We’ll be the first to admit that local business and healthcare directories aren’t the prettiest things to look at on the web.

But despite their visual shortcomings, healthcare directories are, without question, a fantastic way for you to get your practice on the radar of local prospects.

Most of these directories are free to get listed on and, right from the start, send free inbound traffic to your website. Seeing as most healthcare directories are deemed as reputable in the eyes of Google, being sent traffic from these directories can do wonders for your own website.

But before you start submitting your information to the hundreds of directories out there, keep in mind that your ultimate goal should be to get listed on the top-tier directories.

These directories, like Healthgrades, Vitals, and ZocDoc boast millions of visitors and could become your biggest source of referrals.

Most of these top-tier directories offer their visitors more than just a list of local doctors; they serve as knowledge pools for regular folks looking for trustworthy information related to health, well-being, and specific symptoms.

Generally speaking, local directories improve your online reputation with search engines; but these top-tier sites tend to take things a bit further. Aside from their impressive visitors-per-month statistics, these big guns often actively promote you with traditional online advertising.

And even for those directories that don’t offer a knowledge pool for consumers, there’s still millions of reasons why it’s worth your while to get listed.

Take Healthgrades.com, for example. They boast one million visitors each day. And these aren’t just any visitors. These are highly motivated prospective patients ready to take action – 64% of these million daily visitors make an appointment with a physician within the same week they began their search.

That’s a lot of marketing power in your back pocket, meaning it’s well worth your while to not only join these directories but to keep your profiles active to increase your return on investment.

First, what you should know about getting listed on healthcare directories

More often than not, it’s free to get listed on directories like Healthgrades, Vitals and ZocDoc. What’s important to remember, however, is the type of content you include in your profiles.

Your NAP – or your name, address, and phone number – should remain consistent across all of your directories. Through this consistency, Google will have a much easier time giving you the SEO credit you deserve.

Besides, having misinformation can lead to a poor user experience that might haunt you for years to come.

Consider creating a spreadsheet that lists each directory you’ve been listed on, as well as the URLs of these directories. That way, if and when there are changes to your NAP, you have a file on hand to help you update your presence across the web.

Next, you should know why people come to these directories

Aside from getting access to helpful health news, patients turn to online directories to quickly and easily find the best local doctor to meet their needs.

So, what types of information do they rely on to help make this decision? While each directory offers something a little different and unique, in general, your prospective patients rely on:

  • Reviews
  • Conversations taking place on a directory’s forum
  • Availability
  • Cost
  • Location
  • Insurances accepted

Getting listed on healthcare directories is just the first step. Standing out among your fellow physicians is what’ll turn these directories into marketing powerhouses.

That requires a bit more effort on your part, but that effort comes with huge rewards.

Let’s take a closer look at a search on Healthgrades.com for an example.

We’re on the hunt for a physician who practices family medicine. We live in Atlanta, so we narrow our search to doctors within 10 miles of downtown Atlanta.

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If you take a look at the left-hand size of the image, you’ll see that we could narrow our search even further, including choosing a female or male doctor, or by filtering the results based on types of insurances accepted.

Right off the bat, you’re at a disadvantage if you’re not providing enough information about your practice. Quick check: do you publicize the insurances you accept in your directory listings? If you have multiple doctors in your practice, do they all have active entries?

The takeaway here is there’s no such thing as too much information for an online directory. The more you provide on these sites, the easier it is for your practice to be found, no matter who’s searching. Board certifications. Procedures performed. Languages spoken. Specialties. Include it all, for each of your doctors.

Now, when you look at the top 6 results Healthgrades.com provided for us, based on our rudimentary search, you’ll see that two pieces of information seem to play a huge role in which doctors are featured:

  • Location
  • Ranking

Notice how we didn’t say number of reviews. That was on purpose. One doctor, for example, has 13 reviews, while another has 44. Clearly, quantity is less important (within reason) than quality here.

Now, what can you do to increase your chances of being featured as a “best match”?

For starters, does your practice have multiple locations? If so, it’s absolutely imperative that you create directory listings for each of these locations.

By adding your locations to your directories, you’ll expand your coverage area and will pop up on the results for folks who use a narrow search radius.

Next, and a bit more complicated, are the reviews. We say they’re complicated because they’re the one part of your directory where you have the least amount of control.

But that’s not to say you have no control.

Reputation management is a huge part of your overall marketing strategy, and a faction of that strategy is making sure your directories have favorable reviews.

You can increase your chances of positive directory reviews by simply asking patients to leave reviews.

Yes, it really is as simple as that.

What you need to know about patient reviews – natural human behavior

It’s in our nature, as humans, not to go out of our way to sing someone’s praises online. It is, however, pretty common for disgruntled people to go out of their way to turn to the web to air their grievances.

In other words, patients who are happy with your services aren’t likely to post a review on their own, while patients who are unhappy are.

It’s up to you to balance the scales a bit by reaching out to your loyal patients and simply asking them to leave a review on your behalf.

Here’s the best approach to asking patients for reviews:

  • Pick your poison: Not all directories are created equal. Monitor the results of your listings, and hone in on the ones that seem to earn you the most traffic and ROI.
  • KISS: Once you know which directories are worth optimizing, outline exactly how your patients can submit reviews. This means sharing the URL, and, if possible, include screenshots so they know exactly what to look for. Put another way, keep it simple, stupid.
  • Market: Now that you’ve created an explainer, market it to your patients. Create handouts that you leave at your desk. Include the instructions within your emails. Create a webpage dedicated to showing patients how to leave reviews.
  • Ask: Finally, it’s about asking your patients to leave these reviews. It’s a good idea to create a script with your team, so that you are all comfortable in how to appropriately ask for reviews, without violating either the rules of these directories, or the patient/doctor relationship.

They take a little legwork at the start, but in the end, directories can become your biggest asset

Online searchers looking for a local physician approach their search with more care than they would a search for “the best Thai restaurant nearby.”

That’s why, unlike most other types of searches, prospective patients are far more likely to turn to reputable directories to help them come to a decision.

While adding your complete listing to healthcare directories can be time-consuming at the start, these directories are sure to bring you the type of qualified traffic that will build and grow your practice.

In turn, through active reputation management, you can begin to separate yourself from the rest of the pack and become the go-to practice in your community.