Whether we like it or not, we live in a world run by Google (and Amazon, in my humble opinion). As a clinician, practitioner, or business owner, embracing the digital atmosphere and joining “Team Google” can really pay off. In this blog post, we are going to show you exactly how to set up and use Google My Business.
We will also answer questions like:
- How does this listing affect how I show up in Google’s local search?
- Is this something I need to keep updated or is it a one time project?
- Should I do one listing per clinician, location, or practice?
First things first. Why does Google My Business matter?
As a clinician or practice owner, you probably rely on a ton of word of mouth referrals. In fact, the Internet might be the last place people look when searching for a service like yours. But, in this digital day and age, that’s an assumption we can’t afford to make.
Think back a bit. When was the last time you used Google to find something in your area? For example, if I want to get my nails done, I might Google “nail salon near me”. Or, if I’m craving a cheesy slice of pizza, I would Google “pizza near me”. In situations like this, Google will pull up local businesses that have a Google My Business listing. I’ll get to scroll through their reviews, images, location, hours, contact info, and more.
How does this listing equal more business for your practice?
It puts you at the top of these search results, makes your business info easy to access, and allows potential clients or patients to easily scan reviews and make a foundational judgment call.
Here’s an example scenario:
Judy has been going through a lot lately. As a first time mum, she could really use some support. She’s been to therapy in the past, and it seemed to work wonders. So, she opens up Google and searches for “postpartum therapy”. Three business listings near her show up. She’s able to check their hours, read reviews, and give one a call (or even book an appointment online straight away). Without this business listing, her practice of choice would likely not have earned her business.
How to Set Up Your Google My Business Listing
1. Log in to the Google account you want to be associated with your listing. Don’t have an account? You will be prompted to create one in step #2.
2. Visit Google.com/Business and click Start Now in the top right-hand corner.
3. Enter your business name and address.
4. Select your business category.
5. Add your phone number and website.
6. Choose a verification method.
Why should you verify your business?
It might seem like an extra step and a total pain, but trust me, it’s worth it. Google requires this for your protection. If they didn’t – there’s nothing stopping me from logging in and claiming I own Nike. If you’re being honest about your business, its location, and your association, verification is typically easy.
You will be offered some (if not all) of the following verification methods: phone, email, instant, postcard, and bulk.
Now that you’ve done all the basic stuff, it’s time to optimize your listing.
Head to your Google My Business dashboard, select the business, click Info, and start plugging in the necessary details. This includes everything from your address to attributes, so don’t leave one stone unturned.
Don’t worry, this is the fun part. It’s one of your only (free) chances to promote yourself on Google. Take your time filling out each section: the more detail, the better. Plus, anyone can easily suggest an edit to your listing, so save yourself that embarrassment by getting it right the first time. Putting in a little up-front effort means this can definitely be a “set it and forget it” type project. Only update your listing when something changes; like your hours or address.
Pro Tip #1
When submitting your business to directories, always use the same business description.
For example, your Yelp listing description should read the same as Google My Business description. This shows Google that your business is cohesive, uniform, and professional. This could give you ranking points when it comes time to list your business near your competitors.
Pro Tip #2
If your business category qualifies, you will see the option to add an ‘Appointment URL’.
For Power Diary customers, we encourage you to link to your Client Portal. (It’s the free online appointment booking feature included in all accounts.)
Keep in mind, Google’s Appointment URL is not intended for contact or about us page. It’s exclusively meant to offer patients easy access to appointment bookings. If you don’t see the option to add an appointment URL, Google recommends switching your business category, adding the URL, and then quickly switching the category back. Sounds crazy, but that’s a direct hack from Google itself.
Once you’ve finished filling out each section, share your listing.
As a practitioner, this part might strongly resonate with the way you currently do business. You know the importance of referrals and word of mouth recommendations. Every time a client or patient raves about your service, share a link to your listing. Should they choose to leave a review, it will be published within 24 hours or less.
Here are a few rules to keep in mind:
- Never launch a mass campaign to get more reviews. For example, don’t send a bulk email out to 300 of your patients requesting testimonials;
- Never offer any sort of compensation or kickback in exchange for a testimonial;
- Never make feedback a requirement.
Important note from our Legal Eagles: We know you know this, but we need to say it anyway. The information in this article is general in nature and is not legal advice. The laws, regulations and professional guidelines relating to the use of reviews and testimonials can vary across jurisdictions, and health professions. If you’re unsure of the rules that apply to you, your professional association is often a good place to start.
How many listings do you need to make?
Can you make one listing per practitioner? Sure! But in most cases, that can be seen as a bit excessive and Google may reduce the priority of these listings, so it’s best to stick to one. If your practice operates from different locations through you can actually add these locations to the same Google My Business account. Just click the Manage Locations tab and then ‘Add Location’. This is important to do because Google uses the location of the searcher to show businesses that are closest to them. Adding your different Locations ensures you get the traffic you deserve!
You don’t have to be a Google whiz or professional online marketer to master the basics of local search. Follow these instructions, and if you have any questions (any at all), comment below and I will reply within 24 hours or less.