Consider this: a staggering 94% of patients use online reviews when assessing healthcare providers, with over 75% using them as their initial step in choosing a new provider. And, most importantly, according to a Software Advice study of over 500 U.S. patients, 43% would be willing to choose an out-of-network provider based on positive online reviews. Establishing a strong online presence is crucial. Yet in a crowded healthcare landscape, how can you stand out? Enter Google Business Profile, a tool often underestimated but capable of making a significant impact.
What Is a Google Business Profile (GBP)?
If you are unfamiliar with GBP, it’s a free tool from Google that helps you refine how your business appears on Google properties, including Google Maps, Google Search and Google Shopping.
With GBP, you can connect with potential patients, display ratings, post updates and highlight your hospital’s services and differentiators.
How a GBP Can Benefit Your Brand
A well-optimized profile is critical for success. It helps you control the narrative because your profile is often the first impression consumers have of your brand. To maximize the benefits of your GBP, it’s critical to ensure it is fully complete with accurate with the most up-to-date information.
A comprehensive GBP provides searchers with essential information about your healthcare organization, which can ultimately:
- Raise awareness of your practice and the services it provides.
- Enhance your credibility and trustworthiness.
- Increase engagement with your audience.
- Boost your local ranking.
What to Include in Your GBP
Follow these best practices to ensure your Google Business Profile (GBP) is in top shape:
- Regularly verify that your hospital or healthcare practice’s name, address and phone details are accurate. Perform this check at least quarterly to catch any unauthorized changes.
- In your business description, provide helpful information for users, including facts about your service offerings and your mission statement. Incorporate relevant keywords to enhance discoverability.
- Strengthen authenticity and trustworthiness by including a variety of images such as:
- Hospital or practice interiors and building exteriors.
- Employees (receptionists, candid photos of doctors and nurses and other staff—just make sure not to include photos of patients).
- Highlight your community involvement, including event sponsorships and volunteer activities.
The Power of GBP on Google Search Results
Your GBP can have a significant impact on your online visibility and lead to more conversions. Once Google accepts your listing, it can appear in several places on a Google Search Engine Results Page (SERP) which include:
- To the right of the search engine results, for branded and non-branded searches.
- In the Local Pack, which is the prominent section in Google search results that displays the top-ranking local listings for your location, such as “hospitals near me.” There are typically three businesses listed based on relevance, distance and prominence.
- The Local Finder. At the end of the listings above, clicking “More places” will bring you here, which displays many more relevant listings.
- Google Maps, where the display looks similar to the Local Finder results.
The use of a GBP has led U.S. businesses to be found in 1,035 searches per month on average, with 89% coming from discovery searches rather than direct searches. If you haven’t yet claimed and set up your Google Business Profile, visit https://www.google.com/business/ to get started.
How to Engage: Reviews, Q&As and Business Posts
Maintaining a strong Google Business Profile requires paying attention to three key aspects: reviews, Q&As and business posts.
- Reviews are one of the most valuable elements of Google Business Profile. As we mentioned earlier, they not only start the research process for the consumer but can lead them to choose your hospital even if it’s out of their network – a significant advantage. Plus, reviews contribute to social proof, a psychological phenomenon where people’s behavior is influenced by what others do.
Responding to reviews, both positive and negative, adds transparency and builds trust, leading to more potential patients. It is important to respond quickly and in a personable and courteous tone, acknowledging any concerns and inviting the conversation offline. Consumers might become skeptical if there are no negative reviews, as a blend of positive and negative feedback is often perceived as more credible and trustworthy.
- Questions & answers are another valuable element of GBP. Answering questions is an effective way to demonstrate good service, build trust, enhance your reputation and increase your hospital or healthcare practice’s visibility. Plus, utilizing a dedicated Q&A section can save you time as opposed to individually answering frequently asked questions and can provide helpful information to prospective customers.
- Where are you located?
- Do you offer same-day appointments?
- Are your doctors board certified?
- What areas of medicine do you specialize in?
A robust Q&A section will help your brand show up on more searches, save you time answering questions and move consumers on the path to becoming patients by providing helpful information. A comprehensive Q&A section may also provide insights into patients’ needs and help better target them.
- Business posts are a valuable element of GBP where you can use text, images or videos to show practice areas, employees and testimonials. These posts are visible on your online business profile, where users can see them on the “Updates” or “Overview” tabs or the “From the Owner” section on search and maps.
While you can create as many posts as you’d like, only two live posts are visible at any time. To increase click-through rates, you can add an action button to your post, such as “Learn More” or “Call Now.”
Consider these best practices for GBP posts:
- Include keywords in your posts to increase relevancy for searches.
- Consider A/B testing which “action button” drives users to click.
- Listing valuable information first, such as keywords and links to your content—Google allows up to 1,500 characters.
- Refresh images as needed.
Protecting Against Unauthorized Updates
To ensure your business listing on your GBP remains accurate, it’s important to monitor it regularly for any unauthorized changes. Such changes can cause issues with ranking and tracking or may result in erroneous information.
Inaccuracies in your profile can result in lost customers, as research indicates that over 60% of users will cease using a company’s services if they encounter incorrect information on their profile. Therefore, it’s essential to regularly review and promptly resolve any misinformation within your dashboard.
Unauthorized updates can originate from various sources, including:
- Your website: Google may scrape information like your business name, phone number and address from your website or other sources it considers more accurate, even from social media profiles. Therefore, maintaining consistent and accurate information across all your channels is crucial to ensure your online profile is up-to-date.
- Third-party apps: If you’ve granted access to third-party apps, like Yext for your GBP, it could be contributing data to your profile. To ensure accuracy, review the list of connected third-party apps and revoke their access to edit, create, or delete your business listing. Every user who has access to the profile needs to do the same.
- Another owner/manager: You should periodically review the list of authorized users and managers for your account. Some users may have left the company or moved to a different role. Be sure to remove anyone who no longer needs access to your profile to help prevent unexpected changes to your listing.
- Public users: Public users can edit listings and although not all revisions are approved by Google, those from trusted sources might be. To identify changes made by public users, check the Local Finder, where it will be labeled as ‘a user suggested’ in orange. Also, regularly review your dashboard for user-suggested edits and be sure to decline any that are inaccurate.
- GBP scams: Lastly, exercise caution regarding fraudulent ownership requests, a growing scam in recent times. If someone unfamiliar requests access to your Google Business Profile (GBP), Google will send you an email seeking your approval. It’s crucial to respond within three business days, as ignoring, deleting, or accidentally approving the request could enable scammers to claim the profile for themselves.
GBP Is Worth the Effort
Establishing and maintaining your Google Business Profile requires significant effort and attention. Engaging an experienced agency with expertise in managing GBP can optimize your profile, saving you time and resources. This, in turn, allows your staff to focus on other marketing initiatives. The investment you make in this service can yield a strong reputation, increased prestige, and, most importantly, a flow of new patients, ultimately proving its worth.