You may have aspirations to draw patients to your integrative or functional medicine clinic from across the country, and attract an international following but, for most practices, being ‘discovered’ by and serving the local community is goal one.
Whether yours is an established practice, or you are relatively new on the scene, it’s critical to take ‘ownership’ of your local market. And for that, you need to make it easy for people to find you. Local SEO efforts are essentially an additional layer to your core SEO efforts to rank high for well-researched keywords and long-tail keyphrases specific to your products and/or service offerings.
In order for you, a local practice primarily serving your community, to be discovered and accessed, I offer ‘7 essentials’ to ensure a seemingly effortless route for local online searchers to connect with your integrative health or functional medicine clinic or center.
Optimize Your Website for Local Search
Where natural and possible, without ‘keyword stuffing’, include your geographic keyword phrase— ‘North Bay San Francisco’ or ‘Downtown Financial District San Francisco’ consistently across your site. If you primarily serve those within a specific county or suburb, this can achieve a bigger boost in search than the closest major city.
- Static messaging and core navigation content: Include your primary city/area and/or county—as a geographical keyword phrase—within your core navigation pages, including your homepage and about us page. Where ‘natural’, also include this in page titles and subheads.
- Blog content: Include your primary city/area and/or county—as a geographical keyword phrase—in the titles, subheads, and body text of your blog posts. Blogging with quality content, created consistently, is an important opportunity to drive organic local search traffic to your site.
- Contact information: Include the full address and phone number in website footer area and ‘contact us’ page.
Google My Business
You see Google My Business (GMB) pop up to the right of Google searches almost every time you search for a local business. Essentially a prominent display ad, a GMB listing is often more suitably placed than the search results listings for many practices.
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If you haven’t verified and set up your GMB listing, this is a must-do, immediately. Has your practice been open for longer than a year? Chances are there is an ‘unverified’ shell of a listing that Google automagically set up through its constant web crawling process.
In addition to including typical information: business name, address, phone, and website, GMB allows you to add your hours of operation, upload photos of your clinic, and add relevant categories or search terms such as local geographic service area. GBM also lets you feature promotions and coupons.
Setting up and/or editing your GMB listing is easy. Check out this helpful video to get started.
Google Maps is ubiquitous in search, and embedding Google Maps onto your website helps boost local SEO. The best place for this is on your ‘contact us’ page, not the footer area of your homepage, where it is often misplaced.
Here are straightforward instructions from Google on how to embed Google Maps into your site. I suggest optimizing your Google My Business listing first, as Google Maps lives within GMB.
Yelp ranks high, often higher than your practice’s website. If you don’t have a profile on Yelp, someone will eventually add one. Proactively optimize your listing by accurately completing all information, and adding quality images. Follow Yelp’s rules for properly encouraging folks to post reviews.
Optimize Social Media Profiles
Ensure your business name, address, telephone, and website information, along with your geographical keyword phrase(s) covering your service area(s), are consistently captured on your various social media profiles.
Facebook Professional Services
Some local SEO pros are calling (FBPS) the future Yelp killer. A strong statement, but FBPS is worth including in your local SEO mix.
Online Business Directories
When is the last time you reached for the Yellow Pages? I move them directly from my front porch to the recycle container. And I am not alone in that paper shuffle.
Local online business directory listings are critical for driving local SEO; more importantly, many business directories allow for customer reviews. Your goal in being ‘found’ should be to include your business in as many viable online directories as relate to your specialty.
However, you must accurately and consistently populate the fields with your business name, address, phone, and website information. Even the slightest variations can affect SEO. If you have ever changed your brand name (rebranded) or moved your business, it is important to take the time to review and update local business directory listing profiles.
There are companies that provide a turnkey service to handle your listings. I spent some time looking at a few, but am not comfortable enough to make a recommendation. I suggest you do your own homework to determine if it will be more effective for you to handle in-house or to solicit help.
If you are ready to tackle this yourself or, better yet, give ownership to a practice associate or a sharp intern, here’s a little guidance.
- Create a simple spreadsheet to capture the various online local business directory providers—names and URLs. Start with Hubspot’s Ultimate List of 50 Online Local Business Directories.
- One-by-one, populate, update, and optimize your listings with great attention to detail for accuracy and consistency.
- Track within the spreadsheet when the listing was created or updated.
- Look for additional viable directories, and periodically spot-check the top listings to ensure all is well.
Bonus: For those using Mozilla Firefox, here’s a handy AutoFill Add-on to make completing new listings a breeze.
Establishing and growing an integrative or functional medicine clinic, and increasing patient volume, can be difficult. Think local first, and be proactive by elevating your presence. Local folks want to find you—make it easy for them to connect with the above core essentials.
FON is a leading integrative health and medicine business development and strategy consulting firm. FON specializes in custom solutions for growing patient volume, developing programs, and increasing product sales. Our practical business models are driven by innovative marketing, clear messaging, and customer engagement via branded storytelling.
Contact us today to schedule a complimentary 30-minute consultation to discuss your business development or personal brand needs.