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Nowadays, medical practices don’t rely heavily on traditional marketing to promote their services anymore. The advent of technology opened a lot of opportunities for healthcare providers to continuously attract new patients without spending too much. With the steadily increasing popularity of the Internet, one click has never been more powerful than it is today. For the past decade, digital marketing has helped businesses in all sectors promote their products and services – and search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the most important aspects when it comes to digital marketing.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a marketing discipline that focuses on increasing the number and quality of visitors to a website. SEO specialists do this by improving rankings in the algorithmic search engine results. Basically, it’s just a set of rules for optimizing a website for search engines that would, in turn, improve the site’s search engine rankings. SEO is a great way to increase the quality and visibility of a website by ensuring that it can easily be found in search engines for words and phrases that are relevant to what the website is offering. And the quality of your website will drastically improve by making your website more user-friendly and easy to navigate.
And it’s good to understand SEO in general, but SEO actually gets a little more complex than what I just mentioned above. In fact, did you know that there are two main SEO-related digital marketing disciplines? Local SEO and organic SEO.
The Difference Between Organic SEO and Local SEO
If you’ve been actively marketing your services online, or at least planning to, you’ve probably heard of both local SEO and organic SEO. So, you might be asking yourself – what is the difference? Before we differentiate local SEO and organic SEO, let’s first define each term.
Organic SEO is a marketing practice of optimizing your website to make it search engine friendly and getting it ranked for relevant keywords. However, it might not include a local element and it’s usually not associated with a brick and mortar business. Usually, organic search just revolves around a website. On the other hand, local SEO has a geographical component. It is the practice of building signals of relevance around a specific location.
So what is the difference between the two?
Organic SEO works towards improving a website’s ranking and increasing traffic by having a trusted content that provides value. Basically, when it comes to organic search, search engines rank and favor trusted and relevant content. With local SEO, search engines rank and favor websites that have relevant and trusted locations.
The Importance of Local SEO for Medical Practices
The number of people turning to the Internet to search for health-related information continues to grow. According to a study conducted by Pew Internet & American Life Project, 80% of Internet users (or about 93 million Americans) have searched for a health-related topic online. That number includes people searching for information about a particular doctor or medical practice. And the study clearly suggests that there is a good opportunity for a medical practice to gain more patients if they just know how to utilize the Internet.
So where exactly does local SEO come into the picture?
If you have a website, local SEO can help your business grow and meet your business objectives. There are two main benefits that local SEO can provide you and your practice. One is improved searchability online and the other is increased visibility for your website in a specific location.
Regardless of the size and specialty of your medical practice, implementing an SEO strategy would be a great way to help you attract new patients. It could drive traffic to your website, bringing more qualified leads (potential patients) to your practice. And of course, if you increase the number of patients at your practice, you will also increase your revenue! In fact, according to Google, 46% of all Google searches are local – that’s huge! That just goes to show that a large number of people are searching for local businesses online; you just have to make sure that your practice shows up in their search results!
So, now you understand some of the benefits of local SEO – but why would you employ local SEO when there are other types of effective digital marketing that you could use (such as email marketing and social media marketing)? Don’t get me wrong, email marketing is good and can be very effective – however, the downside of email marketing is that some of the emails sent may go to spam if they’re not targeted to the right people. And, while social media is an effective way to reach your target market online, search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing are still the primary source of traffic. Search engines serve millions of users per day who are looking for answers to their questions or for solutions to their problems. This makes SEO more important than any other digital form of marketing when it comes to driving traffic to your site.
How can Medical Practices Attract New Patients Using Local SEO?
Medical practices just want to have a steady stream of patients. One way of doing that is by using a number of SEO strategies. While you may want to increase your website’s overall traffic, the most important visitors to your website will be the ones in your local area. These are the people who would actually visit your practice if they need a consultation or appointment. Because of this, it is important to focus on these local people.
Did you know that four out of five consumers use search engines to find local information? They search for store addresses, business hours, products, service availability, and directions. This is according to a research study Understanding Consumers’ Local Search Behavior created by Google. In addition to this, local searches lead to more purchases than non-local searches – specifically, 18% of local searches on smartphones lead to a purchase within a day.
Here are some of the tasks you need to cover when setting up your website to ensure that it can be found by local patients:
- Make sure you include your city along with top relevant keywords in your website content.
- Ensure that every page of your website contains your full address, and make sure that it is exactly the same everywhere. It is vital that you use the same words and punctuations. Consistency is necessary.
- See to it that you link your Google Maps listing to your website.
- Make sure that your NAP (name, address, and phone number) is consistent across all marketing channels. This includes your website, social media sites, review sites, and directory listings.
- Use local keywords in your URLs, heading tags, title tags and content, where appropriate.
In promoting awareness about the services you offer, it is more useful if you focus on a certain area. This is why you need to employ local SEO. It will attract more patients and help your practice to grow.