In a previous post Local SEO: Enhancing Visibility in Your Hospital’s Target Market, we discussed the most important aspects of local SEO. Today’s post will go a step further into explaining why local SEO is especially important in healthcare marketing.

Why is Local SEO Essential for Healthcare Marketers?

For general medical condition searches, content powerhouses like WebMD and Mayo Clinic dominate the results, regardless of the user’s location. It’s why as SEO healthcare strategists, we typically don’t target these pages for our clients.

But for all service, treatment, provider and location specific queries, it’s crucial that hospitals establish their place in local search, especially considering these prospective patients are closer to conversion.

On a basic level, most healthcare organizations have a physical address and provide services for a specific geographic area, so the business is reliant on driving local patient volume. Having a localized SEO strategy is particularly important for health systems with multiple facilities across a large geographic distribution. (Of course, there are exceptions, such as regional hospitals looking to expand their reach, or providers with nationally recognized programs that attract traffic from across the country.).

The need to optimize your 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 on hospital selection. So, it’s crucial to put your providers and facilities front and center when patients open their search apps.

In addition to optimizing your web content, your current and prospective patients are relying on you to provide them with the correct contact information for each of your providers and locations while they look to schedule an appointment, use their mobile device for driving directions and as they research for a specialist in their area.

Making local SEO an essential part of your marketing mix, benefits you in the following ways:

  • Ensures consistent and accurate location and physician information across the web
  • Improves your organization’s web visibility to prospective patients in your target market
  • It is an integral part of your overall mobile strategy as it captures consumers in “near me” moments, particularly on mobile devices. Mobile users are often served local results that are relevant to their location at the time of the search

How Do I Ensure Local Visibility for My Hospital?

The good news is that search engines already do some of the work for you, using search settings, IP addresses, social signals and a variety of other ranking factors to deliver local results for broad terms like ‘hospital’ or ‘orthopedics’. The not as good news? They’re doing the same for all healthcare providers in your area, so there are still things you must do to maximize your presence in local search results:

On-page Optimization

Unique, detail-rich, high-quality content will always be the foundation of a successful SEO strategy. It’s a matter of localizing the experience as much as possible. One important but often overlooked tactic is ensuring each of your page titles (title tags) includes geographic modifiers—usually the city and state in your primary service area—along with your keywords and hospital brand name. Also make sure to include area-relevant information throughout your core content.

In a health system site, ensure your facility landing, contact and team pages include physical addresses and phone numbers. Also replace generic geographic descriptions like ‘area’ or ‘region’ with target market modifiers, as well as vernacular (e.g., tri-state, the Valley, etc.) which patients may use and search engines see as clues. Embedding maps on those pages also helps emphasize locality.

Off-page Optimization

In search, it’s not just what’s on your website that counts. That’s especially true for local search, where directory listing services like Google+ Local have been established to help area businesses increase their online visibility.

In the study noted above, Google found that 75% of healthcare searches include a brand in the search query, which means more than likely the search results page will include local or map listings. For healthcare providers, then, it’s important to submit physician and facility location information to these directories, and keep those details up to date. Search engines are not apt to apt to display information if they don’t trust its accuracy (not to mention frustration your patients will feel when they arrive at the wrong location). Learn more about directory listings and reputation management.

Want More Insight from the SEO Healthcare Experts?

Influence Health is proud to be one of the few healthcare partners with a dedicated team of local SEO, web analytics and content strategy experts. 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 search visibility and volume. Call 888-633-7335 or request your free local SEO assessment today.

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