Fast Medical Website SEO Audit: Three Surprising Results in 3 Minutes

Online marketing for medical practices
Online marketing for medical practices: choose your provider carefully!

This morning I did a quick free website review for a potential client, a solo practitioner in the health care field. They use a service “specialized in their industry” for web development services. No doubt they are charged a monthly fee of some sort for SEO (search engine optimization) and website maintenance. I don’t know for sure. The site, while pretty generic, was appealing enough on the front end, the part patients and potential patients would see. Short of suggesting that an email marketing signup form could be a helpful addition, along with some social media interaction, I didn’t make many design recommendations. But within three minutes of reviewing their website, I found this information in their back-end code:

1. Over 100 keywords stuffed on the home page.

There should be less than this number of keywords by a factor of about 90%! Among the “helpful” keywords jammed into their code: “doctor, Doctor, DOCTOR, help, Help, HELP, hospital, Hospital, HOSPITAL,” … you get the picture! This was not a surprising result to me, as it used to be a common “seo” practice. However, it’s a big “no no” as Google is hip to these shenanigans. What the practitioner might be surprised to know: this code can actually result in the website being penalized by search engines. Why pay for that? I did, however, get a healthy free chuckle out of “help, Help, HELP.” I happen to know that the Hippocratic oath contains advice to practitioners

2. Local search keywords missing completely.

Of the more than 100 keywords on the home page, the number that related to the practitioner’s name, location, or service area? You guessed it: zero! As a practice with a small, local service area, they are missing the boat here. Patients searching for them after a friend recommended their name, or knowing they practice in a certain town, will surely enter that information when doing an online search for a medical practitioner. Information on name and location are important keywords in marketing a practice online.

3. Misleading (I’m being polite here) keywords.

medical practice marketing challenges
Marketing the practice online shouldn't be a headache.

Ok, so this is a healthcare practice. Their focus is on health maintenance and wellness for families. Keywords on their About page included “myspace, paypal, Viagra, Zoloft, Alli, Chantex, Advil” and other basically irrelevant topics. No doubt the practitioner did not request to be advertising for “myspace,” is not focusing on only providing wellness services to those taking “Viagra,” and wouldn’t want the practice name and location to be handled as an afterthought – which it is. The page has nothing to do with “myspace,” “Viagra,” or even “Advil” and again Google will see that its keywords and on-page content do not jive.


What bothered me most is that if I had not taken a quick three-minute peek into the website as part of a complimentary website audit, this practitioner would have no idea about these results. Why would they? They’re busy serving patients, not looking over the shoulder of their website maintenance service – which is as things should be! This is why practitioners like this hire firms like SmartSite Consulting – so they don’t have to become experts in online marketing, search engine optimization, etc. I have years of personal experience in the healthcare industry myself, and know many medical doctors, specialist practitioners, and associated wellness practitioners (nutritionists, chiropractors, massage therapists, etc.). They are busy enough serving patients in this crazy health care environment we keep trying to reform. One would have hoped that a service specializing in their industry would at least offer best practices in internet marketing, helping practices be most successful. Call me Pollyanna, but I don’t think Viagra needs this kind of marketing help. Surely their pharmaceutical marketing budget far outweighs what this small local practitioner can afford for some online marketing of their practice!