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Improve Your Practice’s Visibility Online

Searches for online health information are the 3rd most popular online activity. According to Pew, 72% of Internet users looked online for health information in the past year.

So you need to make sure your practice is listed with right directories and ranks high for the relevant searches your ideal patients are making each day.

Getting found online is imperative to growing your practice. Put it at the top of your marketing priorities.

These guidelines will get you started.

First, Quick Win – Keep Your Practice Listings Current

Improving your practice’s search visibility is directly related to the quality of your practice listings. Maintaining accurate, consistent, and up­to­date practice listings will improve your search engine rankings.

The more times your practice’s name, address, phone number, and website are linked to from claimed listings, the higher your practice will appear in search engine results for related keyword searches. This simple best practice will ensure you have at least some level of presence on search engines.

You should claim your business listings on search engines like Google My Business (GMB), Bing Places for Business, as well as online review sites like Yelp. Don’t forget about the medical-specific directories like the Doctor Directory.

If you need a place to start – here’s some background from Google on their Google My Business pages. Once you create your GMB page, anyone searching on your practice name will see that big box o’information, complete with pictures you upload for your practice, to the right of the search results.

Whenever any information changes – your practice hours, a new contact email address – make sure to update your listings. Keep a list of every site where you have a listing. Add new listings as your office staff is able to get you listed on new directory sites.

A national consumer survey found that the average U.S. consumer spends almost 52 hours a year searching online for health information. Those searches will turn up somebody’s site – shouldn’t it be yours?

Keywords – What Are Your Ideal Patients Searching For?

In that same Pew research, 55% of adult Internet users searched online for specific disease or medical problem. Seventy-seven percent of those searching for medical information say they started their research on a search engine like Google, Bing, or Yahoo. It also found that the most common topics they’re searching on are specific diseases, treatments or procedures, and for health professionals (not just doctors!).

In order to develop a top presence and acquire large numbers of patients online, your website needs to get found on its own. This is called organic search and requires several steps.

The first step is understanding what your target patients are searching for in relation to the conditions, treatments, procedures, and other elements specifically related to your practice.

Jot down the terms patients use when describing what they see you for. Then, enhance and refine those descriptions with a third­party keyword research tool or a popular search engine, like Google. Keep in mind the terms the patients use, not the clinical terms you use. The key(word) is how are patients searching on these topics.

Then, find out what SERP (Search Engine Results Page) result sets are displayed based on the keyword searches relevant to your practice. Each search engine displays a different result set based on a variety of factors, including the actual keyword searched, the location of the patient, and the device used to execute the search.

For example, many medical ­related searches on Google show result sets based on Google My Business listings, not websites. In this case, you would want to focus your efforts on optimizing your GMB profile within your medical categories and solicit patients to leave positive reviews on your GMB profile.

Here’s a quick keyword checklist:

  • Keyword Research: Conduct keyword research to understand what your target patients are searching for in relation to conditions, treatments, and specialties.
  • Targeted Keyword Phrases: Create a list of targeted keyword phrases for your practice based on this research and keyword tools.
  • Keyword Ranking: Manually check or use marketing software to see where your practice ranks for each keyword phrase and to check out who’s ranking above you for those keywords.
  • Changes in Search Behavior: Monitor these keyword rankings so you can adjust to changes in patient search behavior.

Use Your Keywords to Optimize Your Site

Once you understand the keywords and phrases your target patients search on and what search engine result sets are displayed for these searches, you will need to edit a number of elements on your practice website:

  • Title Tags: Optimize each title tags with the desired keyword for that page. If you have separate pages for different areas of your practice, they will have different keywords.
  • Localize Titles: Localize page titles to include your practice’s city, town, or neighborhood, and state.
  • Meta Descriptions: Optimize meta descriptions for each page to include compelling information about the page, using the keyword for that page or related terms.
  • Name, Address, Phone Number: Implement localized schema markup on each page for the practice name(s), addresses, and phone numbers.
  • Proper URL Naming Conventions: Localize URL structures to follow optimization best practices, which includes getting that page’s keyword towards the front of the URL.
  • Hard to Find Contact Info and Hours: Make sure you have your hours, address driving directions and map, and contact information easily found on your website. Keep your office phone number and address on each page. Consumers rank hard-to-find contact and hours information as a primary frustration with business websites – keep your practice info current!

Another national consumer survey found that the average U.S. consumer spends almost 52 hours a year searching online for health information. Those searches will turn up somebody’s site. If you want potential patients to find your practice site when researching certain conditions or concerns, you need optimize your site for the right keywords.

You Need to Get Started

Achieving good rankings takes time and effort. It starts with these practices and stretches on to blogging and social media. Your business listings are your first easy win, then start getting your keyword list together.

Then you’ll know how to optimize your pages and what content to share online. The sooner you get started, the sooner you can start seeing traffic.

Start with a Practice Marketing Checkup today.

Garrett Smith

Garrett is the Founder, and Chief Marketer at InboundMD. Garrett has been successfully leading internet marketing campaigns for health care practices across the US for almost a decade. He's a frequent speaker at events, and author of "Book Now! Internet Marketing for Healthcare Practices", and the host of The Practice Marketing Podcast that details how successful practices are winning online.

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