I was having an adjustment at my chiropractor’s office while the chiropractor made small talk. “So, what do you do?” “I’m an SEO Specialist with WebMD.” (brief explanation of what SEO is) “Oh! Well maybe you can help me. My website doesn’t rank for _____.” “Sure I’ll take a look.”
And what I found was (but probably shouldn’t have been) shocking.
His entire site, besides the homepage, was set to not be indexed or followed by search engines. It’s the first thing I check when someone says their site isn’t showing up in search. All too often it’s the case that someone accidentally set a website to be de-indexed. And thankfully, it’s an easy fix. Or at least it would have been. I did some searching and found out that the company who created his website had created every single chiropractor’s website they had done with the same, duplicate content. Hence the reason the site was set to be de-indexed. Talk about a mess.
How can you tell if your site is set to not be indexed? Right click on your homepage and click “view page source” or “view source.” You’re looking for this tag in the code: <meta name=”robots” content=”noindex”>. If you find it, your site has been set to not be indexed in search results.
A lot of doctors like to send their patients somewhere trustworthy for additional information. I’ve heard many say they send them to WebMD (which of course makes me proud!). However, sometimes a practice wants content on its own site. This is especially true of specialists or doctors other than general family physicians.
When medical practice websites want to add content, they have two viable options, assuming they do not want to have a duplicate website.
Option 1: Write/commission original content.
Option 2: Use third party content and link back to the provider.
I always recommend owning the content on your website. It’s the best way to attract readers and good backlinks and also to rank well in search. Why does that matter? Because more readers equals more patients walking through your doors. If you don’t write it yourself, you can always hire a content marketing agency that will conduct research to produce optimal content and ensure that the information contained within is accurate. This is almost always the best way to go.
If you decide not to write original content, it’s not a bad practice to use third party content, especially if the primary purpose of your efforts isn’t to provide users with unique information.
So how should you handle a third party’s content?
Start with education-focused sites that are easy to read and understand. Keep in mind most patients don’t understand medical jargon like you do.
A very important note: you must give credit and should also link back to the site from which you are getting the content. It’s best practice and actually is good for your site’s trustworthiness to do so. Not only should you link back to the site as the source, but also implement a rel=canonical tag in the <head> section of the code. It’s a simple process, and you can find instructions here:
Once you pull in or write this information, the rest is just good website structure. In a nutshell, make your navigation easy to understand and use titles that specifically describe the content on the page. A few keywords (for internal search purposes), an enticing description, and you’ve got the basics!
One last tip:
One of the best things you can do, even if you decide not to add content to your practice’s website, is to create a Google Places page. Get your hours, phone number, and address out there for people to find when they search for your type of services in their area.
Laura Lee – Guest Blogger & SEO Specialist
Laura Lee has been an SEO Specialist with WebMD for the past 6 years. Her specialties include content management, SEO, SEM, social media, and link development. Prior to that, Laura was an English major and WebMD editorial team contractor.