Many businesses must decide whether or not they should prioritize local SEO. Healthcare — with exception to medical tourism — usually finds this decision easy. You can’t fill that cavity, give that vaccination, or deliver that baby without being in the same room with your patient; local SEO for health professionals is essential.
Some healthcare professionals think that means they can ignore SEO practices. One of the common beliefs about SEO that we’ve encountered is that it’s not important for local businesses — their clients or patients will simply come to them. People who believe this seem to imagine someone moving to a new community, deciding to find a dental practice, and wandering down Main Street until they find one that looks good.
Local SEO matters
We know that’s not really how it works, though. Sure, some newcomers will ask their realtor for the name of a good dentist, or get a referral from their dentist in the town they’re leaving. However, Pew Research Center found that 72% of American adults go online to look for health information. Nearly half of those people were looking for a healthcare professional of some kind. 70% of the people in the survey go to a doctor or other healthcare professional when they have a serious health issue.
Those who don’t already have a family doctor are most likely to start their search online in some way. They may take to Facebook and ask friends or family for recommendations. Many will start with Google.
91% of participants in a BrightLocal survey of consumer behavior said that they use Google when they look for a local business. 47% said that reputation was the most important factor in their choice of a doctor or dentist, and online reviews were one of the most important ways they determined reputation.
It’s worth keeping in mind that most doctors don’t have a strong online presence — many don’t even have a website. This means that review sites are often the only source of information people have when looking for a doctor.
Showing up in local search results is very important for medical professionals who are accepting new patients.
Essential steps to local SEO for health professionals
First, of course, you must have a website. This is essential for a strong local online presence because this is the only part of your online presence that you can actually control. Maybe you intentionally avoided having an online presence; this does not mean you won’t show up for searches, though.
You just have no control over how you look in the search engines results pages (SERPs).
Your website must be mobile-friendly, too. Your website visitors are likely to use their smartphone and tablets to look for you. Google also gives preference to websites that look good on phones. A mobile-friendly website for your practice is not optional.
If your current website is responsive and complete, check these important elements:
Can search engines tell where you are?
Make sure that your physical address is completely clear, preferably in the format you’d use to address and envelope. People looking for a medical facility will generally be shown the one nearest to their location, so it’s critical that Google knows where your facility is.
Do you have local citations?
Make sure that you’re listed in local directories, and that your online listings have your current address. This is evidence for the search engines that you really have the location your website claims you have. It also helps to demonstrate your authority and position in the community.
Is your content locally relevant?
Include your city name in your content when it’s relevant. We’re not saying, “We are your Fayetteville chiropractor for all your Fayetteville chiropractor needs.” We’re saying you should mention local areas and events, towns and city names, and so forth when it makes sense to do so.
Do you have local links?
If you are able to gain high quality links from local domains, you should. Ask for a web link when you speak locally. Check lists of local health practitioners and make sure you’re on those lists, with a link back to your website. Add links to your website when you create or update your profile on the websites of local organizations.
Are you up to date at Google My Business?
Make sure that you have just one account for each of your locations and that all the information is up to date and correct. Make sure that your address at GMB matches your address at your website, too.
Make your online presence the best that it can be
Local SEO relies on making sure that the search engines understand your exact location. But that just tells Google where you are. Google still has to decide whether to offer you to a nearby searcher, or to offer your competitor.
Having the best possible website is still essential.
Whether you need a new website for your medical practice, a new healthcare marketing strategy, or SEO services, Haden Interactive can help. Get in touch with us online, or call 479-966-9761.
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