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Monday, January 23, 2017

The ins and outs of local keyword research for hospital SEO

Jean Dion, Writer/Editor

Keywords are a vital part of your healthcare SEO tool kit. The terms you use in your healthcare digital marketing plan help you understand your readers, track changes in your market and boost your visibility.

But not all keywords for healthcare are created equal. In fact, there's an entire subset of terms that can help you do your job even more effectively.

We're talking about local keywords.

Why healthcare regional marketing starts with keywords

As we've said before, keywords matter, and it pays to seek out the right terms for your topic. But different people may use different words to search for the same health topic. Language preferences can change from region to region and community to community. If you seek out words based on national trends, you may miss the winners in your own backyard.

Here's an example using data obtained from KW Finder (Dec. 2016):

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People in New York City who are looking for information about a bone-and-joint specialist tend to use the word "orthopedist" (2,900 searches each month) over "orthopedic doctor" (2,400 searches each month) or orthopedic surgeon (1,900 searches each month).

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But people in Los Angeles have a clear preference for the term "orthopedic surgeon" (880 searches per month), followed by "orthopedic doctor" (720 searches per month) and then "orthopedist" (590 searches per month).

By focusing your keyword research on terms that people in your community use—not the phrases people nationwide might prefer—you could increase the chances of a visibility boost.

In addition to finding the right term to describe your services, local keyword research can help you determine what phrases people in your community use when they're trying to find services that are close to them. Do they use words that relate to:

  • Your part of the state?
  • Your city?
  • Your neighborhood?
  • Your county?

When you know what geographic term has the most resonance with people in your community, you'll be able to sprinkle that keyword throughout your content. That can boost your visibility—as well as increase the perception that you're a true neighbor that speaks the lingo.

Local keywords for healthcare in 3 steps

The ideal local keywords comprise of two things: the right descriptive term and some kind of place name. Following this program can help you find keywords with both:

1. Define your place name. You likely already have a list of the communities around you that you want to target with your healthcare marketing efforts. To get additional ideas, search for your city name and the word "communities" to brainstorm the names of communities in your area that you might want to target, or use a tool like this one.

2. Determine your topic. Think hard about what content will be on the page you're about to create. Brainstorm terms someone might type into a search box to find out information about that topic. Dive deep into your analytics and Google Search Console data to determine what terms people have used to find you in the past.

3. Test your assumptions. With a robust brainstorming list of specific terms and place names, you're ready to pull down specific metrics and make informed decisions. In the past, that step was a snap to complete, as you'd simply upload your list into Google AdWords and analyze the detailed data generated by your region. Now, AdWords provides ranges, not specifics, which makes decisions harder on a local level. Google Trends can help somewhat, but it isn't specifically designed for finding keywords. At Coffey, we use paid search tools like KW Finder and Moz to help fill the gaps left by the free tools Google offers.

Reminder: There's more to healthcare SEO than keywords

Finding the right keywords—including local keywords—is a vital part of your SEO strategy. But remember: There's more work to be done. A robust healthcare digital marketing plan will include content generation, reputation management, e-newsletters, social media marketing and so much more. Need help? Count on Coffey. Read up on our website design and development capabilities, and see examples of our work. Or call us at 888.805.9101.

Related reading

How local links can help your hospital's website 
Hospital SEO: A guide to snack packs and other SERP features
Hospital SEO basics: Top terms to know


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