“If you ain’t first you’re last”
There’s a quote from the movie Taladega Nights that says, “If you ain’t first you’re last.” I’m convinced that the producers of the movie were secretly talking about SERPs rankings when they came up with that quote. In the web world there is something referred to as the “click through rate” (CTR) which measures the percentage of clicks a website gets on a SERP. You’re probably not shocked to know that the 1st website does best, then the 2nd, then the 3rd, etc. What you MAY be shocked to hear though is how fast the click through rate drops. Most studies show the average CTR for the highest ranking site is between 20-30%. The studies have also shown that the CTR for 3rd place can be as low as 2%. That is NOT A TYPO.
Think about the implications of these numbers for your medical practice. Think about the absurd number of patients you may be losing simply because your competitor down the street has a website that is using search engine optimization properly. By implementing a strong SEO strategy you will increase your Google rank and attract more patients to your practice.
LOCAL SEO RULES
The overwhelming majority of medical practices need to improve their ranking in local SEO. Do not underestimate this component as it is crucial. Unless you are trying to become a world renowned medical provider, you need to focus on your local city or town. Sure it’s wonderful if someone finds your practice that lives halfway across the country, but is it going to help you in any way? Probably not. You want to focus on increasing your rankings on the SERPs for your locality to increase the likelihood of nearby patients clicking on your website.
Below we’re going to outline five of the basics strategies that you can use to help improve your medical practice’s local SEO and ultimately increase your Google Ranking for local search results.
If you take away only one thing from this article, let this be the thing. Your practice NEEDS a blog. Alot of people and companies have a gross misconception of blogging; it is not just something that a teenager uses to post their daily thoughts and feelings. Smart businesses use their blog as a platform to reach out to their target audience with high quality content. So why does your practice need a blog? The reason is simple: Google ranks websites higher in their SERPs if your website is dynamic and not static. Be sure to include pertinent industry keywords (see below) and images in your blog to help improve your on-page SEO and boost your local SEO for your medical practice.
2. Google, Facebook and Yelp Reviews
Of all the components that compile your SEO score, one of the most important is the positive reviews that your patients provide about your practice. Patient reviews are so important, that Google will actually give your website “blog credit,” seeing that it’s being actively updated, if you have patients leaving weekly reviews.
If you search your business name (and have a Google business listing) you should see your listing with the number of reviews at the top. Further down you will see a section that says “Reviews from Around the Web.” Google will count these towards your SEO score as well. Not all reviews are created equal though.
Sites that have patients leave feedback on a form and verify their post through an email address, such as vitals.com, patientconnect365.com, or Demandforce, are not treated the same as it’s possible to leave fake reviews with fake email accounts. Google monitors reviews left on it’s own servers to ensure the validity. Reviews left on Google and Facebook count more towards your SEO because there is less room for spamming or fake reviews. If reputation management is not part of your SEO strategy, you need to get started with it to give your local SEO an extra boost.
There are several companies that offer reputation management, however, an interesting new player to the market is smplReviews. This company asks patients about their experience before they leave a review for the public to see. If the patient had a good result, it redirects the patient to leave a review. On the other hand, if the patient had a negative experience then it will collect information via a 5 question survey so you can see the areas of your practice that might need improvement. The beauty of the system is the patient then needs to go out of their way to purposefully leave a negative review for you. Ingenious right?
3. Google My Business
You’ve probably seen a business’s info on the right hand side of the screen when you Google a particular business. (FYI: COMO Web Designs is the parent company of Ignite Medical)
This is referred to as “Google My Business” and you better believe its important! Google My Business (GMB) is completely free and is very helpful in improving the local SEO for medical practices. Think of this as your website’s home away from home. Google My Business allows you to display your name, address, and phone number in plain sight for the world to see. You can also adjust your office hours during holidays and manage reviews that come in from your patients. Taking ownership of your GMB page also increases the likelihood that your practice will be displayed in the local 3-pack for map based search results.
4. Mobile First
Mobile-first indexing rolled out in 2018 and can be an absolute game-changer for some businesses and practices. Mobile-first simply means that among all of the factors that Google uses to rank your website, it now considers the mobile appearance and mobile responsive as THE MOST IMPORTANT. If your website looks like junk on a mobile device, you will likely start to see your organic search traffic results dropping. With that being said, mobile first indexing is not the only point that Google takes into account; keep in mind that if you lack a mobile-friendly experience it could negatively affect your SERPs ranking and drop you further on the page, or maybe, just maybe, onto the dreaded page 2! And who actually goes to the SECOND page of your Google search results? Point made.
5. Keyword Research
Hang with me because this is a long section! Imagine spending thousands of dollars a year trying to rank for the keyword phrase “optometrist in columbia mo” only to find out that phrase is only searched a few times per month? It’s imperative that you do your research to find what the pertinent keywords are in your local area. Here’s an example of one search based on Dr. Steven Shaw’s optometric practice, Eye Care Center of Ocala.
You can see the vast majority of website traffic is from patients searching some variation of “eye care center of ocala”. What about other areas where they are lacking though? This practice is likely missing out on patients for “eye doctor ocala fl”, “ocala eye doctors” and “ocala eye”. By targeting these specific keywords in their website and blogs they can SIGNIFICANTLY increase visits to their site. Even if only one patient finds the practice via these keywords, it can prove to be immensely beneficial from both an optical and medical standpoint.
STEAL FROM THY NEIGHBOR
You know the old expression, “love thy neighbor”? Well, forget it. I’ve got a better one. Steal from thy neighbor! Of course I’m not talking talking about going to your neighbor’s house and boosting their new 4K flat screen. I’m talking about stealing their website traffic. You can do this by finding out they keywords that they rank for and adjusting your digital marketing appropriately. This certainly isn’t the best way make friends, but you can be sure that many use this tactic in order to steal your traffic. All’s fair in love and websites!
That’s all for now everyone. Keep an eye out down the road for Volume 2 on this great topic with even more ways to improve local SEO for medical practices!