How to Improve Your Local SEO
Local SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is important to any digital growth program, specially for physicians during this rapidly changing online landscape. Now, more than ever, potential patients are looking online for doctors in their area. In fact, 46% of Google searches are for local businesses. An effective local SEO strategy is key to driving more people to your practice.
Why Local SEO Is Important
Optimizing your local SEO means increased website traffic, which translates to more appointments booked and increased new patient flow. The strategy is relevant to your local demographic and target audience. Since doctor’s offices are local to a very specific group of people, focusing on local SEO gives you a boost over larger hospital systems and competitors. Instead of ranking for national keywords and brand awareness, bring valuable traffic in through local searches specific to medical specialty, conditions, treatments and patient success.
Local SEO is similar to organic SEO, but with a geographic component. If your practice is in North Carolina, there is no point in attracting a patient in Texas. Potential patients will be searching for a “physician near me.” These types of searches for “near me” or “close by” businesses increased over 900% over the last few years.
It’s crucial to your practice that you improve your local SEO if you aim to increase traffic and ultimately grow your practice.
Parts of a Local SEO Strategy
When it comes to local SEO, it isn’t that different from an organic approach. Consider keyword research, content, internal links, and on-page SEO, but with a local focus. Include geographic phrases in your keywords. Elements like these are all important for your website and industry to outrank your competitors in the area.
Instead of using the keyphrase “dematology practice” use a geographical keyphrase such as “dermatology practice in Raleigh.” 67% of people using a smartphone to do their searches want a practice within their zip code or city. Include surrounding cities and towns if you live in a more suburban or rural area.
With more searches being performed on smart devices – smartphones, Google home consoles, and tablets, there is a new way to search for local businesses and Google queries – by voice. It is simple to say “Okay Google, find a doctor near me” as opposed to typing it out. Voice is also lending itself to long-tail keywords. People aren’t searching for one or two word phrases anymore, but in the form of questions or whole sentences. When creating a local SEO plan, include variations that mimic how people find local businesses.
How to Get Started
If you want to increase website traffic, capture more leads (potential patients) and conversions (appointments booked), and grow your practice, then a local SEO plan is the way to go. But how can you get started?
- Claim Local Listings
Google My Business, Health Grades, and WebMD are good places to start. Claim your practice or physician profiles and optimize your profiles. This means updating information like your address, hours of operation, services, website, and information regarding insurance and how your practice is operating under COVID-19 restrictions.
By filling out your profile, you are already increasing your local search results. 86% of people look at a map when researching a local business and when your profile on Google is complete, Google Maps will give viewers a detailed description of your business.
Review sites that are specifically for the medical community like WebMD and Healthgrades get over 150 million combined searches each month. Having your profile complete on those sites will allow you to show up in more relevant search results.
Keep in mind that consistency is key. Have the same information across all channels to ensure full transparency and consistency.
- Optimize Your Website
This is one of the most factors for climbing in the Google rankings. An optimized website that is also mobile-friendly can do wonders for people who want more information about your practice. Here are a few ways to make sure your website is up to par (or better!)
- A defined “contact” page. People will look for an easy way to get in touch with your practice. Make sure this page has key components like your practice name, phone number, and email address or form to fill out. Also include your practice’s full address and an interactive Google map.
- Click-to-Call. With the growing number of local searches being done via mobile devices, make sure your phone number is clickable. 76% of local searches end in a phone call, and you won’t want to miss out on that traffic.
- Add testimonials to your site. Google sees testimonials as significant symbols of “trust.” Collect and add testimonials from loyal patients to your website to boost your local SEO.
- Create Original Local Content
Content is king when it comes to building organic and local SEO. Have a blog in your website that is hosted on your business’s domain for best results. That means having a blog URL look like “www.yourbusiness.com/blog” instead of “blog.yourwebsite.com.” As your blog gains traction and search engine rankings increase, so does overall traffic to your website.
When writing blog posts, include geographical information as much as possible – local events, popular places, and any type of location-specific information. For example, if you are near a body of water, include how to be safe and prevent pain while boating. If you are in a more mountainous area, then write about safety tips while hiking. Don’t forget to include terms that locals might use.
If your practice sponsors or hosts any local events or youth sports teams, write a blog post about that! Local information that will get your business in front of a wider audience will increase search engine rankings and brand awareness. Write about things that your community cares about. Topics about your services, conditions you treat, and treatment types are important for your practice, but people like to read about what is important to them. The community, seasonal activities, and how they can personally better themselves is most likely to get the most traffic.
How We Can Help
Valet Health offers local listing management, LaunchPad, as well as a full content marketing program, LiftOff. The two work together in conjunction to fully optimize your local listing profiles and SEO. Our team performs in-depth keyword research to determine which keyphrases to use and build content around, and how to best rank organically in your local area.