Everything a patient needs to find a new healthcare provider fits in the palm of their hand. Growth-minded medical practices are conscious of how patients search online and what they see when they do. Where your practice isn’t showing up in healthcare local search results, you can be sure the competition is, and claiming market share one new patient at a time.
As healthcare consumers become increasingly dependent on digital platforms for everyday tasks, your practice won’t be in mind if they don’t see it online. Building your online search visibility begins by having an SEO optimized website. Search engine marketing is needed to drive traffic to your practice website, and for brick-and-mortar medical facilities, local search visibility is even more vital.
How Does Search Engine Optimization Work for Healthcare?
When a potential new patient searches online for medical services in your area, the rankings they see first are likely not there by chance. The providers seen on page one put time and resources into building a local SEO strategy. When it comes to being found online, there are many moving parts.
The main components of SEO for doctors are an optimized website and quality content. To best serve its users, Google wants to deliver only the best and most relevant websites first for each search performed. For example, Google can tell when pages are not built well or load slowly, hampering the user experience, and those sites are unlikely to achieve any prominent search ranking.
What Is Local SEO and What Makes It Different?
Healthcare local SEO focuses on localized search. Search engines listen for when a user is looking for goods or services near them and give the results that help them find them quickly. Even in the age of telehealth, the preponderance of healthcare services is still provided in physical facilities, and for in-person care, local search visibility is essential.
While SEO health is built on the same core essentials, local SEO is about how localized search results are processed. What needs to be done for a healthcare provider to be found in local search results by patients in the community?
READ MORE: Medical Marketing Strategies From the Experts
What to Do to Improve Local SEO For Your Medical Practice
Before we get into the finer details of local SEO, you should know what makes a strong foundation for SEO. SEO is all about how Google (or other search engines like Bing) perceives the quality and the relevance of a website. Google’s crawlers are constantly gathering data from websites all over the world, including yours.
Think of your website as a real estate property, and Google is paying a visit to appraise its value. To convince Google of your website’s value, it should be structurally sound and provide an environment visitors will use with ease.
Essentials for Improving Your Local SEO as a Medical Practice
Ensuring that your medical practice has the best chance of being found in healthcare local search results does require some effort, but setting a solid foundation is worth it in the long run.
A Fantastic Medical Practice Website is Central to Healthcare Local SEO
SEO for medical practices is all about your website’s relationship to search engines, especially Google. A website should not only be structured in a way that allows crawlers to do their jobs well, but it also should serve the user.
The core mission of search engines is to serve the best quality results for each query made. It is a matching game – pair the keywords with the best resources available online. What resources are considered best depends on website quality and relevance to the user.
READ MORE: Why the Medical Website is a Must for Gaining New Patients
Website SEO Checklist
Below are common best practices for healthy website SEO. If some of these terms seem foreign or too technical, keep in mind that these tasks can be done for you by medical SEO agency.
- Bounce-proof: There are several reasons a user would close a website tab and go to the next option on a search results page.
- Fast-loading pages: These days people expect pages to load within a few seconds, if your website takes too long to load, they will move on.
- Responsive design: Websites should be easy for visitors to navigate and use no matter what device they are on. As it is likely that at least half of your web traffic will be coming from mobile devices, it is crucial to have websites that are mobile-friendly.
- Intuitive layout: A user who can find what they are looking for right away is able to better engage with your website.
- Keyword-rich: Keywords help search engines learn what your page is about so they can connect you with your audience.
- Identify keywords: Do keyword research to identify what keywords your audience is most likely to be using when searching for the services you provide. Also keep in mind that voice search is growing in popularity and the way people vocalize a search term differs from how they type it.
- Implement keywords: Include target keywords and descriptive terms of your practice in URLs (website address suffixes), headings, meta descriptions, and image file names.
- Regular blog content: Search engines notice blog content publication – gauging if the posts are recent, high quality, and relevant to your audience. Blogs also bolster your keyword ranking strength for terms that other practices are in competition for.
- Crawler-friendly: Technical SEO can be complex, but leaning on the proven techniques of digital marketing experts is your shortcut to better search rank performance. Examples of structure best practices are:
- Location pages: Create a page for each of your practice locations, plus a map.
- Site structure: Linking everything just right so that search crawlers understand the site perfectly.
- Schema markup: Code enhancements that send clear signals about your page contents, especially your physical location(s).
Set Up and Maintain Your Google My Business Listing
Google My Business is a free service that puts your practice on the map, literally. As a local service, you have a place on localized search results pages with basic information all in one place. It is a best practice to have this listing complete and accurate including your office hours.
Google has a sophisticated algorithm that can tell when a user is looking for local goods and services by how they phrase search terms. Google will then show localized results for any of these searches.
With over 91% of the search engine market share, Google dominates. Having your Google My Business profile set up, complete, accurate, and with a growing collection of real patient reviews is fundamental for local search.
To maintain your Google My Business profile, update your hours, locations, phone number, or website as soon as there are changes. Also monitor the reviews left behind on your profile. Respond with compassion and professionalism and watch for any oversharing of personal identifying or health information.
A medical practice needs ratings and reviews with its Google business profile to attract patients and to have the best chance of being found in local searches. Along with this comes ongoing ratings and reviews management.
Update Online Reviews with Reputation Management
To earn the top three spots, the online presence of your practice must prove to Google that you are a top-notch choice for patients. To achieve this, you will need the help of your patients by having them leave reviews on your local business profile. When patients use descriptors like “best” this prompts Google to match with inquiries that contain the word “best” such as “best pediatrician near me.”
READ MORE: Answers to Your Questions About Healthcare Provider Reputation Management
Manage Listings and Local Directories
Aside from helping sort a list of providers in their area who can meet their specific needs, directories also help with local healthcare SEO.
When trustworthy sites link back to yours, that is called a “backlink” and this supports SEO health. Directory listings that include your website address give you those valuable backlinks.
These directories also generate citations (any reference of your practice) and all of these need to match so that Google directs all of this recognition to your practice. Specifically, your full practice name, address, phone numbers and web address should all match one another among all listings.
READ MORE: Deep Dive Into Why Keeping Medical Directories Updated Matters
SEO for Medical Practices is Complex – Let iHealthSpot Streamline Your Online Visibility Strategy
Being in the best position for patients to find you online, and the medical SEO health it takes to get there brings about many moving parts. iHealthSpot’s team of digital marketing experts covers all the factors of healthcare local SEO:
- Build an interactive and responsive medical website that meets Google’s quality standards, including ongoing maintenance to make changes when necessary to safeguard your SEO health.
- Healthcare SEO strategy that identifies all the keywords you need to rank for and paves the way to the first page of Google and Bing results for those high-priority terms.
- Manage all healthcare provider directory listings, including Google My Business, to ensure that your local search presence is on solid ground.
- Online ratings and reviews management for doctors to keep your online reputation on the right track.
Take the first step to gaining the upper hand with local SEO today! Connect with us to discuss your medical digital marketing needs today. Call (954) 978-2184.