All Healthcare is Local

The top 6 things you need to know about local search optimization
Stephen Heitz, Chief Innovation Officer

If you’re looking for a new family physician or specialist, you probably won’t be looking two states over. And when searching for an emergency clinic or imaging lab, you would surely prefer one close to home or work.

This is why local search optimization is so important for hospitals, physician groups and health plans. As a consumer, you want Google (or Bing or Yahoo) to offer authoritative and convenient search results. And if you’re a business, you want to be found.

Here’s why:

  • 4 in 5 consumers use search engines to find local information
  • 50% of consumers who conducted a local search on their smartphone visited a store within a day, and 34% who searched on a computer/tablet did the same 1

Here are 6 things your healthcare business should be doing to improve your chances of being found during an online local search.

1. Ensure you’re using a robust locator tool. This is especially important if your organization has multiple locations. You want consumers to easily find all your facilities. The best locator plugins allow multiple ways to search—address, city or zip code. Some present maps and provide directions. It’s important that the locator tool be installed on your website rather than directing people to a third-party provider. Also, each location needs its own dedicated page on your site.

2. Follow NAP address conventions. Addresses on your website must speak Google’s language. If all your locations use the specified format for names, addresses and phone numbers (aka NAP), there is a good chance Google’s algorithm will list you correctly. Google is looking for an exact match, and doesn’t like it when you spell out Avenue instead of using AVE. Google doesn’t appreciate periods or lower-case letters. You get the idea. If you don’t follow address conventions, it’s possible that search engines will devalue your content and locations, or perhaps create multiple “ghost” locations. Services such as Yext can help.

3. Promote reviews. Google likes user-generated content, especially when they take the form of reviews. To Google, a review is an authenticated testimonial. Think of it this way. If one of your customers says “This is the best minute clinic for minor health issues” and leaves you a four-star rating, Google’s computers might rank you high for the “best local health clinic.” For some healthcare institutions, such as hospitals and physicians that don’t often ask for reviews, this will be a true paradigm shift. But the rewards and uplift in your search rankings can be too significant to ignore. Tools such as Grade.us can convert and manage customer reviews.

4. Discover your local search terms. A good way to make your website friendly for local search is to ensure that your site mirrors what people in your geographical market are looking for. This means understanding the exact keyword phrases used to search for you and your competitors. Google AdWords can help you research the best keywords to use on your site and when optimizing content.

5. Get listed. This one takes some legwork, but it can pay great dividends. Search engines like it when businesses are listed in local directories. Getting listed lends an aura of legitimacy. The more other websites and directories feature your locations (including the address and phone number of your various facilities) the more Google is likely to pick up on that and help consumers find you. Your agency can help you select and get listed in local directories.

6. Be social media savvy. As with directories, your local search rankings will improve when you take the time to build your social media profile. This includes ensuring your Facebook and YouTube accounts present robust content. You should also make sure you are listed correctly on Yelp and Foursquare.

Killer Local Search Stats 

  • 4 in 5 consumers use search engines to find local information

  • 50% of consumers who conducted a local search on their smartphone visited a store within a day, and 34% who searched on a computer/tablet did the same

  • 18% of local searches on a smartphone lead to a purchase within a day vs. 7% of non-local searches

  • 80% of consumers want ads customized to their city, zip code or immediate surroundings

  • More than 60% of consumers have used location information in ads

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