Guide to Local Medical SEO & Beating Your Competition in Google Search
Now more than ever before winning the local medical SEO game for your medical practice is extremely doable, even if you are a small or brand new practice, because of the seismic shift toward local SEO.
In years past, you needed to have clout, backlinks & tremendous website traffic to have a fighting chance to outrank your colleagues and their established medical practice. Now, armed with the proper knowledge, time & consistency you can not only quickly show up in the Google local “3 pack” but you can be right up at the top.
What would it mean to your practice as a physician to dominate local medical search results for your practice type?
- Increase in new patients?
- More high revenue procedures?
- More consultations or appointments?
- Overall practice growth?
It is now within your grasps all you need to do is jump into the local medical search engine optimization a.k.a. medical SEO game and know what you are doing. Knowledge is power when it comes to ranking in medical SEO and with this checklist, you will be well on your way to new calls, website visits & direction requests.
Follow these local medical SEO steps & bask in the increased search results. All you need to do now is track the results am I right?
10 Point Checklist for First Page Ranking for Your Practice & Local Medical SEO
1. It Starts with Your Medical Website
Sounds like a no brainer but before we can look at the other points to solid local medical SEO it starts right here. Correcting and updating your medical website and the information contained therein. Make sure you have a dedicated contact page that contains your NAP (name, address, phone) contact details that will be uniformly used on all other listings & reviews sites moving forward.
Uniformity is key in the whole scenario so start off on the right foot here. Put the contact details in the universal footer of the site & nestle it again on the contact page of your website because this is one of the first places Google will reference for these details.
Read this to learn more about designing a medical website that converts new patients.
2. Reviews on Your Website
This is a carry over from the first point but is so critical it deserves its own place on the list. When addressing local medical SEO for you practice & ranking first on Google make sure you have a reviews/testimonials page on your website. Make it a good blend of what we call “first party” reviews which are those that people have given straight to the practice and third party reviews which are pulled off sites like Facebook, Google & Yelp.
Reviews are a strong indicator of page rank in Google’s eyes so make sure you have some on your website. We will be addressing off-site reviews again in a few minutes.
3. Claim the Practice Google My Business Listing
To rank first on Google for your medical practice you need to make sure your clinic is listed on Google My Business. In order to do so, you need to claim, verify & update your listing or create a listing if Google has not already done so for the practice.
You may be surprised to see the practice already listed in Google Maps even though you have never done so yourself. This is why is it critical to be proactive with local medical SEO because Google is doing it for you whether you ignore it or not. You do not want people to receive the incorrect information so take it into your own hands.
Once you have claimed the listing make sure to take the time to complete the verification process as this will get your updates live on Google and unlock critical analytics. After the verification process complete the profile in its entirety using the same information for NAP that you used in tip #1 on your medical website contact page.
4. Create a Practice Facebook Business Page
If you do not have a Facebook business page for your practice you are WAY behind the curve for numerous reasons but you may have not considered one of those reasons being medical search engine optimization.
Correct. Facebook is critical for first page search results. Why? Because 9/10 times if you do a quick search of a competitor’s dermatology practice (for example) their Facebook page will be one of the highest ranking listings on the first page. Same goes for every other specialty or primary care practice out there.
Facebook has ultimate clout in search ranking and you are losing landscape and visibility by not having a practice Facebook page so go do it now.
5. Claim Third Party Reviews & Listings Profiles
Claiming your Google My Business and creating your Facebook are a giant step in the right direction for successful local medical SEO and making it on the first page of Google for your practice. However, it does not end there. There are 100+ additional listings & reviews directories that should be claimed, verified and completed using the identical NAP information that you have used above. To stress even further UNIFORMITY is key in all things medical SEO.
This is because Google has much higher confidence in returning your practice in search queries if it has a slew of information confirming that the details it has are accurate.
Start with the most important listings, including Yelp, WebMD, YP, etc. & move down the list to the lesser know yet still critical listings platforms.
6. Claim & Complete Physician Profiles on Healthgrades & Vitals
As you well know, the medical vertical is its own unique world. This is also true when it comes to medical SEO. There are nuances that are unique only to the medical industry and that is true with physician profiles. It is critical to claim & complete profiles on the major platforms like Google, Vitals & Healthgrades for each of your physicians.
Do not overlook this step as often times patients do physician specific searches instead of looking for a practice prior to making an appointment or coming into the office. They want to do research on you like it or not and these profiles are often times the first things they will run into during their searches.
7. Claim Apple Maps Listing & Complete Profile
Did you know that as of 2014 52.3% of US cell phone owners use an iPhone? That is a truly staggering statistic that is probably even higher in 2017 considering the endless amount of phone options available to people they default to Apple. Therefore, it is critical to not ignore your Apple Maps listing.
Find it. Claim it. Verify it. Complete it. It will go a long way in aiding people looking for your practice type in a given local area. Be particularly careful in the categories you select for the practice as this plays a key role in what search query types you will show up in for local SEO on Apple maps.
8. Generate New Patient Reviews on Google
Now that you have followed the instructions above and added a reviews section to your website and claimed 100+ third party directory and review site listings it is time to put a major emphasis on collecting new patient reviews from your satisfied patients.
Reviews are one of the most important ranking signals for Google and often times in the Google “3 Pack” the ones near the top have several solid 5-star patient reviews. Google see that as sort of a social proof that says other consumers in a given area have enjoyed the services that they have received at your practice so they should send other people that same medical practice’s search result.
Doctors oftentimes give push back on addressing new patient review generation because of the fear of bad reviews from disgruntled patients. This is an unfortunate reality because people have trouble understand their insurance coverage and direct their anger at your practice when they receive an additional bill despite your efforts to communicate all charges clearly to them.
While this concern is justified it is often times unavoidable so you need to work continuously to counteract this by generating new, high-quality reviews on a consistent basis. It is one of the most important things to be done in order to show up on the first page of Google for a medical practice.
It can be quite a chore to generate new reviews from patients and it needs to be done as close to the time services were rendered in order to increase the likelihood of them leaving a review. Therefore, I highly recommend automating a portion of this process.
Read this to learn more about automation capabilities for new patient review generation.
9. Develop an Ongoing Content Marketing Strategy for Medical SEO
Local SEO is broken out into two main components: one time & on-going. Both are critical to winning in local search and staying at the top long term. Content marketing falls into the on-going strategy to get you there and keep you there.
Content marketing encompasses and content creation used to generate a particular action or reaction out of consumers. It can be text, images, videos, infographics or more as the delivery method. A good blend of all of the above works the best as different patients prefer to consume their content by different means.
Investing in a well thought out, strategic content marketing strategy that is backed by keyword and competitor analysis may be the most important long-term ranking factor.
Note: Make sure you are utilizing Google Analytics to track which content is most successful and what avenues are the best delivery so you are not wasting your time and efforts and optimizing resources.
10. Focus on Building new backlinks to Your Medical Website
Backlinking is another critical on-going portion of a solid local medical SEO strategy to get a medical practice ranking first on Google. What is a backlink exactly? Moz defines a backlink as: a backlink, also called an “inbound link” or “incoming link,” is created when one website links to another. The link between the two websites is the backlink — so named because it points back to the linked-to page.
Ever quality backlink serves as an additional validation point (similar to a review) that another credible website is giving your practice the “thumbs up” so to speak. The two key terms here are QUALITY & CREDIBLE when it comes to receiving backlinks. The more well know the site or relevant to your particular business the better local SEO juice you will receive. Example: a reference in a WebMD article to a doctor in the practice is a big backlink compared to a local listings website that is linking to your medical website.
Note: Buyer beware of agencies and people claiming to be able to acquire 100s of backlinks a month for your medical website to increase your SEO ranking. These are generally a scam and considered a black hat approach to medical SEO. Google not only frowns upon this practice but it can get you demoted, worse case even banned from Google so be very cautious.
Following these steps will get a physician and their medical practice on the path to medical SEO search success. Start with claiming listings, proper structure with your website and roll into a solid on-going SEO strategy. While showing up at the top of organic search results is not an overnight fix it can be done quickly if the proper process is followed and consistency is achieved monthly.
Invest the time and energy in local medical SEO for your practice and you will be delighted with the increased website traffic, phone calls and overall new patient leads that are generated for the practice. Trust me it will be worth the investment
If this all seems a little overwhelming to you or you want to perform an SEO audit to find out exactly where the practice is at and how you could improve your ranking and website traffic give us a call. Intrepy Healthcare Marketing offers industry leading expert medical SEO and search engine optimization services that have been proven time and again to generate new website traffic and patient leads to your practice. We use a variety or techniques and strategies to generate impressive results. We are here to help! Give us a call 678-250-4757 or fill out our contact form.