Imagine you moved to a new city and were due for a dental checkup. You’d probably pull out your phone, search “dentists near me,” and spend some time gathering information about the first few results. Even though there might be more dental offices in the area, you’d probably go with whichever one of those seems best, right?
Your potential patients are likely to choose from the top results on Google when shopping around for a new medical provider. But those top few results don’t show up by chance. When users search for businesses in their area, Google does its best to show them the most popular options. They take an educated guess based on information in Google My Business profiles, directory sites, reviews, social media pages, and more from all across the web. If they find inconsistent or incomplete information about your practice, they may recommend your competitors instead.
That’s why practice owners who want to grow need to engage with patients online. Doing so gives Google all the evidence they need that you are the best option in your local area. Here are four tips every practice owner can follow for a better chance at ranking highly in local search results:
1. Maintain local listings with accurate contact and address information
One of the most important ways to improve your local search rankings is to correct any inconsistencies about your practice across the internet. Google works tirelessly to keep users’ trust, and if they give someone the wrong address or suggest a business that no longer exists, that trust will begin to decline.
Roughly 50% of patients said they would choose not to see a healthcare provider if that provider’s online listings were incomplete or inaccurate.
And that trust is a two-way street: Google needs to be able to trust you, too. The first step practice owners should take is to make sure you have listings and profiles set up for your practice on popular sites like Google My Business, Yelp, and Facebook. If there are listings for your practice that you did not create, claim them and double-check that your practice’s name, address, phone number, and other information (like services and hours) are correct. You should also remove any duplicate listings you find, such as a second Google My Business listing for your office, as this can create confusion for both search engines and potential clients.
A medical office’s Google My Business listing is the #1 factor for whether they will be among the top providers featured in the map results section of search.
It’s important to remember that your Google My Business page is more than just an entry in an address book. Google offers some surprisingly robust features on the platform, and making the most of your profile can go a long way to improve your search rankings. Take the time to add photos, descriptions, and more to make yours as informative as possible.
2. Make Sure You Have a Mobile-Friendly Website
Today, nearly 60% of searches are from mobile — there are no longer any excuses for having a website that doesn’t work well on all devices. An outdated website frustrates users and damages your search rankings.
The ultimate goal is for potential patients to set up an appointment at your practice, so you want to provide a seamless experience and minimize any barriers to that desired result. For example, if someone visits your website on their smartphone, they’re more likely to call you if there’s a phone icon at the top of the screen than if they have to hunt in some tiny text at the bottom of your page.
Google also takes note of the device someone is searching with, so even if your practice matches exactly what a user is searching for, you’ll be excluded from the list of results if your website isn’t optimized for the device they’re using.
If you’re an organization with multiple practice locations, it’s important to create a dedicated web page for each one. This way, you can be confident potential patients are finding information about the location nearest to them. These pages also help inform search engines about the specific characteristics of each of your locations — and more detail is always better.
3. Create Local Content
Another way to boost your local online image is to create content that people in your area are interested in. Apart from news stations or local-focused bloggers, this is an underutilized strategy for supporting local search efforts.
Think about where current local conversations might overlap with your expertise as a practice owner. You probably have a general sense of the medical issues facing your community, but keyword research tools can also help you find relevant topics to comment on.
It’s important to remember that local content can take many more forms than a blog on your practice’s website. Posting on your social media profiles, adding new information to local landing pages, and appearing in local media are all fantastic ways to increase your standing in the community.
Google is always updating its search algorithms to get a better understanding of the local businesses people love, so any authentic interaction you create within your community is likely to have positive results when it comes to your local SEO.
4. Use Internal Links
Internal links simply take visitors from one page on your website to another. Using internal links, like many SEO best practices we’ve mentioned, is a win-win: your potential patients have a better experience and easier access to relevant information, and your search rankings will improve.
For example, a dental practice might write a blog post about teeth-whitening options, then link to a few pages with details about having those procedures done at the office. This creates a crawlable link structure that will help search engines get a better idea of what makes your practice unique.
When it comes to the ways practice owners can increase their online presence through local SEO efforts, these are just a few things you can do.