Using Google My Business to Convert Online Visitors into Real-Life Patients

Real life patients

Turn online visitors into real-life patients with a few simple tweaks to your marketing strategy.

As more and more people turn to online tools to answer questions about their health, it’s becoming increasingly important for healthcare practices to have a robust digital presence. Yet the goal of these digital efforts — like any good healthcare marketing strategy — is to attract and retain real-life patients.

One way to ensure that your content is reaching the right people is to focus on optimizing location-based resources. The local medical web is a complex organism of customer review websites like Zocdoc, listings on Yelp or Google My Business, social media posts, and healthcare practice websites, and providers should effectively use as many of these networks as possible in order to reach a local audience.

“Local” is the operative word here. As voice search continues to become more prominent and digital space becomes more crowded, it’s essential for healthcare providers to leverage their physical location to grab patients’ attention. If your marketing efforts aren’t optimized for location, a few small tweaks — such as revamping your Google My Business profile — could make all the difference.

How Healthcare Providers Can Leverage Location

Based on data from eMarketer, location-targeted advertising spend will hit a whopping $26.5 billion in 2019. That’s up from $22.1 billion in 2018 and a mere $17.1 billion in 2017, indicating that competition is getting increasingly fierce for local businesses, and that healthcare marketers should invest in multiple strategies in order to reach patients effectively.

One of those strategies should without a doubt be utilizing Google My Business. This free service allows businesses — and, of course, healthcare providers — to reach and engage with nearby patients using Google’s Search and Maps functions. With 3.5 billion searches made each day, Google represents a major opportunity to interface with patients.

Because GMB is largely location-based, it offers an especially rich opportunity to reach patients in your vicinity. Unfortunately, many healthcare providers aren’t optimizing their Google My Business profiles — and even if their profiles are complete, they’re still not doing everything they could to turn virtual visitors into in-person patients.

Here are some surprisingly easy GMB changes that could make a big impact on your appointment numbers:

  • Give Google all the information it asks for. While there are a few bare-bones details, like your business name and address, that Google requires to create a listing, there are a lot of “optional” fields that some listing owners never bother to fill out. That’s a mistake — if you don’t fill out your business listing, someone else could. Google offers users the option to “suggest an edit,” and it can sometimes make the edits live without even notifying you. To prevent this, check your profile regularly, and keep all fields filled in and up-to-date.
  • Use the booking button feature. As a healthcare provider, you’re the perfect candidate for the “booking button,” a feature that allows patients to book an appointment directly from your GMB listing. If you already use one of Google’s supported scheduling providers, the tool is automatically added to your listing, offering patients a simple, streamlined way to make an appointment without ever leaving their Google search.
  • Answer patient questions. You may have never even thought about answering your Google Q&A, but doing so could actually make a big difference. By one estimate, up to 40% of Google My Business questions turn out to be leads. If you get a question asking “Do you provide flu shots?” or if you can diagnose asthma, there’s a good chance there’s a patient behind the screen poised to get in the car and walk in your door if you answer promptly.

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