According to PatientPop research, 61 percent of patients look online regularly to seek information about doctors or medical care. For the majority of searchers, Google is the search engine of choice.
Google My Business profiles have high visibility in local search rankings. Thus, your Google My Business profile can introduce your business to potential patients in your area. More than bringing attention to your website, having an optimized profile can help drive website traffic and new patient appointments. According to BrightLocal, five percent of Google My Business listing views result in a website click, call, or direct request.
Keep reading to better understand what Google My Business is, why it’s an important acquisition tool for your practice, and how to optimize your profile.
Why does your medical practice need a Google My Business page?
Google My Business can help drive awareness of your practice in your local area. Online searchers easily have access to quick information about your practice, such as an address, phone number, and business hours. Even if you don’t think you need a Google My Business profile, chances are that you already have one. If you don’t take ownership of your business profile, you risk confusing potential customers with misinformation. If your practice has multiple locations, you will need a Google my Business page for each one.
Not having a (or claiming your) Google My Business profile also affects your online reputation. Online reviews are extremely important to potential customers: 74 percent of patients told us so. In the same survey, 69.3 percent of patients said they were most likely to read online reviews on Google. Having a presence on Google can help you keep a pulse on patient satisfaction at your office.
Healthcare practices and discovery searches
According to BrightLocal, the average Google business listing is found in over 1,000 searches per month: 84 percent of those searches are discovery searches. A discovery search is when a consumer searches for a category, product, or service. In contrast, a direct search is when potential patients search directly for your practice name.
In healthcare, potential patients may use discovery search terms, such as the ones listed below, to find a specialty or specialist:
- [best pediatrician near me]
- [OB-GYN 90401]
- [podiatry chicago]
Or, they will run a discovery search for a particular service in their area:
- [flu vaccine near me now]
- [invisalign 10016]
- [pap smear nashville]
To appear in local search rankings and attract patients in your area, your practice needs an online presence that is clear, descriptive, and highly visible to patients seeking the care you offer. The job of Google and other search engines is to connect an online searcher with the company or companies that best meet their inquiry and needs.
With that in mind, the details you provide online about your practice are critical: A correct office address and phone number are as important as a description of your care services.
Google and other business listings are essential for medical practices to get found online
Without a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy, it’s impossible to rank well in search results and get found online by interested patients. An SEO strategy is about more than just adding the right words and phrases to your website; it must also include optimization of the dozens of web profiles for your practice.
Any business or healthcare listings website (like Facebook, Yelp, WebMD) — even some you may not be aware of — can include a profile of your practice and providers. Finding, claiming, and refining your information on each of those sites helps patients find and connect with your practice.
Just as important, by doing this you’re also sharing consistent, accurate information with search engines, telling them your practice details are correct and ready to surface for inquiring patients.
If your listing profiles include incorrect information, you’re practically pushing away new patients. If a patient calls an outdated phone number, for instance, they’ll get no response and you’ve lost them for good.
If Google finds inconsistent or conflicting information about your practice, it won’t assume which is correct. It simply won’t surface anything.
Of all the websites that include business listings, the most visible and most important to your practice is Google.
The dominance of Google
To get yourself, your practice, and your providers into the local search rankings, you have to focus on Google. Why? Because they’re the most dominant search force, by far.
Google has roughly 88 percent of the search engine market in the U.S., according to statcounter, and has held at least 84 percent of searches every month, dating back to March of 2016.
The power of Google is even greater on mobile devices, covering 93 percent of the search market share. Their volume is unparalleled: In June 2021, Google processed just under 12 billion search queries.
Google My Business (now Google Business Profile) for doctors
Google My Business – recently rebranded as Google Business Profile – is a set of tools that helps local businesses showcase who they are and what they do. This benefits businesses like yours, but it also helps Google serve the right results to the right people in the right geographic location.
The more details Google has about your practice, the better chance they’ll match you with patients who are a) searching in your area, b) looking for your type of services, and c) asking specific healthcare questions you have the answers to.
Just like other business and healthcare listings sites, Google will often share information about your practice even if you haven’t provided or confirmed it. To control what’s displayed, you have to claim your Google business listing as yours.
Three reasons to claim your Google business listing
- Gain control of your own space and online presence.
- Prevent incorrect information from confusing potential patients.
- Improve the likelihood of showing up in search results.
This leads to our step-by-step walkthrough of claiming, populating, and optimizing your Google business listing using Google My Business.
How to set up a Google business listing for healthcare practices
If you’re setting up a Google business listing, simply follow the following steps.
Step 1: Go to google.com/business. Choose “Manage now” to get started.
Step 2: Remember these four guidelines as you go along:
- Be consistent.
- Get detailed.
- Say who you are, what you do, and why your practice is different.
- Convey the experience of your practice online.
Step 3: The next screen urges you to “Find and manage your business”. Enter your practice name here. Your practice name should be the same one used in phone listings and elsewhere across the web. Keep this consistent everywhere.
Step 4: The next screen is “Choose the category that fits your business best.” Tell Google your primary business category. Begin by typing your specialty, which will produce a dropdown of options to choose from. The more specific your choice, the better. Don’t worry: Google knows that an orthopedic surgeon is also a surgeon and a doctor.
Step 5: On the “Add your services” screen, select the services that you provide at your practice, especially those unique to your market. It’s typical to enter about five to seven services; however, you can choose to market just one or two services to align with your practice strategy.
Keep in mind this isn’t meant to be a comprehensive list of everything you offer. Focus on services or items you most want patients to find and be interested in. If you have a secondary revenue stream — if you’re a podiatrist with a medspa or a family doctor who sells supplements — include those in your services.
Step 6: Google asks if you have a location people can visit. Here’s where you add your address. This will show up on Google Maps when customers are looking for your business. If you run a practice with multiple locations, it’s important to create a profile for each location.
Step 7: The next screen asks “Do you also serve customers outside this location?” If you’re a mobile physician or provider who makes house calls, you may want to choose “Yes” as your answer.
Step 8: Google then asks for contact details. Although Google says this information is optional, you absolutely should think of it as mandatory in order to maximize every possible connection point for patients to reach you. Enter a phone number, and share your practice website URL.
You’re just about done with the basics! Before moving on to some advanced optimizations, you’ll need to verify the business you just listed as yours.
There are a few ways you can do this. If you’re a brand-new practice with a new phone number, that verification will probably come from Google by way of postcard. If you’ve never verified your business but have an existing listing you’re now trying to claim, you may get an option to verify by phone.
If you’ve had your own practice website for a while, and have verified that site via the Google Search Console, you may not need to provide additional verification. As a partner with Google, PatientPop has a mechanism to make this a little more seamless and easier for practices.
Optimizing your Google business profile
After you have a verified Google business profile, you’re ready to optimize it. Remember to log in to Google using the same email account you claimed your business listing.
We recommend you take advantage of several key features. Here’s a summary of those features:
- Add a photo album to your profile. Include images of your providers and staff, as well as your office interior and exterior. Local businesses have a median of 11 photos in their albums, according to BrightLocal.
- Add an “appointments” link that takes patients directly to your website’s online scheduling functionality. This gives patients an opportunity to book an appointment right from the same place they found you.
- Use the “questions & answers” feature by providing both the inquiry and the reply. Ask and answer a couple of questions you’re most likely to hear from patients.
- Encourage feedback from patients as a way to increase your chances of getting reviews added to your listing. Our 2020 survey research shows that patients are 50.5 percent more likely to post an online review when asked for feedback. Google will respond to a practice that people engage with more often, and reviews are a key indicator of that engagement.
- Add Google Posts as promotional and informational mini-billboards, and have each one click through to your website.
Whether patients are seeking care via a discovery search or entering your name into a search query, you have to establish and maintain an excellent first impression on Google. It’s a critical component of any medical marketing strategy today.
By starting with the basics — claiming your Google My Business profile and filling out consistent details — and then adding flavor and specificity, you’ll position your practice to look great in local search rankings.
What should you do next?
1. Schedule a free PatientPop demo.
2. Measure your online performance using our free scanner.
3. Download our guide on, “How to master local search marketing and get found online.”