In this article, we will discuss the following:
- what exactly is local SEO
- the difference between local SEO and traditional SEO
- benefits of local SEO for health and allied health practices
- what is the ‘Google Map Pack’
- key benefits of Local SEO for allied health practices
- how to implement local SEO tactics to improve your practice or clinic’s online visibility.
Understanding these concepts is essential for if you’re an allied health professional looking to improve your local search visibility and attract more qualified traffic to your website through digital marketing.
Firstly, what is Local SEO?
Local SEO (search engine optimisation) is the process of optimising your online presence to rank highly in the search engine results page for searches related to your business in a specific geographic location. It is a powerful marketing strategy that can help your practice attract more qualified local traffic and grow your local customer base.
Local SEO vs Traditional SEO – what’s the difference?
The main difference between local SEO and traditional SEO is the geographic focus of the optimisation efforts.
As defined above, Local SEO is the process of optimising your online presence to rank highly in search engine results for searches related to your business in a specific geographic location. In other words, local SEO is focused on helping local businesses attract local customers. For example, a Psychology practice with a clinic in Melbourne’s CBD might implement local SEO to rank highly in search results for searches related to “psychologist Melbourne.”
Traditional SEO, on the other hand, is the process of optimising your website to rank highly in search engine results for searches related to your business, regardless of location. It is focused on helping businesses attract customers from a wider geographic area – for example an eCommerce store that sells products Australia-wide.
Here is an example of the difference between local SEO and traditional SEO for an allied health practice:
A physiotherapist in the inner Brisbane suburb of Fortitude Valley is looking to attract new patients from the local area.
They decide to focus on local SEO and optimise their website and online presence for searches related to “physiotherapist Fortitude Valley.”
They make sure that their Google My Business listing is complete and up-to-date, build citations on local business directories, and optimise their website for local keywords. As a result, their practice appears at the top of search results for searches related to “physiotherapist Fortitude Valley,” and they attract more qualified local traffic to their website.
The Google Map Pack
The Google Map Pack is a feature of Google’s search engine results that displays a map with a list of local businesses that are relevant to the search query. The Map Pack appears at the top of search results when a user searches for a local business or service.
Here is an example of what the Google Map Pack looks like, when I search for “physio near me”:
The Map Pack typically includes the business’s name, rating, and distance from the user’s location. It may also include the business’s address, phone number, and a link to their website.
The businesses that are included in the Map Pack are ranked based on their relevance, distance, and prominence.
- Relevance refers to how closely the business matches the search query.
- Distance refers to how close the business is to the user’s location.
- Prominence refers to how well-known the business is, based on factors such as its ratings and reviews, the quantity and quality of its online reviews, and the popularity of its website.
The Map Pack is an important feature for allied healthcare business because it can help increase your visibility in search results, including on Google Maps, and attract more qualified traffic to your website. It is particularly valuable for businesses that rely on local customers, such as allied health practitioners.
The Map Pack receives a significant share of clicks for local search queries. This is because it is prominently displayed at the top of the search results and includes a map and relevant business information, which can make it more attractive to users than the regular organic search results.
According to a study by BrightLocal, the Map Pack receives an average of 34% of clicks for local searches. This means that for every 100 clicks on local search results, about 34 of those clicks go to the Map Pack. The remaining clicks are distributed among the regular organic search results (which are most often displayed below the map pack).
5 Key Benefits of Local SEO for Allied Health Practices
There are many benefits of a Local SEO campaign for your Allied Health practice – here are some specific ones:
1. Increased visibility
Local SEO can help increase the visibility of your practice in local search results. When potential patients search for allied health services in their area, your practice is more likely to show up at the top of the search results if you have a strong local SEO strategy in place.
This can make it more likely that they will visit your website and consider your practice when choosing a provider.
2. Greater credibility
A strong local SEO strategy can help improve the credibility of your practice. By consistently using your business’s name, address, and phone number (NAP) across all online directories and ensuring that your Google My Business listing is complete and up-to-date, you can demonstrate to search engines that your practice is legitimate and serves a specific location.
This can help increase the confidence that people may have in your services, adding to your digital presence.
3. Improved communication with patients
Local SEO can help improve communication with your patients by making it easier for them to find your practice online.
For example, you can use your website to allow patients to schedule appointments online or provide updates about changes to your practice or services. This can save time and improve the patient experience.
4. Greater return on investment
Local SEO is generally a more cost-effective way to drive traffic to your website compared to other forms of paid advertising, such as pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. It can also provide a longer-lasting return on investment, as the results of SEO efforts can be long-lasting, whereas the effects of paid advertising (such as Google Ads) are typically temporary.
5. Increased patient retention
Local SEO can help increase patient retention by making it easier for patients to find your practice when they are searching for allied health professionals in their area. This can help you build a loyal patient base and grow your practice over time.
Local SEO tactics to increase your traffic and leads
Here are some local SEO tactics that an allied health practice in Australia could use to increase traffic and leads to their website:
1. Optimise your Google My Business listing
Make sure that your business’s name, address, and phone number (NAP) are consistent across all online directories and that your Google My Business listing is complete and up-to-date. Include photos and descriptions of your practice and services to help people learn more about your business. When you’re editing your Google My Business page, try and complete your profile to 100% (the platform will give you an indication of this).
2. Build citations
Citations are mentions of your business’s NAP on other websites. Build citations on local business directories, industry-specific directories, and other websites that are relevant to your practice. This can help search engines understand that your business is legitimate and serves a specific location.
Here’s a short list of some high quality citations websites that you can start with:
- Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA)
- Healthdirect Australia
- National Health Services Directory
- Yellow Pages
- True Local
- Hot Frog
- Local Directories
- Start Local
- Local Business Guide
3. Build local backlinks
Backlinks from local websites can help improve your site’s local search rankings. Reach out to local websites and blogs and ask if they would be willing to link to your website. One common tactic is providing some valuable content for their website that will be helpful to their target audience, such as an expertly written blog article. Remember, if you want a favour from a local business, it’s often a good idea to provide something of value in return!
4. Optimise your website for local keywords
Include local keywords in your website’s content and metadata (such as page titles and descriptions) to signal to search engines that your business serves a specific location. Revisiting the example above, a Physiotherapist in the Fortitude Valley might include the keywords “Fortitude Valley Physiotherapist” in your website’s content and metadata.
Expert tip: While it can be tempting to insert your target keywords in every heading, paragraph and sentence (just to make sure Google gets the hint) it’s best practice is to ensure your page copy reads well to humans. A rule of thumb here – read your page copy out loud and if it sounds a bit unnatural, then dial back the keyword stuffing. Google is very smart, so they’ll get the hint if you just write naturally!
5. Encourage customer reviews
Customer reviews on sites like Google and Yelp can help improve your local search visibility and build trust with potential clients. Encourage your satisfied patients to leave reviews of your practice on these sites.
A caution when collecting reviews:
The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) has guidelines for collecting and publishing patient reviews or testimonials that are designed to protect the privacy and safety of patients. According to the AHPRA Advertising Guidelines, some key considerations for collecting and publishing patient reviews or testimonials include:
- Obtain consent: It is important to obtain consent from patients before publishing their reviews or testimonials. This can typically be done through a release form or by including a clause in your patient consent form.
- Protect patient privacy: When publishing patient reviews or testimonials, it is important to protect patient privacy by not including any personal or identifying information. This might include names, addresses, or other identifying details.
- Be transparent: It is important to be transparent about how you collect and publish patient reviews and testimonials. This might include disclosing any incentives or rewards offered to patients in exchange for their reviews.
- Follow all relevant laws and regulations: Be sure to follow all relevant laws and regulations, such as HIPAA, when collecting and publishing patient reviews or testimonials.
Overall, the AHPRA Advertising Guidelines recommend that practitioners be ethical and transparent when collecting and publishing patient reviews or testimonials, and protect patient privacy and follow all relevant laws and regulations. You can read more on their website here.
6. Use social media to promote your practice
Use social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram to share updates about your practice and promote your services to potential clients. Be sure to include your location in your social media profiles and posts to signal to search engines that you serve a specific area.
By following these tactics, you can improve the visibility of your allied health practice in local search results and attract more qualified local traffic to your website.
Overall, local SEO is a powerful marketing strategy that can help allied health practices attract more qualified local traffic and grow their patient base. It is a cost-effective way to increase the visibility, credibility, and communication of your practice with potential clients.
By implementing local SEO and consistently optimising your online presence, you can build a loyal patient base and drive long-term growth for your practice.
In addition to the benefits outlined above, local SEO can also help you stay competitive in your local market. As more and more businesses adopt digital marketing strategies, it is important to ensure that your practice is visible online to potential patients. When you can implement local SEO successfully, you can stay ahead of the competition and attract more qualified traffic to your website.
In summary, local SEO is a valuable marketing strategy for allied health providers because it can help increase the visibility, credibility, and communication of your practice with potential patients. It can also provide a greater return on investment, increase patient retention, and help you stay competitive in your local market. By investing in local SEO, you can attract more qualified local traffic to your website and grow your practice.