Local SEO is important for all verticals, but it can be especially crucial for healthcare service providers. Potential patients searching for healthcare providers for various needs should be able to quickly find the information they are searching for and it must be accurate. They should be able to read reviews, easily understand what practices the location specializes in and see photos or videos if applicable. For current clients who may have missed the memo that their doctor’s office was changing locations, or that their doctor was moving to a new practice altogether, having accurate business listing information out there is imperative. With so much competition in the healthcare industry, it’s even more necessary to ensure potential clients and current patients can easily find your information first.
What Is A Local Citation?
First, a local citation is the online listing of the business name, address and phone number (NAP). This listing can be on a wide variety of websites such as business directories, social networking sites, and Google My Business pages, among others.
The Purpose & Importance of Citations
The main purpose is to help users find local businesses that fit their needs but it is also one of the best ways to acquire high-quality backlinks, which are links back to your website from other websites. The higher the domain authority (DA) of those sites linking into yours, the more trustworthy search engines will deem your website and therefore your organic (free!) rankings may improve because backlinks are very important for rankings. Link building for SEO can be frustrating and time-consuming but citations are an effective way to quickly build quality links that will stick.
The first step is distributing your business information. For healthcare professionals, this can be especially important because you want potential new patients or clients to easily find your information quickly and for them to see your information as one of the first search results. There are many paid tools out there that are getting smarter every day to help you quickly push your business information out there to multiple sites at one time. Using paid tools also helps get your business listing out to many business directories you may not have known about otherwise. You can opt to manually fill out online forms and claim various profiles if you would rather save the money and invest your time. This can also be helpful if you want to pick and choose where your business is listed but can be very time-consuming. Some additional information you may be able to submit for your listing includes a logo, images, links to social media pages, payment types accepted, hours, keywords, categories, and featured messages about your business such as a tagline and description. You’ll want to take advantage of all opportunities and fill in as much information as possible.
It’s important to have your business information listed correctly on the internet. This is not only crucial for potential new clients or current clients to find you, but if search engines encounter information that isn’t consistent, it can negatively impact your organic rankings. For example, if you have moved addresses or changed your phone number, which is common for healthcare professionals as the practice expands or you move to a different practice altogether, it’s important to update or suppress any listings with outdated information. Make sure your current clients and potential new clients can find you when they most need you. It’s possible your current patients missed the emails or signs announcing the news of the move so this can be of even more importance in the healthcare industry. There can also be duplicate listings out there with incomplete information so you’ll want to suppress those and show users the most complete information possible.
Duplicate listings should also be suppressed with some exceptions. An example of an exception being if a doctor individually lists themselves along with the main practice name. In that instance, it’s fine to have two listings at one address because it’s beneficial to have the doctor’s name listed as well since people may be searching by doctor name or by practice name.
When outdated or inconsistent listings are found by search engines, it can erode trust in your website. It proves your online presence isn’t maintained for accuracy, which indicates the information on the website may also not be accurate. Search engines are less likely to reward your website with higher rankings if your website is deemed less trustworthy in their algorithms.
Important Focuses for 2020 to Help Strengthen Your Local SEO
Before you distribute your business information to local and prominent directories, ensure that it’s a good experience for the (hopefully) abundance of traffic you are about to send there. A responsive website should be a given, as we are in a mobile world and people should be able to access your website on any device at any time and have a seamless experience. Make sure the site has a well thought out information architecture and streamlined funnels for users to find the information they need quickly. You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. This is especially true in this instant gratification, information-hungry age, when people’s attention spans are actually less than, not even reportedly the same now, as a goldfish!
Position Zero & Zero-Click Searches
Google is increasingly moving toward serving up informational content to users on the search engine results pages (SERPs) without requiring a click through to a website, called “zero-click searches” and websites are now also having to vie for “position zero” in SERPs. In order to help your business have a chance at position zero, you’ll want to make your content “snippable.” Content organized into lists is a good example of snippable content. Position zero is coveted because the featured snippet takes up so much real estate on the SERPs and pushes position 1 farther down the page. You can’t even see position 1 above the fold in most cases when featured snippets are shown. A study of 2 million featured snippets shows recipe, best, vs., make, definition and windows are some of the top words triggering featured snippets.
If you have a business with multiple locations, make sure you have location pages on your website set up for each one. This can help you rank better for the popular searches with “near me” in them (especially with voice search on the rise), and it’s a better overall experience for the user who is likely seeking information on the location closest to them. For this reason, ensure you are listed with Amazon Alexa and Waze when distributing your business information. You’ll also need to make sure your website’s location pages contain your business’s accurate address and contact information, as well as unique business information such as services offered at that location, clear photos and and even a map to be extra helpful. To go a step farther, you should also implement local business schema on those pages.
Google My Business
In 2020, you should pay special attention to your listing on Google My Business if you aren’t already. (Side note, Google Maps turned 15 this year!) One of the most important business directory listings you can have is Google My Business. Make sure your information is accurate and always respond to any reviews, both positive or negative. Having keywords in the reviews, listing your services and pushing out content via photos, posts and videos are all important. When you push out a post on your other social media channels, don’t forget to give your Google My Business page some love as well!
Overall, local SEO is important for all businesses but can be even more vital for the healthcare industry, where searches for those businesses can be an emergency. There’s a lot of competition out there but optimizing your listings, website and reviews will help you stay a step ahead.