Show-Up on Google Maps: 8 Steps to Boost Your Medical Practice’s Visibility
You’re going to need the internet for this one, which shouldn’t be too difficult since, after all, you’re presumably using it to read this blog right now.
Got your computer or phone ready? Good.
Let’s say you’ve got a hankering for some Italian food. (There’s a good chance this is true anyway, but even if it isn’t, play along.) Go ahead and type “Italian food” into your search bar and click “enter.”
What did Google spit back at you?
At the top of the results page, you should see a box with a map (provided by Google maps) of your general location, with three local restaurant options relevant to your search listed below the map (and pinpointed on it).
In other words, Google performed what’s known as a “local search.” It’s smart enough to figure that, when you search “Italian food,” you’re probably looking for nearby places to eat some right now, rather than general information about the cuisine.
We’re guessing you can see where this is going.
Type in “foot doctor,” “foot specialist,” “podiatrist,” etc., and Google will probably pull the same trick, whether the name of the city or area is included in the search term or not.
If you want to attract more patients, it is crucial that your medical practice shows up on the local search map—and stays there.
The truth is, if someone’s foot hurts, they aren’t necessarily going to know the specific name of your practice or your physicians. All they know is that they need a foot doctor.
When they throw that search into Google, you’d better be one of the three that show up. For a huge percentage of people in your area looking for a physician, that map listing is going to be their first point of contact with a medical practice—not your website. And only the most intrepid Google searcher is going to make it beyond the first batch if they like at least one of those options.
(Don’t get us wrong, though—that doesn’t mean your website isn’t important. Quite the opposite in fact, but more on that in a minute.)
So, when you searched “foot doctor” or “podiatrist,” did you show up in the “three pack” and get a blip on the map? What position were you ranked? Was the information displayed accurate or not?
If your practice didn’t show up, or had outdated information, you’d better get it there and cleaned up as quickly as possible. Obviously.
If your practice did show up, that’s great news. But you aren’t out of the woods yet—especially if you haven’t put much (or any) effort into your local SEO recently (or ever).
There are lots of reasons you shouldn’t rest on your laurels about this, but probably the two biggest are:
- Google can be capricious. What one version of its algorithm giveth, the next version taketh away. If maintaining your local search and Google Maps position is something you care about and work on, you’ll be better positioned when (not if) the winds change.
- The “win by default” effect. It’s very possible that none of your competitors have really done much work on their local search. Google still needs to find three practices to put on that map regardless, and hey—maybe you’re one of the lucky winners. The problem, of course, is that it doesn’t take much effort for a competitor to turn your “win by default” into a clear loss. If they start caring and you still don’t, Google is going to notice—and react accordingly.
So How Do You Make Your Medical Practice Show Up on the Google Maps Local Search Results?
Google’s algorithms take a wide variety of different factors into account when determining how to rank any business listing for relevant searches. That very much includes your medical practice listing, as well as individual listings for each physician in your practice.
The best approach, then, should be to attack on multiple fronts. The more comprehensive your approach is, the more likely your medical practice will show up first and stick there, even if Google changes its ranking formula or your competitors step up their game.
Here are a few critical basics you need to address as quickly as possible:
Have an awesome website.
Google is going to prefer that you have an official website they can link to in the listing, and they’re also going to prefer that said website is awesome (as measured by things like visitor traffic, user behavior on the site, inbound links from trusted sources, mobile compatibility, etc.)
If your website isn’t awesome, getting one as soon as possible is critical. Almost all your digital marketing efforts rest on that foundation.
Create a listing if none exists.
Most likely, Google will have already created a listing for your practice, and possibly some of your doctors. However, it’s possible that you don’t have one, especially if your practice is new.
Go to Google My Business, enter your information, and if nothing turns up, create one. As a medical provider, you should have a listing for every permanent office location (i.e., one with a unique address not shared with anyone else), and a listing for every physician at your practice.
Verify all your listings.
If a listing has already been created—but you didn’t make it yourself—it will need to be verified. This not only boosts Google’s opinion of your practice for ranking purposes, but also allows you to update and edit listing information as you wish.
Google provides several options for verification, but the most common is by mail. They’ll send a postcard with a PIN to your address, which you’ll have to input online.
Make sure your name, address, and phone number (NAP) are all present and correct.
It sounds obvious, but it’s critical. Make sure everything is 100% accurate and presented exactly the way you want it to appear, right down to the punctuation. Triple check it.
Because of the way multiple different citation sites share and pull information from each other, incorrect info on your Google listing can do serious damage to your SEO efforts.
Optimize and beautify your listings.
The more detailed you make your listing, the more helpful it will be to prospective patients—and the more highly Google will value it.
Fill out all description fields completely, using keywords for the services that are most important to your practice. Add photos, including the inside and outside of your office.
Develop a Review Strategy.
The amount and quality of the reviews you receive on your Google listings influence how high Google ranks you—and, obviously, how likely someone who sees your listing is to trust you. So, if you have a plan in place for getting good online reviews, you can net a double benefit.
And that plan better not just be “ask patients nicely when they’re in the office.” You’ll get a lot more takers if you have a system in place that includes physical cards, an automated e-mail campaign using your patient database, or even text messages.
Expand your SEO efforts to other third-party citation sites and aggregators.
Yes, Google rules the world, and it’s more important to be on that Google map than any other individual site. But other sites (Yelp, Healthgrades, RateMDs, etc.) still matter, too—and not just in and of themselves, ether. Google cares if you’re on them, too.
The more sites you’re on (with identical, accurate information), the more Google will consider you “legit” and the more likely they’ll scoot you to the top.
Partner with a great agency who knows how to market medical practices.
Hey, that’s us!
Just like any other aspect of marketing, getting and staying at the top of the Google local search map isn’t a one-and-done thing. It’s a process that requires regular monitoring, maintenance, and optimization. If you don’t stay vigilant, sooner or later someone is going to take your spot.
VMD Services knows this stuff backward and forward, and we understand how it all integrates with other aspects of your digital marketing—web design, content, social media, the works. We’ve helped dozens of podiatry practices across North America and can help you, too.
Ready to get started, get noticed, and rocket to the top of the rankings? Give us a call today at (833) 823-3335.
Fill your waiting room with the kinds of patients you want to treat.