“External search engines are the real homepage of your website, so healthcare organizations must be investing in business listings today if they expect to be found. We don’t recommend doing that without an expert partner. It’s too much to do exclusively in-house and yet you can’t just hand it off and expect results. It takes an internal person with deep knowledge of your organization to stay on top of changes, along with a partner who knows your website, knows healthcare, and knows how to work with the search engines. Geonetric has been that strategic partner for us, and together our work has transformed our site from one where visitors were primarily searching for jobs or gawking at Web Nursery photos to one where a clinically relevant buying audience is now searching for doctors and locations and connecting to our services.”
Megan Yezak, Marketing Manager
MidMichigan Health, headquartered in Midland, MI, knew the importance of investing in business listings to both improve the experience for searchers and boost their own optimization efforts. The organization has an internal person dedicated to the effort, and they had partnered with an outside vendor for added assistance. Although they were seeing some benefits, they knew they could find even more value.
That’s why MidMichigan Health reached out to their trusted partner Geonetric and their expert digital marketing team to bring a more holistic strategy to their efforts. Geonetric’s intimate knowledge of MidMichigan Health’s organization and the VitalSite Locations module allows Geonetric to partner with MidMichigan Health’s internal team member to optimize the data for both on-site visitors and external listing sites such as Google and Bing.
Building on the Foundation
Geonetric’s digital marketing team took over where MidMichigan Health’s previous vendor had started; creating a true partnership between MidMichigan Health and Geonetric, sharing brainpower and ensuring the internal team and the agency are collaborating. With more than 900 listings to manage, MidMichigan Health was already using bulk uploads to efficiently claim, create, and update multiple listings at once instead of managing each listing individually.
Geonetric redesigned MidMichigan’s bulk upload spreadsheets to make them more compatible with multiple search engines, saving valuable time in submitting data to both Google and Bing. Geonetric also worked with Google to provide insight into how complex healthcare organizations like MidMichigan Health structure their facilities, locations, and provider information and how healthcare searches differ from the retail searches that Google My Business was originally structured to accommodate.
“Searching for the nearest lab, locating a doctor in a group practice, or finding your way to a healthcare appointment on a large hospital campus are not the same as finding your local Applebee’s or Home Depot,” said Megan Yezak, Marketing Manager at MidMichigan Health and MidMichigan’s primary web strategist. “In healthcare, there isn’t just one door to go in, one phone number to call or one set of hours for every service in the building, so understanding which service consumers need is a critical first step to presenting them with locations and phone numbers. Google’s original rules and structure made it difficult to do that effectively, and because Geonetric represents many healthcare clients, they were able to advocate for change by demonstrating to Google that this was not just one organization trying to game its way to the top of the search engine, but a legitimate pain point for an entire industry and its customers.”
Geonetric’s knowledge of how to work with Google has helped MidMichigan Health create a strategy to ensure its listings work for both Google and Bing searchers. In addition, since Geonetric works in this space exclusively, they understand how other factors, such as Healthgrades ratings and reviews, can impact business listing and optimization efforts and work to build a strategy that takes into account other ranking influencers.
Next, the team ensured that the online listings for their 900+ facilities and providers matched MidMichigan Health’s source of truth — their website. Geonetric was able to leverage their intimate knowledge of MidMichigan Health’s web strategy and naming conventions to ensure consistent attributes across all data sources. Since Geonetric also manages MidMichigan Health’s website, they are able to make needed design or functionality changes to their online location and physician directories to ensure the business listings and CMS modules work together.
Once the listings and website were in sync, the team began to enhance those listings further by adding photos and user-friendly descriptions that abide by character limits. They also added UTM parameters on all listings, making it more accurate to track engagement with individual listings.
After the team completed the work for Google they repeated the process for Bing, which required the data be prepared and structured a bit differently than Google, including required NPI numbers for providers.
In addition, the team is working back through initial listings to ensure accuracy by identifying and removing unclaimed, duplicate listings from Google and Bing and taking advantage of new features provided in listings, including managing departments within listings for large locations.
Transforming Traffic and Increasing Sessions, Calls and Conversions
As with all optimization work, it takes a few months to see the impact. The business listing effort, which began in October 2016, is now providing impressive results including a 20,000 year-over-year increase in overall traffic, with a majority coming from organic search and local listings. MidMichigan Health also saw a 12 percent increase to www.midmichigan.org/doctors from direct, local listings, and organic search traffic. MidMichigan Health is witnessing a transformation in their site traffic, with clinically-focused provider and location searchers outnumbering job seekers and other secondary audiences as top site visitors. In fact, MidMichigan Health’s top-three-viewed sections are now consistently Find a Doctor, Care & Treatment, and Locations & Phone, surpassing even the homepage.
Google local listings have brought in 41,339 sessions, up 24 percent from last year. Of the Google local-listing users that came to the site, 2,005 clicked on a phone number, a 14 percent increase from last year. Bing local listings brought in 1,470 sessions, up from 0 last year. Of the Bing local-listing users that came to the site, 24 clicked on a phone number. In addition, the bounce rate for users coming from local listings is only 54 percent, with users visiting between 2-3 pages on average and spending 1:30 on the site.
The MidMichigan Health team is also excited to see how this investment in business listing management will help set the organization up for success as voice search continues to gain popularity.
Reap the Benefits from Ongoing Focus on Listings
As Yezak, notes: “This work is not for the faint of heart.” With a small team, it’s too much to manage internally alone. That’s why MidMichigan has an ongoing monthly retainer in place with Geonetric.
Through the retainer, Geonetric’s digital team continues to focus on MidMichigan Health’s business listings, providing monthly bulk uploads to both Google and Bing, adding and removing facilities and providers as needed, and troubleshooting issues that arise from user-generated content.
Geonetric not only identifies issues, but also advocates on their behalf with Google and Bing personnel to troubleshoot and resolve the issues. This saves MidMichigan Health time and hassle, and Geonetric is often able to resolve issues much faster because of their resources and experience dealing with these problems.
The digital marketing team meets monthly with MidMichigan Health to discuss results, review completed work, and prioritize next steps. They provide recommendations and strategy on where to prioritize efforts for the next month based on MidMichigan Health’s goals and industry best practices. The team keeps MidMichigan Health updated on changes in the industry and advises them of the impact of those changes to their business listings strategy which is essential because changes happen constantly.
Investments in Business Listings Transform Site Traffic, Increase Traffic to Providers and Locations