SEO for Telemedicine: A Guide to SEO for Doctors

Frank Olivo

Frank Olivo is the founder of Sagapixel. He writes on a number of topics related to digital marketing, but focuses mostly on web design and SEO.

Table of Contents

In 2020, SEO for Telemedicine is a Green Field of Opportunity for Healthcare Professionals

Patients both young and old are becoming more comfortable with video conferencing using platforms such as Zoom and Skype.

This presents a huge opportunity for physicians to expand the geography they serve to virtually anywhere with an internet connection; as a result, search engine optimization—otherwise known as SEO—is now an essential part of growing a telemedicine practice.

This guide will walk you through all the basics of SEO for telemedicine. By the end of this guide, you will have a clear understanding of what effective healthcare SEO looks like, and what you can do to either do it yourself or know what to look for if you decide to hire an SEO company for telemedicine.

If you would like to discuss having Sagapixel SEO do SEO for your telemedicine practice, please click here and fill out the form on this page. One of our SEO strategists will reach out to schedule a time to discuss the strategies that are most likely to work for your telemedicine practice and the costs.

One of the unforeseen outcomes of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the rapid adoption of telemedicine.

After years of resistance by physicians, medical practices, and hospitals, it is quite apparent that the barriers to adopting telemedicine were largely psychological.

What is SEO (and what is it not?)

SEO for telemedicine largely has three components:

  1. Ensuring your website is easily accessible and indexable by Google
  2. Making sure the content on your website is relevant to the searches people are performing. This includes ranking for topics such as psychiatrists that offer telemedicine, referred to in SEO as “head terms” as well as ranking for topics like techniques to overcome anxiety in public, which are referred to as “long-tail keywords.”
  3. Maximizing the “prominence,” “trustworthiness,” or “authority” of your website. Telemedicine is what Google refers to as a “Your Money or Your Life” category, which means that ranking for these keywords involves having your website establish a level of trust and authority in the eyes of Google.

Technical SEO ensures your website is accessible and indexable

In order to show up on Google, it needs to be able to crawl your website and store the information it finds in its index.

Think of Google like a person walking through the world’s largest library, placing cards for each page of each book in drawers where library visitors can easily find the content of each book. If the library is organized in a confusing way or there are aisles that cannot be accessed directly, there’s a chance that those pages will not be included in the drawers.

This is exactly what technical and on-page SEO works to address.

I’m not going to write a thorough guide to technical SEO, but this guide to technical SEO  by Ahrefs may interest you if you’d like to dive deeper into this very specific subset of SEO.

Most healthcare professionals have websites that do not require heavy technical SEO. Typically, we just need to check things such as:

  1. Is the correct version of the website displaying? Are both the www and non-www versions showing? Is there an SSL installed? Is the non-secure version of the website forwarding to the secure version?
  2. Are there pages that have been accidentally noindexed? Are there thin quality pages that should be “noindexed” that aren’t?
  3. Are there duplicate versions of the same content? This is a common issue with healthcare providers that have .pdfs on the website that contain the same content as a page. If you have multiple versions of the same content, you must place a canonical tag on both referring to the one you want to show up on Google.

Establishing Relevance to the Searches Your Patients are Performing

There are two ways your telemedicine patients will find your practice:

  1. They will perform a search explicitly looking something like child psychologist that does telemedicine
  2. They will research an issue they are having, find your article, see that you seem to have the solution to their issue and schedule a telemedicine visit

The strategy you will use for your telemedicine practice’s SEO will vary depending on the type of medicine you practice and the competitive landscape on Google for your specialization. The rest of this guide will support activities that will lead you to ranking highly on Google when performing either of these two types of searches.

On-Page SEO for Telemedicine Service Pages

When someone searches for telemedicine services like yours, there are things you can do to the page to increase the likelihood of ranking on page 1 of the search results. These tactics are referred to as “on-page SEO.”

Identify the Keywords You Wish to Target

On-page SEO usually starts with keyword research. This is the process of figuring out how people search for specific services and how competitive it is to rank highly for them.

There are many ways to perform keyword research using both paid and free tools. It’s also possible to play around with Google’s autocomplete, “people also ask” results, and “related searches” features.

The first goal is to determine, for example, if people search in higher volumes for a keyword like telemedicine for physical therapy or if they are search for physical therapists that do zoom in higher volume. The second goal is to see if you have a chance to break into the top results or not. In other words, you don’t want to optimize for a keyword that no one searches for, but often the more popular keywords are too competitive for your practice to rank for. Keyword research will help you to determine this.

Paid Tools for Keyword Research

At Sagapixel SEO, the paid keyword research tool we use is Ahrefs (the other industry standard is SEMRush).

The process starts with entering a seed keyword:

telemedicine SEO physical therapy

In this case, the tool indicates that there isn’t much search volume for telemedicine for physical therapy and related keywords, but this doesn’t necessarily mean this is the case.

Twinword is another keyword research tool that does the same thing, only with a limited free version as well. Here are the results for the same search:

telemedicine SEO physical therapy 2

These tools estimate search traffic based on clickstream data purchased from data providers which may not be particularly accurate. That’s why it’s important to use the tools Google provides us.

Free Tools for Keyword Research

Google Trends is a free tool that can be used for keyword research. While it doesn’t provide actual search volume numbers, it does provide comparative trends. For example, telemedicine for physical therapy has seen a spike in recent weeks (most likely due to the mandated shelter-in-place). This tool can also be used to compare different searches to see which gets more search volume, helping you to decide between numerous keywords to optimize for.

Google autocomplete is arguably the most valuable free tool you have access to.

When you begin typing something into Google, the autocomplete suggestions are the most likely things a user is likely to search for (based on past searches). Since it is generated by past searches by Google users, it’s a valuable tool for uncovering topics and keywords your patients are searching for.

Take a look at this:

google telemedicine serp

These results are generated from past searches user have performed. People are searching for these exact things and by entering different keywords into the search bar, you can get a good idea of the ways people search for your services.

Add Your Keywords to Your Pages’ Title Tags & Header Tags

Once you’ve identified the exact keywords you wish to target, it’s time to get them on the page.

If you have a WordPress website, this is as easy as installing a plugin such as Yoast or RankMath.

Once you’ve installed the plugin, you’ll see something like this appear below the content of the page you are working on:

yoast telemedicine seo

Clicking where it says “edit snippet” will allow you to set the title tag and meta description for the page.

The title tag is widely considered to be the most influential on-page optimization you can make. If you’re hoping to rank for telemedicine cardiologist, it is important to include those keywords in the title tag.

In the case of a cardiologist wishing to rank for cardiologists that do telemedicine, an appropriately-optimized title tag would be something along the lines of: 

Telemedicine Cardiologist – Heart Care Consultants – Schedule Online

Remember that there is a hard limit of 70 characters when writing a title tag. Anything longer is likely to get cut off in the search results.

As you write the page content, be sure to include the keywords you wish to rank for, but do so naturally. An old-school SEO technique involved stuffing the keywords into the page unnaturally, which reads very poorly for your potential patients and could even trigger a spam filter by Google.

As you’re writing your content, use headers!

In addition to making the content easier to scan and read, including your keyword in the headers of the page content is believed to help search rank.

Content Marketing Done Right Will Get You Telemedicine Patients

Content is a great way to get new telemedicine patients.

Do you know why your patients are constantly bringing up stuff they found on WebMD?

Because they are constantly researching medical topics online. This is an opportunity for you to become the source they find. The key is to not waste time writing about stuff that no one is searching for or that is too competitive to rank for.

Choose the Right Topics to Write About

All of the keyword research topics described in the previous section work both for finding topics to write about as well as finding subtopics to dive into.

However, we often use Ahrefs’ Content Explorer to uncover topics that are driving lots of traffic to a website that we can potentially improve upon and “steal” some of the traffic from.

Entering a seed keyword into the tool can help us find these article ideas:

article ideas for seo

The tool has found over 2000 articles that mention this topic. After applying a few filters, we’ll find articles that are already getting traffic that we could potentially compete against:

article ideas for seo

A therapist that wishes to do telemedicine SEO for clients suffering from anxiety could write an article on this topic and possibly get a good amount of traffic. At that point, it’s just a matter of demonstrating one’s expertise and selling one’s services through the website.

Identify the content formats being delivered for different searches

When targeting a content topic or keyword, it is very important to pay attention to the content formats of the search results.

If a search returns a bunch of video results, you need to shoot video.

If it returns a bunch of lists or “top tips for” titles, you probably need to do the same.

Additionally, pay attention to the type of content you are seeing in the search results.

Most search results for doctors that offer telemedicine fall into one the following three categories: service pages, guides, or directories.

Let’s take a look at the top results for child psychologist telehealth:

child therapist serp telehealth

Every result for this search is informational, not a service page. A therapist wishing to rank for this query needs to produce a piece of content that covers the topic of Telehealth for children as an informational piece, as the second to last result did (helptherapist.com). Getting a service page to rank on page 1 will likely be an uphill battle.

Give Google what its users want. If they want informational pages, that’s what you need to write.

Despite the fact that they offer telemedicine as a “service,” Google has determined that people searching for this topic are looking for information about telemedicine and are not necessarily in a “purchase” mindset at that moment. In other words, Google wants to deliver results that dive into the ins and outs of telemedicine, not deliver a sales page. Effective SEO content strategy will recognize this and conclude that either:

  1. No one anywhere has optimized for the term child psychologist telehealth (which is unlikely) and as a result, I’ll be #1 if I optimize for it.

Or…

  1. If I want to rank for this keyword, I need to write a thorough guide on the topic and deliver a soft sell (if you’ve been paying attention, that’s what we’re doing with this article)

On the other hand, let’s take a look at the SERP for psychiatrists that do telehealth:

SEO for Telemedicine: A Guide to SEO for Doctors

In this case, the content formats are a typical mix of content types. A company that wishes to rank for this keyword has more options, ranging from focusing on a service page, to a blog post that talks about the topic, to creating a directory with the goal of connecting people with different telemedicine providers.

Ensure You Write Thorough Informational Content

Writing for the web is different from writing for any other medium.

Dense writing with long sentences and 5-sentence paragraphs are hard to consume on digital devices. If something is going to be read on a 6 inch screen, the sentences need to be short and to the point, as do the paragraphs.

If you do decide to write your own informational content for SEO, make sure you work with an SEO to learn the tools and tactics you can leverage to ensure you’ve covered the topic thoroughly. Or at the very least, ensure that Google believes that you covered it thoroughly.

This article will not go into depth about ensuring this, but we do have a video in another article that goes over the topic if you are interested in learning more.

Build Links to Your Website or Your Telemedicine SEO is Likely to Languish

Google uses links as a proxy for authority.

In other words, if it sees your website regularly receiving links from news outlets and bloggers, it uses this to determine how authoritative your website is.

If your practice’s website doesn’t have any links and the doctor down the street does, he or she will be seen as more “authoritative” and likely a better search result.

This doesn’t mean that you need to sit around and wait for links to come in.

Ways to Get Links to Your Telemedicine Page

There are three ways to get links to a website:

  1. Beg for them
  2. Buy them
  3. Earn them

We do provide link building services for our healthcare clients and most of our efforts are geared towards earning them, though “we ain’t too proud to beg.” We discourage clients from buying links due to the risk inherent to this practice (it is against Google’s Terms of Service), but plenty of people do it.

Guest Posting is a Slow, but Sure Way to Earn Links

One way to earn links to your website is to become a contributor to other websites.

This involves reaching out to websites, offering to provide content to them, then writing the content. Guest post link building is a tedious process that requires some infrastructure to do at any scale. This article isn’t going to go into deep detail about guest post link building, but we’ll link to some resources that get into more detail about it.

Produce Link-Worthy, Citable Content

Another way to get links to your website is to produce content that supports other content on the web.

Statistics tend to be a great way to earn links. You publish the numbers, someone else writes an article on their website, then they look for information to support what they’re stating. Your published statistics support it and the link to you.

Another way that content can earn links is to ask (read: beg) for them.

This is a very time consuming process that involves:

  1. Searching for websites that have articles relevant to what you wrote
  2. Finding the contact information of someone at the website
  3. Sending an email to them pitching your resource as a link
  4. Following up

It’s not the best use of your time. Find someone that knows how to do link building to handle this.

Telemedicine Expands Your Market to Anywhere You Are Licensed

As more people become comfortable with telemedicine, more will search for telemedicine providers. Ranking highly on Google will be the best way for you to get in front of these patients and SEO for your telemedicine practice is how you will accomplish it. If successful, your SEO efforts could turn you into a healthcare provider with patients all over the country, even all over the world.

I hope this guide clarified a few points about what SEO for telemedicine involves. If you have any questions or would like to talk to us about having Sagapixel SEO help you rank better for your specialty, please reach out to us.

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