Google My Business by Mary Kay Miller

Orthotown Magazine

A gold mine of new patient opportunities


by Mary Kay Miller

Google My Business (GMB) is one of the most important pieces of digital real estate for marketing your practice online. According to local marketing experts, 84% of searches are of the “discovery” variety, meaning that the user searched for products or services offered by a local business. Just 14% of searches were of the “direct” variety, in which they searched for a specific business name or address.

In orthodontics, a professional service, the statistics differ based on word-of-mouth referrals. Direct searches using the business name are much higher, making GMB your gold mine to attract new patients. Whenever a Google user searches for your name or practice, your GMB listing pops up in addition to other search results.

In the website design and search engine optimization (SEO) industry, there has been a strong change in trend in the last five years: Consumers are spending more time on their phones and less time on their desktops and laptops. This means less reading and more scrolling. The amount of time spent on websites is going down, but the number of internet searches keeps increasing. What does this mean? Google is getting better at delivering the most relevant search results. Because of this, virtually everybody uses Google for local searches. In many cases, Google can answer questions without sending us to the websites for information. Have you ever done a Google search for a question and the answer just pops up at the top of the results page? That is Google’s algorithm at work.

Google exists for one reason, and it is not to help you win an argument or find the name of that song based on the one lyric you can remember. Google exists to make money, which it does by selling pay-per-click ads. The best way for the company to rake in the cash from ads is to keep users on its website and avoid sending them to other websites. That’s why you see so many highlighted results in the Google knowledge panel on the right-hand side of search results. Google extracts relevant information from hundreds of thousands of websites and neatly packages it on the results page, eliminating the need for users to actually click the website link (Fig. 1).
Google My Business
Fig. 1


If you have any doubts about Google’s priorities, just take a look at how the search results page is organized. The first thing that you’ll see at the top of the results page is Google ads. The second section is the Google Maps 3-Pack or the GMB area (another Google property). Lastly, we get to the organic search results, which is the list of other website links and descriptions. Google ads and Google My Business come first and everyone else’s websites come last.

Which brings us to Google My Business. For local businesses like an orthodontic practice, a GMB listing can give prospective patients nearly all of the answers they want in one spot. These primary questions can be answered on your GMB profile:
  • How is your practice rated with reviews?
  • Where are you located?
  • What products and services do you offer?
  • When are you open?
  • What’s your phone number?
  • How do I schedule an appointment?
Because we know that Google wants to keep users on its own properties as much as possible, businesses need to play the game. Through GMB, we have an immense opportunity to provide and control the information that Google displays. Let’s take a look at the top five ways to maximize control and performance of your GMB results.

1. Optimize your setup for ranking results

Google’s algorithm uses certain criteria when ranking existing businesses in local search results. If you don’t follow its rules, your ranking will suffer.

  • Set up a separate GMB entry for each practice location, with its own address and phone number. Google doesn’t understand one phone number for multiple locations. This includes adding the matching addresses and phone numbers on your website and all digital platforms for referencing.
  • Keep your hours updated, including when you’re closed for holidays. This signals to Google that you are active and trustworthy. (It also will prevent patients from making a trip to the office, only to find it closed.)
  • Write a business description that includes top keywords for the industry and your local area. This description showcases a short “elevator pitch” of your business and will help your GMB rank for products and services.
  • Properly categorize your business. This is very important! If you want to be found for orthodontics, choose it as your main category. If secondary specialties such as dentistry or pedodontics are provided, list these as secondary. (Your secondary categories will not rank as high in search results as practices using them as primary categories.)
  • Add local search keywords to your website. It will not only help your website rank higher in organic results but will also influence how high your GMB entry ranks in the maps.
  • Embedding a Google Map on your website is another way of notifying Google that your business is located where you say it is, based on your GMB code. Make sure that you use the exact same address on your GMB listing as your website.
2. Google Reviews—a ranking signal

We all know that reviews are important, and that prospective patients are going to read your reviews before scheduling a consultation. Having reviews is vital! However, did you also know that Google’s ranking algorithm will index results not only based on the number of reviews posted but also based on the content within a review?

For example, if a Google review specifically mentions Invisalign, that can help you rank for the keyword “Invisalign.” The more your Google reviews include mentions of the most popular search terms, the more of a rankings boost you could potentially receive! Ask your patients to be detailed with their words and specific services, including the city or town name and making reviews as descriptive as possible (Fig. 2).
Google My Business
Fig. 2

3. GMB posts


Think of GMB posts like a blog that lives on Google. Businesses can use GMB posts to share basic orthodontic info, promote specific services or even highlight unique offerings, discounts, promotions or anything else you want to share (Fig. 3). You can find the “posts” feature in the left sidebar menu on the back end of your GMB listing. Google has not declared that GMB posts are a ranking signal. However, as a general rule, if Google is offering a feature, then local businesses would be wise to utilize it.
Google My Business
Fig. 3

4. GMB Products and Services


These features were beta-tested in 2020 and are now available to most local businesses. You’ll find access to the Products feature in the left sidebar menu on the back end of your GMB listing. GMB Products allows local businesses to showcase their offerings on Google, for free! This is how business owners play the game when it comes to providing as much information as possible. Google will display your products and services in the knowledge graph on the right-hand side of search results.

The Services feature is similar to the Products feature, but the biggest differences are photos and links. The Products feature includes the option to upload an image and include a link to your website; the Services feature allows for only a price (optional) and a description of the service.

5. GMB appointment scheduling and content links

One of many updates that came to GMB during the pandemic was the expansion of available link fields to include links for appointment scheduling. Whether you direct those clicks to your website contact page or to an online scheduler through your practice management system, you certainly want to utilize the “Appointment Links” feature. This allows parents and patients to easily contact the office at the same time they’re seeking information. Grab them while they are hot leads!

Links for virtual care and COVID-19 information should also be added. If you have a virtual treatment page, consultation page or COVID-19 page on your website, you can now include a link directly from your GMB profile. Google will often display these links with your listing in the knowledge panel, which increases the opportunity for Google users to find something that they’re looking for and then click into your website for more information.

Conclusion

Business listings in the GMB maps area provide a gold mine of opportunities. This robust digital platform is becoming more advanced and successfully drives consumers to information that they want and require to make informed purchasing decisions. Follow these tips to get your business showing at the top of Google and you’ll experience the increased visibility, engagement and revenue that comes along with it!
   
Author Bio
Mary Kay Miller Mary Kay Miller is the vice president of digital services at Kaleidoscope, a “one-stop shop” for orthodontic practices. Miller is an expert in SEO and has more than 40 years of experience in orthodontic marketing, first as a business and marketing coordinator in private practice and then as founder of Orthopreneur Internet Marketing in 2006. Orthopreneur merged with Kaleidoscope in January 2021. Information: thekaleidoscope.com


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