How to Use Doctor Directories for Local SEO

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One underutilized healthcare marketing strategy to draw in local clientele is securing what are called citations in online doctor directories.

These directories not only help patients find doctors in the area, but directories also help with local search engine optimization (SEO).

Learning the ins and outs of local SEO may not be a top priority in daily medical practice operations. But if you want to see more patients coming through your door, local SEO through doctor directories is one of the best ways to make that happen.

How does local SEO for doctors attract new patients?

Local SEO is the process of increasing a business’s visibility in Google’s local search results and on Google Maps. It’s the best way to improve local web traffic and attract new patients for doctors.

And it all starts with a Google My Business (GMB) profile.

As stated, GMB profiles feature businesses in Google’s local search results, like these listings for plastic surgeons in Los Angeles.

best plastic surgeons

As you can see, the local results section of a search query is featured prominently before organic search results, and just below paid ads.

And if a potential patient goes to the Maps section of a search, or uses the Google Maps app on their smartphone, they will be able to see your business with a properly optimized GMB profile.

best plastic surgeons google mapsThat’s an incredibly valuable proposition for doctors. However, there is serious competition for those top spots on local results. That’s where local SEO can come in to optimize and manage your profile, improving your position in Google Maps and local results.

According to Google, three main factors determine local search results: relevance, distance, and prominence.

Local SEO works to improve all three of these factors to help your practice attract more local patients.


Relevance is how well a search query matches the GMB profile. The best way to improve relevance for a physician is to elaborate on all services you offer, your area of specialty, the hours the office is open, and any details that can help Google match your business with specific queries.


Distance is just like it sounds. It’s how far away your practice is from the location term in a query or based on location services. There’s no way to improve your distance, but it’s important to ensure your contact information is consistent across all online citations.


Prominence is how well known your practice is. This is the area where local SEO can shine. By improving your backlink profile, your site’s position in search engine results pages (SERPs), and much more, local SEO can help improve a physician’s prominence.

What are citations?

Citations are simply online references to a business. They usually include a name, address, and phone number (NAP), but may also contain a backlink, map, photos, or reviews.

When you secure citations, it sends signals to Google that your practice exists, is in operation, and, therefore, can be featured in search results. Trust us, that’s great for business!

One of the best ways to secure quality citations and get your practice’s name out there is through general directories like the following:

  • Bing Places For Business
  • Yahoo Local Listings
  • Superpages
  • Foursquare Directory
  • White Pages Business Directory

A citation in one of these directories might look something like the screenshot below from Yelp. Here you can see doctors listed with a citation, including NAP, a link, reviews, and a map.

doctor directory yelp
While general directories are great for business, and you should consider securing citations there, you might also consider a few more industry-specific directories.

‍⚕️ Top directories for doctors

Specific industry-related directories can add a lot of value to your practice, from referral traffic to citations from relevant medical sites. Some of the top directories to consider include:

WebMD’s Physician Directory

Medical professionals may not be the biggest fans of WebMD. Still, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take advantage of the WebMD’s directory. The site pulls in high traffic of almost 150 million visits per month, including over 7 million to its doctor directory alone. WebMD’s physician directory provides a valuable citation for physicians, free of charge, so don’t forget to secure yours.

Healthgrades Doctor Directory is a top directory and review website to help patients find quality physicians. Healthgrades gives citations to doctors for free and has thousands of listings. It’s well worth applying for the free link and exposure.

Here’s an example citation from the site. As you can see, the citations contain NAP, a prominent link, a photo, reviews, directions, and more. It’s the perfect way for potential patients to decide which physician to see.
doctor directory

The American Medical Association Doctor Directory

The American Medical Association’s directory features over 800,000 physicians across the country. Citations from the AMA are ideal not only because they improve your site’s local SEO, but also because a lot of patients use AMA’s doctor search function to find physicians. Membership and a citation will cost you, though. An associate membership goes for $25 a year, and a family membership for $98 a year, but you might also consider a lifetime membership for $1,500.


ZocDoc is a medical care appointment booking service that also has an extensive listing of physicians. Zocdoc not only allows you to secure a citation in a highly trafficked directory but also gives you the chance to fulfill last-minute bookings to secure new patients and strengthen your reputation with reviews.

US Health News

US Health News is one of the largest medical news sites in the world, but it also has extensive doctor and dentist directories.

A citation from US Health news comes with extensive information for patients to decide if your services are right for them. Citations like this are the perfect inbound marketing tools that don’t require constant maintenance.
doctor directory

Caredash Doctor Directory

Caredash provides doctors with a detailed profile on their website that includes everything a patient would need to know. It’s a thorough, and, most importantly, free, citation on a website with strong organic traffic, so don’t miss out on this one.

Vitals Doctor Directory

Vitals boasts the largest online database of patient reviews, doctors, and facilities. The site is a dedicated directory and review website for physicians, which means this is one of the more valuable citations you can secure. Relevance and authority are what matters in your citations, and this site has both. This is what future patients will see when searching for a new doctor.
doctor directory Directory is another website that allows users to submit and read reviews of doctors, healthcare facilities, dentists, and the like. It’s a free site for both users and doctors, so make sure to secure a citation here. The site was launched in 2004, but it has grown recently and now has over 2 million reviews.

Realself Physician Directory

Realself is a directory for cosmetic doctors like plastic surgeons and dermatologists. Claim your profile on Realself for a quality citation, free of charge. And if you want, you can pay more to become a verified Realself physician or even a virtual consultant on their platform.

Build out a full local SEO strategy to boost patient traffic

Securing citations in both general and industry directories and creating a local SEO strategy isn’t easy. Sometimes healthcare businesses just don’t have the time or expertise. If that’s the case, maybe it’s time to call in the experts for some help.

If you’re intrigued by local SEO and want to learn more, feel free to contact us. We’d love to help get you started with citations and healthcare SEO.

Also, check out the next blog in our healthcare marketing series titled, 5 Healthcare Blog Topics to Educate Patients.

Markitors is an SEO digital marketing company. We work with small businesses to rank their websites higher on Google, resulting in more traffic and leads. Explore what’s in our SEO toolbox: audits and keyword research, digital PR, technical SEO, and local SEO.

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