On-Page SEO: What to Expect


Your SERP listings directly relate with new patient referrals and health facility and provider brand awareness. Patients who don’t know your facility or practice tend to inherently trust the top results. So how do you get there? How long does it take? How does it work?


According to Maria Todd, our go-to expert on healthcare marketing and branding for bundled-price, transparent, cash pay surgery services, “SEO is not a virtual pill to instantly cure what’s wrong with your marketing strategy, tactics, and lack of influence or brand awareness.”  Each day on LinkedIn I receive overtures from SEO “specialists” who want to conduct a site audit and promise me the sun, the moon, and the stars for a monthly fee. Would that it could be so easy.”  Maria earned certification from Google on digital marketing for healthcare a few years back, and consults to hospitals and ASCs in the USA and abroad on business development. While she doesn’t offer SEO treatment services, she often works with her clients’ SEO and website development teams to guide their work, measure their results and recommend adjustments to yield desired results.

While it is true that an SEO- optimized website will be more attractive to search engines robotic crawlers, website design centered on user experience (UX) that has the relevance targeted visitors who may be “ideal patients” that answers the questions they have create returning visitors with purchase intention, which in turn, and over time, lead to increases in site traffic and increased surgery procedure bookings. 

Search engines consider two categories of indicators that influence search ranking: on-page and off-page. 

Off page SEO includes include practices like listings on SurgeryShopper.com and other related sites that could provide links through banner ads that transport the SurgeryShopper.com website visitor directly to your website and content and streamline your business listings. Boosted posts on LinkedIn and Facebook and other high-performing sites and shared microblogs on Twitter also play a role.  How you are regarded by the rest of the internet directly affects how your content is displayed by Google. While there are certain techniques you can use to guide the conversation, off-page SEO is tricky and time-consuming and best left to a professional team. 

For example, you see the link to Maria’s name mentioned above? That is off-page SEO at work for Maria, who has her own consulting firm and website. People who want to know more about her expertise referred from this website which receives nearly 4000 hits per day, “might” click to learn more about her services, experience, and expertise. She also blogs on LinkedIn and has an “AskMariaTodd” page on Facebook where her blog posts are often shared. Each click and each link (sometimes called a (“backlink”) contribute to her off-page SEO rankings.  But that doesn’t catapult her to the top of Google instantly. 

Anyone who promises that they can do this without months of investment and consistency, plus on-page treatments should be considered dubious and either misinformed about SEO or deemed nefarious, plain and simple. But in fairness, one cannot expect such results from a genuine SEO expert and be disappointed when you pay for a month’s services and expect to be found on page one of Google without buying such placement as an adword which is paid vs earned placement.  It may have happened 10-15 years ago, but Google has become wiser and much more complicated and their algorithms far more sophisticated than what occurred in years past.

On-page SEO is what is offered by most website management consulting agencies. There, the website owner or its agents and subcontracted managers have 100% control of how content is structured and presented on its website. 

Marketing, branding, advertising and public relations all work slightly differently to do one thing: Solve the visitors’ unique query (the search term they use) better than anyone else on the first page of the returned search engine results.  Not just on Google, but on Bing, Baidoo, and other search engines preferred by the visitor.

To do this requires that you address user experience(“UX”), user interface (“UI”), page loading and image loading speeds, and nail the content quality and information the visitor sought to learn, discover, understand.  If you have no such content on your site, no amount of on-page or off-page SEO treatment by any SEO agency is going to get you to page one. Period. “So, if you won’t write a blog or you write stuff nobody cares to read, stop dreaming about page one!” says Todd. “Ain’t gonna happen in this lifetime.”

Website page layout, graphics, and patient-centric thoroughness of information, the types of information (visual, audio, video, text, interactive, etc), must be monitored and analyzed frequently to understand how your visitors consume your infomation and content on your website.

Practical exercise.  Describe the problem the searcher’s trying to solve the same way they do. That means using keywords the way searchers use them, and using the language of the searchers in your solutions. But you can’t do this if you don’t know how to describe your ideal customer and their pain points.

 See:  https://provider.surgeryshopper.com/differentiate-position-relate-your-your-competitive-advantage/ to learn more about ideal customer identification and how to message to them.

Overly technical medical words and jargon, and use of brand names like Exparel (a long-lasting, non-opioid pain management tool) or a description of how a Hana® table (a state of the art fracture table that optimizes the Anterior Approach to Total Hip Arthroplasty) to describe procedures and differentiators are of minimal value to your patients. Putting this information in a description of a service or overly informal can both turn different kinds of searchers off or worse, never initially resonate with them and make your website read like blah blah blah.  For example, while you want both “Anterior Approach to Total Hip Arthroplasty” and “Hip Replacement Surgery” on your website, which keyword phrase is a layperson more likely to search? You guessed it. “Hip Replacement Surgery” is the search term.

Are you competing for employer and group health business from another region? Consider “healthcare or surgical cost containment solution” versus “medical tourism”. Employers will more likely use which term more frequently? You guessed right if you guessed “surgical cost containment solution.” That’s because they really don’t care about the few hundred bucks they have to pay to cover travel if they can contain or reduce costs on high-price expenses. They take the travel part in stride as part of the solution.

Make sure you’re empathizing with your intended audience and imagine how they want to be served. If you can’t, that’s when you hire a professional. But any generic SEO marketer who doesn’t know the subject matter of surgery, and who can provide you that empathy as your surrogate is probably the wrong fit. And the people who know “both” the surgery and how to empathize with lay person search and brand messaging are very rare, worldwide. And they aren’t the lowest price options in the industry.

Bounce rates

Why people visit your site is about “searcher intention” or “buyer intention”. Todd says that people come to her MariaTodd.com website because they know they will find free articles that help them in their business. They don’t come to find her address because she doesn’t have people from all over the world travel to her office. They pay invoices online, and she hasn’t received or sent a fax in years. So all the standard advice about on page time is relevant in case specific context. “Most of what you read on the internet about bounce rates and SEO results are so generic they are irrelevant,” she adds. Average on-page time on her blog articles can be 4-6 minutes. Her “bounce rates” are very low. People read one article and then read others, for a 5-6 page “session”. 

For an ASC or a hospital, to know if you’ve nailed it or not, Look at the ‘time on page’ metric for the traffic that comes from search engines to select pages — not all pages are equal. If people stay for a long time, it means that they’ve found what they wanted, unless they were shopping for your name and address and a map.  When they bounce shortly after visiting it, you either didn’t give them what they wanted or didn’t persuade them fast enough that your page is exactly what they needed. “Yesterday, the CEO of an ASC and I looked at their Google Analytics results. Of 203 visits, 92 new visitors were in the affinity group “sports and fitness buffs”. The pages they viewed showed an 80% bounce rate. This means that what they did to invest in what it took to catch the fish’s attention with the wriggly worm or the fly worked, but the fish didn’t bite. Wrong lure? Wrong prize? To fix this, we had to brainstorm like a customer and study where the 20% that did not bounce went, which Google Analytics will tell you if you know how to use the tools and are so inclined.” Todd added. Most ASC and hospital administrators and execs have never seen what Google Analytics can share. As the late George Carlin said in his “On being Irish Catholic” skit, “ya gotta wanna”. If you don’t have any interest in studying the visitor behavior analytics, why market your business? “Ya gotta wanna know why people came, how they consumed your information, and what attracted them to consume more content or buy from you.” she adds. “If you don’t care, you’ll never really get true value or performance out of any investment in SEO.”
Google tends to avoid pages where the content doesn’t resonate with searcher intent. The old tactic of keyword stuffing is also frowned upon and now pushed to the bottom of the listings returned. The other consideration to take seriously is how your page presents. Looks matter in content marketing and SEO. When Todd guides clients on content marketing strategies for customer acquisition, she recommends designing blogs for pleasant reading experiences.  That includes custom illustrations for almost every article published.  People seem to trust the content that they can instantly see where a lot of work was invested to create it, which makes the content more appealing and they tend to assume it is well worth reading.  Another thing to realize is that if your traffic continues to bounce, Google might choose to stop showing it.  So you might pay for an SEO agency to do its thing, and then your page climbs up the ranks for a bit. Then suddenly, upon realizing nobody wants to read what you posted, you disappear. It happens all the time. Todd says “Beware the agency who guides you to focus on IDF/WDF which refers to keyword densities in terms of how many times you should have your keyword in the page you are trying to rank. IDF (inverse document frequency) and WDF (within document frequency) refer to how often words and phrases are used on the page as well as on other pages and how those words are
weighted.  If they recommend the wrong ratios, you pay them but the results you expect don’t happen.
Well, that’s all for this lesson. If you want help on this topic, Maria is happy to chat with you or consult on your web ranking problems, but she warns you that she doesn’t have time to take on clients and do this for them as a service. There are companies who offer SEO services, and she’ll engage to direct and guide their efforts and monitor their results. She can be reached at (800) 727.4160 or call our concierge team and they’ll connect you at (800) 209.7263.
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