Local SEO can be challenging enough for medical practices in major cities across the United States and competitive local landscapes. However, adding multiple locations to the mix can make the overall local SEO program even more complex.
In any form of SEO, organization is essential. That is, an intelligently-organized web presence that combines the right ingredients is vital for a healthy and thriving multi-local SEO campaign.
When it to comes to multi-location SEO for medical practices, efforts must be organized based on some of the following cornerstones in order to succeed.
Developing a Website Content Strategy
The structure and navigation of a site’s content influences not just usability but also SEO. With the sitemap serving as the navigational blueprints behind a site, each URL (web page) serves a purpose in establishing both keyword and geographic relevancy.
How pages are named, structured, and linked together contributes to how well they support the site’s rankings for specific keywords in each geographic market. And there are various ways to achieve this.
A classic content strategy for multi-location medical practices is to create dedicated pages for each individual address or location. In this “Areas We Serve” section of the site, each page clearly communicates the underlying geographic association of the practice. As a result, the site will have greater potential to rank in each market.
Lastly, the content strategy of a site should not overlook each service provided. Also best achieved via dedicated URLs, describing each service with well-optimized pages is the essence of SEO best practice.
Leveraging Schema Markup
Incorporating Schema markup into an on-page SEO/content strategy will take a practice’s ranking potential to entirely new level. In basic terms, Schema uses special HTML tags to define pieces of content on a page (i.e. name of business/product, address, phone number, image, quantity of products available, description, etc.)
Creating Google My Business Profiles for Each Location
Just as important as the content on a site is establishing dedicated Google My Business profiles for each location. Because Google often displays the local 3-pack (with map) for geo-related searches, each Google My Business page will be an equally vital asset to the optimized pages on your site.
Take the time to build and verify Google My Business pages for each location. In addition to ensuring each practice’s Google My Business page is fully populated and verified, make sure each page is properly linked to and from the site (preferably with each corresponding location page.)
Building Citations & Generating Links
Now comes the more long-term and ongoing efforts of building authority in you medical practice: building links and citations. Both “links” (or backlinks) and “citations” are variables for which Google uses to determine the credibility and popularity of a business and its website.
Links pointing to your practice’s site from other related health, medical, or locally-relevant sites are like votes of popularity that define your site’s domain authority, or potential to rank in Google search. Common sources of links include: directories, blogs, affiliation networks, and membership sites. The stronger and more reputable the site supplying the link (i.e. a membership listing on PlasticSurgery.org,) the more domain authority (or local SEO value) the link can offer.
Citations serve a similar purpose but are ranking factors centric to Google’s local listings. Citations are mentions of a business’ name, address, and phone number. Also common on directories and affiliation sites, Google looks at the volume and the accuracy of a business’ citations to determine its local relevancy and credibility. So not only do you want proliferate your medical practice across as many quality directories and sites as possible, but you also want to ensure all of your listings are accurate and consistently the same. Even the slightest inconsistency (like not mentioning the suite of your office’s address) can hinder your medical practice’s SEO efforts.
Earning & Soliciting Positive Reviews
Another very important variable that impacts both SEO and the underlying conversion potential of your business are reviews. In fact, having a high volume of 5-star reviews on your practice’s Google My Business pages can make the different between a user clicking your listing or your competitor’s, even if you rank at the bottom of the local 3-pack listings.
Beyond Google My Business, reviews can offer a layer of authority to your listings on Yelp.com, HealthGrades.com, and other social media platforms and web directories. For many medical practice keywords, Yelp pages themselves can rank highly in the Google search results. As a result, earning good reviews on various web properties associated with your practice can profoundly influence your web marketing efforts and your practice’s online reputation as a whole.
Soliciting positive reviews requires a creative approach of encouraging happy clients to visit these web properties and leave a review. That encouragement may come as an incentive or ethical bargain. But think of it this way: if your practice earned three positive reviews on Yelp, Google My Business, and HealthGrades.com from 10 different clients, then your practice can realize a significant boost for SEO as well as overall click-throughs and lead value associated with your practices’ listings.
Need help with local SEO or your overall healthcare digital marketing strategy? Give our team a call today at (404) 334-7993 for a free consultation.
In this day and age of detailed analytics and tracking it can be easy to get lost in the numbers. For brands that have multiple locations or sell multiple products it can be especially hard to sift through the massive amount of local and organic search data available. But what exactly are the top metrics to keep an eye on for your local SEO campaign?
Bill Connard of Local Search Solutions recently wrote an excellent piece on defining the KPI’s of Local SEO and measuring them for maximum ROI. Here below his take on the 6 key performance indicators (KPI’s) of Local SEO and the best ways to measure them as well as my experience with them.
1. Check search rankings on Search Engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo)
You might not be surprised to hear that “The Big 3” search engines make up an estimated 94.2 percent of all search traffic. On its own though, Google takes only about 65 percent. Tracking your rankings by running searches across all three search engines will give you an accurate view of overall performance. This can be time consuming but there are ways to scale it down. Try monitoring your rankings across “The Big 3” on a single platform like What’s my SERP. Make sure to run searches in all the cities where your business has locations.
2. Local Search Ranking on Third Party Sites
Measuring and tracking your organic search performance is important, but you will need to take an extra step and include where you are ranking in third-party results and maps. Look and see where you are ranking for certain keywords on third party sites like Yelp, Citysearch, Superpages and Facebook. The bottom line? Check the search engines for other places where your brand might rank.
3. Brand Citation Consistency
Having your business or brand listed incorrectly in search engines and data aggregators can lead to a negative user experience. See how your citation accuracy compares with local rankings over time by comparing local business data for matching and consistency. Consistent citation tracking and monitoring enables brand marketers to quickly spot unclean data and correct it. To monitor citations quickly and efficiently, there are a couple of great tools such as the Bright Local Citation Tracker and MozLocal.
4. Analyzing Link Activity
Analyze your link activity to see how visitors respond to your hyperlinks. Are they from driving directories, coupons, click-to-call options or somewhere else? Track only the click activity that matters with consistent naming. These include driving directions, coupon downloads or click-to-call.
5. Reviews per Location
Online reviews for local businesses have never been more important than they are today. They instill trust and confidence and make consumers more likely to visit your business. The amount of reviews your business or brand has on sites like Google+, Yelp and Yahoo can greatly influence a customer’s view on the popularity of your business and also how your brand ranks over time. Check your reviews and rankings over time to see if there is a correlation between more reviews and better rankings.
6. Average Review Rankings
To piggyback off the last KPI, a high number of reviews are great but you are also looking for a high overall review rating on each third party site. Looking at the average review your brand or business gets and seeing how it impacts your local search ranking is a truly paramount source of information. You can use it to not only analyze and develop rankings but to also improve service throughout the entire organization.
Aside from local rankings, the impression users get about your brand hinges on your reviews and overall online reputation. If you have a negative reputation, web users are going to be less likely to seek you out for your services.
Keeping track of these 6 KPI’s is vital for a dynamic Local SEO campaign. What’s your take on the most important KPI’s for local SEO?
Local SEO is a set of processes to better a business’s website rankings in the local search engine results. While it is not an exact science, there are certain steps that you, or your webmaster, can take that have proven to be very effective. The following is a step-by-step guide to local SEO. (For the purpose of this article, a “keyword” can also refer to a key phrase, or group of words.)
1. Select Your Most Important Keywords Based On Your Prime Target Audience
If you are trying to sell products and/or services through your website, you will want to optimize your website with keywords that attract an audience of buyers, not just browsers.
So, for example, if you are a fishing guide in Key West, people landing on your website looking specifically for a fishing guide in Key West is your prime target audience. Therefore, although the term “fishing guide in Key West” doesn’t get anywhere near as many Google searches per month as “Key West weather,” it certainly has far more potential to convert traffic into sales on your website!
Likewise, “Key West fishing report” is probably better than “Key West scuba diving,” although the latter gets more searches in Google every month.
2. Optimize Your Page Titles
The most critical element of SEO is the page title so it’s important you get this just right. First, make sure you place your most important keyword for each page in your title for that page.
Second, for the best effect, place your target keyword at the beginning of the title.
For example, suppose your keyword is “scrapbooking supplies.”
A title like:
“Scrapbooking Supplies | Welcome To Our Directory,”
would be better than:
“Welcome To Our Directory Of Scrapbooking Supplies.”
Third, keep your page titles short and concise. Google with truncate a title that is longer than about 64 characters. Fourth, remember that actual human beings will be reading your title and making a spit second decision as to whether or not to click on it. Thus, making your title appealing to the reader is just as important as ranking high.
3. Each Page Title Should Be Unique
Be sure not to repeat the same keyword on more than one page on your site. Both Google and Bing may consider this spamming and penalize your website ranking. Additionally, don’t repeat any phrase on every page.
So, for example, don’t start every page with something like, “Mike’s Surf Shop.” Instead, you can put a little graphic that says “Mike’s Surf Shop” at the top of each page for branding purposes but leave it out of the text of the title.
If appropriate, you can add special pages with geographical search terms in the title since many surfers add geographical terms to their search queries.
“Surfing In Santa Cruz,” would be an excellent way to start a title of one of your internal pages if you offer surfing equipment and/or surfing services in Santa Cruz. For the homepage, you could use something like, “Surfing Supplies in Santa Cruz California” or “Surf Shop In Santa Cruz California.”
4. Plan Your Internal Linking Strategy Well
Many webmasters don’t realize this but internal links count just as much as external links when it comes to boosting your search engine ranking. However, you have to be careful about how you position these links. You also have to be careful not to overdo it.
In general, links off the homepage count more than do links from internal pages. Therefore, you should link to your most important internal pages from your homepage.
Alternately, you can use links on your internal pages to bolster the ranking of your homepage for a targeted keyword or cluster of related keywords. Just be sure not to use the exact same phrasing in every link.
5. Geographical Keywords
For certain types of businesses, especially retail businesses, geographical keywords can increase your search engine traffic by orders of magnitude. This is because people often use geographical terms in their search queries.
For example, people almost never search for the term “restaurants” or “Thai restaurants.” Instead, they use something like, “restaurants in Jacksonville FL” or “thai restaurants in Jacksonville FL.” The easiest way to ensure you are including geographical keywords is to include your address and phone number being sure to include the area code on every page.
If you have a presence in more than one location, be sure to include pages listing all addresses and all local phone numbers.
6. Make Sure Your Site Is Listed In Regional Directories
There are many regional directories on the internet and a link in the most important ones will give you a lot of link juice. For example, one link on TripAdvisor can bolster your search engine ranking more than one hundred links on lesser known sites, especially if you get a lot of positive reviews. Some regional directories are set up similar to the old fashioned yellow pages of the phonebook.
Other directories add reviews, photos, and other premium features. Some of the more popular regional directories are Merchant Circle, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Angie’s List, Google Local Business Center, and Yahoo Local.
In most of these, you can add your own business name, website address, phone number, and physical address for free. You can also encourage your happiest clients/customers to review you on one or more of these directories.
7. Make a YouTube Video
YouTube has become an essential element in any good SEO strategy. Google now owns YouTube and YouTube videos tend to rank very well in Google.
Besides the added exposure the video itself will bring you, you can place a clickable link to your website, or an internal page on your website, in the description of the video. This is considered a very valuable link and will grow in value as more people find your video.
Please don’t be daunted by the idea of making a video. Many cellphones and cheap digital cameras have a video function that will work just fine for this purpose. If you are struggling with this task, ask a friend, or perhaps even better, your friend’s kid, to help you.
How to videos are very popular on YouTube because people can actually see how to do something rather than just reading about it with pictures at best.
When learning how to do something, videos are often better than pictures. If you sell products, you can do a personal how to demonstration. For example, if you own a camping store, you could make YouTube videos on how to set up different types of tents.
8. Blogging For Better SEO
Adding a blog to your website improves your local SEO in several ways. First, Google favors sites that change frequently and/or add new content frequently. Sites with fresh content generally get ranked higher.
A blog is an easy way to do this. Every new post is a new page of content. Plus, every new comment on every post page is a change for that page! You can encourage more comments by interacting with those who post comments.
Second, every blog post can be optimized using important secondary keywords. Third, you can place links to the most important pages on your website inside your posts. Best yet, this will grow naturally as your blog archive grows over time, something Google loves. If you don’t have time to keep up with your own blog, you can assign an employee to do it or hire an independent contractor to keep a blog going for you.
9. Identify and Fix Technical Issues That Affect Search Engine Rankings
Technical issues can negatively affect your search engine rankings. For example, broken links, i.e. links that return 404 errors, will negatively affect your search engine rankings. Broken links can occur for many different reasons.
For example, a typo can cause a link to be broken. A file may be missing after you, or your webmaster, migrate files from one server to another, and this can give a 404 error as well.
Here’s another example. Frames and tables used in the coding of your website can bury your keyword rich content under your navigation links or advertising in the eyes of the search engines. A good way to identify these technical issues and many others is to use a Google tool called “Google Webmaster Tools.” To get started, just go to: www.google.com/webmasters/start.
10. Getting External Links
Google uses the number of links pointing back to your website in their formula to determine how well your website should rank in their search engine results. They also evaluate the quality of these links, i.e. some links count more than others.
Also, some links can actually hurt you if they are deemed to be from “bad neighborhoods,” i.e. sites that are low in content and/or filled with spam. Generally speaking, most links you pay for are not the best neighborhoods to have your website listed in. You can usually get some links fairly easily by joining professional associations such as your local chamber of commerce.
Donations to some non-profits will also land you a link when they list their sponsors on their website. You can also ask your friends and your family to add your link to their Facebook pages and their websites. You can also contribute high quality articles to high profile blogs and online magazines to get a link in the byline.
However, the best links often come naturally. If you add great content and other resources to your website, others will naturally find you and link to your website. For example, if you are a fishing guide and publish a high quality weekly fishing report for a particular geographic region, others will usually find this and link to it.
When going through the ten steps above, keep in mind that good SEO is an ongoing process. You simply can’t do it all in one day and then walk away forever. You will need to continually tweak and refine things. You will also need to continually add new content and changes to your website.
Most smart local business marketers understand the necessity of not only attracting local customers, but also cultivating a positive local reputation to succeed. In today’s digital age, the first stop for many consumers is Google search. Ensuring that your business is well-positioned in the Google local search results is essential to attract new customers, establish an online reputation, and leverage a local competitive advantage.
Local search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of optimizing your business’ web presence in local search results. While not all of these strategies are focal to local SEO, each of these strategies can help increase your company’s search visibility
Keyword Optimize Your Site
For those experienced in local SEO best practices, keyword optimization is a no-brainer. If you want to attract customers in your local area, you should be sure to optimize your website with geographic modifiers based on your business’ location.
For example if you operate a small business that offers local search marketing services in Atlanta, GA, you might optimize your website for the keyword phrase “Atlanta SEO Agency” to establish proper keyword and geographic relevancy.
Analyze Your Local SEO Competition
Conduct a thorough assessment of your local marketplace as well as an evaluation of what keywords (if any) your local competitors are optimizing their websites for. Assessing your competitors’ local SEO strategies can provide invaluable insights into how you better optimize your site. Analyzing your local competition can also provide a barometer of what NOT to do when optimizing your website for local organic SEO.
Create Local Business Listings
Google, Bing, and Yahoo! offer free local business listings that you can establish (and optimize) for the benefit of local search SEO. Your local business listings contribute to greater visibility in local searches on specific keyword targets associated with your company.
In addition to creating local business listing for search engine visibility, getting listed aids in building an array of online citations for your business, which are also Google local ranking factors in the 3-pack. We suggest creating profiles on sites like Yelp, YP, Merchant Circle, Superpages, Manta, etc. to help validate your business and boost your company’s search rankings.
Earn Positive Reviews on Local Business Listings
Particularly with respect to your business’s Google listing, earning customer reviews influence both SEO and your the local online reputation of your brand. In addition to Google, pointing happy customers to your Yelp, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Yahoo! listings offer greater credibility with the search engines.
Getting your customers to leave reviews can be as easy as just asking, but don’t be afraid to get creative and establish certain discounts in return – their effort can be worth incentives for some business looking to employ a review generation program. In the example of above, review generation can be a pivotal strategy for Google Maps marketing, especially when your business ranks under your competitors.
Leverage Local PPC Advertising
Local Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising using Google AdWords and Bing AdCenter is one of the most effective and efficient means of driving highly-qualified search traffic. Local PPC ads can be precisely-targeted to only local search engine users in your area. Because local PPC advertising only reaches people you’re targeting, it provides a high success rate and return on investment.
Engage Local Users on Social Media
Social media platforms are a great tool that can help increase the brand impressions for your small business. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and Pinterest can help your web content go viral and in turn increase the link popularity of your website and your business.
Establishing a social media presence and actively engaging with users is easy, and creating accounts is 100% free on most of these platforms. Like all social media outlets, staying active and engaging other users is key to a successful strategy that will help fuel local SEO and search marketing as a whole.
These local SEO strategies can provide a great starting point for your local search marketing strategy and can greatly benefit the overall success of your organic search optimization efforts.