Imagine a free, personalized, one-page website for your practice that may be outranking your current site. Here is where to find it.
About a month ago, Google changed the way local listings are displayed in search results. The new system is described by Google as Local - with a dash of Zagat and sprinkle of Google+.
Google+ is Google’s attempt to compete with Facebook as the dominant social media force online. "Google Places for Business" is the name for pages controlled by business owners but hosted by Google.
Your practice most likely has one or several Google+ Local pages associated with it.
Since most users search locally when looking for businesses, Google has focused increasingly on emphasizing local business results in its search algorithm.
Why local search results are so important
Your Google+ Local page is a piece of priceless real estate in the search results.
If a potential patient searches for you online with Google’s search engine, it’s usually the first link that appears in the list. They’re the search results you see connected to a map on the right side of the page.
Google fills up that page with whatever available information it has on your practice until you "claim" the page. The vast majority of physicians haven’t done this, so the faster you start the process, the sooner you’ll outrank your competition.
Why this simple page is so powerful
Google+ Local pages have several features that make your practice stand out if you just take the time to fill in the blanks. These include:
• Pictures of you, your practice, your staff, or even your professional certifications or societies
• Detailed map and direction information for patients
• Detailed ratings and reviews with comments from current patients (using Zagat’s scoring system)
• Business hours
• Space for detailed descriptions of your practice and what you treat
• Direct link to your website
• Links to reviews on other websites
You can see an example of my Google+ Local page here.
The best part: free data!
Google keeps detailed statistics on visitor interaction with this webpage.
I can log in anytime and check the following information about my Local page - displayed and charted over a month:
• Number of times users saw my page as a local search result
• How many people clicked on the map for more information
• How many people requested driving directions to my practice
• Geographic regions where driving direction requests came from
• Search terms people typed in that led them to my page
These statistics let you track the online interest in the problems you treat and show you the geographic area of interest in your services.
So, what’s the next step in claiming your Google+ Local page?
You can find out if your practice already has a Google+ Local page by typing in your practice category into Google’s search field at google.com.
For example, if you’re a urologist in Denver, type in urologists denver, co
You’ll see several search results with small gray letters next to physical addresses which correspond to a map on the right side of the page. Each one of these has a link that says either "Google+ page" or "X Google reviews". If you see your practice listed, click this link to see the page.
If you don’t see your practice, click on the "More" option on the far left of the search result page. Then click on Places to see only local results.
To create a page from scratch
A simpler option is to create a local Google+ page here.
Just follow the instructions in the article to get started.
Outsource this process to your administrator or contact your IT or website management team to get this process started. I recommend doing it yourself so you have the greatest control possible.
It’s possible your patients may never get to your main website - this may be the only place they look and get information about your practice.
If it’s filled with generic address data and looks blank and faceless, your potential patient will likely move on to a more detailed Google+ Local page, full of reviews and information.
Find out more about C. Noel Henley and our other Practice Notes bloggers.