These days, 77% of patients use a search engine to find a physician prior to booking an appointment. And local search — driven by the growing popularity of mobile search — is the method almost 92% of internet users use to find a local service. It’s crucial that your practice ranks highly on local search results in order to get online visibility among prospective patients in your community.
Fortunately, local SEO best practices are no mystery.
Google uses three primary factors when ranking local search results.
- Relevance – How well your organization matches what the searcher is seeking. Optimize your search engine performance by maintaining the most up-to-date information possible so Google’s search engine correctly identifies the type of practice, key personnel, hospital affiliations, services and specialties.
- Distance – Google weights practices in the vicinity of the searcher, so it’s critical that you list your location(s) accurately. If you have more than one office, create a web page for each location. Differentiate separate offices and provide Name, Address and Phone for each consistently across sites, listings and directories.
- Prominence – Medical organizations that are well-known rank more highly. Prominence is determined by a multitude of factors, including links, directory listings and mentions across the internet. Although Google doesn’t provide the exact details of how prominence is calculated, SEO best practices play a strong role. If you are not using organic link building, high quality content production, blogging and keyword research to optimize your site, these best practices will boost your online visibility when you finally implement them.
Google doesn’t disclose how to game their system, but it does offer reliable advice on how to remain competitive. It’s important that you update your online strategy with each Google update or you could see your practice drop in local search rankings.
Google released their latest recommendations, so we’ll help you break down what they mean.
- Use Google My Business as a portal – Google My Business is the one-stop portal to establish your practice online. Verify the details of your practice — including name, address, phone, specialty, etc. — and these will be distributed to other Google platforms, including Google maps, Google Analytics, Adwords, and Google+. Because Google My Business is the most authoritative resource for your practice, you’ll need to verify your identity and select a Personal Identification Number (PIN), which you’ll use whenever you edit any submitted information.
- Confirm your location – Double and triple check your business information, especially your address, on Google My Business. You might also be asked to verify your address through a postcard or phone call.
- Verify hours of operation – Google tries to keep business details as accurate as possible, including hours of operation. If your hours change due to vacation, holidays, or management changes, use the Google My Business dashboard to alert potential clients.
- Patient reviews – Responding to patients’ reviews is an important part of online business management. Almost 25% of Americans have visited a physician rating site, and it’s an increasingly popular part of the physician search process. Provide reviews from your patients because users have grown to expect them. Online reviews offer patient-generated insights into your organization which can stoke interest and strengthen your reputation. Third party validation – and, even, criticism – may be just what your practice needs to rise above the crowd.
- Provide photos – Photos make the user experience more memorable, which Google strongly encourages, but they also serve as location guides. External shots of your office provide a visual point of reference for local searchers.
Positioning your practice atop the local search results page can take time and effort, especially if you’re new or unestablished, but it should produce a sizable return in new patients. Google’s latest recommendations, integrated with a strong local SEO strategy, ensure online visibility — the first step to practice growth.
PatientPop’s all-in-one practice growth platform handles all the above-mentioned SEO best practices for you, ensuring you’ll rise in local business results and consistently updating behind the scenes. If you’re interested in seeing how your business is faring online, get a practice scan below.