f your practice does not show up in search engines for relevant queries, you are invisible and another chiropractor will gain a new patient. If you want your business to rank higher in Google, you need to get smart about local search engine optimization (aka “Local SEO”).
While SEO can work quickly and cheaply, in most cases it is a long-term, complex marketing strategy. Your practice’s online presence is influenced by location, competition, links to your site and the hundreds of factors in Google’s algorithms.
That said, there are simple things you can do to have the best shot of ranking well.
Learn the Keywords Used Most Often to Find Your Services
Keyword research involves finding the various terms people use to search for your practice, and emphasizing the most-popular terms on your web pages and in the text in links to your site.
Think about different keyword combinations consumers are likely to use. Customers who know you may search by your name. Many people will likely search “chiropractors” plus their home city. Do people abbreviate your city? New Yorkers often use “NYC”, and people in Fort Worth often spell the city name as “Ft Worth.”
Large metro area practitioners seeking customers from nearby cities should list the desired target cities on their website, or build pages targeting their services plus these city names.
Target Your Title Tags
The text used within webpage title tags (the words that appear at the top of the Web browser and as the blue links in Google) is an important SEO tool.
Your homepage title tag is key. It should include your main keyword phrase, followed by your city and then business name. I recommend adding the business name at the end of every page title. For example, a Boston-based practitioner might have this title tag: “Boston Chiropractor: John Smith, DC.”
Each site page should have distinct title text and should accurately convey what the page is about. Titles should be brief and readable. Avoid targeting multiple phrases.
Use a Consistent Name, Address and Phone Number
Local search engines monitor multiple sites to find data about your practice. Inconsistent listings of your practice’s name, address, and phone number on these sites can hurt your ranking. Write your address and phone number in regular text on every page of your site.
Optimize Your Profile In Top Directories
Google and other local search engines look for “citations” on top directories to help determine rankings. Citations can be a link to your site or mention of your business.
Google favors citations from established Internet yellow pages like YP.com and Mylocally.com and industry-specific directories such as Planet Chiropractic. Claim your listings in the top directories and make sure you are correctly categorized in each.Not sure which directories to optimize first? Search for your keywords in Google and see which sites appear on page one.
Claim Your Listing In Google Places & Social Network Sites
Google and other local search engines look for “citations” on top directories to help determine rankings.
Claiming your business profile in Google Places, Yahoo! Local & Bing Maps helps ensure local search engines know your business is active. Enhancing your Places page with content like photos, videos and coupons increases your opportunities to persuade potential patients to visit your site. Also, claim profiles on the major social networks (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.) and link them back to your website. These social profiles can rank well in search engines and help control how your brand appears to searchers. Large social nets like Facebook and Twitter provide many tools and opportunities for businesses to build social relationships with their customers. Don’t feel like you need to be active on every service. Figure out which relevant social networks your customers use the most and be sure to set up and maintain an active presence there.
Obtain Citations From Local Authority Sites
Local authority sites include: chambers of commerce, newspapers, local blogs, local charities, local schools (including universities and community colleges), local TV & radio stations, etc. Contact these sites to request they link to your site and/or list your business.
Adding articles to your site that uses your target keywords can be effective for SEO and customer engagement. Not sure what to write about? Start with answering questions your patients ask most often. Then pick three things you love (e.g. photography, sports and music) and discuss them from a chiropractor’s perspective.
Encourage Customers To Rate & Review Your Business
Customer reviews are part of Google’s local ranking formula. Tempting as it may be to write a glowing review of yourself, remember fake reviews are against the law. Google, Yelp, and other review sites identify most hoax reviews, which are discounted and can count against you.
When In Doubt, Ask An Expert
While DIY-types can do well with SEO, there are plenty of complications. If you find yourself stuck, ask a colleague for a referral to a SEO consultant with an established track record in your niche.Andrew Shotland is the proprietor of LocalSEOGuide.com, a search engine optimization consultancy firm,and consultant for MyLocally.com. MyLocally.com and The American Chiropractor Magazine have partnered to provide a free listing for each of our subscribers. Go to www.mylocally.com to update your listing and look for more information about this great new product.