What Is Patient Online Search Intent, and Why Is It Important for Doctors?

Search intent is simply the purpose of a patient’s online search. In other words, why are they searching, and what are they hoping to find?

Google has continued to evolve its algorithm over the years to understand search intent better. Keywords still play a critical role in a doctor’s SEO success, but you want to make sure that the content of your page or post is in line with what the patient is trying to find (search intent).

There are two specific types of search intent that are relevant for doctors who are marketing themselves online.

Informational Search Intent

In my experience, information relative to a health condition or question is the most commonly used search intent by patients.

This is why I create a content marketing strategy for my clients based upon some of the most common questions patients ask them.

Google’s understanding of patient-related searches has continued to evolve, and this works to the advantage of doctors who want to succeed with SEO. Why? Because Google understands that when a patient searches for a health-related question, they may also want to find a local doctor who can help them.

If you are that local doctor who has created content related to that search intent, patients will find you rather than the competition.

Navigational Search Intent

Patients may also have a navigational intent. This is just them trying to find you by name.

The very fact that patients use this type of search shows the importance of having your own personal brand as a doctor. There are two primary reasons I say this:

1. Patients relate to people, not to healthcare systems. I can tell you that after analyzing patient-related searches for years, 99 out of 100 times, patients will search for a doctor by their name, not their system affiliation. In other words, patients are much more likely to search for “Dr. John Doe Phoenix Arizona “and not “Dr. John Doe Banner Health. “

2. Your profile and appointment page may not even show up, costing you patients. Sadly, I often see this for doctors who work for healthcare systems, where their profile page does not appear in Google search. In fact, I just saw this the other day with a major university health system in the Midwest. When I searched for the surgeon’s name, everything else except his profile and appointment link on the health systems website came up. This happens all the time, and for the doctors who are not aware, it costs them a great deal of new patients every month.

The good news is that this intent is pretty easy to rank for If you have your own personal branded website and have that site connected with Google My Business.

The keywords that patients use in Google provide valuable insight into their intent. Doctors who have a solid content marketing strategy can significantly benefit by ranking for a patient’s search intent, attracting those patients to their practice.

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