There’s no question that search engine optimization (SEO) can get more eyes on your healthcare content. The real question is: are they the right eyes? If your target market can’t see your optimized pages, then the traffic you attract online isn’t likely to lead to your hospital door. That’s where local SEO plays a pivotal role. In today’s post, we’ll explain this increasingly important tactic—and how you can boost online visibility where it matters most.

What is Local SEO?

As major search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing seek to serve up ever more relevant results, they’ve moved beyond looking purely at keywords, focusing more on the intent of the user’s search. A 2014 Google study showed that 4 out of 5 consumers want local information—a fact that has caused a significant shift in how search engines respond to queries. Looking at these recent Google results pages, you’ll notice the local focus in a few ways:

Local Pack

The outlined area, in prime position below paid ads and above organic listings, is called a Local Pack, triggered when users add a geographic modifier to their search or their search intent is clearly local (e.g. the search query includes the words ‘near me’)

The Local Pack is especially prevalent in mobile search results as it captures consumers in ‘near me’ moments. This means mobile users are often served local results that are relevant to their location at the time of the search. Local business listings are the backbone of these mobile search results.

Knowledge Graph

Search engines are primarily designed to collate data about everything imaginable, sync the data with their search algorithm and make the information quickly and easily accessible. To display branded searches, such as ‘Sansum Clinic Bariatrics,’ Google populates an area to the right of the results, called a Knowledge Graph. For healthcare providers, it often comes with a facility image, map, location information and patient reviews.

Google uses authoritative sites such as Wikipedia and Freebase as sources to gather data for brands, and then populates information in its Knowledge Graph. Even though Knowledge Graph has been around since 2012, most brands haven’t yet maximized the power of the Knowledge Graph. Getting your healthcare brand on the Graph results could make you stand out among competitors and help position your organization as a strong brand.

There are a few ways to increase your chances of being represented on Google's Knowledge Graph:

  • Create/manage your Wikipedia page
  • Create/use a Google+ Page
  • Set up a YouTube channel
  • Use structured data
  • Optimize your web content for search prominence

By making sure you cover all these bases, you're likely to give your brand extra “zoom-in” in Google's search results.

Blended Local Results

Based on the volume for a particular search term, as well as the perceived intent of the search, Google may choose to show blended local results, where location and contact information are appended to an organic listing (via the Local Pack), as shown above.

All of these display types are in addition to the organic listings, where well-optimized pages take priority in local search. And this attention to location is only getting more refined: recent Google algorithm updates like Pigeon have tightened or even regrouped smaller geographic areas to enhance local results.

The need to optimize healthcare content for local search has also been driven by the mobile boom. These on-the-go users aren’t just looking for information: 44% of users who research hospitals on a mobile device make an appointment, according to another Google study. So, it’s crucial to put your providers and facilities front and center when patients open their search apps.

Want More Insight from the SEO Healthcare Experts?

Influence Health is proud to be one of the few healthcare partners with a dedicated SEO practice. Our winning SEO strategies help elevate your content where your patients are, and even identify new markets to target.

We’d love to talk about how a strategic partnership can help you drive local visibility and volume. Call 888-633-7335 or request your free SEO assessment today.