Six Local SEO Tips for Doctors and Dentists to Increase Google Traffic
Many providers in the healthcare industry are keen to improve their local SEO rankings, but they're also unsure where to begin.
Contrary to what some experts may say, using local SEO strategies to market your medical office or clinic doesn't take years to master. In terms of attracting customers, healthcare marketing is no different than marketing any business online. It's about knowing the right on-page and off-page SEO techniques.
Whether you're a doctor or dentist setting up a business listing for the first time, or you want to improve your current marketing strategies, use the following SEO techniques to increase your website's local search rankings and attract more patients to your practice.
1. Generate Positive Reviews
According to one healthcare survey, 72 percent of patients use online reviews when looking for a new physician. Reviews are often the first impression potential patients have of your practice, so they can directly impact patient numbers.
As well as being a significant part of the customer research process, the number of online reviews you receive also affects your search engine rankings. It is therefore essential to monitor your online reviews and encourage positive feedback from patients.
In as recent as 2018, review signals are shown to be one of the top 3 most important ranking factors for your website and Google My Business.
How do you generate new online reviews?
- Encourage staff to hand out leaflets or business cards to patients -- these should list several online review sites where they can leave a review.
- Link to your review profiles from your website.
- Leverage a review generation software that can automate the outreach process via email or text message
Do not just focus on the top review sites like Google My Business, Yelp and Facebook.
The niche sites in your industry carry important weight, too.
Three of the most popular healthcare-related review sites are:
You can't satisfy every single patient, but the key to encouraging positive reviews is to run a good practice with well-trained staff. You should also assign key personnel to respond to positive and negative online reviews.
2. Sign Up to Google My Business
To strengthen your medical and dental SEO campaigns, one of the best places to start is by submitting your practice to Google My Business.
Google My Business is a free tool for managing your online presence across Google. It includes Google Search, Google reviews and Google Maps.
First, find out if your office already has a business listing by searching for your business name on the Google My Business page.
To ensure Google knows you're an authentic business and to boost local SEO:
- Remove any duplicate listings.
- Include main focus keywords and city in your business description (Ex. XYZ Dental is a dental office in Atlanta).
- Ensure your name, address, and phone number match your contact info on the website.
- Show your hours of operation.
- Fill out your main services.
- List your business under 5 relevant categories.
- Include exterior and interior images of your clinic.
To sign up for your free business profile on Google, visit the Google My Business page.
Bonus: Providers are one of the few people that can claim a Google My Business. Make sure all the medical doctors or dentists in the practice have claimed and completed their Google My Business.
3. Build Citations
A citation is simply any online mention of your clinic or website. These mentions often include your business name, address and phone number. This is where the term "NAP" comes from. It's important to make sure your NAP is consistent across all your online directory listings.
Citations matter because they impact local search. For example, when someone searches for a doctor or dentist online, Google will display local results first. You'll also be more visible to thousands of potential patients that use online directories.
As well as general directories like Yelp, Yellowpages, Bing Places and Superpages, there are specialized directories for medical practices. Consider submitting your profile to the following high-authority sites:
- US News Doctor Finder
- The American Dental Association
- 1800 Dentist
- Every Dentist
4. Use Schema Markup
Schema markup is a type of semantic vocabulary that is added to your website to make it easier for search engines to understand what your website is all about. It also leads to enhanced search engine listings, or rich snippets.
This means that potential patients will be shown extra information in search results, such as business hours and star ratings. When you appear as a rich snippet, it can have a dramatic impact on click-through rates to your website.
To increase your chances of being featured in snippets:
- Create web pages dedicated to answering specific patient questions -- post the actual questions followed by your answers.
- Provide more in-depth, audience-focused content.
- Make sure your website content is easy to read and scan -- include clear headings, numbered steps, and lists.
- Use social media to promote content that answers common questions.
- Add local business-related schema in the head of each location page.
For more information, visit this detailed guide on how to boost your SEO using schema markup.
5. Optimize Pages for Keywords
Keyword research is a crucial part of local SEO. The trick is to not only use a focus keyword on each page but also use LSI keyword variations with synonyms and related phrases.
Start your keyword research with a free tool like Google's Keyword Planner to search for keywords with relatively high monthly search volumes.
Once you have your focus keyword find a good LSI Keyword research tool like LSIGraph and enter in your focus keyword to find highly relevant long tail keywords to include in the page's content.
So that search engine crawlers understand your pages have local intent, use your primary keywords and phrases in:
- The URL -- try to include the page topic and your location.
- The title tag -- this is what searchers see in search engine results pages. Include your target keyword, your city location and your business name.
- The meta description -- this appears below the title tag in results pages. Encourage click-throughs by describing the benefits of your business.
- Headings and image alt text.
If possible, regularly create new content, inserting keywords that refer to your particular practice, its location, and your services. For example, publish local news stories, how-to articles, location guides and behind-the-scenes stories.
6. Develop Your Backlink Profile
Link signals are one of the top SEO ranking factors. For doctors, dentists, and any healthcare professional, backlinks are beneficial in two ways:
First, a link on an authoritative industry website will vastly improve your visibility with online patients.
Second, search engines view backlinks from authority sites as a sign of quality and credibility, giving higher rankings to pages with quality links.
To increase backlinks to your site:
- Offer to guest blog on relevant third-party websites, sharing your knowledge.
- Write an article for a local media news site about your area of expertise.
- Offer to do an interview for a podcast.
- Create an in-depth guide and promote it on social media.
- Sponsor a local event.
- Take a survey of patients and offer the results to other businesses and blogs in return for a backlink.
Local Business SEO Tips: Summing Up
If you're in the healthcare business and you're not sure how to do local SEO properly, keep these tips in mind. Having some concrete medical SEO strategies in place will quickly boost your local rankings and help you build on your future marketing campaigns.
Remember that for any local business, SEO is a long-term strategy, but the results are long-lasting. When you get it right, it will maximize your online presence, strengthen your reputation, drive valuable website traffic and help you stay ahead of the competition for years to come.