With all the noise that Google’s Penguin and PANDA updates made, many people overlooked one of the more recent algorithm changes from Google: Venice. This update was but a mere blip on the radar for many medical practices, in part because it didn’t result in huge drop-offs in rankings.
The Venice update was all about personalizing search results, specifically geo-targeted results. Google is always trying to improve the relevancy of their results, and with this latest update they’re trying to tailor results for general searches to the location of the searcher.
As you can see in the example below, you don’t even have to be signed in to get localized results!
In the above example the search was done from Victoria, TX, and even though the searcher did not type in their location, or sign in, Google personalized the search results.
So what does this mean for your medical practice?
Well, like most practices your patients usually come from anywhere between a 10 to 100 mile radius around your practice. Obviously, competitive metropolitan areas would be on the lower end of that range, whereas rural practices can draw people from 100 miles away or more. Whether you’re in a very large city, such as Los Angeles, or a smaller city, such as Victoria, TX, you’ll inevitably want to rank for surrounding cities and suburbs. This expands your reach.
Step 1: Blog
Blogging will continuously add content to your website, and if unique and well-written, your blogs will start to gain rankings. The key here is to incorporate additional cities into your articles. Check out the example below. “Laser hair removal” is a very competitive term that in the past would only bring up national results. In the case of Sona MedSpa of Little Rock, they wanted to gain some traction in a smaller nearby city of Hot Springs. As you can see, their listing is the first local result you see when you search for this term.
Some additional ideas for expanding your reach into nearby local markets with unique content are: video testimonials from patients in each particular city (one of my personal favorite strategies), location-based written testimonials (mention the patient’s name or initials and their city for each testimonial), or you can even explain directions to your practice from various other cities.
Step 2: Get Technical
There are two slightly more technical approaches that are overlooked by many: marking up your addresses in Schema & hCard and adding a KML file and geo-sitemap to your website. Just go to schema-creator.org and microformats.org to markup your address and business information. Then create a KML file, which helps Google determine the exact location (longitude/latitude) of your practice. You can set one up here: geositemapgenerator.com.
Step 3: Get Social
Last, but not least, stay on top of your Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Find locals who have some popularity on any of the social networks and follow them, like them and add them to your circles. Reach out to them to see if you can write a guest article for their blog. If you approach other businesses in a way that’s not overly promotional, and sheds some light onto your industry and how it relates to the local area, then you’re much more likely to well-received. This will help you build quality, local backlinks to your website.
If you have any tips of your own for improving your local search results we’d love to hear them. Of course, if you’d like to learn more about what your practice can do to increase it’s local visibility, drop Turbo a line or call us at 877-673-7096 x2, to schedule your free consultation!