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Local SEO for healthcare practices: 5 questions from the PatientPop SEO learning session

The answers offer tips for any healthcare practice to help improve their overall web presence and search results rankings.

The PatientPop learning session webinar “The 2020 guide to local search” details ways healthcare practices can develop and update their website to rank better in search results. But, just as search engines look beyond a single website, the session also goes further. “The 2020 guide to local search” spells out a variety of tactics beyond the practice website, all of which contribute to an expanded web presence and better search results rankings.

Leading the subject matter expertise and fielding questions is PatientPop director of local SEO and marketing, Joel Headley. Widely recognized for his deep SEO experience, Joel previously worked for a decade at Google, and is a faculty member at the SEO educational organization LocalU.

During and after the session, Joel addressed these questions: 

Question: What steps should I take when editing my Google business profile to help my SEO?

Your Google business profile is Google’s knowledge about your business. They want to give people an idea of what they can expect when they visit your practice or make an appointment.

When it comes to local search, some of the highest-converting people from search come from your local profile. We have a step-by-step Google My Business learning session, where we walk you through the process of claiming and optimizing your profile.

When you’re thinking of one of the key areas that makes you stand out, it’s your business category. This is important not just within your Google profile, but when you choose your category in other local online directories. Your category would usually be your specialty.

With your category, there are four things you want to be aware of. First, you want to be consistent. Lead with the category you think is right for your practice and your business. Be consistent with that choice on Google My Business, Yelp, Vitals, and other sites on which you’re claiming your profile.

Second, you want to maximize the categories that you can add. Google My Business has secondary categories. If you’re a pain management physician who works at a medical clinic, you want to add the medical clinic as your secondary category. 

Customize as much as you can. Wherever you’re creating and optimizing your profile, if there’s an opportunity to create custom categories, add those. 

Finally, be specific as possible. You want to make sure your lead category, your primary category, is as specific to your unique value in the market as possible. Then, you can go broader on those secondary categories. 

Remember, when you choose and customize categories, you want to focus on what you do best. It may not encapsulate the whole of your capabilities, but it focuses on the desired services you provide to patients.

Question: Where and how do I use search terms and keywords? Are they just for my website?

When you identify keywords for your specialty, you want to use them regularly and naturally throughout your website as you describe conditions, services, and procedures. Basically, you want to make things readable. 

You also want to include those keywords and terms wherever you talk about your practice online. When you share information about your services and approach to care, your keywords are designed to get people to find your site and know what your practice is about.

You’ll be asked for a description of your practice just about anywhere. Any online site where you have a business profile as a provider or practice — healthcare and local business directories like Google and WebMD, but also your social media channels and any other review websites. Each is an opportunity to sell yourself and use your keywords as you describe your practice. Remember to stand out. Tell potential patients who are shopping for healthcare what makes you different.

It’s best to develop different lengths of practice descriptions to accommodate different websites. Your website, of course, gives you the opportunity to expand on that description and talk about your practice in detail.

Question: On our website’s “About” page, we talk about our history, careers, and foundation. We pitch what we do on our landing page. Should we change the About page to talk more about what we do?

If you link to your About page a lot throughout your website, that’s telling Google it’s an important page on your site. You don’t necessarily have to change what’s on that page, but it should also include what you do at your practice.

What you say about your practice is not just for the website reader — it’s also giving Google enough information to say what you’re really about. 

If you’re trying to highlight your foundation or talk about your history, that’s okay. But as you talk about the history, bring it around to talk about the key services you offer today, and then link to the pages that feature those services. 

It’s okay to rewrite that “pitch” content into the About page. The content doesn’t have to be 100 percent unique. You can reuse, rewrite, and restructure some of that same landing page content on the About page. Then you’re letting people know what you’re really about.

Question: A question about questions… How important is the Questions section of the Google profile? What should we do there?

Answering questions is one of the advanced features in Google My Business, and it’s an essential addition to your profile. You want an opportunity here not just to answer questions from others, but to ask them yourself.

Enter a question your practice often hears from patients and then answer it. In the profile for Dr. Shamsah Amersi, an OB/GYN, Dr. Amersi took a question right from her website and repeated it here. “What can a young woman expect to talk about during her first visit to the practice?” Dr. Amersi answered the question here, and Google notes that the business owner has done so.

Not a whole lot more work is needed. But now you’re getting more information front and center to the patient, right on Google.

Question: How do you get more reviews, and how do you improve your reviews?

The key to getting more reviews for your practice is to ask your patients for feedback. In our 2019 survey research, patients who were asked for feedback by their providers were 50 percent more likely to post a review.

How do you ask? It’s not just sending an email to patients, although that’s important. It’s also when you’re in the office. Ask “How was your visit today? I would love it if you could share your opinion.”

Having an automated way to ask patients for feedback via email or text is critical, but reinforcing that desire in person helps.

Learn more about online review management and automated patient satisfaction surveys

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