Optimizing your website for local search may not be simple, but it is essential. According to the Pew Research Center, 77% of patients use search before making an appointment. Which means you absolutely must optimize your provider profiles, location detail pages, and service line pages. Otherwise, you risk not showing up when prospective patients are searching for a healthcare provider, treatment, or specialty near them.

So, which elements do I need to optimize?

There’s a lot to consider when optimizing your healthcare organization’s website, especially when you have many priorities to balance, including providers, locations, and specialties. Don’t let this process overwhelm you. Start small and go for some easy wins, beginning with optimizing…

On-page content, including:

  • Page titles: When it comes to optimizing page titles, a few of the best practices recommended by Google include: 1) choosing a title that accurately describes the page’s content; 2) creating unique title tags for each page; and 3) using brief, but descriptive titles with keywords where possible.
  • Meta description tags: Meta descriptions tell search engines what your page is about and may be used as a snippet by Google. Make sure your meta descriptions accurately describe the content that’s on the page. You should also create a unique description for each page.
  • Links: Internal links (links to other pages on your site) can also help boost your on-page optimization, because they can help Google determine relevancy of a page and provide a natural way to infuse keywords in anchor text.

Off-page content, such as directory listings:
As a result of helping healthcare organizations manage their local listings information, we know that 90% of information is incomplete, outdated, or simply inaccurate. So, be sure to consistently claim, cleanse, and monitor your local listings in directories like Google My Business and Bing Places for Business.

There are many other directories, of course, including those operated by the chamber of commerce and business associations in the communities you serve. Keeping directory listings up to date is an ongoing process. Be sure to frequently monitor your NAP (name, address, phone number) information for your physicians and locations.

How do you optimize the above elements?
There’s a lot that goes into optimizing your healthcare organization’s website pages, but a few of the basic best practices you’ll want to follow are:

  • Know your customer, so that you pinpoint which keywords/phrases to target on the page.
  • Focus on optimizing your location and provider pages by:
    • Including City/State in the <title> tag.
    • Adding City/State to the H1 heading, when appropriate.
    • Using City/State naturally in the body copy.
    • Including City/State in the URL, if possible.
    • Using City/State in the meta description.
    • Using the provider specialty in available SEO meta tags and URLs.
    • Including the location or provider name, address, and phone number.
  • Carefully consider page titles, backlinks, and relevance to keywords/search terms.

Once you have the basics down, turn to the Google SEO Starter Guide to help you understand all of the different ranking factors important in on-page content optimization.

Automated tools that can make optimization easier
Optimization has many moving parts that must be continuously monitored and updated. While the process can take up a lot of time and resources, you can make it much easier by incorporating SEO-friendly software. Your CMS, for example, should have a framework for SEO titles, metadata, H1s, image alt-tags, and other optimization functions.

Want to learn more about optimizing your website to better engage healthcare consumers? Read our guide to winning local search, The Quest to be Found.