The scenarios prompting people to search for the hearing help they need are diverse, but typically have one thing in common: they take place within your local area. Whether it’s someone looking up hearing services after another frustrating dinner at a favorite (and loud) restaurant, or someone looking up local options for hearing protection before a big concert, the people you serve are nearby, looking for you.
And you want them to find your website when they look online for help.
Search engines simplify the process of ranking different web pages by using “location targeting” to narrow search results. This is good news for everyone, since no one wants to wade through websites for businesses in another country when searching for something local, nor do we want our own websites to compete with those across the globe for a given search.
Location targeting, or geo-locating, eliminates the need for zip codes and other location modifiers such as “hearing aids in New York City,” as search engines now rely heavily on device location instead. Thus, there has been a rapid increase of the use of “near me” instead for online searches, as in, “where to buy hearing aids near me.” This all begs the question, of course: are local people easily finding you with that search?
Enter: local search engine optimization, or local SEO.
By optimizing your website for better visibility in local searches, you can quickly rise above the competition as more and more local people turn to the Internet to learn about their options for hearing care. And trust us, they are definitely going online.
Consider that recent surveys report 87% of smartphone owners using a search engine, like Google, at least once per day. And nearly 50% of those searches are for local products and services. Even better? From local-mobile searches alone, 78% result in offline purchases.
So how is your business ranking online for local searches? Location targeting happens automatically to generate local results first, but not all local results. Website ranking is a complex and ever-shifting terrain, and it can take some effort up front to see the results of local SEO pay off. Consider the best practices below for easy boosts to your local visibility online.
List and Verify Your Business
It’s imperative that search engines see your business in local and popular online directories — especially the directories they own (think Google My Business and Bing Local). The more complete your information, the better, so include your address, phone, email, and hours of operation everywhere you can. Aim to get your business a listing or profile in any and all online directories (especially local ones, such as your local paper’s website), and be sure that your information is identical, down to the details of your address being “st.” or “street” across the board. Although smart, search engines are still robots, and the goal is for them to find your identical listing throughout the Internet to bolster your website’s ranking in the search results related to a given location.
Lastly, take the time to verify all of your listings. This can be a tedious process as you work your way through the long list of potential online directories to post your business on, but it is well worth the effort. Not only do these listings reinforce the location your business serves for local SEO purposes, they also provide valuable links back to your website that boost your SEO overall.
Make Your Location Known
Your business address and any other areas you serve should be clearly defined on your website, be it on the home page, in a footer, on a dedicated location page, or all of the above. Keep this information identical to what is listed in online directories and also highlight the areas you serve in broader content throughout your website.
For instance, if you serve the Greater Atlanta Area, you should note that on your location page alongside your actual address, and you could also write a blog about “How to Find the Best Hearing Care in the Greater Atlanta Area.” The idea here is to combine keywords of the services you provide with the keywords of the areas you serve — and to do it naturally. The content you create should still be useful and informative, but also tailored with local SEO in mind.
To take this approach one step further, include other forms of location-related media on your website. Images and videos from local events in your community that your office has participated in, for example, are a great addition to a blog. They help “prove” to search engines that your website is increasingly relevant to people looking for your type of services in that your area, as search algorithms tend to rank diverse forms of media higher than written content alone.
Network with Other Local Businesses
We’ve gone into the reasons why you want quality backlinks to your website before, but for the purposes of boosting your local SEO rankings, it’s incredibly helpful to find other local businesses to link to your website from their own. The more popular and credible your neighbor’s website, the better it will be for increasing your website’s visibility in local searches.
Backlinks provide a significant “vote” for your website that search algorithms count heavily towards your ranking in the results. Although it can take a while to build the relationships and partnerships necessary to get links to your site from other local websites, the boost in your website’s traffic will pay back your time and effort generously.
Make it Quick and Mobile-Friendly
This last tip tends to be taken for granted. People have heard for years now about how “the world is going mobile,” and hopefully have ensured that their websites are indeed mobile-ready. But with the recent shift towards a “mobile first” search platform by Google, and the increasing need for a fast-loading website (that loads easily on cellular data networks), this point bears repeating.
A mobile-friendly website means more than larger text and a simpler hand-held design. It also means that your layout and content is organized and optimized with a mobile visitor in mind. Images need to be fast-loading, menus need to be easy to find, and your home page requires succinct language on an efficient layout.
With nearly 90% of surveyed people reporting to search for local businesses on their smartphones each week, ignoring the needs of mobile visitors is akin to turning off the lights in your office and expecting people to walk in, anyway. Search engines agree and penalize mobile-unfriendly websites by ranking them lower.
Getting local prospects to find you online isn’t incredibly difficult. It’s actually much easier than trying to get found without the geo-locating technology working on your behalf. And by applying the recommendations above you can boost your local ranking much faster, and find yourself with a steady stream of new patients who found you first online.
If your business’s website could benefit from professional SEO improvements or needs a modern website altogether, talk to us today about our complete digital solutions. Join our family of thrilled clients and enjoy the thriving practice you’ve been waiting for.