Posted: January 19, 2017

Why local search matters for hospitals and health systems

If you’ve attended any marketing conferences or webinars recently, you’ve likely heard the words “local search,” “local SEO,” “listings management,” and/or “local listings.” They’re everywhere! This post simplifies and explains the benefits of local search for hospitals and health systems. We will also share plenty of data to support the importance of local search for all hospitals in order to remain competitive.

97% of all consumers use the internet to research local goods and services.

Local search is of great importance for all healthcare organizations – from small medical practices to multi-state health systems. Making your brand visible, recognizable, and more accessible is likely one of your marketing goals; and local search can be one of the most effective tools in achieving this goal. Consumers today frequently search for local businesses online, as well as provide feedback online, including healthcare providers. Failing to recognize this trend will be detrimental in the long run.

While sites like WebMD and Mayo Clinic have dominated the Google search results page (SERP) by producing unique content on a vast number of health topics, patients are looking for local medical services, providers, and facilities. Local search is one of the fastest growing opportunities for healthcare marketers – it’s where your hospital has the best chance of competing. If your hospital or health system is not making an effort to be found with localized search results, you are likely losing prospective patients to your competitors. Successful local search and online reputation strategies can also lead to improved profit margins.

Your patients are looking for you in local search listings (aka Google Local Pack).

google-local-search-results

Local search leads to better brand visibility. When it comes to being visible to your target consumer, there is no better way to achieve brand visibility than through local search. Based on a recent case study we completed with Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, MI, their local listings show up an average of 241K times for searches where their brand was searched and 85K times for non-brand specific searches such as “hospital.” These current and prospective patients are looking for hours of operation, a phone number, address, website, or directions.

With 77% of patients making use of search engine results before booking an appointment at a hospital or a local practice, the only way to capitalize on this trend is to make your website or local listing on Google as noticeable as possible.

Visibility on the first page of Google results matters too. Most people searching on the internet choose a business that is on the first page. The top 5-10 listings in any search earn 90% of the clicks. Failure to maintain a presence near the top of the first page will prevent potential patients from finding you. A strong local search strategy is needed to ensure that your organization is found first when potential patients search for the services you provide.

Going one step further, it is critically important to present accurate information in your listings. More than 7 out of 10 patients report that they lose trust in healthcare brands that present incorrect information (e.g. name, address, phone number) within a Google listing.

Patients are taking action on your local search listings

Local search leads to better conversions online. A consumer that has searched for your brand’s name has an intent to “buy.” This type of traffic is highly convertible, as these are targeted consumers looking for your services, facilities, or physicians.

Consider these statistics from our recent Henry Ford Hospital case study:

A total of 104K actions were taken on the Henry Ford Hospital listing.

  • 56% were requests for driving directions.
  • 19% were phone calls to their facility.
  • 17% were clicks to the Henry Ford website.

From our experience working with healthcare organizations to manage their contact information (name, address, phone number – NAP) on the web for physicians and locations, we know that 90% of information is incomplete, outdated, or simply inaccurate!

Considering the Henry Ford Hospital case study, can you imagine how the results would have changed if their name, phone number, address, or website were inaccurate on Google?

local-search-statistics

  1. Inaccurate data leads to lost phone calls (not to mention dissatisfactory customer experience).
  2. Fewer phone calls means fewer leads.
  3. A loss in leads reduces revenue.
  4. Lower revenues weaken profit margins.

It is a vicious cycle that ends with a less than healthy financial outcome. This is ultimately the reason local search matters to hospitals and health systems – it eventually affects your bottom line.

Want for More Tips from Local SEO & Healthcare Experts?

Call 888-633-7335 or request your free healthcare marketing assessment today. Influence Health’s Listings and Reputation Management solution provides competitive insights into how your listings are performing online. You also have the ability to monitor, solicit, and respond to online reviews from one integrated platform.