For many chiropractors, the language of search engine optimization (SEO) is just as foreign as subluxation to the general public.
However, learning a few basics about SEO can help improve your search rankings and, most importantly, get your information to the people who are looking for it.
Put simply, SEO is the art of getting your website to appear as the answer to the search queries of your target market. “Chiropractor near me” and “chiropractor + [city name]” are examples of search queries that potential patients might use.
There are a variety of factors that influence SEO and rankings, but local businesses typically can excel simply by having a solid website, a social media presence, and enough local citations or links.
Google My Business
This helps you show up when customers search for your business or businesses like yours on Google. Google My Business lets you post updates to tell patients what’s new, and you can respond to reviews to build trust.
Do a search for your business on Google and claim your page (look for: “Are you the business owner?” or “Manage this page”). Fill out all the information, including your website,
hours, and description. Add photos of your practice to make your page more eye-catching.
Once you complete those steps, consumers in your area searching for a local chiropractor on Google will see your practice show up on the map listing on the top of the search results page (also known as the “local 3-pack”). Since many people are not using Google Plus to their advantage, there is a lot of potential for those who do it right to stand out.
Is your practice listed on Yelp, FourSquare, or MerchantCircle? All of these local networks not only provide links to your website but they are used by consumers to find and compare businesses.
Reviews sites like Yelp often factor the number of reviews and quality of reviews into their ranking algorithms.
Once you have your page set up and completely filled out, concentrate on getting reviews for your business.
You can do this by leaving reviews for other local businesses that you regularly interact with. This could be the coffee shop or sports bar down the street, as well as therapists and doctors you’ve worked with. Yelp prohibits you from paying for reviews or offering certain incentives, but it doesn’t hurt to ask satisfied patients and friends to leave a short review on your page.
Yelp is one of many feeds for mobile search as well. Since mobile search is growing significantly every year with the popularity of smart- phones, it is vital to make sure your business is visible on mobile platforms as well.
Bonus Tip: Yelp, FourSquare, and Facebook also have a feature called “check-ins.” If your business has a presence, your clients have the ability to check in at your business.
You can claim your listings on YellowPages, WhitePages, Local. com, and more—but it’s faster and easier to use a data manager like Yext or Moz Local (formerly GetListed). Both will manage your business listing and disperse your information to hundreds of local websites and vertical directories.
A data manager is beneficial if you add a partner to your practice or you change your address, because you can easily update it in the data aggregator instead of going to 50-some websites to change your information manually.
Local search puts a high value on name, address, and phone (NAP) information consistency. If you use a data manager to ensure that your business information, website, and social media links are all the same, this will positively benefit your rankings. Not only will you have links going back to your website, but these links correspond to higher visibility and rankings as well.
Many local newspapers and news organizations also have databases for local businesses. Look to see that your website is included with your business listing, as people will often use these databases to find businesses.
More than likely you’ve partnered with local physicians, therapists, medical centers, and insurance agents who refer patients to you. These relationships are great, but make sure you take them online too. See if they have a place on their websites where you can be listed as a resource or a recommended practitioner.
If you are a member of your local chamber of commerce, ensure that your business name and website are listed on the chamber’s member list. This is an excellent way to create SEO value from an offline relationship.
Similarly, if you are a member of any chiropractic associations, look for membership lists to which you can add your website address. Many of these organizations have a database of chiropractors that you could join. For example, the American Chiropractic Association’s website has a “Find Your ACA Doctor” search feature, while Spine-Health.com and the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association have similar ones as well.
If you employ massage therapists or other wellness staff, look for websites that offer service directories for their line of work, like Massagebook.com.
If there are local schools that offer massage therapy certification, see if you can be added as a potential employer. Even if you aren’t hiring right now, you may be down the road.
Would you consider having an internship or a chiropractic student shadow you? Contact local schools that offer chiropractic degrees and ask to be cited as a resource for them.
Recognize that your clients are coming from your local area. To bolster your digital marketing efforts, be sure to take part in local trade shows, sponsor events, attend networking meet-ups, and speak at educational seminars. These are all critical aspects of building your chiropractic brand in your region. Your offline community involvement can be translated into SEO value.
If you are sponsoring an event, ask to be listed on the event’s webpage. If you’re offering an educational seminar, submit a press release to the local online newspaper. If you’re attending a networking event, connect with people on LinkedIn or put your social media URLs on your business card so you can continue those relationships online.
In the end, SEO is about building relationships online. With Google’s constant algorithm updates, search has become more personalized and local, making ranking as a local practitioner a little easier. A basic understanding of SEO strategies will equip you well to take control of your digital marketing.
Caitlin Gustafson has extensive experience in digital marketing for chiropractors and others in the wellness field. She now lives as an expat in Bogotá, Colombia, where she works as a freelancer helping clients to maximize their online marketing strategies. She can be contacted through Twitter @CaitlinJDodds.