Key Post Highlights
> The best healthcare marketing marries both organic and local SEO efforts.
> You can optimize local SEO using your Google Business Profile, reviews, and/or indoor virtual walkthroughs.
> There are common — but avoidable — mistakes healthcare organizations make in their local SEO efforts.
You’ve invested in optimizing your website for all the relevant keywords. You’ve got your pillar content, and you’re seeing organic traffic coming to your site. Your health systems blog is the leading driver of that traffic. That’s great — keep it up!
However, that’s only one part of the picture.
Another crucial aspect of healthcare marketing is local search. Local search is when you optimize your website to boost traffic, brand awareness, and visibility in your local area.
Over 30% of Google searches are location-related. That equates to billions of searches each day.
Unlike organic SEO, local SEO brings the competition home — literally. While organic SEO has a wider footprint and pulls in users nationally and even globally, local SEO helps businesses compete in their local market for the top three positions in the search results in Google’s Local Pack.
For healthcare organizations, local SEO is the most important battleground.
Why Focus on Local SEO?
Potential patients are looking for one of two things:
- Immediate care
Organic SEO efforts allow you to build a relationship with prospective patients that extends beyond the care and services you provide in the form of information. Then, when they have a health need, they already have a preferred provider to book an appointment with or an emergency department/urgent care center to visit.
Local search is the perfect net for prospective patients who are seeking immediate care. Maybe they need a new primary care provider, a second opinion, or an emergency department with the shortest wait time. Whatever they are searching for, the way patients typically make decisions about where to receive care are:
- Is it close to my work or home?
- Is my insurance accepted?
Local SEO addresses both of these criteria.
Because Google accounts for 86% of traffic worldwide, it’s the perfect place to kick off your local SEO efforts. Here’s how.
- Google Business Profile (36%)
- Reviews (17%)
- On-Page (16%)
- Links (13%)
- =Behavioral (7%)
- =Citations (7%)
- Personalization (4%)
- On-page (34%)
- Linked (31%)
- Behavioral (11%)
- Citations (7%)
- =Personalization (65)
- =GBP (6%)
- Reviews (5%)
The factors listed for “Local Pack” are the top several factors that impact your ranking for the “holy grail of local search results,” Google’s Local Pack.
The factors listed for “Local Organic,” are your efforts to optimize your website for organic search. Healthcare organizations already invested in SEO have a leg up in local search. By optimizing the listed factors, you can extend the impact of your efforts to rank in organic local search engine results page (SERP) listings.
Your organic search rankings heavily influence your local pack ranking. Simply put, as with love and marriage, you can’t have one without the other.
What Local SEO Ranking Factors Should Healthcare Organizations Prioritize?
When it comes to SEO efforts, there are high-lift (meaning they take time, money, or both) and low-lift options. There are also high-impact and low-impact approaches, but because you want the best results for your efforts, we’ll only focus on high-impact.
Low Lift: Google Business Profile
Google Business Profiles are free, and they’re an essential tool for healthcare organizations. The primary category and name, address, and phone (NAP) citations are the most important data points for your business to keep up-to-date. There are appointment booking features, posts, updates, and more. Leverage them.
Beyond the basic listing, the specific features that healthcare organizations should take advantage of are:
- Appointment booking
- Insurance accepted information
- Questions & answers (FAQs)
- Custom links, like emergency department and urgent care
High Lift: Reviews
Your reputation matters. In fact, reviews account for 17% of the ranking factors to compete in local search.
Keep in mind — you need to be responsive to reviews. When receiving good reviews, show gratitude by giving thanks for taking the time to review your business. When receiving feedback that isn’t great, thank them for alerting you to the experience they had, and direct them to someone who can help address the issues.
Getting and managing reviews isn’t an easy undertaking, but it’s a worthwhile one.
High Lift: Indoor Virtual Walkthroughs
It’s perfectly fine to use Google 360 virtual tours to brag! Got new birthing suites? Brag! Got state of the art surgical suites? Brag! Got an amazing pediatrics department with all the colors, animals, shapes, and frills? Brag!
Listings with photos and a virtual tour are twice as likely to generate interest. It will also aid in personalization and completing your Google Business Profile (GBP). Businesses with complete Google listings inspire trust and are 78% more likely to be viewed as well-established.
Top Mistakes Healthcare Organizations Make With Local SEO
Local SEO can be a game changer for your healthcare organization — but only if done correctly. Avoid these common but detrimental mistakes when optimizing for local SEO:
- Your organic SEO on your flagship site is inadequate.
- Your Google Business Profile is unmanaged or unused.
- Your Google Search Console (a tool that helps measure your site’s search traffic and fixes issues, like how your site appears in organic search results) is unmanaged.
- Your reviews are left unaddressed.
Any one of these mistakes can take away business from your organization. If you don’t have the bandwidth or skillset to address all of these adequately, hire an agency to take one or all of these off your plate.
Local SEO is an important part of a solid marketing strategy. By making it a part of yours, you’ll reap the benefits of local traffic, leads, and patients.