Posted: February 22, 2018

If you’re not yet convinced of the importance of local search to your healthcare organization, consider these statistics:

Furthermore, 44% of users who research hospitals on a mobile device make an appointment, making it crucial to put your providers and facilities front and center when patients open their search apps.

So, what can you do to help your healthcare organization dominate local search in your area? Start by following these best practices:

Best Practice Tip #1 – On-page optimization
Unique, detail-rich, high-quality content is the foundation of a successful SEO strategy. The key is to localize the experience as much as possible. Make sure your page titles (title tags) and meta descriptions include geographic modifiers — usually the city and state of your primary service area. Also be sure to include your target keywords and hospital brand name. Craft this text as carefully as you would a paid search ad or billboard, as its your opportunity to convince a prospective patient to choose your organic listing over a competitor’s. And, check to make sure your titles and descriptions aren’t getting cut off in search results.

If you’re working with a larger site that covers an entire health system, you’ll also want to make sure your facility landing, contact, and team pages include physical addresses and phone numbers. Replace generic geographic descriptions like “area” or “region” with target market modifiers, and use familiar terms (e.g., tri-state, the Valley, etc.) that consumers are likely to use in search. Finally, you should also embed maps on these pages to further emphasize locality.

Best Practice Tip #2 – Off-page optimization
Google found that 75% of healthcare searches include a brand in the search query, which means the search results page will likely include a local knowledge panel or Google Map listings. For all industries, but especially in healthcare, it’s important to submit physician and facility location information to online business directories and keep those details up-to-date.

So, how can you make the most of your online directory listings?

  • Start by making sure that your healthcare organization is listed correctly and consistently on top online business directories, like Yelp, Facebook, Foursquare, and others.
  • Claim your organization’s Google My Business and Bing Places for Business page. It’s free and can get you incredible exposure if you’re optimized enough to show up in Google’s local three-pack. Also, look for respectable local directories and get your organization listed there as well.
  • Make sure each location’s name, address, and phone number (NAP) appears on the major citation data aggregators - Infogroup, Neustar, Acxiom, and Factual. Make sure your listings are consistent across all directories and check for discrepancies like misspellings, missing suite numbers, and incorrect phone numbers.

Best Practice Tip #3 – Make the most of consumer reviews
According to Search Engine Land, 84 percent of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation, and seven out of 10 customers will leave a review for a business if asked by the business.

Asking your patients to share about their experiences is an important local ranking factor, that also helps to improve click-through-rates within local search results. You can simplify this process by using reputation management software to track, manage and request patient reviews across popular websites like Google Maps, Facebook, Healthgrades and more.

Finally, whenever a review is left about your business, positive or negative, be sure to respond to it. This shows those prospective patients reading the reviews that your organization cares about what its customers think. This means you need a carefully thought-out strategy for responding to negative reviews appropriately.

Best Practice Tip #4 – Simplify local search with SEO-friendly software
Search engine optimization can be a full-time job for healthcare marketers, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Thankfully, there are SEO-friendly software solutions that can help you follow and understand best practices and makes technical SEO/content optimization almost automatic.

A good solution has automatic features built in that can do some of the heavy lifting for you. For example, your CMS should have a framework for SEO titles, metadata, H1s, image alt-tags, etc. already established.

Want to learn more about ranking in local search? Download our guide, The Quest to Be Found: A Healthcare Local Search Best Practices eBook.