Local SEO Tips for Hospitals: 5 Simple Steps to Boost Your Google Rankings

/Local SEO Tips for Hospitals: 5 Simple Steps to Boost Your Google Rankings
Local SEO Tips for Hospitals: 5 Simple Steps to Boost Your Google Rankings

Hospitals are increasingly finding it difficult to grow new business. Though word of mouth helps, more and more patients now run a simple Google search and choose from the handful of hospitals at the top of the results. To grow your business, then, you need to make your way to the top of Google rankings.

We will take you step by step through our proven process for launching your hospital to the top of the list. First, though, let’s go through why local SEO is critical for hospitals.

3 Reasons Hospitals Should Invest in Local SEO

  1. Google Killed the Yellow Pages:Until quite recently, hospitals could take out a Yellow Pages ad and wait for patients to arrive. Now, though, fully 97% of people search online for local businesses, and Google dominates the market.
  2. Free Traffic:The landscape continues to evolve, but advertising remains one of the biggest costs for small businesses. Improving your Google ranking provides a never-ending stream of free traffic, ready to be converted to paying customers.
  3. Speedy Results:National and international companies do not see the results of a new SEO campaign for an average of 6 to 12 months. As a hospital, though, you are competing only with other local hospitals, not those located on the other side of the globe. And many of your competitors are not yet using local SEO. With a targeted campaign, you could jump to the first page of local Google listings in just 30 days!

Step 1: Select Your Keywords

First, sit down and create a quick list of keywords that reflect your hospital’s services. For example, you might choose “pediatric hospital”, “cardiac care center”, or “minimally invasive surgery”. When your list is reasonably long, sign up for a free Google AdWords account.

You can ignore the sections on creating and funding an ad campaign. What you want is access to the Google Keyword Planner. This free tool lets you see how much traffic each keyword drives, and suggests related keywords that you might not have thought of.

Now you can finalize your keyword list. All keywords can be loosely grouped into 2 categories:

  • Buying Intent: Prospects who choose buying intent keywords imminently need your services. For example, “best women’s hospital in San Francisco” is a good sign that the patient needs a procedure done in the hospital now.

Buying intent keywords drive the quickest results, so focus on them initially. Feature them on your homepage, and build separate service pages for them.

  • Research Intent: Research intent keywords mean that the prospect is not yet ready for your services. She may need hospitalization someday, but not today. For example, someone asking “do I need a hip replacement” is likely considering her treatment options.

These keywords do not drive quick conversions, so they are lower on the priority list. However, they are an excellent choice for FAQs and blog posts. These helpful posts introduce you to prospects who might remember you when they need hospital services.

Step 2: Optimize Your Keywords

Now that you have a finalized list of keywords, you can move to optimization. There are 2 places to optimize—your Google My Business page and your website. Here’s what to do:

Google My Business

Your Google My Business page is a tiny website designed for Google’s “Maps” section. It provides a succinct overview of your company and increases your overall presence online. It’s also a fast way to boost your rankings, since it is far easier for Google My Business pages to get highly ranked than for websites.

To optimize, accurately and fully fill out all of these elements:

  • Verification: First, simply claim your page and submit to the Google verification process. You will know this is done when the word “Verified” appears next to your business name, along with a checkmark.
  • NAP: Your NAP is your business name, address, and phone number. It must be accurate and 100% identical across the internet. List a local phone number instead of an 800 number to let Google know that yours is a local business.
  • Categories: Google categories are required to reflect services rather than results. Hospital, Medical Center, and Emergency Room are all valid Google categories. You can also specify certain types of hospital, such as Veterans Hospital, Children’s Hospital, or University Hospital. Try to list 3 to 5 categories, if possible.
  • Description: The description is a concise overview of your company that ends with a call to action. It should be 100 to 200 words long, and formatted similarly to: {Name of Hospital} is a {hospital} in {Your City}. {Give some information about your services and/or why patients love you.} Call {Phone Number} today for a free flu shot.
  • Hours: Since hospitals are open 24 hours per day, you can list visiting hours, clinic hours, and so forth in separate paragraphs. Make sure that whatever hours you provide are accurate, and are correctly listed across the internet.
  • Images: Images are vital to boosting patient engagement and showing new prospects what to expect. Add some photos of your facility, staff, and even patients (with permission). Make sure your images are sharply focused, sized between 10KB and 5MB, and have a minimum resolution of 720px x 720px. Also consider replacing the generic Google My Business background image with a branded image.

Website Optimization

Your first priority should be optimizing your homepage and service pages, also known as your “core” pages, for your buying intent keywords. Then you can optimize your blog posts and FAQs, or “content” pages, for your research intent keywords. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Homepage:

    The single most critical element on your homepage is the title tag. It serves the same function as the chapter title in a book, and must describe your hospital in just 50 to 65 characters. Try this format: Hospital in {Your City} | {Name of Hospital}.

A 100 to 150-character overview of your main services, the meta description should end with a call to action. Format it something like this: {Name of Hospital} offers quality {healthcare services} in {Your City}. Call {Phone Number} today for a free flu shot!

The H1, also referred to as the visible headline, must contain your primary category. Format it similarly to: {Hospital} in {City, State}.

Finally, write your page copy. This should contain 500 to 1000 tightly edited words that describe your hospital and core services, ending with a strong call to action. Incorporate your primary keyword as it fits naturally, but don’t try to stuff it in.

  • Service Pages: Build a service page for each core service. Optimize it like the homepage, only focusing on the relevant keyword.

Step 3: Create Citations and Links

With the skeleton of your local SEO campaign in place, you are ready to create citations and links. Both improve your Google rankings by boosting your online reach.

  • Citations: A citation is simply an online directory listing of your business NAP (name, address, and phone number). You can choose general national directories such as Facebook and yellowpages.com, general local directories such as your Chamber of Commerce website, and targeted medical service directories. Your NAP must be accurate and consistent across all listings.

Note that while many directories are free, some require payment for listings. Take a look at Google Analytics before you pay. There is no reason to pay for a listing that will not drive traffic and conversions.

  • Links: Reaching the top of Google rankings requires inbound links from authoritative, credible websites. Develop relationships with companies that offer complementary services to your own, such as local clinics and medical practitioners, and then ask to trade links. You can find out where your competitors’ links are coming from with a tool such as the Moz Open Site Explorer.

Step 4: Ask for Reviews

Customer reviews are vital to your local SEO campaign in two ways. First, they can convince hesitant prospects to give you a chance. Second, they reassure Google that yours is a legitimate business. All reviews can help, but the fastest rankings boost will come from Google My Business reviews. Send your satisfied patients an email link to your page, and ask them to write a review. If you do this regularly, you will soon have an ongoing flow of recent reviews.

Step 5: Track Your Results

Tracking your results is the only way to know which portions of your local SEO campaign are working well, and which parts still need a little work. You can analyze your data in many different ways, but there are three critical core metrics:

  • Rankings: The rankings that Google displays are customized based on past browsing behavior. To learn your actual rankings, you will need a tool. Ask your webmaster to install the free Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools), and take a look at your rankings at least once a month.

A paid tool such as RankRanger.com will let you dig more deeply into your rankings. You can track your Google My Business page as well as each individual webpage, and the tool will automatically update ranking data from all of your SEO campaigns.

  • Traffic: To track your website visitors, or traffic, it would be tough to beat Google Analytics. This allows you to view not only your overall traffic, but also the traffic for each individual webpage, as well as the percentage of traffic that came through Google search. Check your traffic report at least once per month, with an eye toward any long-term trends.
  • Conversions: A conversion is a specific action you want prospects to perform, such as contacting you for a free flu shot. In Google Analytics, you can track both phone and web conversions, learn which of your webpages have the highest and lowest conversion rates, and see which services drive the most conversions.

Ready to Get Started?

Now you understand how a targeted local SEO campaign will help build your patient list. Work through the steps in order, and fully complete each step before moving on to the next. Here is a recap of the 5 steps:

  1. Keyword research
  2. Keyword optimization
  3. Citations and Links
  4. Reviews
  5. Tracking

Want Help with SEO?

At Main Street ROI, we specialize in helping hospitals attract more local customers through Google. If you’d like help with your SEO, contact us for a free quote.

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