice increase E-E-A-T and organic traffic, which can lead to more patient consultations. By answering questions that your target audience is looking for answers to, you are increasing awareness of your clinic and the likelihood that they choose your clinic when they decide they are ready.
A common blog strategy is to answer questions in more detail than you can on your service pages. This also provides you with a good place to internally link back to your service pages.
Now that you have identified your keywords to target your potential patients effectively, you’ll want to perform a search to ensure that you are targeting the right search intent.
You can search for your target keywords and analyze the types of results. If your page is vastly different from the page types you see in these results, this is a good indication that you have the wrong search intent.
For example, seeing a service page listed amongst a majority of blogs or research-focused pages indicates that the user who would be landing on those pages is looking for something different.
A search for ‘fertility clinic treatment options’ returns the following results
(Search results with Ahrefs plugin displaying competitive metrics)
You will also want to look at the types of websites that are ranking for this search to determine the possibility that your clinic’s website will be able to rank. It is highly unlikely that you’ll be able to outrank the Mayo Clinic and Planned Parenthood for most queries, especially the more general research-based questions.
On-Page Optimization of Your Fertility Clinic’s Website
Now that you have determined the correct keywords to target and the search intent behind them, you’ll want to begin looking at how you can improve the effectiveness of your website by performing on-page optimizations.
Optimize Your Main Treatment/ Service Pages
The pages on your website that are dedicated to the treatments you perform or services you provide will be your most important. They will drive the most traffic and, ultimately, consultations.
The title tag and headings are two of the most important elements of your treatment/ service pages. These elements help give search engine crawlers and users a better understanding of what they can expect from your page.
Create Pages Targeting Surrounding Locations
As your clinic has a physical location, optimizing your website for searches to capture geographically-relevant searches can make or break your search presence.
Without a geographically optimized presence, you could receive most of your traffic from searchers in a different country or without intent to visit your clinic.
Someone appending a geographic location to a search is much closer to conversion than someone performing an informational search. They are likely at the stage of assessing their area’s clinic/ treatment options.
Creating pages that target the locations in which you have an office is crucial. But also creating pages for the surrounding areas that you serve can increase the geographic reach of your organic search rankings.
(Example locations & areas we serve links: https://www.sbivf.com/locations/)
There is also the importance of ranking in the local map pack. This special search result ranks above the usual title & meta description results and is another chance for your clinic to stand out amongst competitors.
Optimize Your Site Architecture Through Internal Linking
Your website’s architecture and the way that you link to pages throughout is crucial to distributing equity to your most important pages. This is another signal that you can send to the search engine that a specific page is important and that you want it to be found by searchers.
Without proper internal linking, your site will not distribute equity properly, which can reduce the chances that your pages will rank highly in search results.
Internal links provide pathways for search engine crawlers to discover additional pages and establish relationships between related pages. An important element of internal linking is the anchor text that you provide. The anchor text should be used to explain what is on the page that you are linking to. Ideally, this includes your target keywords.
Develop a Strategy for Earning Backlinks
Backlinks are still crucial in establishing E-E-A-T for your website and helping your pages to rank competitively in search results.
The more reputable the site that links to your clinic, the more weight it holds with the search engine. For example, a link from a medical journal will provide more of a benefit than one from a local blog. You’ll want to avoid any non-reputable sources as these could harm your search rankings.
Ways to garner backlinks are always evolving. From our experience in the healthcare industry, we’ve seen several effective tactics that help clinics to garner backlinks. These strategies include: guest posting and digital PR. These two strategies involve outreach and require some connections within the industry to earn links.
The most effective tactic we have found to garner backlinks for a clinic’s website has been producing link magnets. These are original pieces of content that are published on your website which discuss timely and relevant topics within the fertility/ IVF industry.
By providing useful information such as statistics around specific treatments that other searchers find helpful, you can gain backlinks without conducting outreach (often the most time-consuming part of a backlinking strategy).
After identifying the on-page optimizations that should be made, you cannot overlook the technical health of your website. This will ultimately determine how your website is viewed and crawled by the search engine.
Without a solid technical foundation, your website will not be found by crawlers and equity will not be distributed effectively to your most important pages.
Ensure Your Website is Mobile-Friendly
An overwhelming majority of searches are conducted on mobile devices. This means that your website needs to function and display properly on mobile devices, not just laptops and desktop computers.
You can check if your website is mobile-friendly with Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.
Optimizations to make your website mobile friendly can include resizing images, making changes to the spacing between buttons or clickable elements, and introducing accordions which reduce the amount of space that certain sections take up until a user expands them.
The amount of time your website takes to load is one of the most important factors that either keeps users on your site or deters them. Google considers page speed a ranking factor and is used as a tiebreaker between similar sites. This means that a website with a faster loading time could appear higher in search results.
Page speed elements are reflected in Google’s Core Web Vitals, such as First Input Delay (FID) and Largest Contentful Paint (LCP). You can view your website’s speed with Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. This will give you insight into areas you can improve to decrease your page loading time.
Local SEO: Reach Potential Patients Near Your Business
As mentioned earlier, your clinic’s local search presence can be the difference between consistently booking patient consultations. With an optimized local SEO presence, you can ensure that you drive more qualified leads within your geographic target areas to your website.
Google Business Profile: Key SERP Real Estate
Your Google Business Profile can be the first interaction a potential patient has with your business, making it crucial to optimize your listing fully. From the information about your clinic to the categories you include, each is an opportunity to establish trust with a searcher.
When a user performs a search with a geo-modifier such as “Fertility clinic New Jersey” they will encounter the “Map Pack”. This is a special search result feature that displays businesses within the geographic area above the standard search results.
(Example search for “fertility clinic New Jersey”)
Maintain Consistent NAP
When reviewing your business profile information, take special care to maintain a consistent Name, Address, and Phone Number (NAP) across your Business Profile, website, directory citations, schema markup, and social media profiles.
Google takes consistency seriously when it comes to the uniformity of clinic information. So even abbreviating “Boulevard” to “Blvd.” will hinder your NAP consistency.
Consistently Ask For & Respond to Reviews
Reviews are still one of the most effective ways to build trust with searchers and prospective patients. First-hand accounts of experience with your clinic can make the difference between a prospective patient choosing your clinic over a competitor.
In addition, customer reviews do help your business profile rank higher in search results and, hopefully, the map pack for geographically relevant searches.
Therefore, implementing a system to garner patient reviews can benefit your SEO.
A review strategy could be having receptionists remind patients as they leave the office and following up via email. Receiving a review, however, is not the end of the process. Make sure that you respond to your patient’s reviews as well. This is another sign to prospective patients and the search engine that you are active and maintaining an online presence which is another way to signal trustworthiness.
Understand Your Google Search Console Data
Google Search Console (GSC) is one of the main ways to monitor traffic to your clinic’s website. You can see which pages are receiving the most traffic, what searches they are ranking for, and compare performance.
You can see that over the last 3 months, this property has had 67,000 clicks to the website, 3.47 million site impressions, an average click-through rate (CTR) of 1.9%, and an average ranking position of 16.1. You can filter these metrics to compare different lengths of time and analyze individual pages to gauge their performance.
You can also use Google Search Console (GSC) to measure the page experience of your website with Core Web Vitals and Mobile Usability.
KPIs for Fertility Clinic SEO
The most important key performance indicator to measure the SEO success of your fertility clinic’s website is clicks. This tells you how many searchers have visited a specific page and what keyword they searched to find your clinic’s website.
Impressions will tell you how many searchers have seen your website over a period of time. While less important than clicks, a page with a large number of impressions but a low amount of clicks is a sign that the page is probably not meeting the searcher’s intent.
Click-through rate and average position are metrics you can keep an eye on, but they are best used to identify when you may want to take a closer look at re-optimizing a page if it has seen decreases.
Sagapixel Offers a Comprehensive Digital Marketing Strategy for Fertility Clinics
There are many factors that comprise a comprehensive SEO strategy. Therefore, it is vital that you not only understand these concepts but also have experience implementing them. Without knowledge and experience, you could spend a lot of time on SEO optimization that will not result in an increase in rankings.
Sagapixel is a full-service SEO agency with experience implementing search engine optimization strategies across the healthcare industry in the United States and Europe. From properly targeting keywords to improving your local search presence and technical site health, we can help you continue booking patient consultations.
Schedule a call with our SEO team to understand how a comprehensive strategy can benefit your clinic.