What makes or breaks a new healthcare practice? How you show up in search results and rank on Google.
According to Tebra’s Patient Perspectives Report, 77% of patients search online for doctors either often or sometimes. Since search is a prominent way that patients find new healthcare providers, you need to learn how to stand out and rank on Google and other search engines.
But what does “ranking” even mean?
Ranking on Google generally means having your website appear on the first page of its search results. Google’s search algorithm uses various factors to rank websites, such as how relevant the content is to the search, quality backlinks that point to your website, your user experience, and website authority in your industry.
While there are no shortcuts to ranking at the top of the first page, there are ways to optimize your website. But first, let’s dig into the basics.
The ins and outs of Google Search
To rank on Google, you need to know how it works. Here are some important considerations for ranking success.
It’s all about local
Whenever someone searches online for something offline, like an auto repair place, a restaurant, or a doctor’s office, Google automatically prioritizes results in the local area.
This means that part of ranking on Google is beating your local competitors. If you’re a general practitioner in Sacramento, California, you’re not going up against doctors in Laguna Beach. You’re going up against other general practitioners in central California. This is called “implicit local search.” Google infers a user’s intent by their search query and location.
There’s also “explicit local search.” That’s when a user includes the location in their search terms, for example, “dermatologist Los Angeles” or “LA dermatologist.” Optimizing for local search on your website can help you rank higher on Google.
A branded search is when patients know what they’re looking for — in this case, the practice or provider name — and query it specifically. They intend to either use the search as a way to navigate to your website, or to find third-party reviews (a good reason to invest in reputation management and ensure your information is correct across all online profiles and review sites).
A discovery query is when patients know the service or type of provider they want but haven’t narrowed down who they want it from. This could be an explicit local search, like “therapist near me,” or it might include other qualifiers, like “therapist open Saturdays,” etc.