Measuring Success of Medical SEO – Rankings

November 1, 2016

Doctors and healthcare practices come to us with keywords in mind they want to rank number one for. Rankings are not the best way to measure the success of your SEO. Why? Because the search engine results change depending on where someone currently is, what device they are using, if the person is signed in to their Google account, and more.

Rankings will fluctuate because search engines are always trying out new ways to display their search engine result pages, testing click-through rates on results, and more, which is why they are not the most reliable metric. Rankings have their place in measuring the success of an SEO campaign because they are good indicators of the campaign’s health. As long as most keywords and the primary key performance indicators (organic conversions and traffic) are moving in a positive direction, the campaign is in a healthy place.

Content Quality

Pages that struggle to rank are also indicators that there may be room for improvement on the page’s content. We find sites lacking the features of basic SEO, like including the location of the practice in title tags or keywords on a treatment page. Search engines are improving how well they crawl content and understand its context on the page. Beyond the crawler’s capabilities, we can use Schema code for healthcare to enhance the content quality to potentially boost rankings.

Technical Incompatibilities

If the site never ranks, there might be technical deficiencies. During the website development phase, your medical website company will make it so that search engines will not be able to crawl your website through the robots.txt file. If the website goes live with the robots.txt that blocks everything, search engines will not rank your pages for desirable keywords to drive patients. It is important to check to see if your pages are even ranking in the search engines in the first place using a “site:” search. If the page you are trying to rank is not showing up, your site has a crawling and indexing issue.

Links - Quality & Quantity

After your site has been optimized for the major ranking elements and is technically-sound, you might stay behind your competitors. The last factor in the SEO puzzle for you is authority, which is built through acquiring links from other websites on the web. External links, normally the blue text that takes you to another website, are how other websites tell search engines that your site is authoritative. More quality links typically means higher rankings.

Keyword Variations

Different factors go into ranking individual keywords, so how a search engine ranks sites for a keyword might be diffserent for another. This is why it is important to provide a holistic user experience on your website with content optimized for keyword variations and links from a variety of reliable, authoritative sources.

Penalty Signals

Rankings can be a valuable asset to determine if your website was hit with a manual or algorithmic search engine penalty like Panda or Penguin. If a page suddenly tanks in rankings for multiple keyword phrases without you making changes to that page, we know something happened, potentially in a bad way. Using ranking data, Google Search Console, and Google Analytics, we can diagnose whether your site has been penalized and come up with the correct course of action.

Good Indicator of SEO Campaign Health

Again, because there are features search engines continually add, it is valuable to watch rankings but not to completely measure your success on them. The changes Google and other search engines implemented can be drastic, which could make focusing on the rankings of one or two keywords in a short period of time not worth the effort or smart to make decisions based upon a small dataset.

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Measuring Success of Medical SEO Series:

  1. Conversions
  2. Organic Traffic
  3. Engagement
  4. Rankings