Online listing management can seem like a daunting task. Many healthcare organizations have hundreds or thousands of location and provider listings that require ongoing maintenance. Inconsistent or inaccurate data can misdirect patients and consumers, which can hurt your reputation and your revenue.
But, intimidating though it may seem, online listing management is critical today.
In 2019, Google reported that 63% of mobile searches were no-click searches. This means that Google answered the search query themselves without users clicking through to a website. Through various featured callouts, structured snippets, knowledge panels, and most often, Google My Business (GMB) listings, Google can deliver the information that searchers are looking for without ever sending them to a website. Assuming that 63% of people will not be clicking through to your website, do your business listings give users what they need?
Consumers have come to expect accuracy with everything we find online. Patients looking for care are no different. Ensuring that all of your locations and providers are claimed, verified, and accurate in GMB is a significant first step to addressing this. However, it should not be the last step. It is essential to understand that managing your online listings is not a one-and-done task. Ongoing optimization and management are just as crucial to ensuring your information is accurate for patients, both existing and potential, who are searching for care.
So if you’re looking to invest more in business listing management, here are seven tips to optimize and help your listing rank in Google:
1. Work with internal stakeholders
If you are in charge of creating and maintaining your business listings, reach out to the key people at the different locations or within your organization. Let them know the importance of having accurate data in your listings. Request that they let you know when a provider leaves or if information changes for their location. Let them know who to contact if they receive comments or questions based on inaccurate information. They are the ones who hear the patient feedback most: “Google says you open at 8:00 a.m.” or “I couldn’t find the building,” etc. Encourage them to pass that feedback onto you so you can resolve the misinformation online. Or, consider creating an internal ticket system to request changes to establish an efficient flow of information.
2. Choose the right primary category
Google is going to show listings that are most relevant to the user’s search query. Although you can add multiple categories to your listing, the primary category should best represent your location or provider as it is the only one that users can see on your listing. Look at your listing insights to see what terms users are searching for when they come across your listing. For example, if you use the primary category of “Medical Center” when “Urgent Care” would be a better fit for that location, you may be missing out on potential traffic or rankings. If your category isn’t an option in the GMB dashboard, you can reach out to GMB Support and request it be added.
3. Make sure your website is the source of truth
One of the top foundational ranking factors for Google listings is that there is synergy between the name, address, and phone number (NAP) and the corresponding GMB listing. If necessary, create a web governance checklist so that when people make changes to a name, address, phone number, or hours on the website, they also make them on the Google listing or notify someone of the changes.
4. Drive the user to the right page
Imagine this scenario: a user conducts a Google search for “urgent care near me.” Your listing shows up first in the local 3-pack, the prominent map listing in search results that presents users the three businesses that Google considers most relevant to their query and location. Great! The user sees that the location is nearby and clicks the website link to learn more about provided services. If this links to a service line page that doesn’t include location information, the user can become frustrated. It is good to remember that every search is really a question and every click should be an answer to that question. The information on your website must match the listing so that it can most accurately answer the searchers’ question. If you have a listing for urgent care, there should be information for urgent care locations. If you have a listing for a cardiology department and you link to a cardiology service line page, you should ensure that page has location information in sync with the corresponding business listing.
5. Add photos and videos
According to Google’s own data, “Businesses with photos receive 42% more requests for driving directions to their location from users on Google and 35% more clicks through to their websites than businesses that don’t have photos.” It is essential to upload your own, professional photos to each listing so that your images have a better chance of displaying over images that Google users can upload. If you have videos of your providers or virtual tours of a location, consider adding them to the appropriate listings. Photos and videos encourage engagement with your listing, and that is a key ranking factor on Google.
6. Check for updates regularly
Take the time, preferably on a weekly basis, to check your listings for updates in the GMB dashboard. These updates could be based on user-suggested changes or Google’s crawl of your site. Often times, these updates can be a change to the business hours or website URL. If this task is left to Google’s automation, you may find incorrect, inconsistent, or outdated information on your listings. This leads to frustration and poor user experience but can be avoided with a regular maintenance task.
7. Use UTM Parameters
Also known as Urchin Tracking Module (UTM) codes, UTM parameters are snippets of code that are appended to URLs to track different sources of traffic to your website from various advertising and marketing channels and tactics. While having UTM parameters won’t affect your local listing ranking, they will allow you to get a better understanding of what listings are driving the most traffic to your site and how users are engaging with your site from there. You should use UTM parameters for both your website and appointment URLs, if applicable. There are several tools to help you create your UTM tracking code, such as the Google Campaign URL Builder. You can also use an Excel spreadsheet to build and keep track of all your UTMs. Make sure you’re using a consistent naming convention for all of your online listings, so your data aggregates as accurately as possible in Google Analytics.
Take control of your data
Maintaining an active and ongoing role in your online listings management is important. While the first initial time investments can be significant, ongoing maintenance may just take a little bit of time every week or every month. That continuous pruning and care can make all the difference in preventing issues from coming up and snowballing into more significant problems. Plus, it helps ensure you are meeting the needs of the 63% of people who inevitably don’t visit your site.
If you need help getting the ball rolling or locating the most substantial pain points, we can help you. We work with healthcare organizations around the country to manage their listings and can use our insight to help you optimize your listings. We can perform a business listings audit and help create a plan of action for addressing any problem areas that we find as well as create an ongoing maintenance strategy.
Remember, Google and other listings providers rely on automatic algorithms and user input to provide information. Do not leave your information up to that process. Take control of your data and maintain it for ongoing digital health.