The Future of Local SEO: Tips and Upgrades You Need to Know Before 2015

local SEO statsWhile you may think that consumers can learn everything they need to know about a business simply by visiting its site, 97% of consumers get their first impression of a practice from search engines. What’s more, 75% of those consumers never go past page one of the search results, according to studies by Higher Visibility.

If you’ve yet to take advantage of local medical SEO— search engine optimization– chances are you’re missing out on droves of clients. And if your online contact information is inconsistent, the resulting miscommunications could be eliciting negative reviews that haven’t even crossed your radar. Here’s what you need to know to perfect your online profile and boost your search-engine ranking in local markets.

Getting Started: See the Big Picture

Google, Yahoo!, and Bing are the most important search sites, with Google eclipsing all by a long shot. Google’s algorithm uses keywords in file names, HTML tags, and links to find out the value of each online page.

Use a free site audit offered by most SEO companies to locate any inconsistencies in your site’s current online presence– or, if you’re new to the SEO ballgame, go to the Google homepage and click Business to get started.

The Nitty-Gritty: Optimizing Your Profiles

Creating a clean and clear content profile is the first step to ensuring top rankings for your keywords, so take notes:

  • Your name, address and phone number must be the same across all local citations.

  • Keywords should comprise no more than 5% of your profile content– use them thoughtfully, but don’t overdo it.

  • List your business under the most specific category that applies.

  • Include only your office’s primary phone number.

  • List your address as the office you’re most likely to work at on any given day.

  • Be generous with media– use your logo and other photos that will familiarize consumers with your practice.

You can use the same tips to create profiles for Yahoo! and Bing, and you can also submit your profile to UBL, which will send your data to dozens of other local search systems. Remember to keep your content fresh so you can adapt to new algorithms and features that might change your local traffic.

The Next Level: Google’s My Maps

Google’s new My Maps upgrade gives users the opportunity to create maps with personalized descriptions and photos Google_Maps_Logoof one’s chosen locations. This simple change has big implications for digital marketing; practitioners can now create custom maps that lead clients through a 24-hour experience centered around their practice, helping “stuck” patients make small but significant lifestyle changes.

What’s more, if you sign up for Google’s Business View, Google will send a professional photographer to take high-quality photos and create a 360-degree virtual tour of your practice– or, you can submit your own photos to Google Maps Views.

Here are a few examples of how practitioners can use My Maps to stay ahead of the curve:

  • A cardiologist might make a Heart-Healthy Map complete with a workout guide and food options that help lower blood pressure and cholesterol. The map might start at a jogging trail through the park and lead to public stairs good for running. Next, perhaps a restaurant that fits the practitioner’s personal recommendations; a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and fiber, for instance, or a specific legume plate with ingredients that prevent heart disease risk factors.

  • A family practitioner’s map might start at a grocery store and offer a healthy weekly shopping list. It could lead to active family activities at a local YMCA and end at a lookout spot for a family picnic, where the location description could offer links to tasty, nutrient-rich recipes that are easy to serve on-the-go.

  • A dermatologist might list favorite restaurants, farmers markets or spas around his or her practice, including tips about skin-friendly meals and services, like the avocado smoothie or Vitamin A repairing peel.  The map might end with a visit to the practice with details about first consultations.

Google’s new features will have a big effect on local SEO rankings, so don’t miss out. If you’re not taking advantage of these upgrades, you’re losing ground to a competitor who is!

Marie is the Director of Marketing at Medical Web Experts, and has been working in healthcare marketing and web development since 2010.

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