SEO for doctors guide

Strategies for healthcare SEO success

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is a critical digital marketing activity that aims to improve the ranking of your practice or service provider in search engines. SEO for doctors involves making improvements to the way websites function, as well as their content to optimise the user-experience. This can help patients identify and access the most appropriate services and ensure GP practices are accessible to all.

SEO for doctors involves all aspects of search engine activity, including building a local profile, optimising the user experience of a website, identifying keywords, and creating new content.

At 42group, we provide SEO and content services for healthcare organisations and have developed a deep understanding of industry best practices. We’re happy to share our insights with you.

What is SEO for doctors?

When you type a search into the Google bar, it scours through billions of webpages to bring you what it considers the most relevant pages. Healthcare providers, including doctors, will want to ensure that their practice or healthcare service is ranked at the top.

Google is secretive about the way it ranks pages, but we know some strategies that work. Essentially, SEO is about ensuring your website functions effectively, is easy to use, contains content that demonstrates authority, and is accessible to everyone.

The most important part of SEO for doctors is ensuring GP practices are accessible to local patients. You will want to ensure that your practice website provides all the essential information patients will need (opening hours, contact number, GPs on site, etc.).

As well as providing a way for patients to engage with services, websites can also play a role in educating patients too – helping them to understand what services are available and when to access them.

Why might a doctor need SEO?

GP practices play a critical role for commercial businesses, but healthcare organisations can – and should – use the same tactics to connect with their key audiences.

Some of the reasons you may want to consider SEO for your GP practice include:

  • Establishing a new GP practice in an area
  • Improving the profile and search engine position of your local practice
  • Updating the user-experience to make the site accessible to everyone
  • Rebranding a GP practice
  • Conflict with a GP practice with the same name from another area
  • Adding additional services to your GP practice
  • Welcoming a new GP practice partner
  • Boosting your GP practice profile before sale
  • Combat negative reviews online

Benefits of SEO for GPs

Why bother with SEO for your GP practice? Here are some of the reasons why SEO is important for doctors:

  • Increases website traffic
  • Helps local patients identify their GP practice, reducing the pressure on other providers
  • Shapes customer views and interactions with the medical practice​​
  • Manages patient expectations about service delivery
  • Provides a valuable channel to educate patients and influence behaviour
  • Boosts your GP practice brand
  • Stops mis-information that can impact patient choices

Barriers to a high search engine ranking

NHS organisations do well in search engines as Google trusts the brand (like pretty much everyone else in the UK). That makes our job easier, but there’s still work to do. We often find that many GP practices aren’t investing in their sites, which can leave them performing poorly in search engine results.

Some of the main reasons why GP practices aren’t ranking highly in Google include:

  • Targeting wrong keywords
  • Website issues (insecurity, broken links, poor content)
  • Poor user experience
  • Negative online reviews​​
  • Lack of high-quality, patient-focused content

Breaking it down: The basics of SEO for doctors

We’ve explained the benefits of healthcare SEO, and some of the reasons you’re your GP practice may not be ranking as highly as possible We’re going to break SEO for healthcare organisations down into sections, illustrating the essential parts of a comprehensive SEO programme.

We’re going to include:

  • Essential local SEO techniques
  • On-page optimisation
  • Off-site optimisation
  • Content creation
  • Analytics and measurement

Each section provides a clear and easy to understand explanation of what to do, including key terms.

Before we get into the techniques, you’ll want to understand what keywords to target. We recommend that you focus on high intent searches, like practice or doctor name searches, or longer searches like “GP surgery near me”.

Don’t worry if you’ve not got these to hand. You can use a range of tools, including

SEMRush, Ahrefs, Google Keyword Planner (part of Google Ads) and even ChatGPT to identify relevant keywords.

Don’t worry if this sounds complicated, 42group’s in-house team can help. Get in touch to book a no obligation call and see how we can focus on your core audience and identify those high-value keywords.

Whether you’ve done it yourself, or worked with 42group, once you have your keywords it time to get started.

Local SEO techniques for doctors

Local SEO is about using channels to ensure your GP practice appears in local listings (like Google My Business), local directories, and other NHS partners. It’s also about

  • Claim your Google My Business listing: Google My Business is an essential source of information and a key ranking factor for Google. You can claim your listing for free and build a profile. Be sure to add photos, and ensure all details are up-to-date, including opening hours, phone numbers, and email addresses.
  • List your practice on local and medical professional directories: As well as Google My Business, you should list your practice with all local directories, including those managed by the Council, third sector, and independent organisations. This could also include engaging with local Facebook groups in your local area. Always ask for a link to your site to boost SEO.
  • Ensure details are correct with NHS partners: It’s critical that your website is linked to other NHS providers. You can conduct an audit of their sites to identify whether all information (website address, emails, phone numbers, opening times, etc.) are all correct. If you identify issues, fix them immediately – and always ask for a link!
  • Encourage patients to leave online reviews: It can be a double-edged sword, but you want to encourage patients to leave reviews. This will help boost your profile and demonstrate

On-page SEO techniques:

On-page SEO is about making changes and improvements to your GP practice website. There are lots of technical issues that can impact your website performance, which only a specialist can identify and fix.

At 42group, we use Ahrefs to helps us identify any issues with the sites that we are working on – and you can too. While we pay for the comprehensive package, the free version provides a lot of value and can help guide your on-site improvements.

Even without the detailed analytics, here are some things you can do to boost your GP practice SEO ranking:

  • Optimise titles, meta descriptions, and headings: These are key ways that Google learns about your pages. You should work through your site ensuring that every page has an appropriate and easy to understand title, meta description, and headings.
  • Optimise content: The content on your website is absolutely vital for good search engine rankings. You should ensure all content is simple, clear, and answers user queries. Here are some tips on how to incorporate keywords into your content for SEO.
  • URL optimisation: URLs (or web addresses, if we’re getting basic) are the ways that Google accesses your site and assesses its content.The URLs should be simple, clear, and logical. Here’s a guide on how you can update your own URLs. We recommend working with an expert to develop a process for every update.
  • Supercharge site speed: You will want to work with an agency or your website builder to ensure fast loading times, secure connections with SSL certificates, and mobile-friendly design. If you’re confident with what you’re doing, you can use tools like Google’s PageSpeed Insights to find ways to make your site faster.

While you can make many of these changes yourself (if you have access to the content management system), bogger changes will require a specialist. One of the most important focus areas is on ensuring your site is easy to use on a mobile phone. Most users will access your site this way, and if it’s not easy to use, it’s not going to rank as highly as it could.

Off-page SEO techniques

Off-page SEO techniques are things that you can do away from your website that can boost your search engine ranking.  These are some of the cost-effective and easy ways that you can help boost your search engine ranking.

  • Create social profiles: Social media is increasingly popular way for GP practices to engage their patients and local public. While social media activity doesn’t directly improve SEO, you can include links and to your content and site that can improve your search engine ranking. You should also encourage senior leaders in the organisation to create and maintain LinkedIn profiles.
  • Build backlinks: Backlinks are the engine room of the internet and provide validation for Google algorithms. In the past, SEO agencies would pay for backlinks, but this is an aggressive strategy that’s against Google rules. Instead, your healthcare SEO agency partner (like 42group) will work to build links organically to your website. This can be from trusted partners, like other NHS sites, listing sites, third-sector partners, and more.
  • Respond to reviews: This is something that may not boost your SEO but will have a positive impact on how your business is perceived. Whenever you receive poor reviews, you should respond to them. Of course, you shouldn’t’ elicit any patient details or comment on individual cases, but acknowledging issues and apologising where necessary is a positive move.
  • Post on Google My Business: If you’ve created or claimed your profile on Google My Business, you should start regularly posting content there. It can help boost your SEO ranking and demonstrates you’re active and engaged online.

Content creation

We can state with confidence that a fast website that’s easy to use and targeted to your local population is going to be successful in search engines. Content plays a role in establishing the relevance of your site in search engines, as well as boosting your profile. Content that directly answers your audience’s questions will boost your ranking.

  • Hyper-local content: GP practices cover a discrete area, so produce content that’s targeted specifically on your audience.  
  • Patient-focused content: Create high-quality, detailed descriptions of services that enable those who land on your website to learn about what you do, and crucially, what you don’t do. This can help patients make the best choices about where to go for treatment, which can relieve pressure on your practice. It can also boost your search engine performance.
  • Educate your audience or blog posts targeting specific queries: Focus on content that improves patients’ lives, providing insights into conditions, provides information on self-care, and service access.

It can seem like a big responsibility to create content for your GP practice, but you don’t need to spend lots of time (or money) generating it. In fact, a few blogs each week can work wonders to improve your Google ranking.

At 42group, we support GP practices to understand what their audiences are searching for and develop a content strategy that directly engages them. We work with budgets of all sizes, building a content strategy that’s focused on search engine performance but delivers value for every patient or person who reads it.

Measuring SEO strategy success

If you’re working with an agency, you’ll need to have a clear understanding of how to measure your SEO performance and the impact your investment is having. At 42group, we create a dashboard for every customer, which enables them to see what’s working at a glance. Your agency should be able to do this for you (if not, get in touch with us).

Here are some of the ways that you can measure your GP practice website performance:

  • Track organic traffic: You can measure the number of people who are visiting your website and use analytics to see what they’re doing when they get there.
  • Monitor search engine result page rankings: You can see how your business or practice is performing by simply typing your search term into Google and seeing where you rank. This is a basic solution (and rankings can and do change), so we recommend using Google Search Console to track performance, or get your agency to do it for you.
  • Detailed on-site analytics: Get your agency to report on clickthrough rates, bounce rates, and average time spent on the website​​. This can help you track visitor behaviour and identify any issues they may experience on the site.

SEO for doctors: We’re here to help

This guide provides a basic guide to SEO for doctors and should help you to manage the fundamentals yourself – if you want to. If you want to work with a team of healthcare SEO specialists, then contact 42group today.


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