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The healthcare provider's guide to local search optimization, part 1

Everything you need to know about local search: How Google determines your practice’s rank and how to optimize your way to the top.

local medical and healthcare providers

When your patients perform a local search for a medical provider in their community — as more than 77% of prospective patients will do this year — you want your practice to be one of the first they see.

It’s common sense, but it’s also been proven: Studies show local and organic search delivers more ROI than any other marketing channel with the highest number of clicks and best quality of leads.

local healthcare providers

How Google Determines Local Search Rankings

While Google is protective of exactly how they determine local search rankings, they do release recommendations. Recently they revealed that local search rankings are based on three factors: relevance, distance, and prominence.


Google is 100% on the side of the user, which is how they’ve become, and remain, the leading search engine. Google’s algorithm is intended to find the best answer for each query. To optimize your relevance, anticipate the ways that prospective patients look for healthcare professionals like yourself. Are they searching for a particular service you offer? Searching for a provider who takes their specific insurance plan? Searching for a provider affiliated with a particular hospital?

If you put up a site with generic content, you’re missing out on local search opportunities. (More about practice website must-haves here.)

Your Provider Website and Review Sites Should Feature:

  • A list of all providers along with bios that include schools, professional associations, career highlights.
  • If you have one, a list of all members of the advisory board and their bios.
  • Surgery centers or other facilities which your practice affiliates with.
  • Insurance providers you accept.
  • All Services: (e.g., Botox injections, gastric bypass surgery, ViPeel)

Example: Dr. Amersi's Services Page

Dr. Amersi gives herself an SEO advantage by listing all her medical services (this isn’t even the full list!) If a patient is searching for, say, a local OB-GYN that performs the MonaLisa Touch procedure, Dr. Amersi ensures they’ll find her.

local healthcare providers

Example: Dyspareunia In-depth Service Page

She goes one step further, as each specific service links to an informational page for that service: this one for Dyspareunia. This page educates prospective patients, provides more rich content, and adds extra SEO benefits by utilizing strategic keywords. Adding frequently asked questions gives providers an opportunity to be thought leaders and add SEO weight.

local healthcare providers


Google wants to highlight the most relevant businesses that are also closest to the user’s location. If you want to take advantage of their focus on proximity, ensure that your medical practice’s address is accurate on your site… and everywhere else you’re mentioned online, including local business directories, business review sites, and healthcare directories.

Finding each place you’re listed online takes quite a bit of scouring, but if they list an outdated — or just plain wrong — address, phone number, or hours could affect how close you appear to the user.

List your practice’s correct business hours, and ensure they’re accurate across the sites listed above. This is important especially for mobile search, where a user can filter for businesses close to them which are open at the time of search or at a particular time.

local healthcare providers

Maximize your search rankings by claiming and optimizing your Google My Business listingyou’ll show up on Google maps as well as search results.

If you want to see how your practice appears across the web, you can use our free practice scan tool to find any inconsistencies.


Google plays its algorithm pretty close to the chest, but this last pillar of local search factors in how well-known a business is. Prominence takes into account how much information Google can find about your practice — the more the better. It also takes into account your organic search rankings. To build prominence, build your presence on the web.

Ensure you have links back to your site from:

  • Articles about your practice: If you find a piece written about you and it doesn’t link to your site, contact the author and ask if they’ll add one.
  • Online business directory listings on sites like Google, Better Business Bureau, yp.com, etc.
  • Healthcare sites listings like Healthgrades and Vitals.com.
  • Review site listings like Yelp and Angie’s List: The quantity and quality of reviews factor into your ranking.

Remember the Basics

The ABCs of SEO still apply. Ensure your content is well-written and includes pertinent keywords, your page loads quickly, and your site is responsive to different devices. And always stay up to date on changes and Google recommendations.

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PatientPop is the leader in practice growth with the only all-in-one solution that empowers healthcare providers to improve every digital touchpoint of the patient journey. As experts in the healthcare technology space, PatientPop makes it easy for providers to thrive in the consumerization of healthcare and promote their practice online, attract patients, and retain them for life.

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