local marketing

Five Steps to Local SEO Success for Healthcare Providers

Traditional advertising for healthcare practices such as Direct Mail, Newspaper Ads, and Yellow Page ads are no longer an effective method of garnering new patients.  With the advent of the smart phone and local reviews, the old ways of advertising are gone because now consumers can access to virtually unlimited content online.  This article offers five steps that every local business – especially healthcare providers can take to succeed at local SEO.

Studies show that the majority of Americans now search the internet for local businesses.  In addition, Google now exclusively uses Google places reviews when showing the local listings.   For these reasons local healthcare providers need to be found on the internet in order to compete.   So what is needed to improve Local SEO for Healthcare Service Providers?  These ten steps can get you started and ranking for your local search terms.

Step One – You Need a User-friendly, Search-friendly Website

Your home page should have a video, a quick contact form, links to articles and information on your specialty, a mobile version that works on iPhone, Droid, Blackberry, and iPads, and give your visitors a taste of exactly the service they will receive when they walk through your waiting room doors.  The key is to create a website that has a lot of great original content that is quickly and easily accessible and compelling enough to engage high quality patients.  The main goal of your website should be to have visitors schedule an appointment or ask you for information.  For this, offer them a free consultation.

Step Two – Add Tracking Code to Your Website Pages

Tracking the performance of your website is absolutely critical to being successful, and the free Google Analytics code you can put on every page of your site allows you to set up goals to see how productive the call to action buttons on your site are.  You can track where your visitors come from, what they searched to find your site, how long and what pages they accessed during their stay, and the pages they exited from.  Armed with these statistics, you can make intelligent decisions about what content is needed on the site and what phrases to target in your marketing.

Step Three – Claiming and Optimizing your Google Places Listing

The next step to dominating local search is to claim and optimize your Google Places, MSN Business, and Yahoo Local listings. These listings now show up on the search results page whenever a local service is searched (even when a city or town name is not specified – based on the searcher’s IP address.)  A map shows next to these listings with pushpins indicating the service providers in the area.  The search engines offer these listings to every business for free and make it very difficult for any business to create a local listing if they are not actually physically located in that area.

To claim the business listing, Google either calls the phone number or sends a post card to the physical address.  Once the listing is claimed, the business can edit and enhance it by adding video, images, information about services, hours and payment methods, and encourage customers to review them online.  Just having a map listing will certainly help, but to dominate in local search, the business will have to try to get links to the listing and use the relevant search terms in the service and review areas. There are many other factors that go into the ranking of these listings, and in many cases the business should employ an SEO specialist to help in this area.

It’s very important that the information on your Google places listing is accurate and matches your website.  Make sure your business name, location and contact numbers are all consistent.

It’s a very good idea to ask your happy customers to add reviews to your listing as well.

Step Four – Get Social with a Blog, LinkedIn, Google Plus, Facebook and Twitter

Local community sites show in search listings, so it is important for local businesses to participate there.

The more local links and places where your voice is heard, the more Google will find your business relevant and increase its search rankings as well.  So not only does participating in LinkedIn groups, Facebook groups and other forums help you get in front of potential customers, it also makes you seem more relevant to Google, so that it is more likely to place you higher in searches.

Having a blog is a very important first step in social media marketing.  Your blog is under your control, and gives you a voice to begin discussions, demonstrating your expertise in your industry.  Blog posts can easily be automated to update your other social profiles such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Step Five: Be Active in Your Local Community

Most local healthcare providers are already active in their communities, so this step is easy.  The idea of supporting local charitable endeavors or actively offering your time and participating in community events, isn’t new.  What is new is that now local press coverage appears in online media with links pointing to your site or social profiles, and these links stay forever on the internet, continually searchable and continually providing you with good press and search rankings.

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