Effective search engine optimization (SEO) strategies rely upon smart keyword research. Keyword research guides content creation and helps healthcare businesses align with audience search behavior. Keywords are the building blocks of a medical practice website’s content, web pages, site structure, and meta descriptions. This article demonstrates how to choose keywords for search engine optimization based on the same research strategies used by experts.
Understanding the Fundamentals of Search Engine Optimization Keyword Research
SEO content strategy is built around what keywords a target audience is entering into Google and other search engines like Bing. Rather than simply guess what keywords your target patients are using, you can use digital marketing tools to verify if a keyword idea is even actively searched (search volume) or presents a reasonable chance of gaining rank for your website (difficulty score). Once you have identified the best keyword opportunities to get your website in front of potential patients, you can produce better content.
Why is Keyword Research Important in SEO?
By identifying the terms that your target audience is searching for, you can ensure that your content is relevant and discoverable. This helps your website appear higher in search engine results pages (SERPs), which, in turn, drives more patient traffic to your website. With the right targeting, you can even establish highly effective content strategies that easily convert visitors into new patients.
How to Do Search Engine Optimization Keyword Research: A Step-by-Step Approach
There are several approaches you can take to conducting effective keyword research for SEO. One of the most straightforward methods is to use Google’s Keyword Planner. This free tool allows you to input a keyword or phrase related to your business, and it will generate a list of relevant keywords with data on search volume, competition, and potential traffic. You can also analyze the data on the top-performing websites in your niche and see which keywords competitors are currently targeting.
Step 1: Finding Keywords
Search engine optimization keyword research is all about identifying which keyword opportunities you stand a chance to rank for, but also which ones are most relevant to your specific audience. Doing keyword research helps to optimize your website for search engines and improve your rankings on search results pages. The following tips explain how to build a solid list of keywords for SEO.
- Brainstorm “seed keywords”: “Seed keywords” are general keywords that potential patients might use to search for your products or services. For instance, if you have a medical practice, some seed keywords could be “primary care,” “pediatrics,” “cardiology,” and so on. Once you have your list, it’s time to use keyword research tools to refine your options.
- Use keyword research tools: There are several keyword research tools available, including Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush, Ahrefs, and many more. These tools offer various methods to find keyword ideas based on seed terms. For example, Google Keyword Planner gives you an estimate of how many times a keyword was searched in a month. SEMrush and Ahrefs also give you the search volume, but they can also provide a list of long-tail keywords—those that are more than two words long. Long tail keywords can be easier to rank for and bring in more targeted traffic.
- Consider search context: Search engines evaluate the relevance of content to the user’s intent behind the search query. To consider search context, try to include variations of your seed keywords that reflect how people search for information online. For example, instead of using “primary care” as a keyword, also include phrases like “doctor near me,” “healthcare services,” or “wellness check-up.”
Keywords are a core component of SEO strategy. By using effective keywords, you supercharge your content to help your website to rank higher on search results pages and attract more traffic to your business.
Step 2: Analyzing Keywords
Keyword analysis involves examining metrics like Monthly Search Volume (MSV) to assess keyword popularity. Because high MSV keywords are so popular, sometimes they can be nearly impossible to rank for. Consider targeting long-tail keywords that are more specific to your niche and achieve the same goal. Additional considerations for keyword analysis include:
- Assessing keyword difficulty (KD): Keyword difficulty analysis gives an estimate of how difficult it can be for your website to increase organic search rank. A higher KD score means that it will be more challenging to rank high for that keyword.
- User intent: User intent is the reason behind the search query. Google’s algorithms prioritize the intent of the user over the keyword itself. Being mindful of keyword phrasing ensures that you don’t put effort into keywords that don’t match the intent of your target audience.
- Current trends: Google’s algorithms are continually changing, as new trends emerge. Staying up to date with tools such as Google Trends can help you find time-sensitive keyword opportunities.
Once you’ve conducted keyword research and selected keywords to target, on-page optimization is the next step. Content developed during this process–whether it be a services description page or a blog article–should be valuable to users and include keywords in your page title, meta description, and header tags.
Step 3: Targeting Keywords
Conducting market research and studying customer behavior can help you understand what motivates your audience and how they search for information online. Who are you trying to reach? What are their needs, desires, and interests? Once you have a clear idea of your target audience, further narrow your keyword selection to those that align with their goals.
Use a Mix of Broad and Niche Terms
A common mistake with keyword search engine optimization is when it only includes broad or niche keywords. Broad terms are short and generic keywords that have a high search volume, while niche keywords can be longer, specific phrases that have a lower search volume. The key is to find the right balance between the two. Broad keywords will attract a larger audience, but they are usually highly competitive, making it harder to rank high in search results. Niche keywords, on the other hand, have less competition, but tend to be easier to gain rank for.
Use Keyword Research Tools
Keyword research tools can help you find the best keywords for your content. Google Keyword Planner, Ubersuggest, and Ahrefs are some of the popular tools you can use to research keyword search volume, competition, and cost-effectiveness. These tools can help you find and analyze relevant keywords that fit your audience-targeting objectives.
Analyze Your Competition
Analyzing your competition can help you find keywords that they might be targeting but haven’t yet optimized, giving you an opening to pursue those keywords. Tools such as SEMrush and Ahrefs will help you to understand your competitors’ strategies, including the keywords they’re targeting. Analyze their content, backlinks, and social media activity to understand their content quality, engagement, and optimization.
Refine and Optimize Your Keyword Strategy
SEO research for keywords is not a one-time task. You need to continuously refine and optimize your keyword strategy based on the changes in search behavior, market trends, and your own website performance. Use tools such as Google Analytics and Search Console to track your website’s performance, understand which keywords are driving traffic, and which ones need improvement.
Key Elements in Effective Keyword Research
Keyword research is a crucial step in optimizing your website content, boosting search engine rankings, and driving more traffic to your site. The fundamental elements of effective keyword research include relevance, authority, and volume, plus methods to better reach your target audience.
The Importance of Relevance, Authority, and Volume
When sifting through your keywords for the most golden opportunities, you can pick out which ones meet the criteria for relevance, authority, and volume:
- Relevance: Is the search term specifically relevant to what your target audience is looking for? Sometimes search terms can apply to multiple, yet completely different subjects. Sometimes you can rephrase these keywords as a workaround.
- Authority: Websites that have built up a stellar reputation tend to have near-exclusive organic rank for high-value keywords. What keywords can you choose that will help build authority and trust for your own website?
- Volume: Thanks to search volume data, SEO marketers can know whether they are fishing with a single line or a big net. Choosing keywords with a healthy search volume per month makes your SEO efforts more effective.
Decoding User Intent
SEO strategists can further refine their keyword choices based on a hard look at the intent behind certain keywords. There are three types of search intents:
- Informational: When the user seeks information on a particular topic.
- Transactional: When the user is currently motivated to buy a product or service.
- Navigational: When the user seeks to navigate to a particular website or page.
Once you have confirmed the intent behind the keywords you are considering, you can decide if that aligns with your overall digital marketing strategy.
The Power of Long-Tail Keywords
Long-tail keywords are phrases that are more specific and targeted than general keywords. They typically consist of three or more words and are often less competitive than short-tail keywords. One of the benefits of long-tail keywords is that they can attract highly targeted traffic to your website, naturally leading to higher conversion rates. Additionally, long-tail keywords can help you target specific audience segments, such as people seeking a particular type of medical treatment or service.
Utilizing Tools and Strategies for Optimized Keyword Research
SEO tools are the gateway to a keyword strategy based on key insights. The more adept marketers become at using these tools for keyword selection, the more productive content creation efforts will be.
Navigating SEO Tools for Insights
Google Trends is an excellent tool for understanding the popularity of specific keywords over time. It helps you get insights into how frequently people search for particular keywords and how the volumes vary in certain seasons. Additionally, SEMRush is a powerful tool for analyzing your competitors’ keyword strategies. It provides comprehensive data on your competitors’ keywords, including their performance and ranking position, thus helping you plan how to outrank them.
Learning from Competitors
Analyzing your competitors’ content and keywords can provide valuable insights into what works in the healthcare market. By analyzing their performance, you can identify gaps and discover new keyword opportunities. Keyword research tools such as Ahrefs or Moz, provide information on your competitor’s keywords’ ranking position and performance.
Balancing Head Terms and Long-Tail Keywords
Head terms are broad, high-volume keywords, while long-tail keywords are more specific, low-volume phrases. Ideally a keyword strategy should include a mix of both, as head terms can improve your site’s visibility and long-tail terms can drive a high-converting lead to your site. By balancing the two types of keywords, medical professionals can attract potential patients at key moments in the provider selection process.
Embracing Advanced Techniques for Sustained SEO Success
Search engines are continually evolving, and staying ahead of the curve is essential for sustained SEO success. For example, latent semantic indexing (LSI) keywords is a technique that helps us understand the relationships between words, phrases, and concepts to improve relevance in search results. Furthermore, analyzing SERPs features—such as featured snippets—can help you target high-visibility opportunities, including questions or specific keywords.
The Importance of Continual Improvement in Keyword Research
The need for continual improvement in keyword research cannot be overstated as it ensures your strategies stay aligned with ever-evolving search trends and SEO practices. Tips for keeping your SEO strategy fresh include:
- Regularly updating and refining your keyword selection to maintain a competitive edge in the dynamic digital landscape.
- Analyzing rankings to identify opportunities that target higher volume or “difficult” keywords that were previously out of reach.
- Refreshing content associated with keywords where you currently rank in the top 10, but you see potential to boost your position into the top five, three, or even the coveted number one spot.
This ongoing process of improvement not only enhances your visibility but also contributes significantly to your website’s overall SEO success.
Summary: Search Engine Optimization Keyword Research
Keyword research is all about vetting and expanding the search terms you want to target to reach the audience who is most likely to need your healthcare services. Brainstorming for keywords is a great start, but not all of your ideas will be worth the effort. Using tools with key data insights will help you list the best keyword opportunities for your content strategy.
By going through a thorough research process, you can determine if a keyword is:
- Relevant to your specific audience based on confirmed search intent of the users.
- High enough in search volume to be worth the effort it takes to rank.
- At a competition level that makes sense for your website domain authority (bigger brands have greater authority). In other words, is rank for that keyword attainable?
- Replaceable by a better keyword opportunity that has a better chance of ranking and will reach the same target audience. Long-tail keyword variations can be perfect substitutes for keywords that are more difficult to rank for.
As you check in on the performance of your SEO, you may need to conduct additional research to see where you can improve for currently ranked keywords, and where you may try for words that were previously unattainable. Like anything else in digital marketing, keyword research calls for continued refinement and adjustment.
Get Data-Driven Results with SEO Experts
Healthcare professionals enter the field to care for patients, not spend hours maintaining website content. While you may handle certain aspects of medical digital marketing on your own, SEO demands expertise and many resources for results, so digital marketing services are here to help.
Our healthcare digital marketing services include tailored blog posts, content submission, mobile friendly web design, and gaining valuable backlinks. We also pay special attention to local SEO by targeting specific office locations to help your doctor’s website ascend in search rankings. Contact us to learn more.