Episode 006 – Optimizing Your Practice’s Online Listings
On this episode of The Practice Marketing Podcast, hosts Garrett Smith and Don Lee discuss how you can optimize your practice and provider listings on sites such as Healthgrades, RateMDs, Vitals, and more. Starting with a deep dive on listings management, Garrett and Don discuss why properly managing your online listings is important, and how you can make sure you’re leveraging these profiles to grow your practice. For more information about this episode, and the complete show notes, please continue reading on below.
What You Will Learn
On this episode of the practice marketing podcast you will learn:
- What is Listings Management
- Why properly managing your online listings is important
- How you can optimize your online listings to increase visibility and new patient appointments
Segment #1 – What is Listings Management?
- Listing management is the process of finding, claiming, and managing a provider and or practice’s listings on prominent business and doctor directories.
- The goal is to make sure that your profiles are accurate, up to date, and leveraging any opportunities to promote your practice.
- These include sites such as Google, Facebook, SuperPages, and yelp, as well as sites such as CareDash, HealthGrades, Vitals, and WebMD.
- Note there is a bit of overlap between listings management, and reputation management, since many business and doctor directories also allow for patients to leave reviews on profiles.
Listing management is the process of finding, claiming, and managing a provider and or practice’s listings on prominent business and doctor directories with the goal of accuracy, and completeness for each.
Segment #2 – Why managing your online listings is important
- Patients are heading online first, and often times they go to these sites directly to find health information and providers.
- These websites often appear highly for searches of your name, or the name of the practice on search engines, or license their data to other websites.
- You don’t want patients to find outdated, or inaccurate, information about you and your practice, which could turn them away.
- Or even send them to the wrong location…or provider!
Since patients head online first, they often visit business and doctor directory websites, or see them well before they hit your website or office. You want to make sure your profiles are accurate, up-to-date, and make you look great.
Segment #3 – How you can you optimize your online listings to increase visibility and new patient appts
- First make sure you have claimed your provider and or practice listings on the various websites. There’s over 25 that we recommend, and another 20 or so we advise health care providers and practice claim.
- You can do this manually, which will take you a bit of time, use a software tool that will speed things up, or completely outsource it to an agency.
- Once you have claimed ownership, you need to completely enhance your profile. This means adding accurate information about you or your practice, with particular attention to the name, address, and phone number used. You should make sure this is always consistent across all of your online listings.
- After this, the most important element is to make sure your bio, mission, and vision set you apart. This is important because patients often view a number of providers before taking a decision, and these areas can really help you connect with a prospective patient.
- Once you’ve done all this, you’ll want to check out any advertising, sponsorship, or booking capabilities they offer. In many cases these are lower cost opportunities that can have solid ROI and help increase the number of eyeballs that see you and the practice.
- Finally, you should really make sure to be monitoring these profiles on a consistent basis, either manually, or
with software to ensure nothing changes, or to make it easy should you have to make a change.
Ensuring that all of your online listings are accurate, and up-to-date is usually enough to put you in a great position, but don’t forget to differentiate yourself with your bio, and increase your visibility within the website through advertising, and sponsorships.
Garrett Smith: 00:00 Hey everyone, Garrett here. For more information about optimizing your practices’ online listings, check out chapter five in Book Now, Internet Marketing for Healthcare Practices. Available at healthcaremarketingbook.com.
Don Lee: 00:11 Hey Garrett, last time we talked all about Google My Business, now I’m hearing that there’s potentially hundreds of other websites that have all of my information on them, my name, my phone number, my address. What am I supposed to do?
Garrett Smith: 00:23 On this episode of the Practice Marketing Podcast you will learn, what is listings management? Why properly managing your online listings is important, and how you can optimize your online listings to increase visibility and new patient appointments.
Speaker 3: 00:35 Are you looking to take your practice to the next level? Well, you’re in the right place. Welcome to The Practice Marketing Podcast with your host, Garrett Smith and Don Lee.
Garrett Smith: 00:51 Hey there, welcome back, episode number six of The Practice Marketing Podcast, optimizing your practices online listings. With you as always, Garrett Smith. I have my, uh, cohost here with me, uh, Don Lee.
Don Lee: 01:04 Howdy everyone.
Garrett Smith: 01:05 And, uh, today, we’re going to be talking a little bit more about optimizing your practices’ online listings. And so in our last episode, episode five, we talked a lot about Google My Business. And, and Don, I think, uh, your brain exploded a little bit when you heard that, uh, online listings and taking of your presence doesn’t stop with just Google.
Don Lee: 01:25 No, it seems that it doesn’t stop there. And, you know, in my role here trying to play the provider, the, the physician who’s listening to this and trying to figure out how to improve my business, you got me all on board with this Google My Business thing. I’ve spent some time while I was watching TV, and I filled the thing out, it wasn’t that big of a deal.
Don Lee: 01:42 And then you turn around to tell me that there’s hundreds more of these things. And yes, my mind exploded. So what, what am I supposed to do with all these stuff?
Garrett Smith: 01:50 Let’s start off to talk a little bit about, you know, what is listings management? And so, listings management very simply is just kind of the process of finding, claiming and managing all of the, the profiles for a provider and a practice on prominent business in doctor directory. So, there really is an unlimited number of websites that are going to have information about you as a provider and your practice, and so really the goal of listings management at the start is to make sure that for the core, most prominent business and doctor directory websites, your profiles are accurate, up to date, and leveraging any opportunities to promote your practice.
Garrett Smith: 02:29 And so, some of those websites that, you know, you should be paying a particular attention to, or that, or part of that core or prominent set include obviously Google, Facebook, Super Pages, Yelp. But also websites that are specific to healthcare such as CareDash, Healthgrades, Vitals and Web MDs. Now, note that there is a bit of an overlap between the concept of listings management, so making sure that you have found and claimed and, and, and optimized all of your, your profiles and directory listings.
Garrett Smith: 03:02 And reputation management, which tends to concern with, you know, online reviews and what patients may be saying about you out there on the world wide web. And so, often, there’s a bit of a overlap here, and really, that’s just because a lot of these business and doctor directories, uh, allow patients to leave reviews, okay. And so, I like to say that listings management and reputation management go hand in hand for, for a provider and a practice. And if you’re going to do one, you should be doing the other.
Garrett Smith: 03:29 And so, end game, end goal, to kind of encapsulate this is, is really you want to go out there and make sure that you’ve taken control of your online presence in all these profiles. Make sure that they’re accurate, up to date, and, uh, that you’re leveraging again, any opportunities that you can to promote your practice.
Don Lee: 03:43 We started with Google My Business. So did we do that because that’s most important, should I start there, and at least do that one? Or like how do I, how do you rank these things?
Garrett Smith: 03:53 Even if you didn’t listen to episode five and you’re kind of starting a new here, I still would recommend starting with, with Google. From Google, I really, I would take a look at Facebook. Uh, after Facebook, I’d take a look at Yelp, and then go to sort of the traditional yellow and white paper, white page type websites. So your Super Pages, Yellow Pages, because those are still used by certain patient demographics and may be important.
Garrett Smith: 04:16 Um, and then after that, I’d really kind of focus on those, those specific healthcare sites, uh, that we mentioned such as CareDash, Healthgrades, Vitals, Rate MDs, Web MD. If you’re sort of in the cosmetic space, you know, RealSelf is a big one. But really, you kind of take of those 10 or 20, in addition to, to Google My Business, you should be fine. But obviously, you know, as we said before, there are hundreds out there that you could potentially go out there and find, claim and, and optimize.
Don Lee: 04:42 Got it. So that surprises me a little bit because just intuitively, I would have expected that the Vitals and the Web MDs, and the healthcare specific ones would have been a little bit more important. But it sounds like you’re advising people to go take care of these more general business listings first. Why is that? Are they getting, like do they get more traffic? Do they get more attention? Are they more important to, you know, build an updated Google profile? What is that?
Garrett Smith: 05:07 Yeah, it really kind of comes down to visibility. I mean, most patients are not necessarily going directly to Healthgrades or Vitals or Web MD by name, even if they are going to those websites, before doing a Google search, they’re probably typing in Rate MDs and hitting enter, and that’s taking them to Google anyways.
Don Lee: 05:24 Right.
Garrett Smith: 05:24 And so, you know, really it’s about visibility. I, I believe that the majority of, of patients who are looking for a new provider are starting with Google. And, so Google My Business is important. But if they’re searching for your name, or the name of your practice, they’re going to actually see those other website and profiles, typically below your website or the practices website.
Garrett Smith: 05:43 And so, you don’t know whether a patient’s going to click on your profile, on your website, or your organization’s website. They may click under Yelp profile, or they may have an affinity for CareDash, or they may really enjoy using Healthgrades or well, Web MD, and then they click on those profiles, and, and that’s what they use to kind of judge you versus, uh, you know, other options in the area.
Don Lee: 06:03 Yeah, so like, like when you think of something like Web MD, there’s a whole bunch of other reasons why somebody might be on that website. And then, you know what I mean, like why they might be in the habit of doing that, there’s a lot more content there and everything else.
Don Lee: 06:14 So that, that makes a lot of sense. So, I guess, my, my final question on this, like this concept right off the gates here is like are all of these sites scrapping one another, because we said that was one of the things they’re doing, right, is they’re just going on and finding the information. So they must be looking at each other too, are they not?
Garrett Smith: 06:30 Yeah, they are some interesting intersections. For example, Yahoo uses Yelp reviews. Super pages often times shows reviews from, I believe it’s doctor.com. There are instances where, you know, your Google Mileage Panel will show the reviews and the different profiles, uh, of other sites, right, and make it very easy for you to kind of click and navigate. I believe Healthgrades just bought Vitals and integrated Vitals data into their kind of Find A Doctor or in Doctor Review Directories.
Garrett Smith: 07:05 And so, there is a lot of intermingling of these data. You know, more often than not, it’s not a provider creating a profile that new on the website is to help profiles originally. A lot of times they’re just taking publicly accessible information produced by the government, based on, you know, licensing and all of the other legalities that go into establishing a practice, or being a licensed provider. So they use that information. And that if, information is not always up to date and it’s not always accurate.
Garrett Smith: 07:31 And oftentimes, or they span up a profile when you first got into residency, or very early on in your career, and you know, you never really paid attention to it, you’re busy doing other things. And now, you’ve got profiles out there that show that you’ve practiced at a couple of different locations that are old, you know, information’s wrong.
Garrett Smith: 07:49 You know, perhaps you’ve changed specialties or concentrations, hours, things like that. And, and again, it can become a real big, uh, complicated mess. And so, understanding the importance of it and at least taking care of the core is very, very important.
Speaker 4: 08:06 Pro tip number one, listings management is the process of finding, claiming and managing a provider, or a practices’ listings on permanent business and doctor directories, with the goal of accuracy and completeness for each.
Don Lee: 08:23 All right Garrett, so in the grander scheme of things than here, in this whole practice marketing story that we’re telling, how does this all fit into that bigger picture? Why is it so important to manage all these listings?
Garrett Smith: 08:34 Yeah, it’s very similar to a lot of the points that we, we addressed with Google My Business. I think first and foremost, not to beat this drum over and over again, but patients are heading online first. And so two things can happen, they’re, they’re going to Google or another search engine, and they’re searching for you, or your peers. And they’re going to find these other business and doctor directories prominently displayed on search engine result pages.
Garrett Smith: 08:57 And so, you know, they could find it that way. Maybe they do have an affinity, and they’re going directly to the website maybe to research other, you know, a condition, or a particular treatment. And then that’s how they end up looking at your profile on the said website. And so, you know, I think that they’re, they’re highly visible. Because they’re highly visible, they’re, they’re highly influential.
Garrett Smith: 09:18 Further, at the end of the day, I think it’s all about, you know, if you think about patient experience, if you think about it starting before they get into your office, if start points online, you want to make sure that all of your profiles are accurate, they’re up to date, they look great. You know, a lot of practices spend tens of thousands of dollars on the inside and the outside of their practice. They spend the same amount on their website.
Garrett Smith: 09:40 But then they forget, you know, the other 30 or 40 websites, that they have out there and they don’t do anything with it. And that ends up causing an issue. And so, at the end of the day, you know, this is important because this is one aspect that you can actually take control of. Most of these websites do allow you to clean it. They do allow you to verify that it is in fact you, and then you can update and manage the information.
Garrett Smith: 10:02 And so, you know, certainly there are ones out there that may not allow you to do that, but the majority of them, the big ones, the most influential, the most visible allow you to do it. And with so many complaints about, you know, not being able to control what’s being said, and, and what’s being shown about you online, you know, this is one area where we can directly control and influence that.
Garrett Smith: 10:20 And, uh, it’s something that you should heavily consider doing, whether you’re in private practice, or you’re an employed physician at a, a larger healthcare organization.
Don Lee: 10:28 Yeah, I think that’s, that last part’s a really important point, as a lot of times in our business, in our, you know, with whatever we’re trying to accomplish, it’s easy to like not like something and complain about your inability to control it, and then to kind of miss that opportunity that’s right in front of your face, that you could do something on. And, you know, again, to our point about Google My Business, is you can start doing it with not a ton of time invested.
Don Lee: 10:51 And this could just be something that you pack away at over time, and you just like want to have a free minute here, or while I’m watching TV. Like you’ve got an example ’cause if we’re releasing new stuff like this, while you’re kind of doing something else. So, yeah, it’s like this is like definitely, it sounds like a great opportunity to take control over the way you’re being pursued online. And it just, it seems to make sense.
Garrett Smith: 11:10 Yeah, listings management is not com- complex. It, it totally can be a background activity while, while something else is at the forefront of, uh, of your attention. But also, listings management is not sexy, so it doesn’t grab the headlines like lots of other things. But again, it’s part of that low hanging fruit, and, uh, part of that sort of Venn diagram of online success, where you know, one of the, one of the circles is SEO, the other one is reputation management.
Garrett Smith: 11:36 And when you throw a listings management in there. If you do each of those three things fairly well and follow the best practices, you’re going to drive ROI from your efforts. It’s when pay, practices and providers try to get a little bit more exotic, they try to be too creative with things. At least at the start, where they end up kind of failing. And so, a lot of people overlook online listings management because it isn’t as sexy.
Garrett Smith: 11:59 You know, updating your information doesn’t sound as cool as optimizing your website for this Black Box search engine algorithm.
Don Lee: 12:06 Right.
Garrett Smith: 12:07 But I would argue that it’s just as important as, as, you know, in the grand scheme of your marketing efforts.
Don Lee: 12:13 Yeah, all right. And another thing I’m thinking here too is that if, if I’m a doctor, I might have some stuff that somewhere in there, I know practice stuff how busy as can be, so I’m not implying they’re like people sitting around. But you might have somebody in your office that has a little bit of time, and this could actually be something change of pace, interesting for them to do that’s just different from things that they’re doing a whole day long, every day.
Don Lee: 12:34 So yeah, I think those, even if you look, probably a lot of different opportunities to find where does this fit in. Just a little bit here, a little bit there, make it better over time. Doesn’t al- nothing has to be big bang, right?
Garrett Smith: 12:44 Yeah, 100%. I mean, it, it doesn’t necessarily need to be something that consumes 20 or 30 hours straight. Also too, you can have people throughout the practice participate. Also too, if you do decide to outsource something like this, I mean, it’s pretty affordable. I mean, I think that anywhere from $750 to $1500 for a single office location or provider, you can have this taken care of, then obviously, you know, the more locations, the more providers, a lot of the, the service providers or agencies that do this work will totally give you volume price against [crosstalk 00:13:17].
Don Lee: 13:17 Right.
Garrett Smith: 13:17 So, great thing too, a lot of times this is a one time effort unless you plan on changing your hours very frequently, or moving locations. And so, this isn’t necessarily something that needs to be an ongoing investment like social media, like SEO, like your website, like content. This is something where if you do it right the first time and you don’t have too many fluctuations in terms of hours, or where you’re practicing at, it can last for a really long time.
Speaker 4: 13:44 Pro tip number two, since patients head online first, they often visit business and doctor directory websites, or see them well before they hit your website or office. You want to make sure your profiles are accurate, up to date and make you look great.
Don Lee: 14:01 All right Garrett, so the whole point of all of this is because I want to improve the way that I look online, and probably most importantly, I want to drive new patient appointments into my practice. So, how do I optimize these listings and, you know, how do they help me to do that? How do they get me new patients?
Garrett Smith: 14:21 Yeah, now, the first thing you have to do is make sure that you’ve actually coined your provider or practice listing on the various websites. There’s over 25 that we recommend that every provider or practice should take care of, and probably another 20 or so that we feel like should be addressed, although aren’t necessarily as visible or popular as that core 20. Now, claiming these, finding them, you can do this manually. It will take you a little bit of time. It is kind of a pain in the neck.
Garrett Smith: 14:47 Again, it’s not sexy, it’s a bit of ground work. Or you can use a software tool that will speed things up. Obviously, there’s also the option to completely outsource it to an agency. So really, you know, you got to kind of determine before you even start this, you know, do you want to do it yourself, do you want to use kind of a software tool that will aid in the search and claim and finding. Or, do you kind of want to go out there and really outsource this to an agency.
Garrett Smith: 15:08 Once you’ve actually claimed ownership of the profile or profiles, you really want to go through and completely enhance those. That means you, you really want to add accurate information about you and the practice, make sure that the name, address and phone number used is correct. Also make sure that, you know, the head shots, the images, any opportunities to add videos or additional content or information that may make your profile stand out, or differentiate yourself from competitors in your, in your local market.
Garrett Smith: 15:37 Make sure you take advantage of those opportunities. One way to do that that we stress is that take a look at your bio, your mission and your vision. All of these websites allow you to talk to that, and I think this is an area where a practice and a provider can really make themselves stand out, versus their competition. First and foremost, a lot of actors, a lot of practice, even if they claim these, these listings, they don’t take it too serious, and they just put up generic information.
Garrett Smith: 16:03 In these spaces, this is a way where you can really personalize yourself, personalize the practice, and begin to build a bit of a connection with the patient, right. So it’s very important that in the bio, mission and vision areas, the about us type sections of these profiles, that you take the time to really drive home, you know, the who, what, when, where and why of you being in practice. You know, once you’ve done this, one thing that a lot of folks miss is that they think, “Hey, I just claimed it, I just enhanced it, I’m done.”
Garrett Smith: 16:32 The reality is all of these websites have advertising, sponsorship, or even booking, book an appointment capabilities. And so, those are things that you really should take a look at and explore. You know, obviously, if you’re, if you have, you know, no or low or a fixed budget, it may be difficult. But it could be something to consider as your practice grows. Obviously, if you’ve got a larger practice, or you’ve been in practice for a longer time, you’ve got a bigger budget, this can be some high ROI, you know, high return initiatives that compliment your pay per click.
Garrett Smith: 17:03 Your social media advertising, your SEO efforts. Once you’ve kind of determined whether you want to participate in that, obviously, I highly recommend monitoring this, really just because, you know, if you want to change hours, you want to change services, you want to change information, it’s always great to be using a software tool that kind of is connected into them, that way you don’t have to manually go in there two months later, or six months later, or eight months later and make all these adjustments.
Garrett Smith: 17:27 Also too, a lot of these websites allow users of the website to make edits to the profiles, and so being able to monitor them consistently ensures that, you know, there’s no foul play, or there’s no instances of a mistaken identity, where information gets update, but it’s not actually for your practice, or accurate to your practice.
Don Lee: 17:45 Got it. So even though I’ve claimed my profile, and some of these cases that, you know, I’ve claimed it, I’ve opted it where I want it to be, it’s possible it could still change after that without me doing anything?
Garrett Smith: 17:57 That’s correct, yes. Because again, all of these websites if you think about it, hey Garrett, you know, there’s, there’s 45 different websites that have reviews about doctors, which ones do I trust? Which ones, which ones rank higher? Which ones are more visible? Well, this is the game that they’re playing. All of them know that whoever has the best, most robust, most accurate data is eventually going to be the one that is favored by a user.
Garrett Smith: 18:24 So, these sites are incentivized to get accurate, complete, robust data about you as the provider, and your practice, by any means necessary, whether that means you’re putting it in there, or that means a competitor is suggesting it. Whether that means a patient of yours is adding it, they’re all about the data. And today with these sites, the websites with the best data, the most differentiated data are the ones that, that are going to win favor with patients.
Garrett Smith: 18:49 And so, that’s why you see this environment where it’s not just hey, you can claim it, but users can also suggest edits. Now, in many cases, you have the ability to reject those edits, which is a great reason why you should be monitoring this. But in other cases, you know, it may almost I need to go to an arbitration situation, where you have to contact the site and say, “Hey, this is not accurate information, I’m going to claim this profile, but there’s these suggestions here that …” Or somebody updated this somehow, you know, it does have …
Don Lee: 19:17 Got it. So last question on this is, uh, at what frequency would you recommend I go in and check this? You know, if I spend the time to get this all set up, am I going in there monthly, quarterly, yearly? How often is it necessary to go in there and check?
Garrett Smith: 19:32 Yeah, I think if you’re already thinking about checking, the best thing to do would be to research some of the software tools that allow you to not just make it easy to find and claim and update the information, but also monitor them on a existing basis. I think remembering to do it manually is going to be very difficult. Now, you should know that most of these sites, if anything does happen, will send you an alert in your inbox.
Garrett Smith: 19:54 But I’m not necessarily certain that you want 45, uh, additional emails times however many times they’re going to send an email to you. You know, sometimes weekly, you just add in, you know, 200 emails to your inbox, and that’s a lot to manage.
Don Lee: 20:07 Yeah, I don’t need that.
Garrett Smith: 20:08 And so, sometimes working with these software tools, it doesn’t just aggregate the upfront work, but it kind of gives you a little bit of a buffer between you and the profile, so you don’t get inundated with numerous requests and updates and notifications, which eventually will slow you down in your day.
Don Lee: 20:26 Got it.
Speaker 4: 20:30 Pro tip number three, ensuring that all of your online listings are accurate and up to date is usually enough to put you in a great position. But don’t forget to differentiate yourself with your bio, and increase your visibility within the website through advertising and sponsorships. On the next episode of the Practice Marketing Podcast, we will discuss how to create a positive outline reputation for you and your practice. See you next time.
Speaker 3: 21:00 Thanks so much for listening to this episode of the Practice Marketing Podcast with Garrett Smith and Don Lee. If you enjoyed today’s episode, please leave a review and subscribe. And for more great content and to stay up to date, visit inboundmd.com/podcast. We’ll catch you next time.
Garrett Smith: 21:17 Hey everyone, Garrett here. For more information about optimizing your practices’ online listings, check out chapter five in book now, Internet Marketing for Healthcare Practices. Available at healthcaremarketingbook.com.