Google is Changing How Patients Find Doctors
google is changing how patients find doctors


The Ever Changing Google

Google recently updated its local search algorithm. Has your practice seen a decrease in profits? Does there seem to be a lull in activity at your practice compared to this time last year? Have you noticed a reduction in the amount of new patients your office is seeing? If the answer is yes to any of these questions, it is time to reevaluate your website and any other directories where your business has an online presence.

Patients Use Google

Of course, people may find your medical practice by the outdated method of looking in the phone book, but it has been estimated that 77 percent of patients presently are using online search prior to booking an appointment. Although there are many search engines available for use by the prospective patient to find your medical practice, the known fact is that Google dominates local search.

Google Page One – The Place to be

Now, let’s take a look at your online presence to make sure your search engine optimization isn’t weak. Weak optimization would mean things such as your practice not being listed on the first page of search results. Since most prospective patients look no further than the first page of search results, your potential new patient is making an appointment with the competition instead of you if you are not on Google page one for your keywords.

Weak optimization also means recent updates to Google Local Search have changed your visibility.

While there is a chance your local search listings were strong to begin with and haven’t changed much if any, the more likely possibility is that your search engine optimization needs some tweaking before patients begin to find you online again in increasing numbers.

#1 – Here are some simple steps you can take to improve your SEO rankings. First off, check your website to make sure that nothing has changed there. Are all of your site pages live? Have any code changes been made? Has your site been attacked by malware? These are all things to check first.

#2 – Next check your website traffic as following Google’s recent update some practices found a steep drop in their visitor count. Have you taken a hit?

#3 – Thirdly, it would be a good idea to check your keywords. Sometimes Google has changed the vocabulary of words that it connects to some local searches.

#4 – Fourth, your practice must bolster directory and review listings. This is done by making sure your online information and business profiles in directories and sites such as Yelp are both current and correct.

#5 – The next thing a practice must do for search engine optimization is what is called a NAP check. This entails searching your website and directory listings for NAME, ADDRESS, and PHONE NUMBER. The reason for this is because search engines can become discombobulated by inconsistent entries, typos or spelling errors. The more consistent those entries are the stronger your online presence appears.

#6 – Sixth, your medical practice must provide online content that narrows the local content area. For example, Youngstown, Ohio may be part of your address, but both search engines and site visitors will know more precisely your location with what they call hyperlocal references such as “Brier Hill”, “Brownlee Woods”, “Smoky Hollow” and “Wick Park.”

#7 – Finally, keeping one’s website healthy is critical so patients may find you. This includes regular site maintenance such as fixing broken links and providing regular content updates.