The Importance Of Local Citations For Health Practitioners

As customers’ purchasing behavior and habits change with the technological advances, online marketing strategies have become more essential than ever. The healthcare industry is no exception.

For healthcare practitioners, having a strong online presence is indispensable especially in today’s competitive space. Instead of relying on word-of-mouth referrals, patients now seek online avenues to search for their new healthcare providers, and check for their reputation, expertise, services, and patient satisfaction.

One of the ways to promote your medical facility online and increase the chances of getting found by potential patients and clients is local citation building and management. It is a core part of an effective local SEO (search engine optimization) strategy which, when optimized, will definitely help your practice get to the top of organic search engine results.

What is a local citation?

A local citation, in digital marketing parlance, refers to any mention of your business information on the web. This includes name, address, and contact details, or collectively known as NAP. In addition, citations may also have the following information:

  • website URL
  • business hours
  • category/ nature of medical practice
  • insurance options
  • terms of payment
  • important keywords
  • social media accounts
  • map and coordinates
  • images and videos
  • reviews
  • taglines

There are two distinct types of local citations: structured, and unstructured.

1. Structured citation. Between the two, this is the most common type of local citation where business information is neatly presented using a consistent format in a traditional business listing structure.

These directories include Yelp, Bing, LinkedIn Company Directory, Yellow Pages, and many more. For healthcare professionals, it is highly important to get listed in niche-specific directories that are dedicated specifically to your practice. Some examples are WebMD, RateMDs, Healthgrades, and ZocDoc.

2. Unstructured citations. These are the ones that are found outside of the online business directories such as mentions in blog posts, forum threads, news articles, other websites, or any social media platform.  They are termed as “unstructured” because they typically don’t follow a specific listing format.

Why are local citations important?

To simply put, local citation building is the same as building online credibility for your practice. It is one of the ways by which search engines validate your business information. The more citations you have in good quality directories and other reputable third-party information providers across the internet, the better you can establish and prove the legitimacy of your healthcare business.

Take note that the accuracy of information, number of citations, and quality of the directories can all influence local pack and organic rankings. Most often, a verified legitimate practice gets better search engine ranking.

Moreover, having your business profile listed in both general and niche-specific directories will likely drive more traffic to your website. Likewise, unstructured citations and links from trusted and authoritative websites will also increase the number visitors to your business page.

A good number of relevant citations will surely get your details in front of the potential clients looking for you and help you build a bigger customer base.

Local Citation Building Basic To-Do List

1. Create, update, and optimize your online profiles and listings.

Consolidate all available pertinent business information such as your business name, complete address of your healthcare facility, contact details, website, description, clinic hours, social media links, photos, videos, etc. Provide your business details as completely and consistently as possible.

Create your profiles or regularly review and update listings if you already have them. Aside from niche-specific directories, important listings include Google My Business, Facebook, LinkedIn and Yelp.

2. Make sure that all business information is accurate and consistent.

Remember that consistency is key. Ensuring that your business details are accurate and consistent across the web, therefore, is critical.

To make things easier, collate all information in one working file (i.e. Excel spreadsheet) or folder where you can keep all necessary data neatly organized. It is also important to regularly update and audit your profiles. Remove duplicates if there are any and claim all available listings.

3. Choose the right citations.

In building local citations, you may want to understand first which citation websites will work for your practice. By doing so, you will be able to prioritize and select listings or directories that are more relevant not only to your business but also to your geographic location.

Final thoughts…

In a highly competitive industry, being able to stand apart from the rest is a must. Nowadays, more and more clients are relying on online sources to look for their next healthcare provider. It is for this reason that local citation building has become a necessity. It puts your practice in front of those who need your services, increase your practice’s online visibility, and ultimately helps you reach prospective clients.

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