website not ranking on Google

Three reasons your website is not ranking on Google

If you have been wondering why your practice website is not ranking on Google, check if the 3 most common reasons for this situation apply to your online presence. Then take a deep breath and rest assured that this can be fixed.

website not ranking on Google

Three reasons your website is not ranking on Google

Kris Borgraeve - Co-founder Digital Practice

Kris Borgraeve

September 13, 2021

Before we start - a reminder of why ranking on Google matters

Medical website not ranking on Google

You love GP referrals. They are a lifeline for your private practice as a business. You work hard to keep the flow going and you marvel at the thought that GP referrals are still seen as the key business development area for most types of medical practices.

So why worry about ranking? What does it mean to rank well anyway?

Let’s pretend for a moment that one of your colleagues has been totally ignoring the digital evolution in the last 20 years and you have to explain to them, why all of a sudden your practice would consider investing in an online presence that helps you rank.

Well. You could tell this hypothetical colleague of yours, who is not aware of digital, that …

‘Most patients use their smartphones and other devices to look up topics, clinics and people. Medical terms, symptoms, conditions, treatment options, surgery types, recovery tips, and…doctors. Google’s artificial intelligence is put to work to give the best possible search results every time again.’

If Google gave us useless links to click on, we would all search for a better search engine. And here’s the catch: Google has become better over the years automating this huge crawling job of zillions of web pages so we can’t trick them with some IT-magic.

A quick-and-dirty piece of content, copied on a mediocre web page will generally not be visible when patients do a search. That is why you need high-quality content to rank.

And why do you want to rank well with your private practice?

Because the majority of patients will do some googling along the way. From when they experience their first symptoms or experience a need for a service (for example, falling pregnant triggers the need for an obstetrician), to finding a local specialist. Or a better specialist than the one they were referred to by the local GP. When they find local specialists, they start building a digital relationship of trust. That is the space where choices are made.

So now that we know that this matters, let’s go over the three most common reasons why your medical website could be ranking poorly on Google.,

Reason one: there is no content

Healthcare website has no content

I see many specialist doctors frown when I point out that their current healthcare website has no content. I agree, it may come across as slightly insulting if you don’t take the time to analyse my comment a little further. What I mean is that the website does not have the right selection or the right amount of content, or it does not have an accurate presentation of the content to the patient.

The right selection:

So what is the right selection of content? It is a set of individual content pages that each covers a topic that is directly linked to what your patient is googling for. If you offer endometriosis treatment in Melbourne, the page should be built around those words.

The team here at Digital Practice performs ongoing research into patient search behaviour. It means that we can predict the type, volume and nature of Google searches for any medical specialty, for any catchment area in Australia. It takes experience working in the medical field, and advanced knowledge of search engines.

The right amount of content:

In the early days of Search Engine Optimisation, doctors would ask their IT team to set up a web page and add a few lines here and there. In later days, Search Engine Optimisation Gurus would charge monthly amounts to stuff websites with keywords and throw a few hundred dollars a week at Google Ads. In 2021, leading doctors have high-quality pages on the right topics, with exactly the right amount of words and images.

An accurate presentation for the patient:

That’s right, it’s not just the words. It’s the way the building blocks are organised to tell a story, hook the visitor, keep them on the page and perhaps follow a prompt or a call-to-action. It’s the image/text ratio, and the way relevant images are integrated to support the message. All of the interaction between your potential future patient and your online presence is measured, tracked and analysed and the leading private practice owner of this day and age looks at this data on a quarterly basis. Taking the pulse of your practice (pun intended) every now and then, then taking action and adding more great content, is what makes these doctors that I’m talking about leading doctors.

So in essence:

The right volume of the right content, presented well on individual pages, is the minimum requirement in the content department. No worries. Keep breathing as you keep reading. There’s a ‘contact us’ button at the bottom to book your free consultation and make this happen for your practice.

website not ranking on google

Take a look at this medical website to understand what we mean when we talk about content.

Reason two: your medical website is unhealthy

Medical website is built poorly

As a specialist doctor, you will often refer to the patient’s general health, when discussing a specific topic in your specialty area. The patient won’t fall pregnant because of lifestyle habits. The patient will develop knee problems because they don’t move enough. These examples are familiar to you and well…it’s no different with digital marketing and the efficiency of your medical website.

If you put an amazing paragraph on a medical topic, on a website that is poorly built… It won’t work. Remind yourself that websites are not like PDF documents. They are live software that contains content. They have buttons, functions, and code, and they work at the exact moment when a consumer or patient is using them.

Did you know that a page is loaded and built from its components over and over again each time someone clicks on it and visits it? The copy, the logo, the images, the contact form…It’s live software!

This gets even more exciting. Google keeps an eye on trillions of websites. As crazy as that sounds. If the website is unhealthy, it means that Google’s intelligent bots have seen things in the back-end that will make the user experience less than ideal: visitors could see error pages, an insecure connection, broken links, skewed pages or irresponsive pages on smartphones, missing images, images that are too small or too big or get pages that take forever to load because the website software is outdated. Or all of the above. Google is not stupid and does not want to be known for sending consumers to less-than-ideal web experiences. It wants to be a good Search Engine.

So in short:

An unhealthy website is costing you money because it won’t show up as often in Google searches, so patients in total will not spend as much time on your site as they do on your competitors’ websites…Google tracks all that and its Artificial Intelligence decides that it’s probably wiser to send traffic to these other practices when someone needs an ACL reconstruction, endometriosis treatment, gastroscopy or tummy tuck. Can you now see that it is all connected to how you take care of your digital health to grow a successful practice? It’s a cycle, and if you are going to be trapped in it, you better make sure you are heading in the right direction!

Reason three: your healthcare website is not optimised

Medical website not optimised

We have established that we need a state-of-the-art back-end: the software that makes up your website. We need a plan for content that patients Google for. And we need the actual content presented in a way that makes people stay, read, and click further.

Yet…there is another layer. If your content was written only with the medical hat on, then you may be sharing amazing information on shoulder dislocations, roux-en-y procedures or ICSI fertility treatment. But if the person who wrote the copy has never optimised medical content for Google and for the patient and has no idea where you are…Chances are your medical website will still not be ranking well on Google.

What is optimisation?

It’s an integrated and advanced way of looking at each title, header, paragraph and flow of your page. It’s finding a balance between informing and educating the patient about the topic AND keeping it conversational and personal AND weaving in words that tell Google ‘Hey, look what a great and unique local content page I have here – You have to show it when someone in My Town does a Google search for The Condition’.

Optimisation is not IT work. It is not some quick hocus-pocus. It is a contemporary blend of skill sets such as medical journalism, story-telling, marketing, business development, personal branding, online communication and essential Search Engine Optimisation best practices. Yes, you will hear about meta-data and meta-descriptions, but the hard work is done on the individual paragraphs and titles that make up the page. It is thinking outside the square, labelling images correctly, linking to other pages and to the menus. All of that.

The more remote your SEO-optimisation is done (because it’s outsourced to a cheap labour country for example), the lower the likelihood that the person who does it, has actually spent time in the catchment area for your private practice or a similar one in a comparable area.

The more optimisation ties in with a quarterly revision, the more you can rely on your long-term growth plan to scale your practice over time and bring it to the next level, whatever that means for you and your team.

Not ranking on Google - Digital Practice

What can I do to make my practice rank better on Google?

Practice website not ranking on Google

The great first exercise I do with my customers is this one. I ask you to sit down and write down the Top 5 income earners for your private practice. They could be linked to a specific condition (endometriosis is an example) or to a procedure (anterior hip replacement for example).

The 5 words (or combinations of words) represent the pillars of your practice as a business.
Write them down, and start a new line for each word or string of words.

Then add a second column. For each of those words, write down what you believe the patient would Google for when they needed a service like yours. For example:

Endometriosis –> Endometriosis treatment Perth

Now, for each of your 5 keywords, go to, and do a Google search for the terms you believe the patient would use. Write down what position your website has on Page 1 or Page 2 for each of your 5 main income earners.

Does it give you an immediate insight? If you are always on number one, order flowers or champagne and send it to your agency straight away. If you are nowhere to be seen, book a free meeting with me straight away. If you are unsure, book the meeting anyway.

You, your team and your practice deserve to be visible, so you convert leads and develop a successful and stable private practice. I look forward to helping you achieve that.

Let's meet

Schedule a free appointment

website not ranking on Google and what to do?

Are you ready to explore how content marketing can help you build your practice?

Schedule an online and free appointment with our digital strategist today.

Share this post
Table of Contents
Table of Contents
Kris Borgraeve - Co-founder Digital Practice

See how Digital Practice can boost traffic to your website

  • SEO: drive massive amounts of visitors to your website.
  • Content Marketing: we co-produce epic content that will boost your visibility. 
  • Design & development: We create and build websites with clear ROI.
Tap to Boost Traffic to Your Website
Kris Borgraeve - Co-founder Digital Practice

See how Digital Practice can boost traffic to your website

Discover how we use SEO to drive massive amounts of visitors to your website and learn from real client results. I am available for a free one-on-one consultation. Schedule a call now.