In terms of driving potential patients to your site via Search, no page operates as a gateway for paying customers quite like a procedure or treatment page.

These pages, if executed properly, serve many functions:

  • Attract targeted, bottom of the funnel, ready-to-purchase traffic.
  • Drive traffic for dozens of procedures and countless long-tail derivatives of those queries.
  • Establish an emotional connection with your prospective patients by sowing the seeds of empathy.
  • Solve for user intent by answering patients’ questions, even before they arise.
  • Operate as information “hubs” that demonstrate deep topic expertise for both people and search engines.

In this four-part series, I’ll cover the four steps to developing an intelligent (local) content strategy for your procedure or treatment pages:

  1. Optimize for Theme and User Intent First, Keywords Last
  2. Quick and Dirty Location Optimization Tips
  3. 3 Super Simple Ways to Humanize your practice
  4. Creating Content “Hubs” for Your Procedure Pages, Kinda like Wikipedia

When you’re finished with this series, you’ll know how to create a well-equipped procedure page that supports both your business goals and satisfies your users’ needs, and that ranks well in Search.

Who is this series for? This series is intended exclusively for private practice doctors and their staff and/or webmasters. The tactics discussed can be executed by any novice or beginner, just as long as either you or someone you know understands how to access and manage the backend of your website.

Let’s get started.

Optimize For Theme and Intent First, Keywords Last

Search (search engine optimization) has evolved.

We’re no longer in the era of “keyword density.” In fact, optimizing for keywords is more likely to get your site slapped with a Panda penalty than yield any results in Search.

We’re now in the age of Semantics, which means that the search engines understand the intent of a user’s search, and the context, meaning and relationships between the words on a page.

So instead of optimizing for keywords, optimize for intent by building your procedure pages around themes that answer your audience’s questions even before they arise.  Taking a user-centric approach to developing your procedure or treatment pages not only makes search engines happy, but it gives you the strongest possibility of turning a visitor into a patient.

Step 1: Thematic Keyword Research

Let’s use “breast augmentation,” as an example.

Start with intelligent keyword research to uncover your prospects’ intent. Rather than using every keyword research tool available (literally, thousands), just use one: Google; plus everything you know about your patients’ buying journey.

Google Autocomplete

Google autocomplete is the predictive algorithm that offers modifiers to your search query when typing…

Autocomplete predictions are automatically generated by an algorithm without any human involvement, based on a number of objective factors, including how often past users have searched for a term.” – Google

In other words, autocomplete suggestions represent the most often searched queries from users that also searched for the primary query. Since we know that these suggestions directly correlate with the primary search query (the same user is searching for both), we can infer that these suggestions also represent the user’s intent.  In our case, via Google’s autocomplete predictions, we can see that users who searched for “breast augmentation” also intended on finding information about the following:

  • breast augmentation cost
  • breast augmentation recovery
  • breast augmentation Los Angeles (Google queues in on my location using my IP address)
  • breast augmentation before and after
  • breast augmentation recovery time

Google Related Search

Related Search results appear at the bottom of the SERP, and represent, well, related searches. How are they different from autocomplete? They’re not really.

About two years ago, this feature was much more useful. In fact, it used to be a drop-down option at the top of the SERP. Now, Google reserves the right to show related searches at the bottom only when they “seem relevant enough” (which is almost always).

Using our example, people who searched for “breast augmentation” also searched for:

  • breast augmentation size
  • breast lift
  • breast enlargement
  • breast natural breast augmentation

Google uses a lot of the same search queries for both autocomplete suggestions and related searches, though there are usually a handful of different terms to pull from.

Using Google’s Related Search, too, we’re able to uncover additional search queries based on intent.

Google’s “Wildcard”

It’s like Google Autocomplete (actually, it is), but it provides some hidden gems you otherwise never would have noticed. Just add an underscore before the search query, and viola (e.g. _breast augmentation).

Sticking to our example, we’ve uncovered several more thematically (and semantically) relevant queries:

  • fat transfer breast augmentation
  • stem cell breast augmentation
  • what to expect after breast augmentation
  • post op breast augmentation
  • fat transfer breast augmentation cost

Step 2: Vertical Search

Vertical search refers to the different types of search engines that exist within your specific vertical or niche. For example, is a vertical search engine for doctors, where users can search for a doctor and for answers to questions about procedures.

Utilize medical directories and social sites (where doctors respond to real questions) like these for your intent-based keyword research. It’s social monitoring, only for doctors. is my favorite. is a close second.

Sticking to breast augmentation:

  • Breast Lift versus Breast Augmentation: How to tell which is needed?
  • Breast augmentation 3 days left. What size to get?

Questions on will uncover a treasure-trove of thematically related search queries for you to use however you’d like, whether you use them to add to your procedure page’s theme, or develop as a tangential theme of its own.

So will

Pro tip: Content from user-generated threads like these can often evoke a more psychological response from your prospects rather than an objective, factual one (like the last question above). Avoid subjective questions and stick to the objective ones.

Step 3: Building around a theme

Now that you’ve completed your intelligent keyword research, you can begin constructing a procedure page using a variety of thematically relevant keywords rather than using just one (keywords that align with your visitors intent no less).

For breast augmentation, we have the following:

Breast Augmentation

  • breast augmentation cost
  • breast augmentation recovery
  • breast augmentation before and after
  • breast augmentation recovery time
  • fat transfer breast augmentation
  • stem cell breast augmentation
  • what to expect after breast augmentation
  • post op breast augmentation
  • fat transfer breast augmentation cost
  • breast augmentation size
  • breast lift
  • breast enlargement
  • natural breast augmentation

Pro Tip: Don’t forget to consider the different ways patients (not doctors) refer to a procedure. Since patients use breast augmentation synonymously with breast implants, I also conducted the same intelligent keyword research using “breast implants” and uncovered the following:

  • breast implant removal
  • breast implant types
  • breast implant complications

After you make a list of all your thematically related keywords, your next step is to develop keywords into questions, and then answer them.

From the list of keywords in our example, we know that people searching for the keyword “breast augmentation” intend on finding information regarding:

  1. The differences between natural breast augmentation treatments and invasive procedure
  2. Selecting a breast implant size
  3. What to expect pre and post op
  4. Risks and complications associated with a breast augmentation
  5. Different types of breast implants
  6. The difference between a lift and augmentation (which suggests they want to know if they are an ideal candidate)
  7. How much breast implants cost (which also includes financing options)
  8. Before and after photos to judge quality for themselves

By spelling out the intent of our related search queries, we developed eight subheadings that we can frame our breast augmentation procedure page with, all that answer questions even before they arise.

All we need to do now is answer the questions.

At this point, don’t worry about keyword frequency in your content— at all. Just answer questions as thoroughly as possible and the rest will take care of itself.


Given that semantic search engines favor web pages that answer questions users intended on finding, whether or not the “keywords” in their query even exist on the page, “optimizing” your procedure and treatment pages (and every page, for that matter) should begin and end with satisfying your users’ needs. In order to satisfy your users’ needs, you first need to understand their intent when searching for your particular procedures. Once you understand their intent (the information they are looking for), the first step of your content strategy is to anticipate their needs by answering their questions, even before they arise.

Whether you’re a dentist, plastic or cosmetic surgeon, ophthalmologist, dermatologist, orthopedic surgeon or vein specialist (or any other private-practice doctor), you can create thematic procedure and treatment pages that rank well in Search using this method.

But you’re not done yet…

In the second installation of our “How to Win at Search by Optimizing Your Treatment Pages for Humans” series, I’ll explore why your location means so much to your procedure and treatment pages. I’ll also show you how to add authentic location-specific content to your pages, much in the same way we did with our procedure (with the users needs top-of-mind).

What Next?

•   Click here to read part two of our series, “Location Optimization Tips for Your Medical Practice.”

•   Don’t forget to share this article with your colleagues!

•  Apply what you learned and call (800) 949-0133 or schedule a one-on-one if you have questions.


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