Google My Business (GMB) is another review site that’s not dedicated to medical practices. But so what – it’s Google. Registering with GMB is how you optimize your practice getting found in those critical local searches. According to Google’s research, businesses that maintain a full profile on GMB get 5x the views than those that haven’t claimed their profile.
Think about it. Once a prospective patient creates a short list of potential doctors, what’s their next step after researching on the medical review sites? They’re going to vet everyone on their short list. They’re going to Google you specifically.
Let’s see what this looks like when you claim your GMB profile and when you don’t. First, I searched by name for a specific Dallas orthopedist to see what would show up. Here’s what Google provided:
You see the Google’s Knowledge Box appears to the right of the search results. This is why Google got rid of the right side-bar ads. It wants to provide high value, detailed information about the business the searcher is looking for.
So you’ll see that the Knowledge Box provides pictures, a map to the business, reviews, ratings, and basic logistics information. But you can also what’s missing: a link to the practice’s website and clinic hours. This practice profile highlighted in the Knowledge Box hasn’t been claimed. This also means the photos that show up first are those uploaded by patients. Yes, patients can upload their own photos and attach them to your GMB profile.
Alright, the second search I did was for a specific orthopedic practice in Dallas, not the doctor specifically. Here’s the Knowledge Box that appeared:
This practice claimed its GMB profile, unlike the practice that appears in the first search. We can tell because of a few of the main differences between the two Knowledge Boxes. The claimed GMB profile shows:
- Prominent button taking visitors to the practice website
- Current information whether (and when) the practice is open
- A more useful first image
- Reviews site higher in the box because Google isn’t taking up space asking for missing information from the profile
As a side note: A consistent theme in all these medical review site posts is to claim them so you can keep your information update to date and accurate. When I googled the orthopedist’s name, the GMB profile that showed up in the Knowledge Box was for the practice he worked at when he lived in another state. Not his current Dallas practice.
Google does its best to figure things out when you don’t tell it exactly what you want it to know. Yet despite appearances, Google isn’t omniscient. This doctor had the address for his old practice still listed on his Doxmity profile. While his current practice was listed among the search results list on the left side of the page, it was the obsolete listing that got the prized Knowledge Box spot on the right. So keep your information current and accurate on all sites where you’re listed! Side note over.
In some cases Google won’t display a GMB profile at all. I found this when the name of practice was too generic. Here are the results when I searched on “orthopedic center dallas.”
If your practice does have a more generic name, then claiming your GMB profile will help Google decide whether to show your profile on these types of searches. It’s no guarantee. But you’re guaranteed not to come up in the Knowledge Box spot if you don’t.
Improving Your Practice’s Local Search Placement
Registering with GMB doesn’t just help your practice when people search specifically for your practice. It also provides you a boost in local keyword searches. Google’s entire mantra is providing searchers with the most accurate, authoritative, actionable information it can.
What will Google find more authoritative? Business data it compiles via algorithm or a registered, verified, GMB profile where the business has provided comprehensive information?
If you want any chance of showing up in the Google Places box (that’s the map with highlighted listings right below the paid Google ads), you need a complete GMB profile along with strong reviews.
Claim? Register? Verify?
So I’ve been a bit slippery with the GMB language for taking ownership of your profile. While many review sites tell you to “claim” your profile, it’s different with Google.
To take ownership of your practice profile, you first need to register it as a business with Google. Don’t use an individual’s Google account to do this. Create a Google account specifically for the practice and use the practice’s business name. You’ll then register your business with GMB. If you already created a Google+ or Google Places page for your practice, Google will automatically transfer your data from there to your GMB profile.
Individual doctors can also set up their own GMB profiles with the practice’s website and address, which is useful for multi-practitioner practices. Just be sure not to include the practice’s name in an individual doctor’s GMB profile name. Google will flag that as duplicative. In fact, if you can provide some differentiation on the address, like having different suite numbers of doctors, that will be helpful. We recommend that you create a GMB profile for both the practice and for each provider since prospective patients will often search on both names.
Once you do this, you can start uploading pictures and filling out your practice profile. The GMB profile won’t have the medical-specific fields like the medical review sites, such as specialty or insurance accepted. However, it does require you select a business category from their list of options. “Orthopedic surgeon” is a distinct business category, so you can get more specific than “medical practice.”
Remember Google’s research noted in the opening of this post: Full GMB profiles get 5x the views. Just claiming your profile isn’t enough. As with all review sites, make your profile informative and valuable by completing all the available fields.
Before Google publishes your updates, you will have to verify to Google you’re the business owner. Google used to require doing this through snail mail. It would mail a postcard to the address. After complaints about time delays, Google has refined this process. You can now verify your business by phone.
Once you’re verified, your updated information and photos will get published. You’ll also be able to start managing and responding to Google reviews.
Since GMB is Google, optimizing your GMB profile will have the greatest impact on your overall SEO results than optimizing any other site profile. Don’t ignore the other sites. They play a different role. But when it comes to optimizing your search placement and getting found in Google, you can’t ignore Google’s own business profile for you.