SEO for Optometrists: Everything You Need to Get Started Ranking in Google
We answer questions about what search engine optimization looks like for an optometry business, why it’s uniquely important for healthcare, and how you can grow your digital marketing at scale.
Note: Much of this information comes from our free guide, Everything You Need to Know About Optometry Marketing. Read it for more in-depth information.
We do this for a living….
Our marketing team includes Tyler and Christine, a husband and wife, digital marketing pro and optometrist combo who are the co-founders of OptometryMarketing.com. We give optometry practices the best of both worlds (digital marketing/seo and eye care practice experience) and have proven our strategies time and again.
While we know we don’t have all the answers, our marketing tips are the best place to start getting more business. Want to know more?
What is SEO and why does it matter for optometry practices and opticals?
SEO can be your secret weapon to grow your practice
Each day more and more people search on Google. Gone are the days of Google being reserved for only the most random questions. Google search is now one of the main sources for information on businesses, products, and even healthcare.
Especially as an optometrist, your online visibility has a real-life impact for people.
SEO for Eye Doctors
So, SEO is a big deal. How do you leverage it to get more patients for your optometry practice? Let’s start with who you’re trying to market to in the first place.
Who is your customer?
Ultimately, your patients are your focus.
Getting potential patients to schedule appointments and become long-term patients is how you do–and keep doing–the job you worked so hard for! Your customer is the single most important factor in building your business.
Marketing is about getting in front of the right customer with the right message at the right time. That’s it. If you can do that, you’ll grow your business and succeed.
We help you meet online searchers where they are searching and move them into a long-term, healthy relationship with you. This is one of the ways search engine optimization for optometry differs from that of other industries. It’s also the reason your overall online visibility is vital to your success.
Give the People What They Want (Understanding Search Intent)
Customers can be organized by search intent. Search intent, simply put, is how likely a person is to become an immediate customer.
There are high-intent customers, like someone who needs an eye exam or other vision services as soon as possible (for example, someone who just received an airsoft BB to the eye while babysitting–true story). Then there are low-intent customers, like people who don’t have noticeable vision problems.
Strategizing your SEO campaign by intent will make your money more efficient and your marketing more effective, getting your website more traffic.
Again, search intent indicates the immediacy of a customer’s chances of becoming your patient.
It does not indicate the quality of a lead or the worthiness of marketing to those individuals–that’s up to you and your goals.
Your SEO efforts will only be as effective as your ability to recognize, target, and market to people with the intent that best matches your goals.
Not sure what your goal should be for digital marketing strategies? Get in touch, we’d love to clear things up for you.
The Four Parts of SEO for Optometrists, Opticals, and any other Local Businesses
SEO stands for search engine optimization. To break it down, Google is a search engine, and we’re optimizing, or improving, your company’s ranking performance for user searches.
There are other search engines that offer the same service, like Firefox, Bing, and Safari. Google, however, is the most-used search engines so we use it as the standard to get the most bang for your buck.
Part 1: Keyword Research
Whenever someone begins an online search, they always start with a keyword or query. This could be “Optometrists in Austin” or “Eye Doctor” or “Glasses near me” or something similar.
In order to rank for these searches, you first need to understand what are the keywords my potential patients are using? That’s the point of keyword research.
Keywords are the hinge on which effective SEO strategies turn. If you include the right keywords on your website content, Google will begin serving your practice website to more prospective patients and ranking it higher for searches.
Side note: The keywords you think most important don’t always include the terms or phrases your target audience is using to try and find you.
Keyword research takes time
If you want to save some energy and time, email [email protected] for our list of the most popular google search keywords for optometry services. Our team of search engine optimization experts provide SEO services to a number of optometry practices and have built a proven list of general search terms.
What’s the purpose of search engine optimization for my website?
If your website doesn’t show up in the results of a relevant online search, you are throwing away your hard-earned marketing money and missing opportunities to grow your business. Would a salesperson neglect making sales calls? It’s hard to imagine, but that’s what you’re doing if you don’t have effective optometry SEO.
Side Note: While you need to have certain keywords on pages of your practice website, you also need to make sure those keywords are part of high quality content. More on that later!
What if I don’t have a website!
Don’t worry! We are experienced with new website development and can get you started on the right foot. It’s just one of the services we provide as an SEO company!
Part 2: Technical SEO
Once you understand what keywords people are using to find you, you need to take a look at your website itself. Specifically, we’re talking about site architecture, loading speed, and other “technical” factors. If you’ve ever talked to an SEO expert and been confused by the laundry list of changes they want to make to the site, most of those changes are likely technical in nature.
Technical SEO isn’t enough to rank a site by itself, but it is critical if you want to compete.
Technical SEO is the bass of this four-part SEO harmony. Title tags, meta descriptions, and website architecture (to name a few) are the anchors of on page SEO.
To rank websites, Google performs “crawls” of the web. To have a page rank high you want to make it easy to navigate for people and for Google’s crawling robots.
Designing your website title tags, meta descriptions, and overall site architecture to make the robots’ lives easier will help you rank higher.
Title Tags and Meta Descriptions
Two of the biggest (and easiest) changes to make our updates to title tags and meta descriptions. Both of these help people who are searching online decide which site to click on. They also function to guide Google crawlers. Here’s what they look like on a search engine results page:
As a general rule, you want to make sure your title tag structure is consistent throughout your website’s pages. Also, shorter is better.
Meta descriptions are the short blurb you see which gives you a preview of what the page is about. These are limited to 160 characters, so you want to be concise and register as many important keywords as you can while still being readable and informative.
Make sure you look at how your meta descriptions show up! In some cases, you may need to shorten them more.
Title: “SEO for Optometrists: Every…..”
Meta description: “We answer questions about…”
Schemas and categorizing. How you set up your website’s organization matters. Many website building tools have options for schemas which align your formatting with a “type” of website (ecommerce, for example).
The type of schema is something robots look at for determining where your pages show for Google searches.
One of the best ways to have quality website architecture is to imagine yourself as a customer. Are you able to find a page you were looking for in less than 5 clicks? As you were clicking on different links, was it clear where you were going?
Making sure your entire website is easy to navigate is one way to tackle two problems simultaneously. You will get lower bounce rates as people know how to get where they want to and your pages will be selected by robots because they can find and crawl them.
If your page doesn’t load within a few seconds, there’s a good chance someone will look somewhere else–and may avoid your company in the future. Make sure your site loads quickly!
We have access to a number of tools to assess your site and individual page speed and can help you optimize for this without sacrificing content
There are dozens of other factors on the technical SEO side, but these are a few to start looking at right away.
Part 3: Content Generation
Great, now you know what keywords people are using to find you and you’ve got your site in tip-top shape. Next, we use the keyword info to figure out which types of content (pages, words, video, etc.) you need to add to the website.
Content is the main course of your page. As important as it is to use the right keywords and to have effective internal and external linking, you cannot neglect the quality of your on page content.
Engaging copy, great visuals, and helpful information will keep people on your site (and hopefully turn them into customers). And when searchers are happy, Google is happy and rewards you accordingly!
This is a good time to mention a big no-no: keyword stuffing.
Balancing user experience (UX) and SEO is a blend of art and science. You want to have the maximum number of targeted keywords without looking like you’re trying too hard.
Most people have pretty good BS radar, and–impressively–Google’s is getting better. It’s best to find the subtle medium at which you rank higher but don’t repel people by appearing “spammy.”
Balancing SEO and UX results in web pages that not only rank higher than others but also get read through and linked back to. It’s a lovely cycle if you can nail the execution.
EAT: Expertise – Authority – Trustworthiness
Believe it or not, Google has human employees who review websites for their credibility and rank them. This is a golden opportunity to use your evidence-based research skills from school!
There is no established method of measuring your own website’s EAT score. This is a big problem for some industries.
Healthcare has it easier in this regard. Applying best practices for EAT is as simple as transitioning your research practices to your content production. While it’s a familiar concept for health professionals, the responsibility to abide by these rules is greater.
Google knows this! As your website is evaluated and pages are scored for ranking you need to make sure all content is accurate and up-to-date. Let’s take it a step further–you can improve your score and rank by linking your content to credible, established organizations or governing bodies in optometry.
Such websites typically have high EAT scores, so by linking to them you’re telling Google, “Hey! We’re trustworthy experts too!”
Because links from and to your page include properties that are off-site, these types of practices are called off page SEO.
Part 4: Backlinking
At this point you may be thinking, “Okay, I know what people are looking for, have built a solid technical foundation, and produced great content. That’s all I need, right!?”
Not quite. There’s one more thing: backlinks.
How does Google know your content is better than your competitors? In the early days of the internet, this was a tough problem to solve. You could “cheat” your way to the top by stuffing keywords in your page and doing other shady tactics.
Then Google came along. They were the first search engine to pull an “index” of the entire web. Instead of looking at web sites individually, they looked at the relationship between websites. This relationship was based primarily on links.
Links, or more specifically, hyperlinks allow you to click on a text or image to go to another page. They are simple, but powerful.
While you’re boosting your website credibility with evidence-based, relevant pages on eyecare and vision topics, you’ll be simultaneously improving your on page SEO. On page SEO is the measure of your individual page’s SEO ranking, which contributes to your website but has the benefit of operating independently.
A big takeaway here is that optimizing just one page for on page SEO with keywords and off page SEO by links to expert sources can increase the web traffic of prospective patients to your website.
Another kind of linking is backlinking. Backlinking involves both technical strategy and effective networking. If you have a published, peer-reviewed article on myopia in children, for instance, a link back to your website from a summary on a credible website like the American Optometric Association will do wonders for your EAT score.
Types of Links
In any discussion on links, it’s important to know that there are two main types of links: internal and external.
Internal links allow you to show Google which pages are more important. You can build a hierarchy of pages and content to ensure that the important pages are more likely to rank.
Here’s a good example of an internal linking structure.
External links are from other websites back to your website. These links from websites that you don’t own or control are like votes of confidence, or credibility. The better and more influential the site that ranks back to you, the better off you are.
Good internal and external linking are both critical to ranking–especially in competitive markets.
Important point: ALL SEO IS NOT CREATED EQUAL. Real, quality SEO requires a customized solution for your practice, your market, and your needs. Many companies will promise “SEO” but, when all is said and done (and you’ve paid up), all they’ve done is update a few title tags and write random blog posts.
Unless you have zero competition, we can virtually guarantee you WILL NOT get the results you want with this strategy.
At OptometryMarketing.com, we focus on giving you a customized, labor-intensive solution for your practice – which is different from a lot of the “copycat” type services that promise great SEO.
If you’re only paying around $300 for “SEO”, just be aware that they aren’t giving you a custom solution.
What’s more, if we’re working with one of your competitors, we’ll likely crush you…sorry, it’s not personal. 🙁
What can you do, then?
Should You Invest in SEO for Your Practice?
You might expect a company that specializes in SEO for optometrists to answer this question with a resounding “Yes!”
But we’re honest and we care about your short AND long-term goals.
If you need results now or you’ll go broke, don’t invest in SEO. Although SEO is a huge asset to your business, it takes time to implement.
Definitely do SEO if:
- There’s a ton of competition in your marketplace. While difficult, SEO can be worth it and might be essential in this case. If competition is sparse, SEO is low-hanging fruit! It should be part of your plan and will give you a definitive edge when new competition enters your market.
- You already rank well, but aren’t in the top 5 spots. If this is your situation, there are likely big areas to improve so you can rank higher above other companies. However, since you’re already on the first page, these incremental improvements should be easier.
Do you meet these use-cases? Next up we have some road-tested and eye doctor-approved steps for you to take!
Practical Ways for Optometrists to Improve SEO
The digital marketing strategy of search engine optimization is different for healthcare businesses like optometrists, eye care practices, opticians, and eye doctors.
Few realms are as complex, individualized, and essential as healthcare–not to mention the entry requirements to practice in the field!
Search engine optimization (digital strategy as a whole) is just as complex, individualized, and essential for healthcare businesses.
Let’s continue on practical, high-return strategies like local SEO for eye doctors and your specific practice website EAT.
Local Listings and Search Engine Results Page (SERP) Rank
“Wherever you go, there you are.” – Confucius
“Wherever you SEO, there you get super qualified leads and dominate the search engine results page.” – OptometryMarketing.com
Open another browser window and try searching “optometrist in [your city].”
Your SERP (search engine results page) should look like this:
What’s going on here? Google has recognized that you’re trying to find results near your physical location. Therefore, it provided you with organic search results, aka Google My Business (GMB) aka Google Places aka local listings.
Just like a rose by any other name, what you call these doesn’t matter. But what are they?
These results (we’ll stick with “local listings” for this post), show up above the organic search results in Google and give you a quick list of all the businesses that meet your search requirements. You’ll see a similar results page if you search for restaurants, music stores, lawyers, or any other local business.
Since this is where local businesses show up, with convenient links to make phone calls and a map showing where you are, ranking here is extremely important for your SEO strategy.
Side note: If you’re tracking clicks or phone calls from your search results, make sure to add clicks on your local listings. Google doesn’t do this for you, and you may see a drop in search clicks if you have an increase in clicks on your local listings.
How to rank higher for your Local Listing
At the bare minimum, you need to get a Google account and set up your business there. Make sure all of your information (including address, phone number, hours, and contact info) is entered correctly. Update this when anything changes.
Before you have a chance of ranking anywhere else you need to take this first and most crucial step. Local SEO success depends on you having this account and making sure it’s accurate.
Once you’ve made your Google My Business account, you can move on to getting properly optimized for the three factors Google uses to determine rank of local listings: Relevance, Distance, and Prominence.
Right, you can’t change your distance from a potential customer (unless you set up a new clinic because you have too many new patients!). Just make sure your address is accurate, otherwise you’ll be hurting your reputation if these new patients can’t find you.
We do a deep dive on relevance and prominence in our free guide, Everything You Need to Know About Optometry Marketing. Here are a few practical tips to boost your local listing rank.
- We’ve said it once but we’ll say it again, set up your account with Google
- Ensure all relevant info (what optometry services do you provide?) is present and accurately accounted for
- Add photos and your logo–you will be judged by these, make them good!
- Do basic (or advanced) SEO on your practice’s main website
- Try to get as many positive online reviews as possible (encourage clients to leave re-
views when appropriate)
- Work on building your brand across the web by setting up other local listings on similar websites (Yelp, etc.)
Local SEO is one of the more complex SEO services we provide. It involves back-end strategy and correct monitoring. Starting with the aforementioned steps will set you on the right path. If you want to get to the next level, schedule an appointment with us and we’ll share some of our secrets!
Other best practices for digital marketing and SEO
Want to do more? Here are some additional tips for digital marketing strategy and SEO
Your local listing account opens you up to receive online reviews. Reviews are great. They are one of the key factors google searchers use to make decisions.
Reviews as Reputation Management
Your website is one way to tell potential patients who you are and what you’re about. The reviews you receive and your responses to the reviews you get paint a more authentic picture for searchers.
Reputation management through responding to reviews is a simple way to boost your brand and can be the reason someone chooses your practice over another.
But responding to reviews takes time!
Yes, it does.
You can assign this task to a team member in your office or share the load. Whichever you choose, we have seen some added benefit in a “signoff” listing the responder’s name.
A personal touch delivered through digital means is worth your time! Whether or not you can tell, people notice these behaviors and make decisions based on them.
We mentioned google being the most popular of all the search engines. Tailoring our SEO services to Google’s standards allows us to cover the most bases at once.
Google’s digital prominence lends itself to effective marketing in more ways then search engine optimization.
Paid ads, or “pay-per-click” ads can be effective and lucrative for your optometry marketing. Paying for these kinds of ads ensures that your website shows up for specifically targeted keywords–or doesn’t show up for specific keywords (optometry vs ophthalmology, for example).
Paid ads also allow you to more specifically target your audience. If you specialize in fitting contact lenses or diabetic vision, you probably want to see more patients in that demographic. Google ads gives you tools to target keywords and specific audiences based on location and demographics.
Should you use Google Ads?
It kinda sounds like a win-win-win scenario, right? More specific targeting, better positioning on SERPs, lots of optimization tools to play with…
Depending on your specific, local market Google Ads may be helpful. In other situations, however, you may want to hold off on budgeting for them.
What makes pay-per-click ads effective?
Two main things here:
- Local competition
- If there is so much competition and you don’t have time to wait for the full effects of SEO, a paid ads campaign can help you get noticed.
- If there is so little competition that new patients would not know to search for you or your business, paid ads might be a temporary solution to get your office showing up in SERPs and getting new patients in your door.
- Are you seeing a trend here? Search engine optimization has no side-effects. We will almost always recommend that optometry practices wait to pay for ads until their SEO is up-to-par.
If you do have SEO (including local listings!) down pat, investing some of your marketing budget into paid ads through Google could help further establish your practice as the go-to office in your region.
Ultimately, we want to help optometry practices be as good online as they are in person
This is our motto and we love living by it!
An increasingly digital marketing landscape can be daunting. We’re here to guide you through the hills and valleys of online marketing and get you more new patients for your optometry practice.
Are you ready?
Have more questions? Seriously, get in touch with us. We’d love to sit down and chat about your goals and how we can help make them reality.