More than two-thirds of the population go online to find information about a healthcare provider.
The vast majority begin with Google. And what do they find? Let’s assume they enter a specialty and a location. I entered “hearing specialist Sacramento.”
Three practices are prominently displayed—with a “More places” button that expands the selection.
Then, upon clicking a result, they see one of these…
I’ve shown you the top portion of what is now called a Google Business Profile (it was known as Google My Business).
Unquestionably, the Google Business Profile is one of the best ways to improve your local SEO ranking, drive traffic to your website, and attract new patients. Plus, it’s free.
How to create your healthcare provider Business Profile
The Google Business Profile offers online searchers a quick look at much of the information they want to know about your practice. According to a Google help page specifically about setting up a healthcare Business Profile, you can choose the information patients will find:
- Basic information including operating hours and phone numbers
- A link to your website
- Links to book online appointments
- Health services offered, such as house calls, diagnostics, and procedures
- Photos, educational pictures, and diagrams
- Patient reviews
The process is simple enough
The Google help page (link above) walks you through each step.
- Verification—In the first step, you can claim an existing profile, create a new one, assign management rights, and verify your account.
- Essential information—You’ll have the option to include a short summary of your practice and include specifics such as education, licenses, credentials, and more. You’ll also be able to list your hours of operation. If you’re a U.S. healthcare provider, you also have the ability to highlight languages that are supported at your location.
- Appointment links—Available only for U.S. practices, and only for mobile, this feature displays links for virtual care and appointments.
- Insurance information—The option to add (and edit) insurance information is available for “select merchants” in the U.S. Prospective patients need to know what insurance is accepted, so you’ll want to take advantage of this new feature if you can.
- Services—You may find an option to add your services along with descriptions. Google recommends grouping services into sections.
- Content—You may want to showcase content to help inform patients about events, services, and public health and educational messages. Here’s more information about creating posts for your Business Profile.
Managing multiple locations
Google encourages multi-location practices to create separate profiles for each. However, they also enable larger businesses and multilocation practices to manage “business groups” via Business Profile Manager dashboard. Healthcare organizations can use the tool to apply changes across multiple profiles simultaneously.
Reviews loom large
Look at these two impressive (but not surprising) data points:
Perhaps it’s stating the obvious to say online reviews are immensely influential and repetitive to stress the importance of reputation management in healthcare.
But this may be news to you: Google’s algorithm favors businesses with several online reviews. Listings with several positive reviews are more likely to be displayed.
Also, patients appreciate responses to the reviews they leave, so don’t miss the opportunity to engage with them this way. Below is (1) a fun exchange between an elated patient and the practice that performed her procedure, and (2) another interesting, compelling piece of feedback from a patient:
Answer patients’ questions
Google Business Profiles also feature a Q&A section. I haven’t mentioned it until now, because it doesn’t appear to be wildly popular with users, but it’s not hard to find practices that answer questions and it’s easy to see why doing so represents another effective way to engage with patients.
This orthopedic practice in Seattle has done a wonderful job of responding to their patients’ questions about shoulder surgery.
Claim your Google Business Profile
Google Business Profiles are the number one factor influencing visibility when people search for a business, according to research by Reputation.
Start with the basics. Claim your Google Business Profile, fill in the details, and then add the elements we’ve discussed to position your practice to appear in local searches.