Let’s face it: In 2023, the price of everything is rising, and digital advertising is no exception. In fact, Google’s executives have even admitted to “quietly increasing the cost of advertising” without informing advertisers on their platform during their ongoing antitrust trial. Yikes. With rising digital advertising costs, there’s no doubt that healthcare providers are trying to do more while spending less, hoping to stay competitive with giants in their respective industries. This is where local SEO for healthcare strategies come into play, boosting visibility of smaller practitioners in their area while spending less on PPC (pay-per-click) marketing.
For the uninformed, SEO is Search Engine Optimization, or the process of improving your search rankings in various search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.)
Let’s delve into essential aspects of local SEO tailored specifically for healthcare practices today. These strategies will help you not only improve your online presence but also establish trust, credibility, and a strong connection with your local community, which is instrumental in carving out your place in the market as a smaller healthcare provider!
Why Local SEO for Healthcare Practices Is Essential
As mentioned, local SEO is an integral part of today’s healthcare landscape. It ensures your practice appears at the top of local search results, the importance of which can’t be overstated. How often have you navigated to the third or fourth page of search results? Even the second page will likely be entirely overlooked by all but the most discerning digital investigators.
By enhancing your online visibility, local SEO ensures that when potential patients search for healthcare services in your area, your practice is among the first they see. This heightened visibility not only fosters that aforementioned trust but also encourages potential patients to choose your practice over competitors.
So, you know how important it is to get those top rankings, but how do you go about reaching them? Here’s some suggestions.
Generating and Managing Online Reviews
It all starts with the patient experience. Good care = Good reviews = More visibility.
Online reviews play a pivotal role in your local SEO efforts, even more so than most people realize. Not only does it establish your credibility to prospective patients, but Google also takes your overall review score into account when determining where you’ll show up in the search results page. The higher your rating and the more reviews you generate means higher rankings in relevant search inquiries.
With this said, requesting reviews after patient visits and simplifying the review process can lead to exponentially more feedback, feedback that’s essential to both improving your SEO and being helpful for the in-practice staff to know where they excel. Additionally, actively monitoring and professionally responding to reviews can enhance your online reputation.
Keep in mind, encouraging patients to leave reviews isn’t just about quantity; quality matters too. Positive, detailed reviews can influence potential patients significantly. Moreover, by addressing negative reviews professionally and empathetically, you not only mitigate potential damage but also demonstrate your commitment to patient satisfaction and service improvement.
Let me emphasize: Never let a negative review just sit without a response, even if it seems unreasonable, or if they’re exaggerating. Some bad reviews can be removed for falsifying their experience, but this is rarely the case and an unanswered poor review will make your practice appear unreliable.
Consider writing up a response asking the user to email you at your customer support email, and apologize for their poor experience. It’s best to take ownership and show that you are attempting to rectify the situation rather than acting as if it doesn’t exist.
Optimizing Google My Business (GMB)
Google My Business (GMB) is a linchpin of local SEO strategies. If you’re not familiar with the name, just know you’ve definitely seen one before. Whenever you search a business on Google, you’ll usually get a rectangle to the right of the search results. This section is your bread and butter for prospective visitors to your practice, providing them with nearly all information they’d need to know about you.
By claiming and verifying your GMB listing, ensuring all information is accurate, and optimizing your GMB profile with comprehensive details, high-quality photos, and frequent, engaging posts, you can make your practice stand out among your competitors An effectively optimized GMB listing provides potential patients with crucial information about your practice, such as business hours, services offered, and contact details. The inclusion of compelling visuals, such as images of your facility and team, creates a positive impression and helps potential patients feel more connected to your practice.
Enhancing Local Search Rankings
Elevating your local search rankings involves organic keyword optimization, optimizing your website for mobile-friendliness, consistent business information across the web, and the cultivation of local backlinks. These strategies boost your authority in local search results.
Keyword optimization ensures that your website, GMB listing, and blog posts contain relevant keywords that potential patients are likely to search for. For example, if you’ve got an orthodontic practice, ensure that the theme of orthodontics runs throughout your website and everywhere you show up online.
Mobile optimization ensures that your website is accessible and user-friendly on various devices, considering that many local searches occur on mobile devices. Recently, Google finalized their mobile-first Indexing process (which took 6 years!), now ensuring that sites optimized for mobile usability will outperform those which prioritize desktop optimization and leave mobile to the wayside. Do not underestimate your site performance when looking to improve search rankings. Overlooking this key factor is a surefire way to impede local search ranking improvements.
Consistent business information, including your business name, address, and phone number (NAP), across online directories and platforms, reinforces your practice’s legitimacy and trustworthiness.
Finally, local backlinks, acquired through relationships with local businesses and organizations, not only enhance your local search rankings but also demonstrate your practice’s involvement and integration within the community. This is often the most difficult aspect to improve as it requires input from other sites and businesses. While this outreach doesn’t seem necessary on initial thought, know that the more websites which have links on them pointing to your website, the better your chances of improving your search results.
To Win Big: Think Small
You don’t have to be the largest healthcare practice to succeed in improving your search rankings, and you certainly don’t have to spend the most money. Local SEO is a dynamic and indispensable strategy for healthcare practices seeking to engage their community, attract new patients, and establish trust and credibility.
Keep in mind, local SEO is an ongoing process that requires dedication and consistency. It can take years to develop a solid online presence, but like the adage goes: “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”
The positive impact of improving your SEO on your patient base and the overall success of your practice is like that tree. Nurture that tree, and the fruit will follow!
Still feel like you could use a partner in planting that tree? We’ve got you covered. Don’t hesitate to schedule a discovery call with us and see if we’re a good fit to take your digital marketing efforts, paid and organic, to the next level. Peace!