The importance of local search engine optimization (SEO) has grown. Regardless of the size of your medical practice, focusing on local is key toward gaining more exposure and patients.
Search engines have a better understanding about search intent than before. Google can assume that when someone searches for "family practitioners," that searcher wants results specific to their area.
Local SEO makes it easier for you to compete for patients, and it takes some knowhow and work to optimize your digital marketing strategy locally. Here are nine tips to help your practice soar to the top of local search results pages.
1. Keep your NAP information consistent.
Consistency is key when it comes to the name, address, and phone number (NAP) associated with your practice.
Is the address that appears on paperwork different from your practice's physical location? It's possible that your information is not up to date on every online location. If you have a "Google My Business" page, you can look at potential variations online by clicking the "reviews from around the web" link.
Inconsistencies confuse web searchers, and they can also directly impact your rankings. The more frequently your consistent NAP is found (or cited) across the web, the greater authority search engines will give you.
2. Give each practice location its own page.
If your practice has multiple offices, they should each have their own distinct location page. Locally optimize each practice to capture web traffic from each specific area.
If you have several medical practices in Atlanta, be sure you have separate web pages for each of these locations.
Matt Cutts (former head of Google's web spam team) wrote a post stating, "If your company has a bunch of store locations … it's best to have a unique, easily crawlable URL for each store."
For each separate page, make sure to include the clinic's unique NAP. Consider adding a LOCATIONS menu item on your navigation bar.
3. Get listings in relevant local directories.
Local directories are goldmines for your medical practice. Do your best to get listed on all relevant local directories.
If your area has a directory website for senior services, and you provide senior care, you should have your practice included. Drive local traffic to your site and help increase your site's authority. Make sure your NAP information in the directory is consistent with the information you use on your website and social media pages.
4. Populate your site with useful and unique content.
Every page of your site should contain useful content. Each page on your website should contain at least 300 words of content.
Quality is important. Web pages should have a specific focus. If your medical practice offers five different services, each of those services should have its own page.
This increases the number of web pages indexed by search engines and helps you rank higher for specific keywords.
Maintaining a singular focus for each of your pages will help you to avoid being penalized for duplicate content.
5. Make your site mobile-friendly
Mobilegeddon completely changed the way websites are ranked. Google made a change to its algorithm to give a boost to mobile-friendly pages, because it realized a growing number of its users rely on mobile devices to conduct their searches.
A strong mobile strategy is even more important for businesses with a local presence. According to Search Engine Land, 78 percent of mobile searches result in a local purchase.
You can use the Mobile Friendly Test in Google's webmaster tools to ensure that everything on your site looks just as good for your mobile visitors as it does for desktop visitors.
6. Maintain social media pages.
The focus used to be on maintaining a website. Today, the impetus is on social media.
There are scores of social platforms out there, but there's no need to go overboard. Stick to the ones most relevant to the medical field (Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn).
It's not enough to just create profiles. Your social pages should be updated regularly and provide up-to-date NAP information. Claim your space on each of these channels, and give your practice more chances to rank well, while also making it easier for prospects to find you.
7. Thinking small is the new "Thinking Big"
Before Google's 2014 update, most medical practices with a local focus spent thousands of dollars to rank high on a national level.
A local focus allows you to concentrate on indexing well in the area where it matters the most. By making local a large part of your SEO strategy, you can ensure that your practice is appearing in front of the locals who are most likely to become your patients.
Alex Membrillo is the CEO of Cardinal Web Solutions, a healthcare marketing agency based in Atlanta, Ga.