Welcome to Part 2 of our comprehensive healthcare provider guide to local search engine optimization. In Part 1, we discussed what Google wants to see in your local listing.
In this part of the guide, we’ll discuss what a Google My Business listing is and how to optimize it, so you show up prominently when prospective patients search for healthcare providers in their community.
Anatomy of a Google My Business Local Listing
People searching for a local business online take action very quickly, whether that be a call, a website viewing, or getting Google Maps directions sent to their phone. Because of this, Google ensures their (Google My Business) GMB listing is actionable in many different ways.
Introduction: A patient can read about your business in your introduction.
Reviews: They can read your glowing reviews and the way you’ve responded to people who have criticized your practice. As we’ve written about before, Google reviews are an aggregate of reviews across the web, so keep an eye on all review sites.
Location: They can see where your practice is located on the map, and will either offer driving directions if the user is on mobile, or offer to send those driving directions to their phone if they are on a laptop or desktop. To make it even easier, Google offers a street view.
Knowledge Panel: If someone searches for your business directly, and not just your specialty, Google provides a Knowledge Panel — or info card highlighting your GMB listing — as well as your organic listing.
One-click calling: With a single touch on the phone number in the Google listing, you can call the business from the mobile site.
Your Google My Business Dashboard
The actions users take with your Google My Business listing are reported to you daily in your My Business dashboard. For instance, you can see how many times your business ranked in search, how many people clicked over to your website, or how many clicked to call you directly.
Google My Business dashboard showing views and phone calls through listing.
Good marketing is important. Trackable marketing is vital. You’ll quickly see your Google listing’s ROI.
So now, put your Google My Business information into action.
Creating a Google My Business Listing
We’re assuming you already have a GMB listing, but if you don’t, now’s the time to get one started. Head over to business.google.com.
The majority of the fields are pretty simple, like your business name, address, and phone number. If your address has a suite number, use the “#” symbol, as that seems to be Google’s preferred address style.
Don’t worry about uploading images just yet, as we’ll get to that later in the series. A good headshot, or, if your practice has a brand separate from you, then your logo, should suffice.
Get your verification process started asap. Google doesn’t want fake listings created to act as marketing ploys for unethical marketers, so they require you to verify your physical address. After you say that your address is correct, they’ll send a physical letter to your practice.
Verified GMB listings are much easier to rank than unverified listings, so this step is crucial.
Geocoded: What It Is and Why You Should Care
As a local provider, not a national brand, you are only interested in being found be people who are looking for a provider in your area. If you’re in San Francisco, CA, you don’t need to come up in the search results for someone seeking a doctor in San Diego, CA.
While Google is beginning to provide local results for general searches, typically people perform “geocoded” searches. This means they search for their [term] + [city]. So it would look like this: Dentist Denver (or, Dentist Denver CO).
Because of geocoded searches, you don’t have to optimize your website or your listing for the keyword “Dentist,” which would be nearly impossible to rank for unless you utilize paid search (because you’d be competing with every dentist in the country).
Instead optimize for the geocoded search terms, which have far less competition.
Do Your Keyword Research
If you’ve optimized your website for search engines, you know all about keywords. Utilizing keywords on your site and Google My Business listing enable both customers and Google to find you faster. As mentioned above, keywords are about specificity: it’s much harder to rank for ‘doctor, Los Angeles’ than it is ‘orthopaedic surgeon, Westwood, Los Angeles’.
Google My Business is another opportunity to use keywords — from your name, address, and phone number to your practice introduction. We’ll expand on this in Part 3 of this guide, where we’ll cover optimizing your GMB listing.