You’ve probably heard about Google My Business, and hopefully, you already have a listing set up for your practice. If you have, great! You’re more than 50% of the way there. If not, it’s time to get cracking. Setting up a GMB listing is easy to do, just follow our guide, it’s a free source of traffic for your business.
Sidenote: If you haven’t claimed your GMB listing, pause whatever you’re doing (including reading this article) and go here to add or claim your business on Google My Business. If someone else has claimed your business (it happens more often than you think), follow these steps.
Your GMB listing is an essential part of your online presence and vital for local SEO so let’s dive right in…
Tip #1 – Check the information is as complete as possible (and fully up-to-date)
Maybe your phone number has changed, or it could be that when you were setting up your profile, you selected the wrong category by mistake. Either way, you need to go through your listing with a fine tooth-comb to ensure that you’ve included all the right information and that it’s all correct.
Keep in mind that local search results prioritise the most relevant businesses. You can take advantage of this by ensuring that your listing is detailed and accurate. Communicate what your practice offers, where you’re based and how a client can take advantage of your services.
Check that you have:
- The correct contact information for the business, including the contact phone number and website.
- Your location and business hours so clients can find you quickly and easily.
- The most relevant category for your practice, it should be an accurate summary of who you are and what you offer.
Google allows you to customise your hours for holidays and special events. So, while you have your regular business hours in place, it’s important to update them if they change. Now, with COVID-19, there is additional flexibility around setting your business hours and making different contact options available for potential clients. Keep in mind, any additional hours that you set won’t show until you have set regular opening and closing times.
Tip #2 – Ensure that your listing is verified
This is done with a postcard that Google emails to your address. It can take up to five days to arrive and proves to Google that you do manage and represent the business that you want to claim. This is a vital step for the visibility and performance of your listing. Any edits or updates that you make to your listing won’t be displayed until it has been verified. You also won’t be able to access any page insights, analytics or reviews.
Tip #3 – Add photos to your listing
Photos boost your business listing performance dramatically. Stats show that local businesses that include photos have 42% more requests for directions and an increase of 35% in click-throughs to their websites compared to listings without photos.
For healthcare practices, you want to go beyond adding pictures of your waiting room and entrance. Google recommends adding pictures that will help people understand more about the types of healthcare services you offer. This might be in the form of educational pictures and diagrams.
Tip #4 – Keep an eye on customer reviews
Set up alerts so that you know immediately if someone has left a review on your GMB listing. Quick responses show that you value both your customers and their feedback. Positive reviews will influence potential customers who are looking for a healthcare provider in your area and will also increase your search visibility.
Google’s made it easy for clients to leave feedback, and you can encourage satisfied clients to leave a review by including a link in all your email communications.*
Tip #5 – Enable messaging
To do this you’ll need to download the Google My Business app, then navigate to Customers > Messages > Turn On. Once you’ve enabled messaging, your clients will be able to message you through your Business Profile by clicking on the “Message” button. You have a degree of flexibility here and can customise an automated response such as a welcome message that gets sent as soon as you receive an incoming message.
Messaging can boost your visibility and the performance of your listing, but you need to keep your response times as quick as possible (and definitely under 24 hours). Your clients don’t want to wait for answers, and you want to make the best impression possible.
Tip #6 – Publish local posts
This is a great way to get ahead of the competition as many businesses set up their GMB profile, but don’t treat their listing like the digital asset that it is.
The ability to publish local posts is a powerful strategy for growing your search visibility. Posts allow you to engage with people who are interested in your services as well as keeping your presence fresh on Google.
You can publish offers, products, new services, and events directly to Google Search and Maps on Google my Business using posts. Google has specifically recommended this strategy for healthcare practices to keep clients up-to-date about health events as well as new services (such as Telehealth).
To make the most of this feature, ensure that the posts are high-quality, well-written and value-adding. You should include links to reputable resources and include images and video where relevant.
Tip #7 – Make COVID-related updates (if needed)
If your practice has changed the way that it operates in the wake of COVID-19 restrictions, safety guidelines, and government mandates, you can update your profile to ensure that your clients have the most accurate information.
Google has added a few new features that make it easier to update your listing and keep your clients informed such as:
- Marking your practice temporarily closed;
- Adding health and safety guidelines.
Tip #8 – Boost search visibility
Google has made specific recommendations for healthcare providers, and what Google wants, Google gets! To determine search visibility (how your GMB ranks compared to your competitors), Google considers your reputation, the relevance of your practice, and your location. To help the user, Google may show information in your business profile sections, such as your website and directions, contact details, practice summary, and more. Google also looks for keywords and search phrases in your listing when deciding which results to show.
By providing as much information to clients as possible, and a variety of media through your GMB listing, you make it easier for clients to make an informed decision without having to visit your practice in person and this helps support the aims of social distancing with COVID.
As a healthcare practice, you can also update whether you offer online (Telehealth) care, and provide customers with a link where they can schedule and access an online appointment.
BONUS: GMB CHECKLIST FOR HEALTHCARE PRACTICES
If you feel fairly confident that you’ve covered all your bases, do a quick run-through of our checklist to ensure that you have everything that Google is looking for:
- Contact number;
- Hours of operation;
- Customer reviews;
- Photos of your practice (so they know what to expect when they arrive);
- Summary of the practice;
- List of services (you can also choose to include a description and price);
- COVID-19 health services including telemedicine, house calls, diagnostics and procedures;
- Location groups (to control who can access your business profiles).
For the full details, have a look at Google’s help document for healthcare practices.
Your GMB listing is a digital asset that, with a little bit of time and effort, can become a source of regular leads for your practice. We’ve covered the most essential tips for setting up your practice on Google My Business, filling out and updating a profile that attracts the attention of both Google and potential clients, as well as COVID-19 and healthcare-specific changes you can make to make sure you stay in Google’s good books.
*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.