Do you want to get more patients in your practice? Of course! But what is the best way to go about it? How do patients find new practices? Pretend for a second that you are looking for a new service. What would you do to find what you are looking for? Well, if you are like 91 percent of online Americans, you would flip on your computer and ask good ‘ole Dr. Google. The vast majority of patients are looking for new practices online. This means that if you want patients to be able to find your practice, you need to make sure that Google (or Bing!) know how to find you as well.
Of course, showing up as one of the top hits in Google can be daunting for the average practice. There are thousands upon thousands of practices like yours across the nation all vying for the "all-important" front page. And it makes sense—93 percent of online searches NEVER go past that page. Fortunately, by focusing your SEO (search engine optimization) efforts on local traffic, you make the job a lot easier.
(If you'd like more tips on optimizing your SEO, check out this blog post.)
One important thing to remember any time you create or update a website, as well as when you claim and update your online listings, is to optimize for local SEO. You’re looking for prospective patients who are in your area, not across the country. This can significantly improve the chances that you will show up on the first page of search results.
And there are a few things you can do to improve your odds of being found in local searches.
1. Be consistent in your listings.
Be sure that your website contains the following information in exactly the same format on every page. You can put it in the footer.
- Practice name
- Address (city, state, zip)
- Main phone number
- Email address
Also, make sure you have your business hours and a short description of your business on your website. The business description should include your location. For example, “We are a pediatric practice located in San Diego, CA.”
2. Claim your local listings.
There are hundreds of online directories like Yelp, Yellow Pages, BBB, and other sites that host business information about you. Search engines crawl all of these sites to gather information and create a profile of all of these sites linking to yours. The more directory sites your information is published on, the better.
Be careful here. Once again, if you have small differences from one site to the next (using Street vs. St., for example), the search engines will view these as separate addresses and dock your rankings. Be careful to have all directory sites submitted with the same spelling and format. There are also tools that will submit all of your information out to hundreds of different directory sites and suppress any duplicate or incorrect listings. These create quality links back to your site, ranking it higher.
3. Provide local value.
Consider adding a blog to your website where you can offer lots of great tips to your patients. In these posts, you can also provide lots of information that is directly related to your local area. Do you live in a dry area? You may want to write a post about how that impacts your patients' health. There are lots of ways to highlight your local area on a blog. For more tips on how to get started with a practice blog, you can read this blog post, "Does my practice REALLY need a blog?"
Search engine optimization can be a little scary. But don't let it overwhelm you to the point where you just ignore it. Start by setting aside some time to work on it little by little. It's totally worth it! Before you know it, your website will move farther and farther up the listings.
Read more about how to make your practice look awesome online in our free guide.