Gone are the days of healthcare consumers browsing the Yellow Pages or looking through a physical directory for a physician, specialist, or hospital in their locale. Today, consumers are hitting the internet to find the information they need, and if your organization or office isn't listed in the right or enough directory listings, or worse — if it's incorrect, you may come up short in searches. That's why it's important to assess your listing strategy and ensure you're getting the local SEO you need to come out on top.

What's more, if you have providers practicing at multiple locations or facilities, it's imperative your directory listings are continuously monitored and updated, since any trouble with your local listings information could result in healthcare consumers not being able to locate you or your multiple offices.

Accurate local directory and healthcare listings are imperative for patients and potential patients to not only find your offices but to discover providers who are right for them or in their network. On the provider side, accurate listings can prevent claims from being denied, streamline communications with health plans, and simplify referrals and prior authorizations. In fact, accurate listings keep admin costs low and drive down costs across the healthcare industry.

Since there are dozens of directories, taking time to optimize and analyze which directories your consumers are going to use is crucial. Once you have a strategy for how to monitor and update the multitude of directories out there, it's time to optimize the content for your directory listing. Here's how to get started:

1. Claim your listings. Some directories will let you verify that you are the right person to update and maintain your directory. You should have one contact in your organization who does this and is tasked with keeping the listing up to date.

2. Consistency is key. One important factor that affects your local rankings is NAP —name, address, and phone number. While that seems standard enough, ensure that your listings are the same across all directories. If your street address includes a direction such as North or West, make sure it's either always spelled out or always abbreviated with N or W. Likewise, if your address includes a number street such as 12th Ave., ensure it's the same across all listings, and not Twelfth Avenue or 12th Street. This small step is imperative to ensure directories don't see different addresses and list you as separate businesses. Note: some local and healthcare directories have default formatting (i.e. Bldg 2 instead of Building 2), making it tough in some cases to match across all sources exactly - but these small variances are okay as long as you're auditing local directories to ensure duplicate listings are not created as a result.

3. Accurately describe your organization. In healthcare, it's essential to provide accurate key words that describe you, eg, “Physicians office," “cardiologist," “hospital," or “healthcare system. “ But don't get overzealous with keyword stuffing (in other words, padding words to try to get in more info), since that can backfire. Some directories will no longer accept the overuse of descriptive words. Use just enough words to describe your business or office accurately.

4. Include hours of operation. This seems like a no brainer, but be sure to include office hours, including weekends, holidays, and seasonal hours. Make sure special hours are noted. For example, if an office or location is closed on Friday afternoons, that should be included. We understand physician office hours can change from week to week, but where possible including hours are helpful for both prospective patients and help provide a more complete local profile.

5. Use photos. Photos can help bring healthcare consumers to your facility or office when they include attractive interior or exterior shots, pictures of staff and/or patients, and they help consumers identify your location when they arrive.

6. Utilize reviews. Many directories give you the ability to collect and display online reviews. This step is helpful to consumers who can both see the listing and get reviews in one click, which also helps build trust and credibility for your office or organization. Search engines prioritize sites and listings that include user-generated content, such as reviews, so this can help your organization's listings show up before your competitors.

7. Looking good online looks good for recruitment. If clinicians, physicians, and medical professionals see your clean, accurate, engaging listings, you'll have an easier time with recruitment and staff hires than if local professionals interested in your organization have trouble finding you, or confuse you with other offices or organizations in the area. And if you've invested time in making local listings management part of your digital marketing strategy, you can tout this effort as a reason why a prospective physician should select you for their next employment.

8. Correct listings reflect positively on your organization. Finally, if your listings are accurate and complete, your organization's first touch point with a prospective patient will be a positive one vs. alienating healthcare consumers who have trouble finding you or have to deal with incorrect hours, addresses, or phone numbers even before their first appointment.

Accurate information on multiple directories improves your local SEO performance, but keeping up with the number of directories and changes your organization goes through can be overwhelming. Finding a partner to help manage the task can save you time and ensure you're getting the full return on your local listings, while also keeping your patients happier from the first touch point.

Want to learn more about how to rise to the top in local search? Download our Local Search ebook.