- Posted by Nigel Edelshain
- On April 10, 2014
Search engines are the new “Yellow Pages” for local businesses, like medical practices. Some facts:
- 97% of consumers turn to search engines like Google and Bing to find local services, including medical practices (according to research from BIA/Kelsey and ConStat).
- According to research by Chitika Insights (featured on the Marketingprofs.com website) companies that appear as the 1st search result in Google for a given keyword, receive 33 percent of search traffic, compared to 18 percent for those that come up as the 2nd result.
- The drop in traffic is even more significant between pages of search results. The first page of Google search results generates 91.5 percent of all traffic, while the second page only generates 4.8 percent of traffic.
Earlier this week we interviewed our SEO team and distilled what they told us into 6 steps your practice can take to increase its search rankings.
Step 1: Think SEO while building your website.
You need to think about SEO from day one of building your website. Search engines are now able to track data such as the average time visitors spend on your site and the bounce rate (the number of visitors that visit only one page on your site then leave.)
If Google sees that visitors spend very little time on your site and most visit only one page and quit, this is a signal to Google that your site is of low quality.
The solution: Your site needs to have good content so visitors stay to consumer it, clean functionality so its easy to use and an attractive aesthetic so people enjoy spending time on your site. You site should also be architected in a way that is easy for search engines to crawl and index.
Step 2: Make a local keyword list
Think of the words and phrases your patients use to find you, for example “plastic surgeon” or “ENT”. Initially brainstorm a dozen or so phrases you believe your patients will use to find practices like yours. Don’t stress on coming up with a long list of keywords at this stage.
Now consider which towns in your local area most important to you, i.e. where you want to draw patients from. Then include those towns in combination with your first keyword list.
So now your keyword list may start with something like “plastic surgeon Saddle River” and “plastic surgeon Ho-Ho-Kus”.
Step 3: Create a separate “services page” for every service you offer.
If you offer several services, create a web page for each service. Also create a separate web page focused on each town and service combination. When someone searches for “Botox Saddle River” you should have one web page that is optimized for this search phrase. If you have several search phrases or towns on one web page you are “muddying the waters” for the search engines and you will not rank as highly for any one term.
Step 4: Create a Google+ Local listing for your business.
Google+ Local is a feature of Google+ that allows you to create a page for your medical practice. It’s essentially Google’s directory of local businesses.
Not surprisingly Google+ Local pages rank very well on Google. The listings are free so it’s pretty much a no-brainer that you should set yours up. (You may be listed in Google Local+ even if you have not set up your listing but it won’t be optimal, so you should proactively take control of your listing.)
Step 5: Add yourself to local directories
A Google Local+ directory listing is a must-do but there are actually hundreds of local directories. Many of these directories will help you rank better in search engines by linking to your website. Being listed in these directories will of course also help humans find you.
Some of the major directories you should start with when seeking to be listed are:
- Yahoo Local
- Bing Local
Step 6: Keep your website growing
The more web pages you publish the more chance one of them will be found. As described in step 3, you should optimize each page for a different search term. As you add web pages you can be found for more and more search terms.
To make it feasible to quickly add web pages you will need some form of content management system (CMS) running your website. Blog software actually is a content management system and the most popular blog software is WordPress.
In fact, it’s a good choice to build your whole website using WordPress—and of course you will get a blog too. Marketing platforms like Hubspot also contain a content management system that makes it easy to add web pages on a regular basis.
Writing a blog and optimizing your posts so they contain your target keywords is a great way to get in the habit of ranking for new search terms. You can read more about blogging for your medical practice in our e-book below.