If you think about your online search habits, your goal is often to find answers to questions as quickly as possible. The same is true for prospective functional medicine patients. They’re online to seek solutions for their health issues, from pain management to symptom identification.
Your practice may have the answers to their questions, but they won’t discover your services unless they can find you! The key to capturing their interest is to be at the right place at the right time with a search-optimized website.
This process can be complex, but this article offers proven guidance to start the process. Read on to learn how you can optimize your website for searches from prospective patients with insights from our Functional Medicine Patient Perception Report.
Understand the patient mindset at all stages
First, it’s helpful to know what information prospective patients need at different stages of their decision-making journey. Our Change Stage Framework is a five-step model of communication that outlines different points throughout their journey where you can deepen your connection with prospects and patients.
Here, we’ll focus on stages two and three of the Change Stage Framework: Interested and Intentional. These are the two consideration stages before a prospect becomes a patient.
During the Interested stage, prospective patients begin their online search for answers. This is where your blogs, videos and FAQ page come into play. This content should provide helpful how-tos when they seek specific information about their wellness concerns. For example, if they’re suffering from indigestion, the blog title “Seven Ways to Relieve Indigestion Symptoms Without Over-The-Counter Drugs” could land them on your site.
Patients may research and try a number of different solutions before they move to the Intentional stage. This is where they may have heard of functional or integrative medicine and they’re committed to trying your services. At this point, they’re likely searching, “Functional medicine, Boise, Idaho” or whatever city you serve.
If your website is optimized, you will likely show up on page one or two of the search results page, along with several competitors. Help them choose you by spotlighting your specialties and services, process, pricing and testimonials on your website.
Dive deeper into how you can leverage the Change Stage Framework in our latest webinar where we partnered with Integrative Practitioner.
The most common search terms and how to make them work for you
Now that you understand what content prospects need at different stages, you can begin to add or refresh the targeted search terms you use on your website.
Here are a few places you can discover useful general search terms from your existing website content:
- Services or Conditions: Identify your top five to ten services or conditions you support (or want to support) at your practice. These make great search phrases.
- First Appointments: Make a list of words and phrases your patients use during their first appointments to explain their symptoms. These could be phrases like food allergies, back pain, sleepless nights and more.
- Social Media and Newsletters: Take note of which social media or newsletter topics have the most success.
We’ve done some of the work for you to uncover effective functional medicine search terms! In our Functional Medicine Patient Perception Report, we surveyed hundreds of functional medicine patients to identify their top symptoms.
The 5 most common symptoms or issues include:
- Sleep & insomnia
- Chronic pain
- Weight issues
Prospective patients eagerly search for solutions – here’s your chance to be in the right place at the right time to show they’re being heard by someone who cares. Read on to see how you can dial in your most popular search terms.
Identify custom keywords & phrases with data you have on hand
You may have heard of Google Analytics. We like Google Search Console to help determine the exact search terms visitors use to find your site. Simply connect your domain to unlock custom insights, explore traffic and view keywords.
The Performance tab, shown below, is where you can access the search terms (queries) for any given period of time. We recommend you view three to six months of data before making major SEO decisions.
These terms, in addition to the top patient symptoms in our Functional Medicine Patient Perception Report, should be added wherever it’s appropriate on your site.
Identify popular pages & topics on your site with Google Analytics
If you already use Google Analytics, that’s a great start! You reap the benefits of looking under the hood, so to speak, of your web performance.
Google Analytics makes it easy to view your website traffic and identify which pages or topics are of most interest to visitors. In addition to keywords, this is good information to have as part of your SEO strategy because it helps you prioritize which web pages to update.
While you can measure pageviews on both Google Search Console and Google Analytics, here are some key differences between the two:
- Google Analytics: More user-oriented and provides data on site visitors who interact with your website. Primary metric: Sessions.
- Google Search Console: Primarily search-engine focused with tools and insights to help improve search visibility. Primary metric: Clicks/Impressions
There are plenty of other valuable insights you can uncover on Google Analytics and Google Search Console individually, but they’re more powerful together. Setup is straightforward and, best of all, free with a Google account!
Landing pages for popular services & conditions
After you’ve identified the search terms that drive your website traffic, you might consider building web pages for those topics. Another way to determine which topics should be on their own pages is to revisit your key services or the top symptoms you support.
If the majority of your patients come to you for chronic fatigue support and this is also a top search term, it makes sense to have a dedicated chronic fatigue page. On top of the SEO benefits, it’s easier for prospective patients to explore your website when specific topics have dedicated pages.
Read on for our most effective tips for powerful pages on your site.
Best practices for an optimized website
Keywords aren’t the only means for achieving better SEO. Here’s our checklist that we use for clients and our own web pages. Make sure every core page of your website has a:
- Title tag, up to 60 characters: This is the preview text for a webpage that’s shown on search engine results pages and in the browser tab.
- Keyword or key phrase for the primary topic: Keep this short, simple and relevant only to the specific webpage, not your website overall.
- Meta description, up to 155 characters: This is a short page summary that uses keywords or a key phrase.
- Headline with keyword or key phrase in the page content: Headlines appear at the very top of your page and validate that you have answers to the visitors’ questions.
- Standard word count: Each of your web pages should have 300 words or more.
It’s important to note that you should frequently update your site content with new articles, core page revisions and more to stay relevant with search trends.
Measure your search efforts with Google Analytics
Once you’ve added popular and custom keywords to your website and additional service or symptom pages, you’ll want to measure your SEO strategy’s success. Google Analytics, once again, is the tool we favor for this. It helps you:
- Review traffic on different web pages: You can evaluate which pages perform well and which need some attention.
- Evaluate where your website visitors come from: Do your visitors find your site through social media? Or organic web searches? You can find this out, plus, where they are located in the world.
- Identify bounce rate & time on page: You want a low bounce rate because it indicates that visitors do not immediately click away from your site within the first few seconds. In other words, they’ve found what they’re looking for because the content is valuable or interesting.
SEO at work for an Austin functional medicine practice
For Infinity Wellness Center in Austin, Texas, we combined all the SEO tactics above to increase their search visibility. After six months of focused SEO, their site metrics improved across the board, which resulted in more patients coming through the door. Their website received more visitors and page views, longer time-on-site and a much lower bounce rate.
After we updated their site’s SEO and launched paid Google Ads, Infinity Wellness Center, SEO made their budget work smarter, not harder. Learn more about their SEO and SEM performance here.
Increase your search visibility and gain more website visitors
Organic SEO is an important part of your patient acquisition plan, no matter the size of your practice. This is why it’s crucial to create valuable content that speaks to the issues your patients face and how you support them. Download our Functional Medicine Patient Perception Report for more insights.
This article is a roadmap for a sound foundation to begin your SEO strategy. When you’re ready to go deeper and make your website even stronger, connect with our team of experts.
About the Author
Megan Factor is a Content Manager at Muse and a passionate creator, both professionally and personally. She developed her content marketing skills working in a wide range of industries and pulls inspiration from her diverse experiences. Her keen eye for design, penchant for writing, and love of good storytelling work together to create meaningful content that provides value to clients.
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