If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em: What Can I Do With Google My Business?

Google is no longer just a search engine. It’s slowly eliminating the need for people to click through to a website to find information, making Google a powerful force for businesses to reckon with. How can practices keep patients visiting (and booking appointments!) on their websites?

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The Problem With Google

Google is constantly making it easier and easier for potential patients to get all the information they need about your practice without ever clicking through to your website at all. So, what can you do to make sure that your Google My Business (GMB) listing is as engaging as possible to prospective patients, even if they are not getting all the way through to your practice website? Is there anything you can do to increase the chances that they do click through to your site? Our eye care marketing team has put together some of our top tips to help you out!

Use Your GMB to Talk Directly to The Patient

One of the most important first steps to successful marketing, both online and in person, is catching your audience’s attention by making them feel as though you are speaking to them directly. Fortunately, Google has given you the ability to communicate directly with your audience by creating GMB posts, collecting and replying to reviews, and much more.

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Creating Engaging GMB Posts

GMB posts are a great way to address frequently asked questions, let patients know about the latest glasses frames in your office, and speak to seasonal issues and topics such as back-to-school, dry eye season, and end of year Use-It-or-Lose-It. Here are some things to keep in mind when writing your GMB posts:

  • You should make sure that the post is relevant to the audience you want to attract, and written with them in mind. Create patient personas to help you think through the types of topics your audience might be interested in, and how best to word the post. Is your audience older or younger? Does your audience care about social issues? What is your audience’s budget? What eye care issues and services are they likely to be interested in hearing more about? All of these are good questions to ask yourself when trying to decide what subjects to post about.
  • Keep your posts short and sweet. Although Google gives you a hefty limit of 1500 characters, people looking for your practice are not likely to read that far. You should aim to write about 150 to 300 characters to give your audience a bit of a teaser, and leverage your post to see if you can encourage traffic through to your site by adding a link to your onsite content for them to learn more.
  • Make sure to use appealing images and videos in your posts. Multiple marketing studies show that people engage more often and more positively with posts that include friendly, inviting imagery. Pictures of your smiling staff and positive patient interactions are always a great choice!

Responding to Google Reviews

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There is arguably no more direct way to use your GMB to interact with potential patients than by responding to reviews you get from real patients you’ve seen in your practice. This is a great way to show you care about your patients’ experiences, and showcase the great personalities you have at your practice. We’ve written extensively in the past about how best to respond to Google reviews. Here are just a few highlights:

  • Make sure you respond to both the good reviews and the bad. Respond to good reviews the same way you would respond to a compliment in person. Be gracious and sincere in your thanks, but don’t go overboard. You always need to keep HIPAA in mind. You can say, “We’re so glad we could help,” but going overboard and saying, “We’re so glad we could help you find your new pair of Gucci sunglasses,” will probably get you in trouble.
  • For bad reviews, be sure to answer in a measured, courteous tone. Don’t engage in fights with people who leave you with bad reviews. Believe us, it looks much worse on you than it does on them, and you are much more likely to lose patients over a public argument, then you are to gain anything from it at all. A great tactic to turn bad reviews around is to invite the person who left the review to reach out to your practice to see how you can help fix their experience. We’ve seen some bad reviews even be turned around into good ones (or at least lukewarm ones) after the practice reached out to see how they could improve the situation. Even if this is not the case, you will still be showing that you care enough to respond and offer to help.

Did You know?

EyeCarePro has an app that can help practices generate more Google Reviews!

Market What Makes You Unique Even Before Patients Visit Your Website

As mentioned before, more and more people are making decisions about where to get their eye care and other services without ever leaving Google’s search results page. This makes it all the more important to catch potential patients’ attention in a way that doesn’t require them to first make it to your website. Again, this is where your GMB comes in! Here are a few suggestions:

  • Add a comprehensive list of your products and services to your GMB. This helps you stand out from the competition by putting your specialties front and center, and allowing you to highlight products other practices nearby may not be offering, right on the search page. Google also allows you to write a description of your products and services, in case people would like to know a bit more, before clicking through to make an appointment.
  • Do you have a particularly diverse staff? Maybe you have a cute dog or cat around the office that serves as the mascot of your practice? As they say these days, “pictures or it didn’t happen!” Whatever it is that makes your practice stand out, make sure you have some eye-catching pictures to show it off! It won’t be the Doctor of Optometry on your wall that will help you stick out in most people’s minds. It will be the cute cat on the desk, or the friendly face that they see themselves in, that will help your practice really rise above the competition.
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  • Don’t overlook the attributes section, where you can choose items such as “black-owned,” “female-run,” “LGBTQ+ Friendly,” and more. These attributes are a great way to tell Google and potential patients what values mean the most to you!

Use Your GMB To Enhance Your Practice’s SEO Strategy

Your GMB listing can be a great part of extending your SEO reach beyond the confines of your website, to grab potential patient’s attention and ensure that your practice shows up prominently in local search results. So, how can you turn your GMB into an effective SEO tool?

  • Make sure to research what keywords your patients are searching for, and include them in the business description you write to help people familiarize themselves with your practice when they find your GMB listing.
  • Make sure all the practice info on your GMB matches your website and other online listings for your practice. In particular, pay attention to the name, address and phone number listed on your GMB. Google is constantly on the look-out for scammers and fakes, and discrepancies especially in these areas can cause Google to become suspicious of your practice, and steer patients away from you. You’ll also want to make sure that your hours of operation and website address are up-to-date and accurate.
  • Google is “happiest” with your practice when you keep it on its toes! Be sure to update and interact with your GMB listing regularly. Utilize many of the elements mentioned above to create a steady stream of content and interaction. Create new GMB posts at least a few times per month, answer Google Reviews promptly and courteously, post new pictures at least once per month. Anytime there is a change in your practice, an upcoming holiday, or some other reason to share big or exciting news, take the opportunity to update and interact with your GMB. Like a plant, or one of those annoying digital keychain pets from the ‘90s, the more positive attention you give it, the more it thrives.
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With the above tips, you’re well equipped to make great use of Google My Business to bring more patients to your practice than ever before, even if they never make it to your website. For more tips, and help adjusting to the ever-evolving needs of digital optometry marketing, get in touch with us at EyeCarePro or call 201.591.4350.