For doctors and local medical practices, it’s essential to claim and optimize your Google My Business (GMB) listing. GMB is a great way to raise your business’ profile, as you rank in local search results and connect with new patients.
In this guide, we will explain how to use Google My Business to its full potential. We will begin by defining Google My Business, and why it’s important for medical practices. Next, we will share applicable tips to outrank other medical practices in local search results, Google Maps, and Google Mobile.
What is Google My Business?
If you’re already familiar with what is now being called Google Business Profile, we’d suggest skipping this section and jumping straight to the how-to sections below:
Google My Business is a free online platform offered by Google, which allows businesses to create a listing for their company. This business profile will then appear on Google Maps, or on Universal Google when the Maps results are displayed. Whenever someone is close to your medical practice, they will be able to find your services and business details.
For patients, Google My Business is the very first point of contact with your medical practice. This is why it’s vital to include correct information such as your business’s name, address, and phone number. If you’d like to add photos, videos, office hours, products, and services, GMB is the place to do so. It is also where people will leave reviews about your medical practice; it’s important to respond to all reviews, whether good or bad.
How to Create or Claim a Google My Business Profile
If you haven’t created a Google My Business listing and you can see your medical practice listed in Google Maps, you need to claim your business. If a Google user leaves a review, this will create an automatic business profile for you. Google itself can also automatically create your business listing, based on the data it has.
It is important to control the information displayed on your Google My Business listing, as your competition and unhappy patients could affect your reputation.
To claim your business, simply go into Google Maps, search for your business name and location, open the result presented to you, and click on “claim this business”.
You will then be directed to a form allowing you to request ownership of the Google My Business account. You will have to create a Google account if you don’t have one already.
In order to verify that you are the legitimate owner, a code will be sent by mail to your business address. While it should only take a few days to receive this code, there are quicker ways for Google to verify your identity if your information is correct. For example: calling the phone number registered on the business listing.
Once ownership is confirmed and verified, you will need to understand how to populate and manage your Google My Business listing.
Google My Business Essentials
The very first field you need to pay attention to is the actual name of your practice. The name you pick will have an important impact on rankings.
If you are a plastic surgeon, for example, you will want to ensure that your main service offering is in your business name.
- Dr. John Doe Plastic Surgery
- Dr. Jane Doe Cosmetic Surgery
- Drs. Jane & John Doe Lazer Center
This may sound obvious: but most of the time, doctors do not optimize the name of their practice right from the beginning. And keeping the same name for a long period of time is crucial for SEO (we’ll explain why further down this article).
Keep the name short and logical, but be sure to include the most searched keyword representing your activity.
The phone number is crucial as well. Like the name, try to avoid a phone number that may change in the future. With Google, consistency is key.
Google looks at what we call NAP (Name, Address, and Phone Number) to vet local businesses. If your practice gets popular, you want to make sure that Google can measure your success with its own metrics.
As per the phone number, your address is being used by Google to identify and vet your medical practice. Make sure all the information is correct in the address fields.
No one likes going to a place that is supposed to be open, only to find out that it is closed. To avoid this frustration for patients, make sure your business hours are up-to-date online. In Google My Business, you can even specify when your practice is closed for any specific occasion. Make sure you keep this updated and consistent.
If you already have a website URL (which is absolutely a must-have), don’t forget to link it to your Google My Business account. Having both will help improve your rankings.
People like to know what to expect from a place they viewed online. The more pictures you can post in your GMB, the better. Make sure to post a picture of yourself as well—these photos should look professional, be high in resolution.
Further down this article, we will talk about fields specific to healthcare practitioners.
How to Rank Higher Than Other Doctors on Google Maps
So, now you’ve established your GMB listing. You’ve even started to rank on some great keywords. But how do you beat the competition in your targeted area? There are two areas you can focus on, to rank higher than other doctors:
In a nutshell, on-page and off-page is the usual wording used in SEO to differentiate optimizations applied to your website versus on other websites. In local SEO, on-page means on-Google-My-Business.
Off-Page Factors Optimizations
As written previously, Google relies on NAP (Name, Address, and Phone Number) to evaluate how popular and how trustable a local business is. The more Google finds the correct NAP information on local directories and other websites, the more it will trust your business’s digital presence.
Acquiring a high number of citations can be a fastidious task but it is crucial if you want to rank for your targeted keywords. Start with the most well-known directories and your own website.
A backlink is a link coming from an external website and pointing to yours. Since day one, Google has relied on this backlink metric to vet websites’ popularity and authority.
To go further than just ranking on Google Maps, you will need to acquire backlinks from established websites—to benefit from a little of their authoritativeness. If you do not work with an SEO specialist, don’t try to go too far with this type of strategy.
Fixing Old Citations
If your medical practice has been around for a while already, you’ve probably got business listings in multiple locations across the web. But the information presented in these directories might need correcting. To fix the NAP information in citations, you will need to claim ownership of your business listings.
No surprises here. The higher your aggregated review, the better it will be for your rankings. Do not try to add fake reviews yourself. Google has invested a lot of resources to detect spam or fake reviews, and doing so could see your business profile penalized.
If you have tried posting a fake review and it worked, check again a few months later. From time to time, Google will launch updates to clean all the reviews that look dodgy. Instead, ask your patient to leave a genuine review. And be sure to respond to them when they do. On the opposite end of this, negative reviews should also be responded to.
While this may seem obvious, you will be asked to pick a business category when you create your Google My Business profile. Choose carefully, as it’s important that this is accurate. You can also add department categories (sub-categories).
Google My Business allows you to specify what are the exact services you are offering. Be sure to list them all so you can rank for terms relevant to each service.
If you are operating in a very competitive area, you may want to also use the post feature. This will allow you to rank for more keywords that are usually less competitive.
Try to publish posts about your medical practice: so that Google Maps users can learn more about your business and what makes it unique.
Google My Business for Doctors
In response to COVID-19, Google has developed additional features on Google My Business—for doctors. This has allowed healthcare providers to offer remote care, with more information included when your practice shows up in a search engine results page.
To meet the rising popularity of telehealth, providers can now include virtual care information in their Google My Business profile. This will appear as a “get online care” link in Google search results and Maps: and will take patients to your virtual care website, or a booking site for virtual appointments.
When a patient searches for your business or a “doctor near me” (for example), your practice may appear as a Knowledge Panel in search results. The Knowledge Panel includes all the basic information about your business, and as of recently, your insurance information. This feature allows you to list all the insurance providers you accept: and makes it easy for users to contact you to confirm this information. You can edit this in the Google My Business dashboard, by clicking “accepted health insurance”.
Useful Tools for Google My Business Management
1 – BrightLocal
BrightLocal is probably one of the best tools on the market for any local SEO strategy (and not just for medical practices).
With this tool, you can easily acquire citations, fix broken existing citations, track the position of your most important keywords, and audit your web and GMB pages.
If you simply use BrightLocal and follow the recommendations listed there, you will already see good results for your local rankings.
2 – Moz Local
Moz is a well-known SEO tool company, and their features are used by numerous businesses and agencies managing local business campaigns.
With the tool, you can get a free audit of your listing(s). The price is cheaper than BrightLocal, but the solution, in our opinion, is not as complete.
3 – Free Review Monitoring
It is crucial to monitor your online reputation, as bad reviews will inevitably have an impact on your rankings. With this tool, you will be able to monitor all your reviews for free.
When responding to negative reviews, the best practice is to apologize for the patient’s bad experience before inviting them to contact you directly to rectify the situation. Your reply should include your phone number and/or email address, so the dissatisfied customer is able to contact you easily.
If you follow the above tips and tricks, you’ll be well on your way to rankings at the top of Google search results. While many factors determine rankings, Google My Business is one aspect of your SEO that you can manage. For more information, get in touch with our specialists.