6 Tips to Improve the Local Rankings of a Healthcare Practice

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Local Healthcare Practice Search

Local Healthcare Practice Search

The pandemic has led to an explosion in telemedicine, but even still, the majority of the work you do in your healthcare practice is through seeing local patients. This holds true whether you’re the local Urgent Care, a regional plastic surgeon, a physical therapist, a nutritionist, or whatever your practice may be. Even most of your telehealth appointments will still be with patients who live nearby; they just want to keep themselves safe or use the convenience of telehealth over an in-person visit.

What this means is that, even in the digital age, your healthcare practice needs to advertise locally if you want to build up a roster of patients. While you’ll certainly get plenty of new patients from referrals, both from previous patients and from partner facilities, you’ll need to put some time and effort into advertising.

There are certainly many ways to do this. One of the best, though, is leveraging SEO.

SEO, in case you’re not quite sure what it is, is the art and science of earning a top spot in the Google search results when someone searches for a relevant service or specialty. A dermatologist, for example, might want to be visible for searches about skin cancer screenings or eczema treatments.

Local SEO is a variation of SEO that focuses on the geographic region around you. If your practice is centered in Houston, Texas, you’re going to want to attract new patients who also live in Houston and the surrounding area. While your site and its content could rank well for general searches, it doesn’t really benefit you if someone in Topeka, Kansas, finds your site; they can’t become a patient, barring extreme circumstances.

(And yes, sometimes a facility is staffed with world leaders in a specific ailment or disease, and that facility may attract new patients with especially complex cases from around the world. Very few practices fit this description, though, which is why you want to focus on local SEO in the first place.)

Local SEO takes advantage of two things. The first is that when people are searching for a practice, doctor, or facility that can handle their issues, they want to find one local to them. While general informational content is fine for non-local searches, more transactional content requires that local flair. The second is that many users will simply trust Google to look for local results regardless because that’s just a thing Google does.

In any case, your healthcare practice needs to take advantage of local SEO to gather new leads and new patients. That means leveraging local SEO. How can you improve your local rankings? As experts in healthcare SEO, we’ve put together six key tips you can use to improve your local rankings.

1: Identify and Use Relevant Local Keywords

Perhaps the most important part of local SEO is local keywords. Keywords, as you know, are the important words and phrases you use throughout your site as part of writing about a given topic. “Dermatology” would be a keyword, but so would “Cosmetic Dermatology,” and so would “Rosacea treatment.”

Local keywords are regular keywords with a local keyword stapled on. If your practice is in Houston, “rosacea treatment in Houston” would be a local keyword. Moreover, you aren’t limited to state-level and city-level keywords; you can use neighborhoods in your area and other descriptors. For example, a practice located on the south side of Houston could use “southern Houston,” as well as Sunnyside, South Park, Crestmont Park, South Acres, and Minnetex, all of which are neighborhoods in one relevant area.

You can also use local neighborhood names and colloquial names that locals use. We’re in New Jersey, so we don’t have those specific examples of local Houston colloquial names, but you get the idea.

Relevant Local Medical Keywords

Performing local keyword research is just like normal keyword research, which is to say, it’s quite complicated and best done systematically with professional tools. Ahrefs has an excellent guide to the process here. They recommend their own tools, of course, but that’s fine; they’re among the best in the industry, so it’s worth using them even if they weren’t selling themselves.

Local keyword research should be a periodic task. The first time you do it, you build a robust list of local keywords. Future research will add new keywords and remove irrelevant keywords while also qualifying the keywords you have.

2: Claim General, Topical, and Local Directory Listings

A huge part of being visible for local searches is having your profile visible on the many various directories people may use to search. These generally fall into three categories, with one special mention.

Various Directory Listings

1. General Directories

First of all, you have general directories. These are sites like Yellow Pages and Yelp. These are national (or international) directories, so it pays to be listed in them because they’re among the first options people will check.

2. Local Directories

Local directories are much smaller and varied. They are usually local business coalitions, city government directories, or other locally-sponsored directories. To keep up using Houston as our example, you have sites like the West End Chamber of Commerce and the East End counterpart.

3. Subject Directories

Subject directories are sites that aggregate businesses in your overall industry. For healthcare practices, that means sites like WebMD’s provider directory, MediFind, ZocDoc, and Healthgrades.

4. Special Mention

The special mention here is the Google Business Profile. It’s the #1 most important profile to fill out because it gets you all of the added benefits of the Google 3-pack, Maps results, and all the rest.

Filling out these directories means posting accurate information, ensuring your NAP information is correct across all of the profiles, and monitoring reviews they aggregate. A bunch of reputation management can go into this, but the low bar to clear is claiming, verifying, and filling out your profiles. You can worry about the rest later.

3: Create Locally-Relevant Content

In part one, you did a bunch of keyword research. Now you have to put that research to use.

Content marketing is among the most important parts of modern marketing. If a user with a problem doesn’t already know about your practice, they’re going to search for the problem, and you want your content to be the authoritative resource they find.

Creating Locally Relevant Content

You’ll want to:

  • Go through your keyword list and identify the most important services. You want the ones that have the most interest from local searchers.
  • Create authoritative content centered around these topics, using your local keywords. Make use of general SEO techniques where possible.
  • Leverage any additional source of value you can, such as using schema markup on relevant content.
  • Cover all of the main bases with service pages for each service you offer, with a local twist to the content you create for it. Likewise, consider local pages with lists of services offered in the area.
  • Pick a schedule to publish new content, and stick with it. Generally, once a week is a good place to start.

Entire books have been written on content marketing in general and on local content marketing specifically, so we can’t cover all of the bases in just this one section. However, if you’re interested in local marketing services, feel free to reach out and drop us a line. We’re always willing to discuss what benefits we can bring to the table!

4: Build Backlinks from Local Resources

Backlinks are an integral part of the modern internet and have been for decades. One of the best ways to grow a site is to build links pointing to it. This helps because those links can direct traffic to your site and because Google can identify them and use them to assign value to your site.

As far as local healthcare marketing is concerned, you want to build links from as locally relevant pages as you can find.

Website Building Local Backlinks

Remember, with backlinks, there are quite a few elements that matter.

  • A link is better when it’s from a relevant piece of content. A post about sunburns will send more value to a site it links to for a dermatologist than a plumber.
  • A link is better when it’s in the main content of a site. Sidebar, footer, ad, and other links are a lot less valuable (or even valueless, in terms of SEO.)
  • A link is better when it comes from a better site. So, a link from the American Academy of Dermatology would be better than a link from Bob’s Skincare Revue.
  • A link is better when it comes from a more local site. So a link from the Houston Dermatological Society would be better for a Houston-based practice than for a Kansas-based practice.

The more links you can gather from more varied but still-relevant sources, the better you’ll position yourself in terms of SEO. No one individual link is going to have a life-changing impact, but they snowball over time.

5: Solicit Local Testimonials and Reviews

Another huge element of local SEO is feedback. Studies show that 93% of online consumers use reviews as one of the factors they consider when picking a business to use, and that includes healthcare practices. Even something like picking between two regional hospital networks can come down to reviews.

Earlier, you claimed all of your directory profiles. Some of them may have reviews already, which can be a good or a bad thing, depending on those reviews. If any reviews exist, audit them; identify any fake reviews and get them removed. Respond to negative reviews if you can, and thank people for leaving positive reviews.

Leaving a Local Review

Then, start to solicit positive reviews. Ask patients how they’ve felt about the quality of their service, and request that they leave a review for you on Google, on your website, and/or on whatever the most important directories are. To find out which directories are most important, perform a few local searches and look for which directories are the highest rated.

You don’t need to do this review solicitation in person. There are many tools that can automate the process, and you can include survey requests and other calls to action in post-appointment documentation or even just brochures or cards you hand out to patients. You can also use it as a gateway to improving your patient service, identifying problems in your practice, and streamlining patient pain points.

6: Ensure Usability on Mobile Devices

Globally, just under 60% of internet traffic comes from mobile devices. That’s mostly people using the internet on their phones, but it also includes devices like tablets. It’s more important than ever to have a website that isn’t just accessible on mobile but is good to use and fully featured. That means functional navigation, a good design, and full functionality, including things like appointment scheduling.

In healthcare, in particular, if you offer any sort of emergency services, it can be good to remember that many people may be looking for service when they’re out on the go or in an emergency situation. They don’t have time to do research or find the site with the slickest design; they need a functional site that can confirm it offers what they need quickly.

Optimizing Mobile Web Design

There are a lot of advanced quirks to mobile web design, site speed, and other factors that make a mobile-usable website, and again, whole books have been written on the subject. Meanwhile, we’re wrapping up. So, why not consider giving us a call?

Getting a healthcare business, practice, or facility to rank well on Google requires an in-depth knowledge of how Google works, how its algorithms change from month to month, and what you need to do to stay positive in the eyes of the search engines. It’s certainly something you can do on your own if you happen to have enough time on your hands to learn most of a new career. Most healthcare practices don’t have that luxury.

Oftentimes, your best option is to call in a professional. That’s where we come in. Drop us a line, and let’s chat about what we can do for you. We would absolutely love to assist you however we can!

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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