Google My Business For Doctors: Step by Step
If you’re looking to attract new patients online, you probably already know that everything starts with Google.
Today, 1 in 20 Google searches is health-related. And to put that in perspective, there are a whopping 3.5 Billion searches per day on Google.
Optimizing the Google My Business listing for your medical practice will dramatically affect how you show up in local search results on Google.
For instance, take a client of ours. Their Google My Business listing has been viewed 13,600 times just this quarter, and their traffic is still growing. And they’re not in a major city.
What is Google My Business?
Many people don’t even know what Google My Business is, but chances are that you will recognize it when you see it.
The first Google my Business format shows up if and when you search for a business (doctor, private practice, or hospital) by name and this pops up on the right-hand side of the results page:
If you notice, the Knowledge Panel includes pictures, address, hours, phone number, and “Google reviews.” In this way, Google my Business is very similar to other third-party review sites such as Yelp and Healthgrades.
What differentiates Google My Business and makes it so important, however, is how (and, more so, when) the information is presented. Before potential patients have to go anywhere or click on any link, relevant information which they are looking for shows up.
If you use your Google My Business profile efficiently, this could be a major improvement for your online presence.
Because no one really wants to spend a ton of time researching- we are more inclined to want to visit a business that answers our questions quickly. (They just “get” us, you know?)
In addition to the Knowledge Panel, if you’ve been searching Google for a local business recently, you might have noticed something that’s called the Google 3 Pack. And if you’ve read my guide to medical marketing, you’ll know how big of a deal it is.
For those of you who haven’t, this is the Google 3-Pack:
The Google 3-Pack displays three local business listings underneath a map with pins for each respective location of the businesses.
Just as with the Knowledge Panel, the 3-Pack also displays your rating (out of 5 stars), phone number, hours, and links to your website and for directions to your office.
This is where you want to show up because it’s where brick-and-mortar businesses generate the most clicks. Medical practices, in essence, are local businesses, relying on the surrounding community for work.
When searching for dentists, surgeons, physicians, and the like, users are using terms like “near me” or “in Kansas City,” which triggers Google to pull up local listings like the 3-Pack.
And even when users don’t include those keywords in the search bar, search engines will use your location to personally tailor your experience and, again, present the 3-Pack.
1. Claim Your Google My Business Profile
Start by looking up your medical practice on Google. You’ll see the 3-Pack of local listings in your area.
If you’re in a large city or crowded location, your practice might not show up in the top 3 listings. That’s OK – we’re going to fix that.
If you don’t show up in the top 3 listings, click where it says “More locations” or “More Places”.
Note: If you have multiple locations, you will have multiple Google My Business pages. That’s OK. You’ll just have to repeat these steps for each location to claim all of your pages.
If you still can’t find it, let me know in the comment section below and I’ll take a look for you.
Once you find your practice’s listing, if you see the “Own this business” button, this means that your page has not yet been claimed.
If you see the button, click it. If you’ve already verified your practice’s listing, click here to skip this portion.
After you click “Own this business”, you’ll have to verify that you actually own the business.
There are a few ways to verify your involvement in the business.
- Email (only available for some)
A lot of our clients have automated phone services that direct patient calls to different offices or departments through phone trees. Call verification doesn’t work if you have an automated system in place. For the most part, we verify our client’s locations by mail. You’ll get a postcard in the mail with your verification code, and it only takes a few days.
Once you’ve claimed your business pages (it doesn’t matter if they’ve been verified yet), it’s time to check out your Google My Business Dashboard.
2. Use the Google My Business Dashboard
Go to https://www.google.com/business/ and login to your account.
On the left side, you’ll see a menu bar that has a ton of different pages.
The most useful tabs are:
In the Info tab, you’ll be able to change and optimize your practice’s information such as your business name, address, phone number, and much more.
In the Insights tab, Google makes it easy for you to see how searchers are finding your Google My Business listing and even how they interact with it. For instance, you can determine how many phone calls or clicks to your website you’re getting. As medical marketers, these statistics help us track how our efforts are progressing.
In the Reviews tab, you’re able to view and respond to reviews. Please keep in mind that responding to patients publicly can be considered a violation of their HIPAA rights.
In the Photos tab, you can add, edit, or remove photos from your Google My Business listing, as the name suggests.
3. Optimize Your Information
The most important thing you can do to improve your medical practice’s Google My Business listing is to make sure your Name, Address, and Phone Number (commonly referred to as NAP) are exactly the same as they appear on your website.
This is extremely important for Local Search Engine Optimization.
Even though small differences seem like they’re not a big deal, make sure everything is consistent. If you abbreviate “street” make sure you abbreviate it everywhere. If you spell “Suite” instead of “Ste”, do that everywhere.
Having a constant NAP helps you rank your medical practice in Google and it adds legitimacy to your online presence.
4. Add Photos of Your Practice
Patients want to see photos that give them an idea of the people behind your medical practice.
When optimizing Google My Business for doctors, we’ve found that heartwarming photos of staff and doctors work the best for our clients. You’ll want to also include photos of the office space and the building as well.
The first photo is great:
- The yellow color is bold and warm
- Everyone is smiling
- Their posture is welcoming
The second photo is not so great:
- It shows medical equipment
- It doesn’t show the doctors or staff
- The space is dark
Finally, If you don’t have tons of photos, that’s fine. Just put something. Anything is better than having nothing.
5. Get Your Unique Review Link.
Reviews are the most important part of using Google My Business for doctors, especially since your reviews are featured so prominently and they appear in so many places throughout Google.
Each Google My Business listing is given a unique link to share with customers (in your case, patients) so they’ll be able to more easily leave feedback for you.
Just follow these steps:
1. Go to the Google PlaceID Lookup Tool.
2. Look up your medical practice and find your listing.
3. Copy your unique PlaceID.
4. Paste your PlaceID into this link: https://search.google.com/local/writereview?placeid=place_id
In the example above, the unique link would be: https://search.google.com/local/writereview?placeid=ChIJHzU4PILa54kRDTejjd4aZtI
Anyone who clicks your unique review link will be sent to a review window where they’ll be able to easily leave a review on your Google My Business page.
6. Distribute Your Link
Once you’ve generated your review link, it’s time to start spreading it to people who will want to leave you some 5-star reviews.
Here are a few ways to distribute your Google review link:
- Email it out to friends who are also patients
- Email it out to staff members who are also patients
- Create a Facebook status that asks for reviews
- Create a targeted email campaign (more on that soon)
Also, sharing your best reviews wherever you can help promote your online reputation. People will realize that you care about your online image, and they’ll feel inclined to take a minute to review your practice.
Conclusion: Why Use Google My Business For Doctors?
We dipped into this a little bit already, but think about it. Google My Business takes up most of the search engine results page.
It includes not only your name, but your reviews, hours, phone number, and location. Often, users won’t need to look too much further because so much information is presented to them at the get-go.
Google My Business for doctors can be a huge resource, but only when it’s used right. A lot of people just brush it aside, but frankly if you’re not using Google My Business to its potential, a competitor probably is.
If you follow the steps outlined in this post, or partner with an experienced healthcare marketing agency, you’ll be well on your way to ranking locally in Google with a fully optimized Google My Business listing.
Written by Andrew Epprecht
As the Founder and CEO of Phase 5 Analytics, Andrew leads a team of healthcare marketers and consultants. He's been featured in publications like Forbes and Search Engine Watch. An entrepreneur at heart, Andrew started his first business in high school. While attending Duke University, he further developed his knowledge of online marketing and advertising. Today, Andrew uses these skills to help forward-thinking healthcare organizations attract new patients online.