The Difference between Ophthalmologist and Eye Doctor

April 14, 2011

In the Internet “search” world, there is more of a difference between eye doctor and Ophthalmologist than um ... meets the “eye.”

What’s the biggest difference between Ophthalmologist and eye doctor? Is it that the Ophthalmologist is an eye doctor who went to med school?

No. Keep reading. In the Internet “search” world, there is more of a difference between eye doctor and Ophthalmologist than um ... meets the “eye.”

The biggest difference between Ophthalmologist and Eye Doctor is that the term “Eye Doctor” is used much more often for a Google search than “Ophthalmologist.” “Eye Doctor” is more often used by the public.

In fact, the rest of the world doesn’t even make a distinction between Ophthalmologist, Optometrist and Optician...they just search for “eye doctors.” “Eye Doctor” is used more than 300,000 times per month in my locale, whereas Ophthalmologist doesn’t even rank.

So the difference between Ophthalmologist and Eye Doctor is that eye doctor is much more widely searched than Ophthalmologist and that is the “keyword” most often used when a patient is searching for an eye examination.

Why is this important?

In this environment, you need to be aware of what your patients are looking for and the words they using. If you are creating a URL or considering writing an article for your web site, take time to research the terms your patients would be using. The words you choose to use don’t necessarily correlate to what John Q. Public is going to use as a search term.

Google’s job is to provide relevant answers to a user’s search by matching keywords used for a search with the same keywords found in your web page. Take the time (by using a keyword search tool) to research the words the public uses on the Internet to find a topic. Examples:


• pharyngitis vs. sore throat
• gynecologist vs. OB/GYN
• near-sighted vs. myopia

Getting to know your patients, their habits, and their search terms is the key to a building a successful website and web presence.

For instance, if I am writing an article about streptococcal pharyngitis, I’d first use a keyword search tool and check the popularity of pharyngitis vs. other similar words. What I find is that the search term “sore throat” is used almost 10 times as often as “pharyngitis.”

With this information, I’ll know to write my article using “sore throat” a bit more than using the term “pharyngitis” as more people are actively using the search words “sore throat.” Google will find that my article is about “sore throats” and will rank my page higher than if I used the keywords “pharyngitis.” Google doesn’t know from synonyms (not yet anyway).

I am helping a group set up a new website. We found that in choosing their URL, we should use “gyn” instead of gynecologist as more people simply use “gyn” to search for a this type of specialist. Again, do your homework and check frequently used keywords.

Try to resist using words that the public doesn’t use. Speaking “over their head” will yield a negative type of impression and they’ll “bounce” or click away. Don’t be so … myopic!

Speak your patients’ language and answer back using their terms. Write your web posts and articles using the popular keywords used by your patients ... not your colleagues. You’ll have a more engaging web presence and will be rewarded with better rankings.

Learn more about Randall Wong and our other contributing bloggers here.