If you’re a digital marketing geek like us, you know the joy when a routine search returns a previously unseen feature that Google is testing. Catching a glimpse of these gems is always exciting and gives a unique look into what Google is working on.
Here are some interesting new features Google appears to be testing and what might they mean for healthcare marketers.
Three New Google Features and the Takeaways for Healthcare Marketers
1. Adding extra convenience to your Google Ads
In this ad for Immediate Care from NorthShore, you can see that Google is displaying the phone number as well as two location options (with a quick link to driving directions). This is a great way to give the user a clear sense of how close some of their locations are and make it even easier to take the next step in the path to care.
Takeaway: You can enable this feature by adding location extensions to your Google Ads by connecting your Google My Business account. While location extensions aren’t a new feature, Google continues to optimize the appearance of these features, particularly on mobile. This latest iteration gives users easier access to relevant information (such as distance from locations) and actions such as directions and phone numbers.
2. Show your best side – in your location images
Another interesting feature that is starting to show up on search is the ability to look for a location via a photo slider. While this is a feature Google has been testing and slowly rolling out over the past year, this is the first time we’ve seen this within the healthcare vertical.
When clicking “View All,” we were taken to a page that featured a new set of options, more directly related to the type of location we were specifically interested in finding (an urgent care). While this option doesn’t give the user a lot of the information you might typically expect to find, it felt very intuitive to assess the options based on how good the pictures were. The images gave a sense of something that’s very hard to convey in text and answered questions such as “What is the place like?” and “Will I feel comfortable there?”
Takeaway: If you haven’t paid much attention to your location photos in the past, it might be worth giving them some attention. Not only are they important today for Google My Business listings, it’s quite possible in the near future they could play a more prominent role in search results. Consider reviewing your competitor’s photos and ensuring that yours are meeting – or beating – the standard they’re setting. At such a critical decision point, you don’t want to lose a prospective patient due to an unappealing photo.
3. The disruptors are coming
In healthcare, we’ve been aware for a while that there could be a significant source of disruption to the market at any moment. Just how quickly they’re coming was clear in these searches.
In searching for “urgent care near me” – immediately below the location pack, there was a new section to search for online care from non-traditional care providers, like Doctor on Demand. Complete with pricing information, these options give the user a lot of convenience and meets patients right in the moment of decision making. Whether or not this becomes a standard feature of search engine results pages (SERPs) has yet to be seen.
Takeaway: Likely, your organization has already started thinking about how you can provide more access to care options to your communities – including online appointments. Now, more than ever, it’s important to make sure access to care options can be clearly presented to your audience. Transparency of pricing — and the option to receive this care 24/7 — makes these disruptors particularly appealing, so make sure you’re doing what you can to promote your offerings in a user-friendly way. If you have questions about how else you can accomplish promoting your online care options, let us know and we’d be happy to help!
Be Prepared for Anything
Google tests features on a near-constant basis — and no one ever knows which features will stick until they do. Routinely searching for common keywords and terms yourself and checking the experience is a good way to make sure you’re keeping an eye on the ever-evolving SERP landscape. The fact is, Google is constantly changing, and the next big game-changing feature could be right around the corner!
If you’d like help managing Google’s constant changes or keeping your business listings up-to-date, reach out.