Local Search: A Beginner’s Guide to SEO for Optometrists

Local SEO for optometrists

In this article, you will learn how to make your practice the top local search result and be found by local patients online.

Local SEO for optometrists is simpler than you think, even for small practices.

Ever wonder why “eye check-up near me” doesn’t bring your practice up in Google searches? That’s exactly where local SEO steps in, like a trusty guide leading patients right to your doorstep.

Think of local SEO as your digital megaphone in the local community. It’s not just about being online; it’s about being seen by those who matter most – your local patients.

Now, you might be thinking, “Local SEO sounds complex” or “Maybe it’s not for smaller practices like mine.” But here’s the good news: it’s both manageable and crucial, no matter the size of your practice.

At Optics Digital Marketing, we specialize in helping clients just like you. We understand the unique twists and turns of your field.

Let’s take a peek at one of our clients in Canberra. Before working with us, her online presence was a bit hard to spot. But now, thanks to a strategy tailored just for her, the practice has visibility for the optometry services she wants to focus on.

Conversely, there’s a story from Brisbane that serves as a cautionary tale. A practice there overlooked the importance of local SEO and missed out on valuable opportunities for growth. It’s a reminder of what’s at stake.

Keen to avoid that path? We’re here to chat, no strings attached. Book a free strategy call with us, and let’s explore how your practice can thrive online.

Or, keep reading for more insights – there’s plenty to discover about the wonders of local SEO.

Understanding SEO Basics for Optometrists

Let’s break down SEO (search engine optimization) and why it’s a game-changer for you as an optometrist. In simple terms, SEO is all about making your optometrist website more visible on search engines like Google. Think of it as the art of getting your site to show up when someone types in “eye doctor near me” or “best optometrist in [your city].”

But why does this matter to you? Well, in today’s digital world, the first place people turn to for finding healthcare providers, including optometrists, is often the internet. If your practice pops up first in their search results, you’re already a step ahead in making a great first impression.

Think of your website as your online storefront. Just as you’d want your physical clinic to be easy to find and inviting, your online presence needs to be easily discoverable and welcoming too. This is where SEO comes in – it’s like the sign that guides people to your door.

But isn’t SEO super technical? Sure, there are technical aspects to it, but at its core, it’s about understanding what your potential patients are searching for and making sure your website answers those queries. It’s less about manipulating algorithms and more about connecting with your community online.

Remember, good SEO is a mix of relevance (providing useful content), authority (being a trusted source of information), and user experience (ensuring your website is easy to navigate and informative). As an optometrist, you’ve got the expertise – SEO is just about making sure the people who need that expertise can find you easily.

The following table illustrates how important SEO has become to the entire health care sector.

StatisticExplanation
100 billionNumber of searches for healthcare on Google per year
70,000 per minuteHealth-related searches on Google per minute every day
Doubled since 2015Increase in ‘near me’ searches for healthcare services since 2015
66%Internet users looking online for information about a specific disease or medical problem
56%Internet users looking online for information about a certain medical treatment or procedure
44%Internet users searching online for doctors or other health professionals
36%Internet users searching online for hospitals or other medical facilities
15%Average close rate of organic search
7%Percentage of all Google searches that are health-related

From: “50 Mind-Blowing Healthcare Marketing Statistics for 2024

Local SEO vs. General SEO

Alright, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of local SEO versus general SEO. Imagine SEO as a toolbox – within it, local SEO is a specific, powerful tool tailored just for businesses like yours.

So, what’s the difference? General SEO is like casting a wide net across the vast ocean of the internet. It’s about reaching anyone and everyone, no matter where they are. But let’s be real, as an optometrist with a physical location or two, you’re not looking to attract someone from three cities away, right?

Enter local SEO. This is more like fishing in a specific pond where you know your ideal patients hang out. It’s all about targeting people in your specific area who are searching for optometrists. Think about terms like “eye test near me” or “optometrist in [Your City].” These are the kinds of searches local SEO helps you dominate.

But why is local SEO critical for you? Well, when someone searches for an optometrist, they’re usually not just browsing. They need an appointment, maybe even urgently. If your practice shows up at the top of local search results, you’re the first person they’re likely to call. Plus, most people trust local businesses more. They feel a connection. So, ranking well in local searches doesn’t just bring you patients; it helps build trust in your community.

To sum it up, while general SEO expands your visibility, local SEO ensures you’re visible to the right people – the ones just around the corner, looking for exactly the services you offer. It’s about being the local go-to expert, and that’s a big deal for any small business, especially in healthcare.

Keyword Research for Optometrists

Now, let’s dive into the heart of SEO – keywords!

Think of keywords as the secret code words that your future patients are typing into Google. Cracking this code is crucial, and here’s how you can do it.

Start with brainstorming: Put yourself in your patients’ shoes. What would you type in if you were looking for an eye exam, new glasses, or an optometrist’s advice? Start with basic terms like “optometrist,” “eye doctor,” or “vision test,” and then get more specific and local, like “optometrist in [Your City]” or “children’s eye exam [Your City].”

Use keyword tools: There are tons of tools out there (like Google’s Keyword Planner or SEMrush) that can help you find the keywords people are actually using. These tools can show you variations of your basic keywords, how often they’re searched, and even how competitive they are (meaning how hard it will be to rank for them).

Think beyond the obvious: Sure, “optometrist” is a great keyword, but what about “prescription sunglasses [Your City]” or “contact lens fitting near me”? Remember, your patients might not always use technical terms. They might ask Google more conversational questions like, “Why is my vision blurry?” You can use these questions as long-tail keywords – they’re less competitive and super targeted.

Localize your keywords: This is where you put the ‘local’ in Local SEO. Include your city, neighborhood, and even local landmarks in your keywords. For example, “eye exam near [Popular Shopping Centre]” or “[Your City] family eye care.”

Use keywords naturally: Once you’ve got your keywords, sprinkle them throughout your website – in your content, titles, meta descriptions, and even image ALT texts. But remember, stuffing your content with keywords is like over-salting your food – it’s unpalatable! Use them in a way that feels natural and genuinely helpful.

By mastering keyword research, you’re not just throwing your net into the sea of the internet; you’re casting it in the right place, at the right time, to catch exactly the kind of fish (or patients) you want!

Optimizing Your Google Business Profile (GBP)

Let’s talk about Google Business Profile (GBP), your new best friend in the world of Local SEO for optometrists. Setting up and optimizing your GBP listing is like putting a giant neon sign on the digital highway. Here’s a step-by-step guide to make your optometry practice shine on Google:

Step 1: Set Up Your GBP Listing: First things first, claim your business on Google Business Profile. If your practice isn’t listed yet, add it. If it’s already there (maybe from a previous owner or a helpful patient), claim it as yours. You’ll need to verify your business. In the past Google did this by sending out a postcard to your business address, but nowadays they may ask you to record and upload a video of your premises.

Step 2: Fill Out Every Detail: Once you’re in, fill out every single field. Your business name, address, phone number, website, and hours of operation are just the basics. Don’t skip out on the details – the more Google knows about you, the better.

Step 3: Choose the Right Primary Category: This is crucial. Make sure you categorize your business accurately. You’re an optometrist, not just a “Health Care Provider” or “Eye Care Center.” Precision helps.

Step 4: Add Photos: Upload high-quality photos of your practice, your staff, and even some of your happy patients (with their permission, of course). Photos make your listing more engaging and trustworthy. It’s like showing off your friendly, professional practice vibe before patients even walk in the door.

Step 5: Keep Information Updated: Got new opening hours? Added a new service? Make sure your GBP listing is always up-to-date. Accurate info is key for patient trust and for Google’s love.

Step 6: Add Frequently Asked Questions: You probably know what questions you and your staff are answering time and again. Add them as a Q&A section to your GBP. It doesn’t hurt to put them on your website as well.

Step 7: Use Posts to Engage: Google Business Profile allows you to post updates, offers, and events. Use this feature to keep your patients informed and engaged. Share information about in-store events, special promotions, or reminders about insurance deadlines.

Remember, your Google Business Profile listing is often the first impression potential patients get. Make it count! It’s not just a listing; it’s the online face of your practice. Keep it smiling, welcoming, and up-to-date.

To learn all the absolute best tips and tricks for optimizing your Google Business Profile, watch the following video from Luc Durand of Ranking Academy.

Website Optimization for Local SEO

Now, let’s gear up to make your website a local SEO powerhouse. Think of your website as your digital handshake – it’s often the first real interaction potential patients have with you. Here’s how to make sure your site is not just friendly but also SEO-savvy:

Structure Your Website Intuitively: Start by making your website easy to navigate. Categories should be clear – think ‘Services’, ‘About Us’, ‘Contact’, and maybe a blog or a resources section. Each service you offer (like eye exams, glasses fittings, etc.) can have its own page. This isn’t just good for users; it helps search engines understand and rank your content.

Optimize Your Homepage: Your homepage should clearly state who you are, what you do, and where you do it. Include your location in your homepage’s title tag, meta description, and main content. Remember, clarity is key – both for search engines and for users.

Localize Your Content: Make sure your website content mentions local landmarks, neighborhoods, and anything else that local patients might search for. Write about local events you participate in or local issues related to eye health. This local flavor helps Google understand where you fit in the local community.

Optimize On-Page Elements: Every page on your site should have a purpose, and this should be clear from its title tag, header tags (H1, H2, etc.), and meta description. Use your targeted keywords naturally in these elements. And don’t forget to optimize your images with descriptive, keyword-rich file names and alt text.

Mobile-Friendly is a Must: More and more searches are done on mobile devices, so your site must be mobile-friendly. This means fast loading times, readable text without zooming, and easy-to-use menus and buttons on a small screen.

Loading Speed: The faster your website loads, the better. Slow websites test users’ patience and are frowned upon by Google. Use tools like Google PageSpeed Insights to check your site’s speed and follow their recommendations to improve it.

Create a Blog: A blog is a fantastic way to add fresh, relevant content regularly. Share insights about eye health, eyewear trends, or discuss common eye problems and treatments. This keeps your website dynamic and engaging.

By following these steps, you’re not just making your website user-friendly; you’re turning it into a local beacon, guiding potential patients straight to your digital doorstep. Remember, a well-optimized website does more than attract traffic – it starts building a relationship with your patients before they even meet you.

Creating Localized Content

Diving into the world of localized content, we’re talking about crafting stories, articles, and information that hit close to home for your local audience. This is where you get to show that you’re not just a healthcare provider, but a part of the community. Here’s why and how to nail it:

Why Localized Content Matters: First up, why should you even bother? Imagine this: two websites offer the same services, but one has content that mentions local events, issues, landmarks, and even local slang. Which one do you think a local resident would feel more connected to? Localized content makes your practice more relatable, more trustworthy, and more relevant. It’s like choosing a neighborhood café over a generic chain – the local flavor makes all the difference.

How to Create Localized Content: Start by understanding what’s unique about your community. What are the common eye health issues here? Are there local sports teams that might need eye protection advice? What about seasonal allergies in the area affecting eye health? This kind of content not only shows your expertise but also your involvement and care for the community.

Connect with Local Events and News: Tie in your content with local events, like a ‘Back to School Eye Exam’ campaign or advice on protecting your eyes from harsh UV rays during the local summer beach season. If there’s a local news story about health and wellness, contribute your expert opinion or advice in a blog post.

Use Local Keywords: We talked about keywords earlier, but it’s worth mentioning again in the context of localized content. Use city names, neighborhood names, and local landmarks in your content. This helps people (and Google) associate your practice with the local area.

Collaborate with Local Influencers and Businesses: Collaborating with local figures and businesses can add a rich, community-oriented layer to your content. Maybe there’s a popular local fitness instructor you can partner with for a blog post on eye health for athletes, or a local school where you can talk about children’s eye care.

Share Your Community Involvement: Don’t be shy about sharing how you’re involved in the community. Participated in a local charity event? Write about it. Sponsored a junior football club? Share photos and a story. This kind of content builds a narrative around your practice being an active and caring member of the community.

In a nutshell, localized content is your chance to show that you’re more than just a healthcare provider – you’re a neighbor. It’s about creating a sense of belonging and connection, which, let’s be honest, is something everyone is looking for. Plus, it just makes good business sense. When locals search for an optometrist, you’ll be more than a choice – you’ll be a familiar, trusted face in a sea of strangers.

Building Local Citations and Links

Building local citations and backlinks is like entering a community networking event. You’re there to make connections, shake hands, and get your name known in the neighborhood. In the digital world, this means getting your practice’s name, address, and phone number (NAP) listed in the right places and earning quality backlinks. Here’s how to ace it:

What are Local Citations? Think of local citations as online mentions of your practice. They can be found in local business directories, on websites, in apps, or on social media platforms. They usually include your NAP (Name, Address, Phone number), and sometimes your website link. These citations help search engines verify your business’s existence and authenticity.

Start with Major Business Directories: Get listed in major directories like Google My Business, Yelp, and Bing Places. Also, don’t overlook industry-specific directories like healthcare and optometry-focused ones. The more credible places your business is listed, the more it helps with your local SEO.

Local Business and Community Directories: Now, narrow down to your locality. Get listed in your city’s Chamber of Commerce directory, local business groups, and community portals. If there are local online forums or neighborhood websites, get listed there too.

Accuracy and Consistency is Key: Make sure your NAP is consistent across all platforms. Inconsistencies, like different phone numbers or addresses, can confuse search engines and potential patients.

Pursue Quality Backlinks: A backlink is when another website links to your site. It’s like a vote of confidence in the eyes of search engines. But it’s not just about quantity; the quality and relevance of backlinks matter. Aim for backlinks from local news sites, healthcare blogs, local business partners, and community organizations.

Engage in Community Events and Sponsorships: Participating in local events, sponsoring local sports teams, or engaging in community projects can lead to natural backlinks and citations. You’ll often get a mention on their websites, in local online news articles, and social media.

Create Shareable Content: If you produce engaging, useful content, other websites are more likely to link to it. For example, write a comprehensive guide on eye care tips for the local climate or create an infographic about common eye issues in the area.

Leverage Local Relationships: Build relationships with other local businesses and collaborate on content or events. These collaborations can result in reciprocal backlinks and shared audiences.

By building local citations and links, you’re essentially weaving a network of digital pathways that lead back to your practice. It’s about being visible in all the right places where locals spend their time online. This not only boosts your SEO but also reinforces your standing as a trusted, integral part of the local community.

Managing Online Reviews

Navigating the world of online reviews is a bit like hosting a dinner party. You want everyone to have a great time and share their positive experiences with others. But, just like at any party, sometimes things don’t go as planned. Here’s how to handle online reviews, the good, the bad, and everything in between:

Encourage Reviews: First things first, you need reviews. Don’t be shy about asking satisfied patients to leave a review on Google, Yelp, or other relevant platforms. You could do this in person after a successful appointment, or send a follow-up email with links to your profiles. A simple, “We’d love to hear your feedback!” can go a long way.

Make It Easy: Provide direct links to your review profiles in your emails, on your website, and even in your office. The easier it is for patients to leave a review, the more likely they will.

Respond to All Reviews: Yes, all of them. Thank your patients for positive reviews; a little gratitude can foster loyalty and encourage others to leave their feedback. For negative reviews, respond professionally and empathetically. Acknowledge their concerns, apologize if necessary, and offer to resolve the issue offline. This shows you’re attentive and committed to patient satisfaction.

Don’t Ignore Negative Feedback: It might be tempting to ignore or delete negative reviews, but they can actually be an opportunity. They give you insight into areas where your practice can improve. Plus, how you handle criticism can really impress potential patients.

Monitor Your Reviews Regularly: Set up alerts for when your practice is mentioned or reviewed online. This way, you can respond promptly and stay on top of your online reputation.

Use Reviews to Improve: See a pattern in the feedback? Maybe several patients mention long waiting times or difficulty scheduling appointments. Use this valuable information to make improvements in your practice.

Handle Fake Reviews Carefully: If you suspect a review is fake or spam, report it to the platform for investigation. Do this calmly and professionally, without getting into online disputes.

Remember, online reviews are a powerful tool. They’re not just feedback; they’re a window into how your practice is perceived by the community. They influence potential patients and reflect your commitment to patient care. By actively managing your reviews, you’re not just maintaining your online reputation; you’re actively shaping it.

Watch the following review from one of my favorite marketers, Wes McDowell as he explains “best practices” for boosting your Google Reviews.

Leveraging Other Marketing Channels

Expanding your Local SEO efforts isn’t just about what you do on your website or Google Business Profile listing. It’s also about reaching out and connecting with your community through various other channels. Think of it as attending different local clubs and events – each one gives you a new opportunity to interact and engage with potential patients. Here’s how to leverage social media, YouTube, and email marketing to boost your Local SEO:

Social Media: Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are like the local cafes where people hang out. They’re perfect for building a community around your practice. Share helpful eye care tips, news about your practice, and even behind-the-scenes glimpses of your day. Engage with your followers by responding to comments and messages. Use local hashtags, tag your location, and even collaborate with other local businesses or influencers to increase your reach. Social media activity doesn’t directly impact your SEO rankings, but it increases brand visibility and drives traffic to your site, which is always good for SEO.

YouTube: Did you know that YouTube is the second largest search engine after Google? Create a YouTube channel for your practice where you can share videos on eye health, eyewear trends, FAQs, and even guided tours of your practice. Optimize your video titles, descriptions, and tags with local keywords. You can also embed these videos on your website or share them on social media for added engagement.

Email Marketing: This is like sending out invitations to your practice’s events. Collect email addresses (legally, of course) from your patients and website visitors, and send out regular newsletters. Share updates about your practice, eye care tips, special promotions, and even personalized birthday greetings. Make sure your emails contain links back to your website, and encourage your subscribers to follow you on social media. It’s a great way to keep your practice top-of-mind and drive repeat visits to your website.

Content Syndication on Local Media: If you’re creating great content, why not share it beyond your website? Reach out to local newspapers, magazines, and blogs to see if they would be interested in featuring your articles or advice columns. This can not only drive traffic to your website but also build your reputation as a local health expert.

Community Engagement Online: Engage in local online forums and Facebook groups. Share your expertise in discussions related to eye health, without being overly promotional. This kind of engagement builds trust and recognition in your local community.

By integrating these marketing channels into your Local SEO strategy, you’re doing more than just promoting your practice; you’re creating a multi-dimensional presence in your local community. Each channel offers a unique way to engage, inform, and connect with potential patients, reinforcing your position as the go-to optometrist in your area.

Expanding your Local SEO efforts isn’t just about what you do on your website or Google Business Profile listing. It’s also about reaching out and connecting with your community through various other channels.

Monitoring and Adapting Strategy

Stepping into the world of SEO is like gardening – you plant the seeds (implement your strategies), but you need to regularly check and tend to your garden (monitor and adapt) to see the best fruits (results). Here’s how you can keep a close eye on your SEO performance and make necessary adjustments along the way:

Use Analytics Tools: Tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console are your best friends in monitoring your website’s performance. They provide insights into how visitors find and interact with your site, which keywords are driving traffic, and which pages are the most popular. By understanding these metrics, you can identify what’s working and what isn’t.

Set Up Conversion Tracking: What’s the ultimate goal of your SEO efforts? Is it to get more appointment bookings, phone calls, or email inquiries? Set up conversion tracking in Google Analytics to see how well your website is achieving these goals. This will help you understand the real return on your SEO investment.

Monitor Your Rankings: Use SEO tools like SEMrush, Ahrefs, or UberSuggest to track how your website ranks for your target keywords, especially those critical local keywords. Keep an eye on your competitors’ rankings too – it’s always good to know what the other guys are up to.

Check Your Backlinks: Analytics tools also allow you to monitor your backlink profile. Keep an eye out for new backlinks, and check the quality of the sites linking to you. High-quality, relevant backlinks can boost your SEO, while poor-quality links can harm it.

Regularly Review Your Google My Business Insights: GMB Insights provides valuable data on how customers find your listing, what actions they take, and other interaction metrics. This data can guide you on how to optimize your GMB listing further.

Stay on Top of Local SEO Updates: SEO is a field that’s constantly evolving. Stay informed about the latest trends and algorithm updates. Joining SEO forums, following industry blogs, or subscribing to SEO newsletters can be very helpful.

Conduct Regular SEO Audits: Regular audits of your website can help you identify technical issues, on-page improvements, and content opportunities. There are tools available that can automate this process, giving you regular reports on the health of your site.

Adapt Based on Feedback and Results: If something isn’t working as expected, don’t be afraid to change your strategy. SEO for optometrists is all about adapting and optimizing your practice’s online presence. Whether it’s tweaking your keywords, updating content, or improving your website’s user experience, be prepared to make changes based on the data you gather.

In essence, monitoring your SEO strategy isn’t just a one-off task – it’s an ongoing process. By keeping a vigilant eye on your performance and being ready to adapt to changes and feedback, you can ensure that your SEO strategy remains effective and continues to drive the desired results for your optometry practice.

Remember, SEO is a marathon, not a sprint, so patience and persistence are the keys to seeing long-term success.

Conclusion

Let’s do a quick recap of the essential strategies and tips we’ve covered:

  • Understanding SEO Basics: SEO is your digital beacon, making your practice visible online to potential patients.
  • Local SEO vs. General SEO: Local SEO targets potential patients in your specific area, making it crucial for your practice.
  • Keyword Research for Optometrists: Identify and use relevant local keywords to boost your visibility in search results.
  • Optimizing Google Business Profile: A well-maintained GBP listing is key to local optometrist SEO success.
  • Website Optimization for Local SEO: Ensure your website is user-friendly, mobile-optimized, and rich with local keywords.
  • Creating Localized Content: Connect with your community through content that resonates with local interests and needs.
  • Building Local Citations and Links: Strengthen your local online presence through strategic citations and quality backlinks.
  • Managing Online Reviews: Actively manage and respond to online reviews to build trust and credibility.
  • Leveraging Other Marketing Channels: Use social media, YouTube, and email marketing to complement your local SEO efforts.
  • Monitoring and Adapting Strategy: Regularly track your SEO performance and be ready to adapt your strategies for continuous improvement.

Navigating the waters of local SEO can be time-consuming, especially when you’re focused on running your practice. This is where professional local SEO advice becomes invaluable. An expert can provide tailored strategies, help you avoid common pitfalls, and keep you updated on the latest SEO trends. With professional guidance, you can ensure that your efforts not only bring immediate improvements but also contribute to the long-term success and growth of your practice.

Ready to enhance your practice’s online presence and connect with more local patients? Don’t let another week pass by. Take the first step towards mastering your local SEO by booking a free strategy call with us.

Book your free call now and see the difference expert SEO strategies can make!

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