- Posted by Richard Iurilli
- On July 27, 2015
Unless you’re the exclusive provider of a product or service, marketing is inherently competitive. Every hospital or system wants to reach more patients than its competitors do, and of all the tools and processes in your marketing plan, SEO is probably the most directly competitive.
Search engine results pages (SERPs) aren’t like magazine pages, where an ad in the middle or back can be just as effective as one in the front. If you aren’t at or near the top of the results for a given keyword, you just won’t reach as many searchers.
The first post in our series on Moz’s annual Local Search Ranking Factors survey examined the factors that help you rank highly, and the second examined the ones that will do the opposite. This time we’ll look at the “difference-making” ranking factors identified by the Moz survey to help you outrank your competitors.
Like the negative ranking factors in last week’s post, the survey’s difference-making ranking factors in the survey are ranked from 1 to 30, so I again grouped them into “buckets” depending on how they relate to Name, Address, Phone (NAP) citations, online reviews, link profiles, websites, Google My Business listings, keywords, location and map data, and business categories.
Once again, there are a number of takeaways from looking at the data in this kind of visual format:
Keep those citations consistent!
You didn’t think I was going to stop talking about your NAP citations, did you? They’re one of the most important parts of your local search strategy, whether you’re just getting started or you’ve been doing it for years. Two of the top four and five of the top 12 ranking factors listed have to do with citations:
|2||Consistency of Structured Citations|
|4||Quality/Authority of Structured Citations|
|10||Quality/Authority of Unstructured Citations (Newspaper Articles, Blog Posts)|
|11||Quantity of Citations from Locally-Relevant Domains|
|12||HTML NAP Matching My Business Page NAP|
Even if you’ve already taken the time to optimize key directories, you need to monitor search results and evaluate the consistency and accuracy of your NAP info every time your system acquires a new practice or location, especially on major directory aggregators and those specific to your region.
Optimize local landing pages
|6||Quality/Authority of Inbound Links to Landing Page URL|
|7||City, State in Landing Page Title|
|13||Page Authority of Landing Page URL|
Google cares about what users see when they follow links on SERPs, so the quality and relevance of your landing pages will affect your rankings. When it comes to showing Google and its users that your landing pages have local relevance, adding the city and state to the titles is the most obvious clue, and as you build up link profiles, you should favor high-quality sites whenever possible.
Actively seek reviews
|9||Quantity of Native Google Maps Reviews (w/text)|
|18||Quantity of Third-Party Traditional Reviews|
|19||Overall Velocity of Reviews (Native + Third-Party)|
Considering how many people look online for reviews of physicians and hospitals, it’s not surprising Google would favor those that have many reviews over those that don’t. In fact, reviews are such an important part of local SEO these days that you shouldn’t wait for people to come to you if you want to outrank your competition. Encouraging patients to review your services not only helps you rank highly but also shows searchers that you’re a trusted and credible healthcare provider.
Maximize click-through rates
|17||Click-Through Rate from Search Results|
Hidden halfway through the list is this gem. High rankings, of course, are highly sought after because of the high click-through rates that come with them. So if high click-through rates help you rank higher, improving your click-through rate can have a cumulative effect as it bumps you up. Enticing titles and meta descriptions will draw searchers in, and making sure your website is responsive or otherwise “mobile-friendly” will display that reassuring tag next to the description on smartphones and tablets.