not ranking well

Help! My practice is not ranking well on Google

Any doctor in private practice will look into medical search engine optimisation at some stage. Before you dismiss it or delegate it to a temporary admin team member, read this article about the missed opportunity when a private practice is not ranking well in Google search.

not ranking well

Help! My practice is not ranking well on Google

Kris Borgraeve - Co-founder Digital Practice

Kris Borgraeve

July 18, 2022

Why you are at risk of disappearing

google algorithms

You are really at risk as a business if you are not ranking well. Even as a well-paid doctor, you may miss out on an opportunity to optimise your private practice. Some doctors just use it as a vehicle to do work in private one day a week. Others build a business that they can exit or sell at some stage. Not taking care of your online position reduces your choices and options for the future. 

You may feel that you have enough patients. But you may miss out on the best receptionist or practice manager because you were not visible when someone was looking for a practice to work for.

So that is why it’s good to understand the concept of these Google algorithms you hear about. What are they? And why should you care as a doctor? Because they partly define your patient traffic, particularly in elective services such as plastic surgery, bariatric surgery or women’s health.

The risk of untreated poor visibility

poor google ranking

Does your practice management team truly understand Google visibility? I come across teams who simply do a Google search for the doctor’s name or the name of the practice. When they show up, that’s the end of the assessment. In their world, they do not suffer from poor Google ranking. 

But what if a patient searches for a symptom, a treatment name, a frequently asked question or a variation of the surgery name? Do you rank on Page 1 for that as well? If you are not ranking well for your main income avenues, you are missing out on patients.

Kris Borgraeve - Co-founder Digital Practice
Kris Borgraeve | Co-founder Digital Practice

"Specific searches that drive patient traffic can be mapped and this data allows leading doctors to put research behind their ongoing content marketing. Those practices would be the ones you - and patients - come across when they do a lot of googling."

The direct risk of not addressing poor online visibility is obviously the turnover you miss out on, looking at your private practice as a business entity. It’s a myth that a private practice strictly depends on GP referrals. As our data shows, the thousands of specific Google searches we monitor on a daily basis for the major medical specialty areas are real.

Over 50% of patients spend substantial amounts of time on Google in between their first GP visit and their actual choice of a specialist and a treatment plan.

Poor visibility that is not addressed can lead to years in private practice with a feeling of struggle. If the other practice has better patient numbers or a better patient prequalification, they will attract better staff, get better partnership opportunities and better theatre lists. Ask yourself if that’s a risk worth taking.

How to diagnose poor medical SEO?

medical SEO

Here’s a quick DIY diagnostic kit for your practice. It will allow you to directly assess if you suffer from poor medical SEO as a doctor. If you are not ranking well, the good news is that you can change this situation and make your content work for you. 

Step 1: List your top 10 income earners in private practice. To give you a few examples from various specialty areas: ACL reconstruction, antenatal care, gastroscopy, sleeve gastrectomy or anterior hip replacement would be typical income avenues for a private practice.

Step 2: Do individual Google searches from within the action radius of your practice. If you are on an overseas holiday, ask your reception team to do it locally at your practice. Search for the 5 topics and add the location. For example: ‘sleeve gastrectomy sydney’. Repeat this for each keyword and if you have various towns or locations, try the variations.

Step 3: List how many of these keywords give you a Page 1 ranking. It means that your practice shows up on Page 1 of Google Search results. Specify if they are pages showing up or ads (there would be a small note saying ‘ad’ and the result would be at the top or the bottom of the search results page).

not ranking well on Google

What do you see when you do this simple DIY diagnostic test? Only ads? You are wasting money. Unless your ad budget delivers at least once or twice that value in consultations or surgeries of course. 

And what if you don’t run Google Ads?

Over 5 of your 10 top keywords resulting in a Page 1 position? Not bad! You and your current marketing partner must be doing some things really well. In this case, make sure you have a clear action plan to move the other 5 keywords onto Page 1 so you can grow your practice for all income avenues.

Perhaps this is your situation. Not ranking anywhere on Page 1, for any of the searches? Scroll right down and book your free 1:1 Strategy right away because your practice is missing out on income.

Why so many doctors struggle with marketing

marketing challenges

So how come there are so many marketing challenges in healthcare? How come so many doctors are not ranking well and seem to have accepted that their business development only depends on GP referrals? 

For starters, there is hesitation because of the AHPRA Advertising Guidelines for Healthcare Professionals. It has long been thought that doctors can’t do anything online. That misconception is amplified each time a medical scandal is covered in traditional media.

The second challenge is the knowledge gap. As a doctor, you focus on gaining knowledge in your own field throughout your training. Once you start working, you have a window to build a career and get a return on investment. This often leads to a low level of understanding when it comes to digital strategies and the exponential growth of online technology and communication.

The third challenge is the poor quality of many white-labelled and outsourced services. A sales team sells you a marketing package. Next, it is outsourced to low-salary countries and often to a junior workforce. The high profit margins achieved by the agency won’t necessarily translate into an effective marketing performance for your practice.

You can stop struggling with these challenges right now!

My advice?

Find a medical marketing agency to partner with and bridge the gap. Get your practice management team trained so they understand how to monitor your competitive visibility and update your website, and social media in an AHPRA-compliant way. And check that your agency is not outsourcing a single aspect of your reputation management.

With a surgery in full swing, you wouldn’t handle your surgical instrument to a junior intern you have never met or assessed, would you?

The one thing to remember about private practice SEO

content strategy

Private-practice SEO is the strategy that consists of making and keeping you visible for your target audience: your future patients and the GPs in your local area. 

An easier word for Search Engine Optimisation would be content strategy. It’s all about producing a foundation of high-performing content and updating your online presence continuously so you nurture that visibility and build a lead-generation and lead-conversion system.

We can help. Just book a call and we will go over the growth opportunities for your practice.

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Take that first step today

develop your practice

Book your call today to explore how we can help you develop your practice. The first step is to get the ball rolling and inspect what you can do to use content and Google-optimisation to drive patient traffic and generate more GP referrals.  

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