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inboundMed Blog

Local search & SEO: How can they help my medical practice in Alaska?

Sep 8, 2016 6:30:00 AM / by inboundMed

small_business_alaska can benefit from local search seoSometimes medical practices with websites become so enamored of the limitless boundaries of web presence that they can forget that they (and their clients) are still mostly local.

"Getting found" should start with maximizing local search and search engine optimization (SEO). Especially for the Alaska-based business, local SEO as a medical marketing strategy can stand to set you apart from all the others.

What is local search and SEO?

Applications of this marketing strategy focus on a medical practice's ability to "get found" based on their geographic location. Any physician's group or clinic with one or more physical locations (especially when they are not identified as part of a greater medical building campus) benefit from the advantages of using local SEO strategies. 

How does local SEO work?

local_search_connects_your_local_medical_practice_with_local_patientsYou've probably used it yourself when you went to Google to look for "movies near me."

A person looking for a specific medical practice, like a dentist, may type in "dentists near me" to find those results. The dental practices using inbound marketing in Alaska will have optimized their websites for local search so that they will easily pop up in the results, whether they are in Kenai, Juneau, Fairbanks, or Seward. 

Local search also tends to rely more on links from local websites to boost search engine rankings, so it's important not to overlook these local connections if your practice is to "get found."

Why does local SEO matter to small businesses? 

  • Search engines factor in location data when they display search results. businesses_in_alaska_and_hawaii_stand_to_greatly_benefit_from_local_search
  • Consumers are becoming increasingly interested in "shopping locally" and may be more opten to using local medical services versus those provided by a larger hospital system.
    This may be especially true for residents of Alaska (or Hawaii, for that matter), since they aren't part of the contiguous United States. 
  • People tend to add local geographical information to their search criteria because they want to find resources that are closer to home.

Tips for maximizing local SEO

Use "relevant focus" keywords.

These are words that are specific to your business. "Dentist" is not a focus keyword, but "Anchorage dentist" is, and "Anchorage kids dentist" is even more so. Use these relevant focus keywords anywhere you have the opportunity (see What is on-page SEO? below for ideas).

Don't forget to NAP.

NAP stands for "name, address, phone," and you'd be surprised how inconsistently businesses repeat this information across all of their marketing platforms. Not only should this Alaska business information appear everywhere possible (including in your HTML), but it should be consistently worded so that your data doesn't confuse web crawlers or lead to multiple search results, which can confuse potential visitors to your website. 

google_my_businessTake advantage of Google My Business.

This resource through Google helps them to rank your website in order to link their users with the most accurate search results. They allow you to provide descriptions, choose business categories, upload photos, list contact information, and much more. Make sure you complete all of the information that Google My Business requests, as the more data they have, the better your website will rank in local search. Another tip: update your account frequently to ensure Google knows your medical practice is alive and well, and it will reward you with higher search rankings.

local_search_iconAdd a map.

There's no better way to "get found" than by including a Google map on your main page. Not only does it make your business easier for new patients to find, but it integrates easily with Google-centric SEO.

Local citations matter.

A local citation is defined as any mention of a local business, with or without a link, that appears on the Internet. It could be your clinic's name, or its name and phone number, or or its name and phone number with street address... or all of these, with a URL attached to the whole string.  

The Local Search Ranking Factors index shows that up to 25 percent of the top 20 most important factors in local search rely on local citations. These citations are especially helpful for niche medical practices with few competitors, or who have competitors who do not have websites.
citation_building
Local citations also create additional validity for your business; name recognition and repetition online—when coupled with authoritative references to your business by way of the local Chamber of Commerce, citywide business indices, community business forums, or other popular referrers on the web lend even more credibility to your practice. 

Building up your citations is worth the time, and these tools can help you do so: 

  • Brightlocal.com
  • Moz Local
  • WhiteSpark's local citation finder
  • Yext.com

What is on-page SEO?

On-page SEO refers to the way in which you internally optimize the content and infrastructure of your blog and website through the strategic inclusion of keywords.

All medical practice websites and healthcare blogs should have a master list of their best keywords to use to identify the services, products, and procedures their business offers. These keywords should then be disseminated in every possible place for the advantage of internal optimization.

Keywords can, and should, also incorporate the name of the city and state in which a business resides, as well as the names of major neighborhoods nearby, if these can distinguish them locally. 

They will want to choose a fair balance of "short tail" and "long tail" keywords, and using a keyword tool can help them to determine which these will be. Places to "plant" these master keywords on a consistent and intentional basis include the following: 

  • Blog headlines and content
  • Landing page titles (H1) and content internal_optimization_is_the_result_of_on-page_seo
  • Meta tags
  • Meta descriptions
  • Alt tags for images or graphics
  • Headers (such as H2, H3, H4) and 
  • Dedicated URLs 
  • Internal links
  • Social media tags

If you can apply these locally focused strategies for "getting found," your medical practice should enjoy increases in attention through both online traffic and direct contact from interested patients.

It makes sense for doctors to maximize this strategy, as the vast majority of their patient population is going to be local. Having solid exposure in the local area stands to be one of the best ways to drive the kind of "word of mouth" that any good healthcare practice needs to expand its patient base.

Sources: 
Creative Click Media
Local Search Ranking Factors
Search Engine Journal
Search Engine Land
WhiteSpark

 

Trying to make sense of inbound marketing? Let us help you by downloading this free book written specifically to address the needs of medical practices.

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Topics: search engine marketing

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Written by inboundMed

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