Using Google to find local businesses like healthcare practices is commonplace. If your healthcare practice isn’t appearing for relevant searches in your area, it might be because your Google My Business listing is not well optimized for categorical or keyword searches. Here, I share information about how to enhance your web presence by properly optimizing your Google My Business listing with categories, attributes, services, and keywords.
Categories are attached to your Google My Business listing and are among the primary signals Google uses to assign relevance to your practice listing.
When choosing categories in Google My Business, you’ll want to describe what your practice is, not what it does or can sell. Essentially, you’ll want to complete the statement, “This practice is a …” rather than, “This practice has …” or, “This practice sells …” (Product lines, services, and other facts are considered attributes for your practice listing. More on that in a bit.)
All categories on Google My Business are pre-defined, and you generally can’t go wrong when selecting one of their categories. You will choose a primary category and can also choose additional categories. (I advise selecting up to five additional categories.)
The primary category appears on your listing in Google when people see your practice there. You’ll want to choose categories that are as specific as possible and represent your practice well. So, if you’re a periodontist who specializes in implants and wants to primarily market your implants services, choose Dental Implants Periodontist, not just Periodontist.
Categories are hierarchical in Google’s backend. Google has not published a list of the hierarchy, but I imagine it looks something like this:
Doctor > Surgeon > Orthopedic Surgeon > Hand Surgeon
So, all hand surgeons get the other categories in the hierarchy automatically added to Google’s backend. Although this doesn’t mean you’ll automatically be found for the search [doctor] if you’re a hand surgeon, be assured that specific categories are sufficient to capture the broad ones. The more specific you are in your category selection, the more likely Google with send you qualified traffic for your specialty.
Adding categories that span different hierarchies is fine, but they can confuse Google if they are vastly different fields — which could mean your practice may not appear for either. (Example: Selecting the category “Neurosurgeon” and “Arborist and Tree Surgeon” isn’t going to help your online marketing for [surgeon]).
Ultimately, you’ll want your primary category to be specific and additional categories to be comprehensive. If you feel you have to choose among categories, a good healthcare marketing strategy is to try for categories you suspect would be lower in the hierarchy, which will capture the broader ones automatically.
Attributes attempt to answer the statements, “This practice has …” or, “This practice does …” There are different types of attributes — including Accessibility, Amenities, Offerings, and Planning — but the types of attributes ultimately available to you depend on the categories you chose for your listing. (Healthcare practices should have “Accepts new patients” as an option, for example, and dental practices should have the ability to include “Teeth whitening.”)
Google initially created attributes for the restaurant and hospitality industry, so look at search results in those categories to see how attributes might be used in the future for healthcare. Not only can they help in keyword searches, but you also might see them pop up as filtering options after a keyword search or even with icons on the listing.
Google allows healthcare practices to list a “Menu” URL on their Google My Business listing. As you might have guessed, this feature was originally intended for restaurants. However, when Google started soliciting menu data for restaurants from third-party partners, they got more than they anticipated. Data dumps included services for healthcare providers and, as a result, lists of services from third-party platforms like Locu and Single Platform appear in some types of searches.
Now through Google My Business, you can add a URL from your own site that lists the services you provide. This serves as another signal to Google about your practice.
Even if you’ve updated your Google My Business listing with your website’s URL, also check to see if your services are listed on any third-party platforms. Ensuring service menus are accurate throughout the web will help improve the data Google is collecting.
Also on the Google My Business listing: Google Q&A
Most of the information appearing on your listing will help Google determine the keywords it associates with your practice. However, if there’s something highly unique to your practice that isn’t available in the structured formats Google offers, there is something you can do: ask patients to mention it.
Google mines patient reviews to come up with keywords that describe your practice. If patients continually mention that particular unique attribute in their reviews, Google will give you a bump in relevancy for those terms.
Properly optimizing your Google My Business listing increases the likelihood that your practice will be found by patients looking for particular health services. If you have not already optimized your listing, follow these instructions so your practice can rise to the top of local results.
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