It should come as no surprise to learn that the majority of patients looking for a new doctor or healthcare provider will rely on the internet to find their best local options. Patient survey research by PatientPop shows that 75 percent of patients have searched online for a provider or medical care.
Whether patients are looking for a doctor or researching a condition, they’re most likely to head for the same search destination we all use for just about anything: Google. This is why SEO strategy is so important for independent healthcare providers.
Local businesses — and local medical practices, in particular — are featured beyond search engine rankings and their own website. People also seek information on healthcare and business listings directories. On these and other prominent medical websites, patients find information about local providers and find additional resources they can turn to for answers.
Every place you appear online creates a huge acquisition opportunity for your healthcare practice. It’s another place where patients can find you, read your online reviews and content, and book an initial appointment.
In part one of a three-part blog series on how your practice can improve your local search results ranking, we’ll cover basic steps to claim and optimize your online business listings to improve your SEO strategy.
What is local search?
Local search is an online search that’s focused within a specific geographic area.
People often don’t want to go too far away when they search for things like a restaurant, store, or doctor, so they often search for services near their current location.
Whether a prospective patient uses their desktop or mobile device, Google and other search engines are adept at identifying where that person is located and will deliver the most relevant information in a limited geographic radius. They can even be actively moving (walking, in a car), and search engines will change the results based on location.
Often, searchers themselves will use keywords that include a geographic location, such as [dentist chicago] or even [podiatrist near me]. You can prepare your practice profile so that it appears in search engine rankings for those local patients.
The following steps show you how to claim and optimize your business listings online, and explain why that matters for SEO for doctors.
Local SEO for healthcare: 3 proven strategies
1. Discover which online directories list your practice and claim ownership of your profile
Google My Business (recently renamed Google Business Profile) is the most important online business listing to your practice. Google has held about 88 percent of the search market share every month since the end of 2016. It is prominently displayed on Google organic search results and in Google maps. Google My Business is also where patients are most likely to look for online reviews.
At the same time, there are dozens more online business directories, including Yelp, Bing, WebMD, and Vitals. These important sites, along with Google, are a source for patients to find your healthcare business, services, and contact details.
You may not even know some sites on which your practice is already listed. To find out, search for your practice name, and comb through the search engine rankings. Identify where you come up in organic search, go specifically to each of those online directory sites, and then officially claim your profile as the business owner.
Each online directory will have its specific steps to claim your healthcare business profile, but it’s worth the time to ensure you control the information shared. Then, as we explain in the next step, begin optimizing those profiles by starting with your most basic information.
2. Ensure your practice information is accurate and consistent within each online directory listing
Once you claim your profile on each business or healthcare directory, ensure all of your practice information is complete and accurate. Consistent NAP citations are critical to your SEO strategy. NAP stands for name, address, and phone number. Your consistency here gives search engines the confidence that your information is correct and ensures patients can find and get in touch with you.
Specifically, review the following for your practice:
-Name, address, phone number (NAP)
-Description of your practice
-Proper business category selection
-Practice website URL
3. Review and update your keywords, practice description, and business categories for each online directory
Keywords are the words or phrases people use when searching for information about your specialty and services. When defining the keywords you want to use online, think about how you describe your practice. How might your prospective patients talk about the health concerns and problems you address? What are the questions they might have?
What makes your practice different from your competitors, and what do new patients want to know when they call your office for the first time? By answering this series of questions, you can arrive at the keywords that make the most sense for your practice.
When writing your practice description across online health directory profiles, include your keywords and practice differentiators. Make sure your description is consistent across all listings. Review them often (at least every two months) and update if your services, staff, locations, or other key business details change.
When selecting your business categories for each online directory, you want to get as specific as possible, and maximize the number of categories you can add to describe your practice.
Your “category” is usually your practice specialty, but many local business directories (including Google) call this a category. Defining your category as “orthopedic surgeon” is better than “surgeon” or “physician.” Give search engines and patients this level of detail.
Lead with a primary category that is accurate and specific to your business and then branch out into a second or third category, if it’s available.
These secondary categories usually include broader definitions. For instance, a doctor who defined their main category as “pain management physician” might add “medical clinic” as a second category. However, they should be identified in their online profile as a “pain management physician” first to make it easier for patients to find them in local search results.
Expert local SEO for doctors with practice growth platform
When healthcare practices onboard with PatientPop, one of the first steps we take is claiming and optimizing local business and healthcare directories to ensure consistency in NAP citations. Its critical healthcare practices have profiles that are highly visible, accurate and consistent. We’ll also enable online scheduling directly from healthcare directories to increase conversion from patients who discover you online.
The PatientPop platform includes a high-performing medical website built with search engine optimization best practices for the healthcare industry. PatientPop websites are designed to look great on all devices, feature key information about your healthcare business, and get found online. Service pages are written to prioritize key phrases about the services your healthcare practice offers. The pages establish authority, allow for natural keyword repetition, and successfully answer patients questions about care.
The PatientPop dashboard allows practices to monitor their search engine rankings to see results over time. PatientPop websites also feature a blog roll, which enables healthcare practices to add relevant content for their target audiences.
In addition to helping you get found online, PatientPop websites are equipped with features that help turn website visitors into patients. The majority of patients would like a digital way to: schedule an appointment, fill out registration forms, ask the provider a question, and pay their bills. PatientPop websites enable online scheduling, text messaging, patient intake, and bill payment.
Request a demo to discover the potential of using an all-in-one healthcare digital marketing platform.
Enjoying the series? Check out:
What should you do next?
1. Schedule a free PatientPop demo.
2. Measure your online performance using our free scanner.
3. Watch our learning session on “Healthcare practice SEO: 3 tactics your competitors don’t use.”