As a medical practice, your Google Business Profile is a huge part of your marketing efforts, and you need to know how to manage it.
Your Google Business Profile has become an essential part of your digital marketing efforts (It’s all part of Google’s master plan—wink, wink.) In all seriousness, Google is positioned to be the entry point to the internet. They want searchers to land on their owned links and never have to click off. It’s working pretty well for them. According to Stat Counter, nearly 92% of internet searchers use Google to find what they’re looking for. And when those searchers land on a Google Business Profile—as they likely will if they are searching for medical care—many of the searchers don’t know they aren’t on a business-owned website.
What it all boils down to is that as a medical practice, you need to understand how to use your Google listings to your advantage to win at today’s digital marketing. It is critical to claim and optimize each Google Business Profile you own so you can show up at the top of Google searches. Basically, you need to be a Google expert. OR, you need to know a Google expert.
We’ve got this. We know Google, and we’d love to share all we know with you. So please, if you have any questions, just ask one of our customer success representatives. In the meantime, we’ve put together a short list of our most commonly asked GBP questions.
What is the best way to claim my Google Business Profile?
If you haven’t claimed and optimized your GBP listing yet, you’re putting your practice at risk, and you’re potentially missing out on some free online advertising real estate. Why the risk? If you haven’t claimed your listing, someone else could claim it and change the information how they see fit (see the next question).
You have a couple of options when it comes to claiming your Google listing.
Option 1: Go to google.business.com and go through the steps to claim your business. Here’s the cliff notes version:
- Visit google.business.com.
- Sign in with the G Suite email you want associated with the account.
- Find and manage your business by answering all the setup questions.
- Confirm that all the information you have entered is correct.
- Verify your listing by entering the 5-digit code Google will send you, usually via postcard.
Repeat for each listing you need to claim. Yes, I’m serious.
This is the quick and dirty version of what you need to do. Please read Claim Your Business on Google in Five Easy Steps for a detailed walkthrough that includes a sneak peak at the questions you’ll be asked.
Option 2: Our customer success representatives are pros at this and can get it done for you in record time. We do this as a service for our customers, and we have a few tricks up our sleeves.
What do I do if someone else claims my GBP listing?
Go into a room alone and scream into your pillow.
It’s called GBP hijacking, and yes, it does happen. You will need to request ownership of your Google Business Profile from the person who currently owns it, which you can do if you’re already authorized to manage the listing. Google gives a detailed step-by-step. Basically, you go through a similar process of claiming it, but you request ownership instead.
Here’s the catch, if they don’t want to give up ownership, they don’t have to.
You’re not completely up a creek without a paddle, though. Chron.com reports that you can create a duplicate listing, verify that listing, and then report the duplicate (original) listing and request that it be taken down. Hey, it’s worth a shot since your other option is to hound Google (through Google Support or the Google Forum) until they listen to you.
All of this just emphasizes the absolute importance of claiming each Google Business Profile you should have ownership of. Today.
Do I need more than one GBP listing?
If you’re in healthcare, the answer is likely yes. It all comes down to the way medical consumers search for care and the way Google provides search results. Here’s a breakdown of the listings needed for medical practices as an example:
- Each physician at a practice location needs their own GBP listing.
- Each practice location needs a unique GBP listing.
- Physicians need a separate GBP listing for every location they see patients in.
Why all the listings???
When a medical consumer searches for care, they will be shown options geographically near them. Google will bring up a set of three GBP listings that best meet the search criteria. Let’s say Dr. Jones works in three different locations but only has one GBP listing. If a patient searches for care near a location he does not have a listing for, he may never show up in their search results. If he does show up, they may dismiss him because his office is too far away, never knowing that he has another office just down the street from them.
Each practice location should also have a separate GBP listing to maximize your visibility in search results. We have seen our customers dominate search results in their area by capturing two or three of the top search results with their listings. With only three spaces open in the Google 3-pack, that’s some pretty good shelf space.
Read Should Doctors Create Unique Medical Google Business Profiles for Each Practice Location? to go more in depth on this issue.
Why are reviews on my GBP listing so important?
Medical consumers increasingly turn to online search to find a doctor, and most of the time, they use Google Local Search to do their sleuthing. When options pop up, they often choose their doctor based on the crowd-sourced info otherwise known as online reviews.
Let me back my assertion with a few key statistics:
- 90% of consumers used the internet to find local businesses in 2019
- 92% of online searches are conducted on Google’s search engine
- 90% of patients use online reviews to evaluate doctors when searching for a new doctor
- 71% of patients use online reviews as their first step in finding a new doctor
- 10 reviews are read by consumers on average before they feel they can trust a business
- 76% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
Clearly, online reviews play a huge role when consumers need to find medical care. Google reviews are particularly relevant with so many people turning to Google to conduct their search.
Here’s how it works. Mary needs to find a doctor, so she searches online for a provider near where she lives. Google brings up the top three GBP listings their bots determine best fit Mary’s search criteria. Mary clicks on each one and compares their reviews. She makes a choice and clicks on the phone number in the listing to make an appointment. She has no idea that she was only looking at the GBP listing the entire time.
She never even visited the doctor’s awesome website.
But how do you get those great reviews? If you leave it up to chance, strong emotions will give your patients the push they need to leave a review. Trust me, that is NOT the best way to get more online reviews. We have found that if you ask patients nicely to leave a review, roughly 10% of them will. (Our customers do that with a HIPAA-compliant text or email that is automatically sent after each appointment.)
You will begin to build your number of reviews, which is important for getting chosen for display by Google, and you will raise your star rating, which is important for getting chosen by new patients.
Read How Important Are Online Reviews for Doctors? to learn more.
What info on my GBP listing will help me get seen (SEO)?
Simply claiming and verifying your Google Business Profile is good, but optimizing it will improve your chances of getting seen and chosen by Google. In addition, you need to make sure that when prospective patients are looking over your listing, they have all the information they need—and while you’re at it, please make sure it’s accurate. Few things are more annoying than finding the wrong information on the internet.
Keet these tips in mind as you look over your Google listing:
- Essential information: Make sure you fill out your name, address, hours, phone number, and website link. You’d be surprised how many medical GBP listings are missing hours or a website link. When it comes to hours, remember that a physician may list the hours she or he is available rather than the hours the practice is open. And if you want to safeguard against getting your listing suspended by Google, make sure your hours on different listings for the same physician do not overlap.
- Category: Choose a category that best describes what your practice your physician focuses on. Then choose one or two subcategories (NOT three or four).
- Description: Include a short description that includes the categories you have chosen.
- Photos: Include a cover photo that best represents your practice or physician. It could be a photo of the doctor for a physician listing or the building or staff for a practice listing. Your cover photo tells Google which photo you want to show up first (it doesn’t mean it always will, just that you want it to). It’s also a good idea to include additional photos of what the outside of the building looks like.
- Posts: Consider using Google posts to update your patients on upcoming events, information that will keep them safe, new procedures in your office, or other relevant information.
- Q&A: You can add questions into your Questions and Answers feature on your GBP listing if you have information you want to share that way.
- Reviews: You need about 50 reviews to be confident that your listing will show up regularly in local searches.
- Star rating: A higher star rating will help you get seen and chosen by Google as well. At minimum, your star rating should be 4.0 stars or above.
Read Best Practices for Medical GBP Listings for more information.
Any GBP listing pitfalls I need to avoid?
Don’t forget to update your hours when they change. Many consumers don’t know the difference between a GBP listing and a website. Since GBP listings frequently come up first, they THINK they’re on your website and will trust the information on it. If your hours have changed for reasons associated with the Pandemic, or even if you are closed for a holiday, don’t forget to update them on your GBP listing. And while you’re at it, make sure the hours for a physician don’t overlap on their multiple listings.
For provider-specific listings, don’t list the name of your practice. It’s better to have a listing for a provider and a separate listing for the practice rather than putting both on the same listing. Using the practice name on a provider listing could cause Google to flag one or both of your listings as duplicates and suspend them.
Don’t gate your reviews. Your Google Business Profile is a great place for medical consumers to go to check out your online reviews, and the best way to get more reviews is to send a text message to every patient asking them to leave one. Make sure that if you’re sending out invitations for patients to leave a review, you send it to everyone, not just the ones you think will give you a good review. It’s the right thing to do and it’s Google policy.
We have found that around 10% of patients will leave a review when asked, which naturally brings your overall star rating up. Those who leave unsolicited reviews do so because they feel strongly—either negatively or positively. But when you ask everyone for a review, you’ll get a representative snapshot of how you are actually doing. And those who have had a negative experience often choose to leave a private review when given the option.
Can I make changes to all my GBP listings at the same time?
Yes, you can. We have full API integration with Google Business Profile, so everything can be managed from a single location. SocialClimb customers use our platform to make changes and updates to all their GBP listings at once, view and respond to their reviews, set up Boost Ads, see and compare how their physicians and locations are doing, manage their Google posts, view their reports, and more.
If you go through Google to make changes to your GBP listings, you will need to do that one listing at a time.
Please reach out to our customer success representatives if you are a customer. They can answer any questions you have, help you claim and optimize your Google Business Profiles, and help you make best use of your listings in your marketing efforts.
If you are not yet a SocialClimb customer, do yourself and your medical practice a favor by calling us today at 866-338-8270.
For more reading on how SocialClimb and GBP marketing will impact your bottom line, read this series of articles:
GBP series article #1: Google Game Changers Healthcare Marketers Need to Know
GBP series article #2: How Important Are Online Reviews for Doctors?
GBP series article #3: Google Posts for Healthcare
GBP series article #4: Start Up Your Boost Ads
GBP series article #5: Are You Measuring Your Marketing ROI?
Additional reading on Google Business Profile:
Best Practices for Medical GBP Listings
GBP Services Editor: Are You Using It Yet?
Photos Not Showing Up on Your GBP Listing?
Google Releases COVID-19-Specific GBP Links
Google Updates GBP Guidelines for Healthcare
The Guide to Google’s GBP Questions and Answers Feature For Medical Practices