If there is one thing that keeps healthcare marketers awake at night - particularly marketers for multi-location hospitals and clinics - it is the state of their local business listings. Local business listing management, Google My Business (GMB) in particular, is fraught with challenges for larger, distributed healthcare organizations. But the rewards of a well-managed GMB program are undeniable. Search is becoming increasingly localized. And as a result, your GMB profile is becoming the face of your practice(s) in the SERPs.
Ready to start taking GMB seriously? Here are some tips for maximizing your GMB profiles for both users and search engines:
1. Make it a priority. The great irony of GMB is that, because it is free, it tends to be undervalued. Millions of dollars and countless hours are spent on SEO and paid search every year, yet the most prominent results in a localized SERP are largely ignored. Why? One reason may be analytics. The sheer volume of traffic being driven by Google My Business is not apparent in Google Analytics unless you take the extra step of tagging the URLs with campaign tracking parameters (a good practice). There is decent performance data within the GMB account, but when we show it to new clients, it is typically the first time they are seeing it. And they are typically shocked with how much traffic is being driven by GMB.
Start putting similar emphasis on GMB and local business listings as you put on paid search and SEO.
2. Centralize management. For hospitals without strong central control of their marketing, GMB profiles can pop up like dandelions on an unkempt lawn. Doctors will create them. Satellite clinics will create them. Departments will create them. The next thing you know, there are countless rogue profiles. This may be great for market coverage, but not so much for brand integrity and data knowledge management.
Centralize Google My Business management under a single account to better control messaging, data changes and analytics.
3. Be smart with ‘category’ selections. Category selections are critical for both search engines and users. There are hundreds of categories to choose from and you can select multiple categories to better define your business. Yet many healthcare providers simply choose a single, broad category to define them.
Look for the most relevant category. If you are an orthopedic hospital, don’t simply use “hospital” as your category. If you provide a service that doesn’t have an exact match for categories, select several categories to help better describe who you are. Just don’t try to be all things to all people - over doing it with categories has its own drawbacks.
4. Fill out all fields. Comprehensiveness is a core tenet of good online local listing management. Focusing only on the bare minimum information - name, phone address - will prevent your local listing presence from reaching its full potential. Not only will users have less information to evaluate your brand, search engines tend to favor more robust profiles in rankings. Be sure to include office hours, descriptions, pictures and content for all fields that make sense. Take this same approach to all local listing profiles.
5. Actively manage your GMB profiles. Two hallmarks of unmonitored GMB profiles are outdated information and bad reviews. Incorrect business hours and phone numbers can be frustrating to prospective patients. Bad reviews can be a non-starter.
Create a routine for reviewing GMB listings to ensure that all information is up to date and all bad reviews are addressed. Your routine GMB management may also include promotional posts about new offerings, educational opportunities and changes that may impact patients. And don’t forget to review analytics! The amount of traffic you are receiving as a result of your efforts should provide the inspiration needed to continue the hard work.
Just because GMB is free doesn’t mean it isn’t valuable. And just because it can be a headache to corral all those rogue listings doesn’t mean it isn’t worth the effort. Google My Business and local listings in general are increasingly the face of your hospital and clinics when prospective patients are looking for medical services.