You can spend hours and plenty of money building a beautiful looking website to shout about the fantastic things your medical device can do, but if it doesn't rank on search engines, you will miss out on a huge audience – an audience who are engaged and ready to listen since they have already taken the steps to find you.
The best part about improving your website ranking is that it doesn’t have to cost you anything and you could see a massive boost in your audience for free. It’s hard work and can be a long process, but the rewards are massive.
We're going to share our experience as a medical device marketing agency to help you understand what search engines are looking for and how medical device websites can rank higher through search engine optimisation. We will look at everything you need to know to get started, including the construction of your website, how to be discoverable, the importance of knowing your audience and why producing high-quality content is so crucial.
How do search engines work?
Essentially, websites are ranked based on which ones provide the best information and user experience for their audience. Remember, Google is a business and therefore wants to show its audience what it wants to see they will keep coming back, allowing Google to increase its users
But how do search engines decide which website is best? In order to be able to understand how to make your website rank, you must first understand how search engines work. The process of reaching these final result pages happens in three steps: crawling, indexing and ranking.
To discover web pages, "crawlers" or "spiders" scour the internet for web pages by following links. Think of these crawlers as tiny bots. They will jump from page to page, keeping note of all the sites they are discovering and clicking on the links they find to get to another page. Once they discover a new page, they will index it by putting it on a massive database of web pages. Google's index is called Caffeine. You can check if a web page is indexed by google simply by searching for "site:" followed by the URL you're checking.
When a searcher types a request into a search engine, it will check the index and return results ranked on their perceived relevance, based on the search engine's algorithms and criteria. These factors are the foundation of marketing on search engines, known as Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).
What is Search engine optimisation (SEO)?
There are 200+ factors that search engines examine when ranking web pages and there is no definitive guide on what exactly they are, so figuring them out and updating your website to meet them is what search engine optimisation is all about. We will lay out a few of the major ranking factors and how they can be applied to improve your site.
Although you could pay to get your website to rank for specific keywords, studies have shown that less than 10% of people actually click on paid advertisements.
People tend to trust search engines to organically return the results they're looking for, so SEO is super important to increase your website traffic. If you would like to learn about how you can increase conversion (website visitors becoming customers), check out our article on conversion rate optimisation.
The top factors that affect search engine ranking for Medical device websites
It would be impossible for us to cover every single ranking factor in one article, and even if we could it would be changing all the time, just as the algorithms do. Instead, we’ve laid out the top factors that are easy to tackle and extremely effective. Not only that, but they’re factors that are likely to always be considered by search engines when compiling rankings, because of how important they are.
Make sure your website is technically sound
The world of websites can be pretty daunting as there’s lots to consider and a lot of technical knowledge. Luckily you don’t have to know too much yourself as agencies and developers can handle this aspect of SEO for you, but it’s useful to know the basic information to be able to communicate effectively with them.
You may focus on how your website looks because surely the better it looks, the better it is, and people ‘will just’ find it, right?
However, it doesn't work like that as search engines don’t have eyes. Instead, they must read all the information they are given about your site’s design and how it works.
There are a few top things to consider when it comes to the technical aspect of your website.
1.1 Is your Medical device website well built?
The first thing you can do to check the construction of your site with an auditing tool to find out about your site health. Sites such as SEMrush will examine your domain and report the fixes that you could make to improve your site. These issues can range from broken links that you can fix for yourself to complications such as a lack of robots.txt, which you may need the help of a developer or agency for.
The likelihood is that you were not involved in writing the code, and most of the time, sites like WordPress, Wix or Squarespace will handle this for you, but it is important to keep in mind that these languages are what search engines will be reading.
It might seem strange that search engines can tell how useful a website will be to a searcher just by reading its code, but actually they can tell a lot. For instance, uncompressed or unnecessarily wordy code can slow a website down, or a low ratio of content to HTML will signal that the page doesn’t contain very much value, both of which will result in a bad user experience. It is important to ensure your website is healthy, so search engines know that users will have a good experience and your website will therefore be more likely to rank.
Top tip: Sites like SEMrush can audit your website and tell you the quick fixes you can make to improve your site health.
1.2 Regularly update your content
Search engines like to see how frequently a website is updated. A website that is not updated regularly signals to the search engine that the website is poorly maintained and may be problematic for users.
This is especially pertinent for medical device websites, which need to be kept up to date with the latest regulations and your device’s IFUs.
To keep your website regularly updated and fresh, there is plenty of content that you can add, such as new pages optimised for key search terms, a social media feed and refreshed links. Setting up a blog is a particularly good way to keep your website fresh, as you can set up a diary to regularly add entries that you think will engage your audience.
Top tip: Add a blog or social media feed to your website, to ensure that it is regularly updated and kept fresh.
1.3 Keep down page load speeds
Today, we are spoiled with super-fast WIFI pretty much anywhere we go. We expect everything on-demand, and when we have to wait, we get impatient. With so many possible websites to visit, it is not likely that people will stick around for a slow loading website when they can easily find a faster one.
In fact, a study found that 1 in 4 people will abandon a website if it takes more than 4 seconds to load
There are plenty of sites where you can examine your page load speed, including Google's PageSpeed Insights. It isn't too difficult to improve load speed if there is an issue, and you can make a few easy fixes. For example, using lots of large images can be highly damaging, but compressing these images is easy and will make a huge difference. We recommend large/full screen images should be no more than 1 MB, whereas most other small images can be 300 KB or less. It is best to save your images as a JPEG to maintain high resolution with a low file size.
There are many places online to compress your photos, or you may be able to download a plugin to your site that automatically compresses images for you. Be careful when installing plugins, though, as having too many plugins can slow down your website. The recommended number of plugins is 8-12, although fewer is always better.
It is also important to consider how videos may affect your website, even if you don’t use many of them. A good way around this is to use a video hosting channels like YouTube or Vimeo and then embed these into your website, then your videos will stream in the most efficient way, having minimal impact on your website load speed. Sites like Youtube are also great for providing in-depth analytics, so you can really see how your videos are performing.
It’s best to try compressing images and videos before you start addressing more difficult fixes
like minifying your website's code and examining your server response time – these are fixes you will probably need the help of a developer for.
Top tip: Embed videos on your website through sites like YouTube or Vimeo. Not only will that keep load speeds down, but it will also give you more in-depth analytics.
Ensure your website is discoverable
One of the most important things to keep in mind when optimising your website for organic search is to make sure that search engines can find your site in the first place. In order to get on their radar, you can take some steps to make sure that your site is discoverable.
2.1 How Search engines discover websites
Before you start to make changes to your website to improve its value offering, it’s important to make sure that search engines can actually find your website. This means including lots of links around your site and ensuring that the links are all still working. If you have lots of broken links, crawlers won't be able to move around your site correctly, creating a bad user experience.
Not only should you link around your site in the menu bar, but you should also be including links from page to page. For instance, you may use buttons that link to other pages, or you might just include links within the text. It is important to make it as easy as possible for users to navigate around your site.
A sitemap that lays out your website’s structure is a great idea as it will contain every link on your website and can be kept in the footer, so it doesn’t take up space on your main pages. Crawlers can quickly scan sitemaps to understand the layout of your website and index the pages.
Top tip: Adding a sitemap to your website means that crawlers can quickly scan the layout of your site and index all of your pages.
2.2 What is backlinking?
Links don't just have to be internal; in fact, many people think that earning links from external websites to your website is the most effective method of improving search engine ranking. This is known as backlinking.
Backlinking is important because each time another website links to yours, it builds up domain authority by signalling to search engines that your site is full of helpful content. It's a way of building trust with search engines. The more links you earn, the higher search engines will rank your site.
Unfortunately, there is no quick way to earn backlinks, and it is notoriously difficult.
A few ways to build up backlinks could be by guest blogging, for instance by patient groups, or reaching out to website owners if you have some valuable content of your own that you think the site's visitors would benefit from. It is essential to be patient when it comes to backlinking. It can take time and may not always seem rewarding, but it is crucial to get your website to rank higher.
Top tip: Build backlinks through networking. Reach out to website owners when you think you can offer content that will be valuable to their visitors.
Make sure your website matches searchers intent
You should always keep in mind that search engines' primary purpose is to match user intent. They are looking to produce the most relevant results to the searcher; hence, it is essential to know exactly what your audience is searching for and create content that they will find genuinely helpful.
3.1 Get to know your audience
First of all, you need to know precisely who you are targeting to figure out what they are searching for. Knowing your target audience is so important as it ensures you are bringing the correct traffic to your website that is more likely to convert. If you don’t precisely target your audience, you may be bringing in a lot of traffic, but ultimately your time will be wasted because that traffic isn’t helping you to achieve anything.
Your target audience will depend on your goals. Are you looking to increase visitors? Are you looking to increase sales? Whether it's physicians, patients or investors you're looking to engage, you need to be able to put yourself in their shoes and predict what they are going to search for.
This could simply be through market research, reaching out to your target audience and getting to know them, or it could be search engine research. Try out some searches as though you were part of your target audience. Where are you on your journey? What are you looking for, what do you need help with? Seeing search engine results for this will help you to build a clearer picture of your audience.
Top tip: There is no point in having loads of traffic coming to your website if it doesn’t convert. Instead, it is better to target a specific audience that will actually help you to achieve your business goals.
3.2 Use relevant keywords
Keywords are a great way of figuring out what your audience is searching for, and they are massively important for SEO. Compiling a keyword list is a great place to start.
One way to compile keywords is by writing down potential words and phrases your audience might search for and then typing them into a search engine to see what they return. The related searches block at the bottom of the page may give you more ideas, and you can keep doing this until you have compiled a decent list.
You can check how much traffic keywords receive through tools such a Google's Keyword Planner (you will need a Google Ads account for this, but you don't have to run any campaigns to access the tool) and SEMrush. These tools will show you how many times a keyword is searched on average and provide other related keywords.
Although this sounds easy enough, there is a lot of strategy involved in picking your keywords. For instance, choosing keywords with lots of traffic is great, but there will be more competition from other people trying to rank for that same keyword. On the other hand, some keywords may not receive as much traffic, but there is less competition, and therefore you may be more likely to rank. Getting a mixture of both high volume and low volume keywords is a way to cover all bases.
Once you have your keyword list, you should strategically place them around your site, without overusing them, they should be used within your copy only if it doesn’t sound forced. You should also try to use them in areas such as alt tags on images, and in the names of files that you upload. Remember though that using them too often can do more harm than good.
If you would like to learn more about how to do keyword research, see our comprehensive keyword research guide.
Top tip: Keyword research is a great way to get to know your target audience and what they will be searching for. Tools like Google’s Keyword Planner and SEMrush can help you to compile these lists.
Produce high-quality content
The algorithms that control ranking are incredibly complex and ever-changing, so it's easy to get lost in trying to manipulate them into ranking your content. Ultimately, search engines are looking for the content that provides the most value and is best suited to match the searcher’s intent. So, first and foremost, your goal should be to create high-value content that genuinely fits its purpose.
4.1 Always be genuine
Don't be fooled into thinking that you can trick search engines. They are incredibly sophisticated, and they can see through a website trying all of the tricks to rank without actually producing anything of value.
For instance, you can't just put your main keyword on a webpage 800 times and expect it to rank – search engines will penalise you for behaviour like this. Instead, it's better to be genuine in your approach and tackle SEO with a 'how can I improve users' experience on my website' attitude. If you're passionate about your medical device and you want people to discover it, you should translate this passion into your SEO. You have something great to share with the world, so create a great website and great content that reflects that.
Top tip: Search engines penalise websites trying to trick them.
4.2 Always create content with a purpose
Why have you created a website and all of its content? Are you hoping to be funny? Are you hoping people will learn something about your company or product? As a medical device website, it's likely to be the latter. You want people to learn about your medical device and leave your site knowing more than when they first visited and ideally you want them to move on to the next step of their journey, for instance by directing them to a contact form.
Having this purpose at the forefront of your mind when you are updating your site and creating its content will help to improve your offering. If it's not simply about ranking, then the quality of what you produce will naturally be higher and will come across as more genuine. In turn, this will help your ranking because the search engines can tell your content will be genuinely helpful to the searcher.
Top tip: Having a purpose in mind when you create content will make the process much easier and the end result will be of much higher quality.
4.3 Is your copy easy to understand?
When writing blog articles and website copy, you should always make sure that you are writing clearly and fluidly. Search engines can examine your copy to judge how useful it will be to the reader. So, you have to make sure everything you write is clear and leaves the reader satisfied, with an answer to what they were searching for. Remember, write for searchers, not search engines.
When writing, make sure that you vary your sentence length and always use the simplest terms possible. Sentences that are all the same length can get monotonous and boring, and you especially don't want your readers clicking away from your copy to look up a word you have used.
Read your writing back, preferably aloud. That will help you to spot errors and ensure that you have phrased your content in the easiest way to understand. You can also use proofing tools such as Grammarly to check that you haven't missed any spelling errors or typos.
Top tip: Read your copy back to yourself and run it through proofing tools such as Grammarly, to minimise the risk of typos.
Where should you start?
With so many different factors to consider it can be difficult to know where to start.We’ve created a short timeline that might give you an idea of how to prioritise our suggestions.
Get a clearer idea on your site health with a technical audit.
Make sure your website is discoverable and indexed by Google. Links, links, links!
Do some keyword research and get to know your audience.
Once you know your audience you can start creating content crafted specifically with them in mind.
Once your website is healthy and you are pushing out helpful content, why not start thinking about a backlinking strategy?
You may consider getting in touch with an agency to give you a clearer overview of your situation and to discuss a strategy with you. Here at Podymos we are medical device experts, and we would love to discuss your website (and more) with you. Why not get in touch with us and let us share our expertise with you!
Start now and get ahead!
Improving your medical device website ranking isn't easy. You can work at it for months without seeing any immediate results, but it’s so worth it. Organic traffic isn't only free, but it is likely to be your most engaged audience and the most likely traffic stream to convert into becoming customers. Making an effort to improve your website offering has to potential to pay off in a big way, so what are you waiting for?
About us Podymos is dedicated to proactively sharing relevant medical device marketing knowledge to expand our clients' capabilities.
At Podymos, we understand the value of knowledge. We dedicate time each week to learning something new, to keep us sharp, and ensure we always produce our best work. Over the years we’ve learned a lot, so why not share it?
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