Having a local SEO strategy is crucial for any business with a physical location, but in the healthcare industry, it’s especially important. Most providers rely on attracting patients who live and work in their local, geographic areas, and it’s these patients they’re targeting in their searches.
Also, 46% of Google searches are location-specific. With more than 3.5 billion searches being received by Google every day, that’s a whopping 1.6 billion of them that include local intent. Google and other search engines are always looking for ways to provide searchers with the most helpful results as close to their location as possible. So, focusing on local search ranking factors that make the biggest impact on your healthcare organization is a guarantee that your business will grow as a result.
Key Local Search Ranking Factors in Healthcare
To rank locally with Google, remember proximity, prominence, and relevance. Proximity means the physical distance between your practice and the user, prominence means that you want your practice to be well-known with a good reputation, and relevance means you should be offering what the user is seeking. These three factors are what drives Google’s algorithm for local search. In other words, when people search for healthcare providers, they want results that are close, reputable, and directly aligned with their needs. So, how do you develop a local SEO strategy that meets those fundamental requirements?
While there are many things you can do to optimize for local SEO, we will focus on top local search ranking factors in healthcare, to help you stand out in the crowded healthcare sector, so when potential patients are on the hunt, it’s your practice they find first.
Organize Your Google Business Profile
Your Google Business Profile (GBP) isn’t just a listing. Think of it as the online front door to your practice because it’s one of the significant local search ranking factors in healthcare and usually the first thing potential patients see when they search for a healthcare provider nearby.
The good news is that Google Maps might already have an entry for your healthcare organization. However, it’s up to you to claim it. By doing this, you can use different features that Google offers and basically set up a mini-website directly within Google Maps, all for free.
First of all, you must enter complete and accurate information on your GBP listing. You must provide the physical address, phone number, category, and attributes of your practice or organization. The name, address, and phone number (NAP) that you enter on your GBP must match your website and be consistent across all web pages and online directories. This consistency is crucial for Google to trust the information it has about you.
After the basics, focus on your working hours, the services you offer, and a brief description of your practice. Remember, this isn’t just about filling in boxes. The way you describe your services can make a difference. Use keywords that potential patients might use when searching for your services. This will help Google connect your profile to those searching for what you offer, even if they’re not entirely sure what they’re looking for.
Boost Reputation and Local SEO with Reviews
The role of reviews as local search ranking factors in healthcare has long been debated, but the fact remains that your patient feedback is a powerful indicator of the standing your business maintains within its community. After all, who can better show Google of a business’ worth than its customers?
71% of consumers use online reviews as the very first step in finding a new provider, so if you make it to page one or are one of the three businesses in Google’s Map Pack, you want healthcare consumers to see high-quality positive reviews. If they’re evaluating similar practices, they’re going to pick the one with the best reviews.
You should aim for better ratings, but when you get a bad patient review, it’s not the end of the world. No business is immune to negative reviews and instead of fearing them, be proactive. Address them publicly, apologize, and offer a solution. This shows prospective patients that you care about feedback and are committed to improving.
The best way to ensure a steady flow of positive reviews is to ask for them and encourage patients to share their experiences. A simple and effective way is to send automated review requests 24 hours post their visit. Making it hassle-free increases the chances that patients will send you feedback.
Strengthen Your Presence with Strategic Link Building
Search engines use inbound links to determine a website’s relevance, making them one of the important local search ranking factors. Link building is the process of acquiring hyperlinks (usually just called links) from other websites to your own. Google and other search engines use these links as pathways to crawl and index the web. This means they’ll follow links between individual pages on your website and between different websites altogether.
High-quality, authoritative websites linking to your website help Google decide that your website is good. These endorsements, especially from locally relevant domains, boost your website’s credibility in Google’s eyes. In other words, such links are like votes of confidence in your website’s content and relevance.
Beyond this, links have a practical advantage because they guide users to your content, potentially increasing traffic and conversions. That’s why you need to focus on creating high-quality, shareable content and make it easy for genuine websites to find and link to your valuable resources. However, avoid attempting to manipulate the system. Practices like buying links or offering incentives for them can be flagged by Google as spammy tactics, which could harm your ranking.
Expand Your Reach with Directory Listings and Citations
Managing your directory listings and citations effectively as one of the local search ranking factors in healthcare is another important part of your strategy. Citations and directory listings are essentially your digital references. They most often appear in online business directories and provide basic details about your healthcare organization, like its name, address, and phone number (NAP).
Citations help Google determine your location, improving your visibility to local searchers. Plus, Google views reputable local directories as trustworthy, signaling that your practice is active and reliable.
Your NAP data should consistently appear in primary places like your GBP, and Apple Business Connect (ABC) as well as healthcare-focused review platforms like HealthGrades, ZocDoc, Vitals, etc. However, it’s critical to keep this data consistent, accurate, and up-to-date. It’s easy to make a listing and forget you used one phone number in one place and another one somewhere else. If you change one listing, you must change them all.
Benefit from Behavioral Signals
When a potential patient searches for a healthcare provider, the way they interact with your search results provides vital signals to Google. These behavioral signals serve as one of the important local search ranking factors in healthcare (and in general!) because they show the relevance and quality of your online presence.
Metrics such as click-through rates, dwell time on your website, or quick exits can signal to Google the value you offer to searchers. A high bounce rate, for example, might indicate that visitors aren’t finding what they’re looking for. Also, a significant number of searches are made on mobile devices. If your site isn’t mobile-friendly, users might leave promptly, sending negative signals to search engines.
However, it’s not just about your website. The way patients engage with your GBP is crucial too. Are they checking out your photos? Reading reviews? Perhaps calling you directly from the listing? All of these behavioral signals help Google filter out low-quality, spammy, or compromised sites.
In addition to optimizing your website, the best way to increase positive behavioral signals is to keep working on your GBP listing. Frequently add photographs to your listings so users can click through them and encourage patients to send you feedback because a steady stream of reviews can engage users longer, helping your ranking. Also, respond to questions and engage actively to meet your prospective patients’ needs and send strong, positive signals to Google, improving your local search rankings.
Transform Patient Searches into Healthcare Successes
As patients increasingly rely on search engines to guide their healthcare choices, ensuring your practice is prominently displayed is vital. However, navigating local search ranking factors in healthcare can feel like a jigsaw puzzle for providers, but with SocialClimb’s intuitive set of features, every piece can fit seamlessly, creating a clear picture of your practice’s online prominence.
One of the main aspects of local SEO is ensuring your GBP is correctly configured. With SocialClimb, you can set up your GBP pages with the right categories and keywords, enhancing your profile’s relevance in search results. Also, the platform’s real-time monitoring feature provides a detailed view of GBP activities across various locations and physicians, ensuring you’re always updated on your practice’s online health.
While reviews play a pivotal role as local search ranking factors in healthcare, their management can be daunting, but our integrative approach simplifies the entire process. With integrations into Practice Management and Point of Sale systems, the feedback request process is automated, ensuring consistent reviews. When it comes to reviewing experience for patients, we also make it easy. With just two clicks, a five-star rating is pre-selected, ensuring a quick and hassle-free process, especially on mobile devices. Also, we’re aware that negative feedback is inevitable, but it’s the response that matters. Our inline response feature ensures that addressing these reviews takes seconds. Plus, with automated notifications, you’re always informed about lower-rated reviews, allowing for quick and effective engagement.
Finally, SocialClimb’s healthcare marketing platform offers comprehensive analytics and monitoring tools that provide real-time insights and enable easy tracking of your marketing campaigns’ success. With these actionable metrics at hand, you can make informed decisions, fine-tune your strategies, position yourself as the top choice in local searches, and witness the tangible results of your marketing efforts. If you feel like a second opinion would help as you figure out what your next marketing move should be, click here, and we’ll have on of our consultants reach out right away.