Yes, it would be incredible to rank on the first page of Google for “total knee replacement.” But chances are, that’s not going to happen unless you work for Mayo Clinic. (Or Johns Hopkins, as it turns out.) And that’s OK. Because what you really should be focusing on as a community, local or regional hospital is improving your local SEO.
What Is Local SEO?
Local SEO, or local search engine optimization, simply refers to the steps you take to get your website to rank higher with your local audience. It helps physical businesses attract customers in their area. For example, a mom-and-pop soda shop wouldn’t expect to compete with Amazon when someone searches for “grape soda.” But they could compete if someone searches “grape soda Birmingham.” Hello, Grapico!
Local SEO is essential for healthcare organizations, which are still very much in-person businesses. And it’s not terribly difficult to do. Here are six easy ways to improve your local SEO.
- Optimize your website. Your website only accounts for about 14% of Google’s decision in where to rank your hospital in local search results. However, your website is the only piece of the SEO puzzle you control. So, start here by updating the SEO of your website. Make sure it’s mobile-friendly. Use consistent contact information and display it prominently on your homepage. Include a Google Map of your location. Use keywords in your title tags and internal links.
- Claim your Google My Business profile. This is so easy that you might choose to do it first. Google My Business is how you complete or edit your hospital’s business listing in Search and Maps. Ensure all contact information is correct and fill in as much as you possibly can, including social handles. Always use the same formatting for your address. Google might knock you down a few rankings if you use “First Ave.” on your website but “1st Ave.” on your Google My Business profile.
- Update other web directories, too. Now that you have the hang of it, check and update your contact information in other online directories. Yelp, Bing, and HealthGrades are essentials.
- Find out what keywords your customers are searching. We’re sure you’ve done keyword research. But have you specifically researched what people in your target area are searching? If you’ve ever gotten into a debate with a Northerner about whether it’s a shopping cart or buggy, you know the importance of using regional language. Use Google Trends to see exactly what locals are searching in relation to your keywords.
- Encourage reviews. Moz estimates online reviews account for about 15% of the factors used to rank search results. This is a huge jump from 10% just three years prior. The simplest—and cheapest—way to garner online feedback is to ask for it. Have staff involved in the discharge process ask patients to rate their experience online. Or consider including a flyer with discharge paperwork. You also can send a follow-up note wishing patients well and asking for a review.
- Increase your social presence. Search engines don’t put a ton of stock in your social media presence when it comes to local SEO, but it’s still a factor. And meeting your patients wherever they are is never a bad thing. So think outside the Facebook and Twitter box. Set up Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn and YouTube accounts, too.
TotalCom Marketing is a full-service healthcare marketing and advertising agency that believes in getting great results from telling great stories – our clients’ stories. Contact us for more information or view our work here.