Most ophthalmology practices spend a great deal of time, energy and money to create an inviting office environment and build an attractive and effective website to draw patients to their doors. The detail that may get overlooked is that of optimizing your local search engine optimization (SEO) to ensure that prospective patients actually find your wonderful website and are properly directed to your front doors when they are ready for that step.
Why Focus on Local SEO?
Optimizing your local SEO is critical to your practice’s success. People searching for an ophthalmologist will be looking within their geographic area first. Convenience is key when it comes to scheduling medical appointments – the closer the office, the less time children will miss from school and parents will miss from work. To this end, they will depend on search engine results to find “ophthalmologists in San Francisco,” for example. These types of local searches account for 46% of all searches on Google.
If your practice is not constantly spending time on local SEO strategies to improve your rankings, you run the risk of your website falling off the radar or of having inaccurate information posted online about your practice. Potential patients will only expend a limited amount energy to locate your practice; and if they are directed to an inaccurate physical address due to incorrect information online, you will have lost that patient forever.
Ways to Improve Local SEO
- Include keywords on all of your website pages that have geographic locations.
- Optimize your website so it can be easily read on mobile devices (responsive website design).
- Add contact information for your practice on every page of your website (name, address, phone number, etc.).
- Review your Google My Business listing often and ensure it is complete and accurate (if you have not done this yet, make it a priority).
- Claim as many of the local online business directory listings as possible for your practice. Ensure all of the information in these listings is 100% accurate.
- Ask your patients to post their experiences with your practice on social media and review sites.
- Keep your website content fresh, relevant and comprehensive.
- Incorporate social media marketing into your strategies. Post articles to your social media accounts on a regular basis.
Watch for Local SEO Changes
Just like SEO rules are always changing, local SEO is no different. If you notice that your practice has fallen off page 1 of search engine rankings, but you’ve done nothing different to warrant such a drop, it may be because of an algorithm change. Google and other search engines are in business to improve the quality of information that searchers access. To keep these results as helpful and accurate as possible, they often change their algorithm rules. Google accounts for almost 75% of all global desktop search traffic and 94% of mobile search, so they should be on the top of your radar.
Your practice may have felt the effect of one such update in 2016. Nicknamed the Possum update, this Google change affected practices that were physically located near or in the same building with other practices that offered similar services. The Possum update filtered out businesses offering similar services in search engine results that had the same address or nearby addresses. It also filtered satellite practices owned by the same company. So, if a person searched for “Newark LASIK,” the results would include more geographically spread out options to provide a more diverse result for the online searcher. While businesses were not completely eliminated from the listings, the rankings were changed. Practices near each other may have randomly ended up further down the Google local 3-pack list.
What is a Google Local 3-Pack?
When searchers do an online local keyword search on Google, they will be rewarded with a listing of the top 3 businesses that relate to their search, according to Google. This is called the Google local 3-pack. There are actually more than 3 results that will be listed (if available), but the searcher must click to expand the view. The Possum update caused many practices to fall outside of the top 3 results. Because most people fail to click past page 1 of search engine results, this update could have greatly impacted your lead flow.
Get Outside Help for SEO
It can be difficult to control how new algorithms affect your practice’s online rankings. However, the more your practice can stay abreast of the ongoing SEO changes, the more proactive you can be at implementing your own changes to reduce the impact to your lead flow. This will allow your practice to be proactive rather than reactive. Larger practices may have the bandwidth to hire an internal marketing team that has the expertise to fully understand what the changes will mean to your practice. However, if you have a smaller practice, it may be more beneficial to outsource your practice’s SEO strategies.
Realizing this can be challenging for the budgets of smaller practices, Advantage Healthcare Consulting, a division of Advantage Administration, has partnered with top marketing companies to make SEO optimization more affordable. By joining our Management Services Organization (MSO), you can gain access to SEO experts that specialize in ophthalmology marketing while saving money on their services. These services can help your practice outperform your competitors in online local pack search results and help improve your overall SEO strategies. To learn more about the options available, contact us today.