Clark Wiederhold

Orthopaedic Physician SEO: How to Get More Patients from Google

Learn how patients find your orthopedic practice online and how you can use SEO to increase your likelihood of being found online.

google search how to know if a bone is

When a patient is looking for an orthopaedic surgeon or a provider to help them with their knee pain, one of the first places they go is the Internet.

Whether they’re posting on social media, or searching on Google, your success as a provider is directly correlated to your ability to “show up”when they’re looking for you!

The practice of marketing and showing up at the top of search engines like Google or Bing is called search engine optimization (SEO) –and it’s core to any orthopaedic marketing strategy.

Will patients find you when they search online? 

The goal of search engine marketing to attract and convert more customers when they search for you or a business like yours. And it’s not just about your business name or the type of business – it’s linked to any way they would define their pain or the problem they’re looking to solve.

For example – a patient might not type “orthopaedic practice” into Google….they might choose to search for a knee pain doctor.  

With more and more people starting their health research on the internet, it’s becoming increasingly common that they search for answers about their condition or searching for “doctors near me.”  

google map screenshot

Here’s another example:

orthopedic google search screenshot

In both scenarios, your orthopaedic practice can and needs to be at the top of their search results. Here are a few staggering statistics to keep in mind:

68% of all clicks go to the first five positions in search results. 
75% of search engine users don’t click past the first page.

Wow. It’s clear that we need to spend time honing our approach so that you’re winning at the top of the search results. Thankfully there are a few key things that play into physician SEO.  

Let’s explore the relevant aspects of SEO for doctors like you, so you can make a realistic plan for your practice!

The SEO strategy for your orthopaedic practice begins like most sales and marketing initiatives – by setting your goals and identifying the audience. As you might expect though, there’s much more to creating your physician SEO strategy.  

1. Set your location and expertise

What do you specialize in and where do you do it?

We call this identifying your market because that's exactly what you're doing - and it's critical. In this case, you likely identify your market as an “orthopaedic practice in [city name].” This will drive your ability to be found online because patients will be searching for an “orthopaedic practice in [your city name]” and want tosee you at the top of their search engine results page.

If you have a sub-expertise in orthopaedics– like a specific joint or surgical procedure – that could be included here too. This is an opportunity to stand out from the competition and online noise even more.

For example, if you’re an orthopaedic surgeon specializing in ACL reconstruction from downhill skiing accidents, including those details in your SEO strategy would help your specialty practice stand out to patients who have experienced that event.

This particular example shows that it's not about stuffing a bunch of keywords into a page and hoping that we trick Google into showing it to visitors online. Instead, this page is an informative article put out by a orthopaedic clinic, talking about the things to consider when nursing an ACL injury that happened while skiing.

screenshot of google search

Keep in mind that the best strategy to be found online isn't just about the keywords "orthopaedic practice + [city name]" as that's probably what every other orthopaedic practice wants too. That's simply the foundation. Examples like this skiing article are illustrations for how patients might actually stumble upon your practice without even knowing they needed your help.

2. Determine your ideal patient type

If you think about the average patient profile, some obvious similarities probably come to mind. Your practice can do this actively by surveying patients and reviewing data, or you can do this passively by going off existing knowledge.

At the end of the day, your practice is a business and creating a marketing plan demands means focusing on a handful of ideal "customer types" (or in this case patients) is essential. When outlining your ideal patient types (we call these patient personas) make sure to include basic demographic information and consumer behavior findings like their pain points.

At a high level, your practice should know who the average patient is and what motivates them to walk through your doors.  

3. Find out what words they're using to find orthopaedic services

Once you’ve defined your goal, market, and target audience, it’s time to find out which words you need to focus on in order to improve your search engine performance -- otherwise known as keyword research.

As a physician, we don't expect you to know the extreme details of keyword research. But, having a general understanding is important. Knowing this will help you to get an idea of the types of searches your patients are using as this not only helps your search engine ranking, but also helps you understand the language they're using to describe their pain and aspirations.

To see this in action, simply go to Google, open a new window in incognito or private mode, and start searching for the terms you think patients search for. What comes up on the first page is likely a great starting point for articles or pages on your website.

You can get some ideas by simply typing in a search and then seeing what Google fills in automatically (like the screenshot below). This showcases popular searches for that keyword.

bone google search screenshot

Also ask yourself, "What does the person hope to find when they type this phrase into Google?" This is known as search context.

Google and other search engines want to do the best job at sending people to the pages and content that best satisfies the information the searcher was after. So, knowing search context and making sure your page answers their questions is key to ranking higher!

4. Create ongoing content and measure it to drive SEO results

A high performing website needs to have consistent, fresh content – not only to attract visitors but to keep them on your website. If your last update was a year ago, it leaves the visitor with a feeling of brand stagnation. Patients may assume you’re not actively thinking about and working to solve their problems.

To solve for this, create an editorial calendar that your practice can follow. Use the insights gained from your keyword research in the previous step to determine the topics that would make the most sense to write about. Lay out those ideas into a shareable calendar with due dates and writing briefs.

A few key things to keep in mind: 

  • Create content that satisfy a wide variety of search interests. This means tackling questions that may be more "awareness based" such as: Signs of a broken bone vs a sprain. You'll also want to create content that will help them better make health care decisions, such as: Questions to ask an orthopaedic surgeon before going into surgery. Think about the questions you get asked every day by patients - this is a great place to start! 
  • Take the time to refresh your content at least once a year. Update articles with new information, add new graphics, or link out to new resources.
  • What gets measured gets managed - to attract more patients online for your orthopaedic practice, you must know what’s working or what’s not. Is a certain blog post getting a lot of readers or visitors? Are website visitors converting to patients by booking appointments online from one website page more than others? These are helpful insights, and you won’t have them unless your practice sets up a system for performance measurement.  

As an added bonus, you'll likely look at a number of tools that may help you on this journey, including: 

Most of these have a free or low-cost option, along with many educational materials to help you get the most out of the tools.

Final reminder: Physician SEO is never done

Search engine marketing is a never ending process. Google and other search engines are always updating their algorithms, so you may find it helpful to utilize external resources and experts to stay engaged with the latest best practices.

The steps mentioned in this article are merely foundational items on the road to building a full fledged seo strategy for your medical practice. If you're looking for some assistance or clarity in this area, feel free to reach out to our team to see how we can help.

For more resources to help you grow your practice, browse the library of resources available through the Growth-Driven Practice Series.