Search engines are powerful tools for practices and patients alike. Your potential patients are using search engines to find, research, and choose the providers they want to trust with their care. But what exactly happens when someone Googles your business, and how do you make sure they’re finding the right information?
This is an updated version of a post originally published on 4/7/2021.
How Does Google Index Local Businesses?
Even if you haven’t looked into your business listing on Google, it’s likely your business is already showing up when people search for it. If your business shows up on Google Maps, it almost certainly already has a listing, and may even have reviews that have been left by former patients.
Google uses these three factors to rank local listings.
Google naturally tries to match searchers with results that are the closest to what they’re looking for. It may seem obvious, but this is where incorrect information can really be detrimental to your local search results. If you aren’t listed correctly, you can’t be matched with the people who are searching for you.
This one is pretty straightforward: businesses that are farther away from the location of the searcher tend to show up lower on the list (unless they are deemed more relevant or prominent).
Lots of factors go into ranking prominence. For local businesses, there are two especially important sources. The first is the information Google has about your business across the web. Think social media profiles, directories, your website itself, and other sources across the web. The other important source is your reviews. Both the number and average score of your reviews count, so not only is getting more reviews important but so too is making sure the reviews are positive.
How to Improve Your Local Rankings
So, now that we know how Google is ranking businesses, what can you do to improve your rankings?
1. Claim your Google My Business listing.
If you haven’t claimed your listing, your practice could have incorrect information or even duplicate listings in some cases. Google places a lot of importance on what’s called NAP information. NAP stands for Name, Address, and Phone number, and getting this information correct across all platforms is arguably the most important thing you can do to improve your local search rankings.
2. Enter complete data.
Beyond your NAP data, it’s important to make sure your data is correct across the board, especially if you have multiple locations or different hours at different locations. Make sure all of the information and details about your practice are correct.
3. Manage and respond to reviews.
We’ve discussed a little bit about the importance of reviews to local listings already. Your reviews are incredibly important beyond just SEO, too. Remember, your prospective patients are looking to them to see what your current patients are saying – as well as how you’re responding to your negative reviews.
There are three factors that Google is taking into account when evaluating your reviews:
- Number – more is more, but having at least 40 reviews is generally a good threshold to ensure patients trust that the reviews you’ve received are legitimate. That’s why having a system in place to request reviews from your patients is so important.
- Sentiment – the general temperature of the reviews you’ve received. Of course, you want more positive reviews than negative, but the way you respond to negative reviews is important too, so don’t stress if your score isn’t completely perfect.
- Responses – how are you responding to negative reviews? Negative reviews happen and having a plan in place to respond to them in a way that addresses patient concerns while keeping things HIPAA-compliant is important.
4. Add photos.
This is something Google recommends to showcase your business and show prospects that you offer what they need. Showcasing your facilities and your waiting rooms shows people what to expect when they visit your practice. Plus, listings with photos are more likely to receive requests for directions or contact information, so it’s worth investing in quality photos of your practice to add to your listing.
Local listings can be tricky and time-consuming to get right. Need more help with yours? MyAdvice can help! Check out our Local Power page to see how we help you maximize your local listings and reviews.