Magazine article Behavioral Healthcare Executive

Get Found: How to Leverage Local SEO

Magazine article Behavioral Healthcare Executive

Get Found: How to Leverage Local SEO

Article excerpt

Two million local searches are performed every month in the United States alone. Behavioral healthcare professionals have a tremendous opportunity to leverage local SEO to increase digital visibility, put themselves in front of potential clients and increase revenues. Without proper placement inside search engine listings and in online directories, prospective customers are less likely to find the resources they want.

There are several factors that influence local search result rankings, including directory citations, on-page signals and local reviews. To maximize the benefits of a local SEO strategy, professionals should optimize each factor. But, because almost half of people in the U.S. use online directories to find businesses before purchasing local goods or services, according to research by BIA/Kelsey, any local strategy should begin with directory syndication and search engine listing management.

Directory syndication: A business' starting point

Digital directories, the yellow pages of the modern era, are an easy place for consumers to look-up information about businesses with an easy to search and use interface. But the one big change from the yellow pages of yesterday is that there are dozens of digital directories that can apply to any industry. This means that being listed in one directory is not enough. Businesses need to have a strategy to succeed in local SEO because search engines use directory listings as only one of the many factors that go into local search rankings.

A directory syndication strategy leverages the way online directories work, with bigger directories providing information to smaller directories on a regular basis. For healthcare professionals, that means directories like Yellow Pages, Superpages and Yelp pull data from aggregators such as Westlake Village, Calif.-based Acxion and Sterling, Va.-based Localeze.

There are also behavioral, healthspecific directories. Three of the largest directories that cater to this demographic are Psychology Today (New York, NY), The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy's TherapistLocator. net (Alexandria, Va.) and GoodTherapy. org (Anchorage, Alaska). These are niche directories, so they may not be reliant on larger directories for information and therefore require information to be input directly.

When focusing on directory syndication, these best practices are recommended to create the best local SEO result.

Best Practices

1. Keep details consistent

A lack of consistency between directory listings is one of the easiest local SEO pitfalls to avoid. Search engines notice small differences in phone numbers, addresses, hours of operation and other information, and downgrade businesses that have inconsistent data across the multiple platforms.

Healthcare providers should be careful to make sure each listing is exactly the same as the next, down to the use of address abbreviations. For example, to search engines "street" and "st." are not the same and should not be used interchangeably.

2. Use unique phone numbers

Many professionals share a common

phone number with other locations or offices in a medical office complex. Search engines penalize businesses when the same phone number is used for multiple businesses or locations. …

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