The Importance of Local Search for Medical Practices

How are people finding businesses today?  The majority certainly aren’t picking up the paper, reading magazines or flipping through the phone book to find you.  The internet has become the preferred tool for gathering information, resources and contact information for local products and services.

In my last post about the importance of SEO, I mentioned the importance of using Local Search to drive more patients to your website. Since professional practices are marketing to a limited, local demographic, local search is a simple way to make sure that current and prospective patients can find you.  This is especially true if you have not completed SEO on your site yet, because your local business listings, if created carefully, will show up near the top of the search results even if your website doesn’t.

Local Search Result for: Chiropractor, Georgetown, MA

Local Search Result for: Chiropractor, Georgetown, MA

Local search is simple. It allows you to quickly search results by neighborhood, city, state, or zip code. If patients are searching for a chiropractor in Georgetown, Massachusetts, they could simply type in: “chiropractor, georgetown, ma” and the local business listings appear at the top of their screen.  If you’ll notice in the example to the left, the first local business listing also appears first in the organic search results below, which offers double exposure or twice the impressions for that particular chiropractic practice. Someone in that office has been doing their homework. The local business listing is an ‘owner-verified’ listing and the site has been designed and optimized to appear at the top of the organic search results.

Your primary goal when marketing your medical practice is to reach out to your local demographic. This is where many websites fail with their SEO efforts. A patient seeking a plastic surgeon in Boston isn’t going to find your website if it isn’t coded for the local Boston area and surrounding suburbs. It is critical that your website have a strong presence in the local search results to attract new patients.

There are three ways consumers go about searching for local results in your area:

1. Check local search engines such as Google Places or Yahoo Local or social search tools such as Yelp and Insiderpages

2. Access the Internet yellow pages with yellowpages.com or superpages.com

3. Go right to a search engine like Google and type in keywords and demographic info with “City, State”

How do you verify your listing?

Act  like a consumer.  Visit all the sites listed above and look for the links that say: “Business Owner?” or “Claim Your Business.”

When you claim your business, make sure to add relevant content to your local listing. Review the address, map and URL to make sure they are correct, add images, business categories and of course, your products and services. More often than not,  people are using these tools to get correct driving directions, read reviews, and visit your website.  Confirming that your web address is correct will help you get more inbound links to your website. Some sites will even let you post coupons or updates that drive patients to visit your site.

Why use Local Search?

Why not? More and more businesses are beginning to understand that Local Search isn’t just convenient for users, it is also a powerful marketing tool for businesses. Here are a few benefits:

1. Free or inexpensive advertising to promote your business

2. Additional inbound links to your site to increase SEO (search engine optimization)

3. Increase visibility in the search engines to increase new patient referrals to your website

Just because you have a website, doesn’t mean new patients can find you on the search engines. Along with completing SEO on your site, you should take advantage of every free tool available to you.

Local Search today makes up 60-75% of all Internet searches. To spread the word and attract new patients, it is crucial you be proactive in marketing your practice on Local Search. The window of opportunity is NOW. Take advantage of Local Search to build your business, especially during tough economic times.

About Wendy Hamel

As co-founder of Med-Marketers, and serving as Director of Client Programs, Wendy is directly responsible for guiding creative strategy and overseeing client services for the company. Wendy has over 10 years of marketing and management experience serving technology, healthcare and retail. Wendy’s background includes consulting and strategic marketing for orthodontists, dentists, chiropractors, plastic surgeons, pediatricians and primary care physicians in the Greater Boston area.

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