The Importance of Citation Building for Physicians and Doctors

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Business Citation Building

Business Citation Building

When you want to build your practice and attract new patients, your reputation is key. In our increasingly digital world, this means managing your online presence and making sure that prospective patients are able to find you when they’re looking for a new physician.

Local SEO is essential for doctors these days, whether you run a small practice or operate multiple healthcare locations. While there are many components to effective local SEO, one important factor that shouldn’t be overlooked are citations.

What are citations exactly, and why are they important for doctors and physicians? What websites should you be listed on, and how do you go about building citations?

Let’s take a look at the answers to these questions and more.

What Are Citations?

Citations are mentions of the name, address, and phone number (NAP) of your practice on websites other than your own.

This is a foundational factor in local SEO, as your NAP tells Google and other search engines that you are a legitimate local medical practice. When Google’s local algorithm sees that your NAP is listed on other sites as identical to the one you posted on your Google Business Profile (formally Google My Business), it serves as proof that your business is actually located at the address in your GBP.

Citation building is often lumped in with link building when discussing local SEO, but the intent between these tactics is quite different. While you are technically building links when you build citations, it’s worth understanding what distinguishes the two. (Of course, backlinks are also essential for medical practices, so you’ll want to take a look at our recent post on the topic as well.)

A Business Citation

In short, building links to your site is a great way to climb up the search rankings over time. Citations, on the other hand, help your medical practice show up in local search results.

Citations can be found on industry business directories, websites and apps, local business directories, social media platforms, and more.

Why Is Citation Building Important For Physicians and Doctors?

Citations are important for any local business because they are an important ranking factor for local SEO. When your office is listed in authoritative and trustworthy online directories, search engines have increased confidence that your business is legitimate and actually exists.

The way that search engines like Google view your online presence is impacted by how many citations you have, the quality of the sites where your NAP is listed, and the accuracy of these listings.

The way that Google determines site rankings has always been shrouded in some mystery, but it’s known that citations and NAP consistency are an essential part of the Local Pack and local search algorithms.

Tracking Local Business Rankings

The Google Local Map Pack is the map with pinned locations that pops up when you enter a location-based search into Google. Quality, quantity, and consistency are all important when it comes to citations to get a top spot in the Local Map Pack, which can provide many benefits, including:

  • More organic traffic
  • More mobile traffic
  • More local traffic
  • More phone calls
  • Advantage over your local competition

Citations (and local SEO in general) are particularly important for doctors, physicians, and local medical practices because Google has stricter quality standards for pages they deem “Your Money or Your Life” (YMYL). Medical information falls into this category, as it can impact audiences’ happiness, health, safety, or financial well-being.

The more authoritative citations your website has, the more credible your practice is in the eyes of Google.

Before we move on, let’s touch on a few important notes about consistency in citations. It’s absolutely vital that you don’t have conflicting information about your business from various sources across the web. This doesn’t just mean not updating your address when your practice moves; it means choosing “St.” or “Street” when inserting your address on directories and pages.

If you operate a medical practice with more than one physical office, be sure to check out our guide on SEO for healthcare practices with multiple locations.

How to Build Citations For Your Medical Practice

There are three different ways that you can build citations for your practice. It’s worth noting, though, that there’s a good chance that there are already citations for your business online, even if you didn’t add them yourself. This is because many directories accept data feeds from other sites and directories, meaning your information might already be out there. For this reason, it’s also important to audit your citations and make sure all of your information is up-to-date and accurate.

Doctor Building Citations

1. Manual Submission (DIY)

While this is the most time-consuming way to build citations, it also gives you the ability to ensure that all of your information is consistent and accurate on all sites. In short, to manually submit your information, you or someone in your office will enter relevant information about your practice into the directory and listing sites one at a time.

2. Manual Submission (Hire Someone)

You also might choose to hire a service to input your data into the directory and listing sites. This is a reasonable option if you feel like you simply don’t have the time to deal with manual entry or if you would rather focus your energy elsewhere.

The reality is that manually entering your information into directories takes a lot of time that you could be using to focus on your patients, expand your business, or get some much-needed rest and relaxation. At the same time, it’s vital that all your NAP and business information is accurate, up-to-date, and free of mistakes. For that reason, it’s important to hire an SEO agency you can trust to take on the task, as you want to be confident that they are diligent, consistent, and meticulous when uploading all of your business information.

3. Aggregator Submission

Finally, you can also work with a service that will submit your info to data aggregators to build citations for your site. This way, your NAP can end up on hundreds of other websites quickly.

General Directories For Doctors and Physicians

There are a number of major directories online where you’ll want to make sure your information is listed.

First of all, it’s essential to create a Google Business Profile for your practice. This is necessary in order to end up on the local map when someone searches for “doctors near me,” and it provides a great way to offer easy-to-access info to potential patients.

While making a GBP is a good start, there’s typically a lot of competition for the top spots on local search results. For this reason, you’ll want to engage in other local SEO tactics, including building citations on other sites.

Doctor and Physician General Directories

Examples of some of the biggest general directories that you’ll want to be listed on include:

  • Superpages
  • Yahoo Local Listings
  • Bing Places For Business
  • White Pages Business Directory
  • Foursquare Directory
  • Facebook
  • Yelp

In addition to these general directories, you’ll want to consider any local directories that are specific to your region and government or non-profit sites that could be a good place to list your practice information.

In the next section, we’ll go into some of the biggest names in online medical directories. However, you’ll also want to consider the area you specialize in and look for more specific directories hosted by legitimate and authoritative organizations or sites.

Medical Directories For Doctors and Physicians

A great way to gain new traffic and patients is by making sure your practice information is listed online in the major medical directories. Let’s look at some of the key players.

Healthgrades Doctor Directory

When patients are looking for high-quality physicians, they often find themselves on the directory and review site Healthgrades.com. There are thousands of listings for doctors on this site, and creating a citation is free.

Healthgrades Doctor Directory

In addition to the name, address, and phone number of your office, listing your practice on Healthgrades.com allows you to post a photo, directions, a short bio, and more. On top of that, patients can review the services they received from your practice.

WebMD’S Physician Directory

There are nearly 150 million visits to WebMD every month, more than seven million of which are just looking at their physician directory.

WebMD Physician Directory

As a high-traffic, high-authority site that allows you to create a citation for free, this is one place you’ll want to make sure you’re listed.

US Health News

The doctor and dentist directories on US Health News are extensive.

US Health News Directory

They allow you to include detailed information about the services you provide so patients can make decisions about their health care that best suit their needs.

The American Medical Association Doctor Directory

Though membership and a citation aren’t free on the American Medical Association’s site, they’re quite valuable.

AMA Doctor Directory

There are more than 800,000 physicians listed on the directory from across the United States, and the site is a common tool for patients looking for new doctors.

Vitals Doctor Directory

Another high authority site that you can list a citation on is Vitals.

Vitals Doctor Directory

With one of the largest databases of healthcare facilities, physicians, and patient reviews, this is a highly relevant site worth listing on.

RateMDs.com Directory

Both physicians and users can use RateMDs.com for free, and the site has more than two million reviews.

RateMDs Doctor Directory

This is where patients can leave reviews for all the healthcare services they receive, providing a valuable resource for people looking for a new doctor.

Caredash Doctor Directory

Another free citation you can snag, Caredash is a site that receives strong organic traffic.

Caredash Doctor Directory

You’ll have the ability to fill out a detailed profile so patients can have as much information as possible when deciding where to make an appointment.

ZocDoc

While ZocDoc is primarily a booking service for medical care appointments, they also have a directory of doctors that receives substantial traffic.

ZocDoc Doctor Directory

Patients can leave reviews and use the service to make last-minute appointments, which is a great way to secure new, loyal patients.

How to Optimize Your Online Citations

While it’s better than nothing to list your practice on a number of relevant directories, there’s more to citation management than simply adding your NAP to the biggest sites on the web.

Ways to Optimize Online Citations

Here are some additional factors you’ll want to think about to get the most out of your online citations:

  • Consistency: We’ve already touched upon this, but it’s so important it’s worth repeating. A number of different independent studies have found that consistency in NAP listings is likely one of the factors in local rankings.
  • Website link: Rather than linking to your home page, consider linking to the location page of your site. This can help make it simpler for visitors to find the information they’re looking for.
  • Descriptions: Consider doing some keyword research when writing the description of your practice to help both users and search engines understand the services you offer.
  • Photos: Visuals are always a great idea when it comes to informing people about your business, and medical practices are no exception. Going to a new doctor can make people nervous, and providing photos can help them choose your practice over your competitors.
  • Business category: Your Google Business Profile and other citations allow you to pick additional categories for your practice. This can help your search engine ranking and make you more findable by potential patients.
  • Reviews: Whether people are looking for a place to eat dinner or a new doctor, they often read through reviews for advice from other people. Not only can this be a great way to spread the word about your practice, but it can also help improve your search rankings.

Should You Hire an SEO Agency to Build Citations?

There are a lot of SEO agencies out there that will promise you the moon, but it’s absolutely essential that any company you choose to work with is committed to helping you foster an online reputation of authority and trustworthiness. This is true for any business, but it’s particularly important when you’re a physician running a healthcare practice.

Hiring an SEO agency to help you build citations can allow you to put your time where it is most valuable: into the healthcare of your patients. That being said, you want to know that any service you hire focuses on the most authoritative and relevant directory sites while also creating consistency in your NAP and business information.

An SEO Agency

On top of that, any old SEO agency simply won’t do for a medical practice. Because of the increased scrutiny on healthcare and medical information websites from Google, it’s key to find a company that is well-versed in the world of local SEO for doctors and physicians.

At Blue Pig Media, one of our specialties is creating a full suite of digital marketing services for medical practices like yours. We can help you build citations so you receive more traffic and phone calls and help you with all of your SEO, PPC, social media, and web design and development needs.

If that all sounds good to you, contact us today to get started.

David Curtis
David Curtis
David Curtis is the founder and CEO of Blue Pig Media. With twenty years of successful execution in sales, marketing and operations, for both clients and vendors, he has a bottom line ROI driven mentality rooted in metrics driven performance across highly competitive global corporate initiatives.

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