Fun with keywords: The words “doctor” vs. “physician” on the HSC website
The words “physician” and “doctor” seem interchangeable when you’re writing about medical doctors on a website for a health science center, but the two words are different in at least one important way: SEO.
SEO, or search engine optimization, is basically a process of understanding the audience via their internet searches and implementing strategies to help a website rank high on search engine results. The words, images, headlines, URLs and other elements of a web page are all optimized for search at some point in the website production process.
If readers can’t find the website, it’s not going to do much good. And little details that might not seem important can make a big difference in search if the right word or strategy is used.
One of the basic strategies of SEO is identifying and using targeted keywords in web writing. Keywords are the words and phrases that are meant to predict the words that users type in search engines to find information they are looking for. Understanding keywords is very important in ranking high on search engine results. We are able to run reports that show which words and phrases users have recently typed in to search engines such as Google and Bing to find out information about topics that match the kinds of content we’re featuring on the UT Health Science Center San Antonio website. Once we know the types of words that readers are likely to use to search for information, we can choose to use those words to give our web pages a better chance to be found.
Getting back to our previous example of “doctor” vs. “physician”; yes, there is a difference if a website uses the words ‘”doctor” vs. “physician”. Doing an SEO keyword check, you would discover the majority of internet searches use the keyword “doctor”, not “physician”. We found in our audience research that “doctor” was also a word a typical consumer would use more often than physician. “Physician” might sound more distinguished or professional or you might be tempted to mix in the word “physician” in text so that the word “doctor” isn’t repeated so much, but using “physician” exclusively will cut down on your SEO. That’s because, while physicians themselves may use the word “physician”, we know through search-engine analytics that the vast majority of online searchers use the word “doctor”.
Ever wondered about popular phrases in search? Leave a comment and try to stump the SEO expert!
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