By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer
The Internet has injected contemporary culture with a sense of immediacy. We’ve been spoiled—or at least trained to expect—instant online answers. Search for “dentist” and Google coughs up over 37-million results in less than half a second.
The online search for healthcare—be it a hospital, dental office, medical group, or specialty care—must, for most individuals, also include proximity. We all want to find a solution quickly, and for our greater convenience, we want it to be an immediately available local provider.
There are a few exceptions, but the vast majority of prospective patients are searching online for healthcare resources that are close to where they live or work. Yet many excellent practice websites overlook the power tuning into local Search Engine Optimization (SEO). And without a strong local web listing, you might as well not exist. Patient and provider never meet.
Here are five easy and effective ways to assure that your website is highly visible to the local audience that is most likely to need your services.
List with the locals: Each of the major search engines has a local platform for business. Easily done, but often neglected. It takes only a few minutes to claim your local profile with the big guys; Google + Business, Bing Places, Yahoo! Local and Yelp. There’s a verification process to assure the listing is truly local, but the price is right…these services are free.
Keywords that localize: Drill down on the terms that define your service area. In addition to the name of the city, include the name of the suburb, the neighborhood, important local landmarks, and even commonly used colloquial reference points.
Spice up your ABOUT US or CONTACT US pages: Individual names, locations, descriptions are thought to be important with search algorithms. Have a separate page for individual providers or key individuals and, where appropriate, describe their local interests, activities and civic involvement.
Spell out directions and location details: Check your website for frequent and prominent use local phone numbers in HTML text. Include map locations, directions and hours of operation. A local phone number (vs. an 800 number) helps localize. Include your address and phone number on all site pages. Include localized pictures and captions when appropriate.
Update, refresh and refine regularly: Search Engines that find an unchanging website consider it to be static or stale, and thus less important (and lower ranking) than others. From time to time, add new, high quality content such as articles or blog posts. When appropriate, present a local angle or relationship to the material.
RELATED POSTS: For more on this topic, read: Half Your Local Audience Drives Past Your Door to the Big City Hospital and Local Means Local: The Importance of Local Search in Hospital and Physician Marketing.