Put yourself on the map

March 4, 2010

Ever wonder what businesses get placed on a Google map as the result of a search? Placing yourself on Google Maps is easy.

Ever wonder what businesses get placed on a Google map as the result of a search? Placing yourself on Google Maps is easy.

It's free and you can do it all by yourself. Millions of people use Google Maps for searching businesses, including doctors. Use this free service to start your Web presence and advertise your practice. You don't even need a Web page to do this.

Start with a Google account. As with all Google branded services; Gmail, Reader, Documents, AdWords, AdSense, etc., you must have an e-mail account. It's free, and from there you can sign up for additional products. I use Gmail, Calendar, Documents, Reader, Buzz, AdWords, and AdSense regularly. Don't worry, they all work well and I have no spam issues.
Then search for “Google Local Business.” You should be able to find the link for the Local Business Center, which may vary depending upon your location. Click on the link, and it will take you to the sign up window for Google Maps. If you have a Gmail account, sign in. If you don't, you may start one now.

Fill in your business information - it’s all self explanatory. If you have Web site, enter the URL. People interested in your business can click and view your Web site. If you do NOT have a web site, no big deal. Your map simply won't list a URL. You can add one later if you like.

For reasons we'll see, enter your main phone number of your practice. Ideally, use a number that patients will be using to call and make an appointment, i.e. don't put your back, private line or cell number.

For the description, I suggest you use a keyword tool to help you pick some of the words that are routinely used for your line of business. For instance, click on Google's Keyword Tool and try a few words that you would choose to describe yourself. The goal is to use words that are commonly used to find you or similar practices.

As an example, you are more likely to choose "family medicine practice" versus "pediatric and geriatric medicine" as the latter descriptors are not used as often.

As you can see, you may add photos, or even a video of your practice.
By the way, once you are "up," you can check out your listing. Maps and directions are automatically provided by Google. You can even track the top 10 keywords people used to find your ad. Using this information, you can tweak your description.

Submit your data after checking your accuracy. You can change anything you want if you are in doubt and change your mind.

Remember the phone number? Google will either call you to give you a secret code to verify that the user info is legit, or send you a postcard. The call will occur as soon as you hit the submit button versus waiting two to three weeks for a postcard. (I would suggest that if you are able to answer your main office number "live" use the telephone. If you cannot answer the phone "live," because you have an electronic attendant, use the postcard.)

In a short while, you will be "on the map." Great job. You are done.