Listing my private practice on Google: Good or Bad?
I received this question from Dr BS. He’s quite happy with his practice and this is what he says, “I’ve been in practice for over ten years and I see the new kids out of training all setting up shiny new office with enormous social media presence. While all that’s fine, what do you think about listing a practice on Google. Can you say if it’s a good idea of bad?”
First, let me say if you’re looking for visibility and interested in new patients or the area you are based in is very crowded with other practices, Google listing is a very good idea. After all, it’s a business. You pay people, you pay utilities and so this is very much a business. The newer generation of patients and people are keen on finding your online footprint, in getting to know your practice and what other people have to say about it. They also place a lot of emphasis on reading reviews, which helps them judge you positively or negatively. Whether it’s a restaurant or a practice everyone checks online.
Keeping this in mind, it’s absolutely essential to have a google listing. In fact, the search engines will reward you by driving more local traffic your way and sending you newer patients if you play your cards right.
- 97% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses in 2017, with 12% looking for a local business online every day
- 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
- Positive reviews make 73% of consumers trust a local business more
- 49% of consumers need at least a four-star rating before they choose to use a business
- Responding to reviews is more important than ever, with 30% naming this as key when judging local businesses
- 68% of consumers left a local business review when asked — with 74% having been asked for their feedback
- 79% of consumers have read a fake review in the last year
So what must you do? I think you should list your practice and take the following steps before you go live. Now I don’t receive anything from Google, you can use Bing or Ducduckgo for your listing but almost all of us are on Google, so I’ll use them here.
- Follow Google’s guidelines for Google My Business reviews.
- Fill all the information requested by Google, because if you don’t then, people can use the “Suggest an Edit” option and edit your data. So have a real phone number listed, add an email address that works. I usually will not use a service or practice where you cannot contact a real person. These details are a MUST.
- Verify your business so your information is eligible to appear on Maps, Search, and other Google services.
- Use the posts for advertising. They allow Business posts which you can use in a fun way to add pictures, a call to action or a greeting. Consider this as a free mini-ad space, where you can personalize it, share something new that your practice is doing or a free camp that you’re organized.
- Make use of the booking button. I know that currently all practices use an EMR and so this may not be useful. But you can integrate the booking button with your appointment page. Make use of it.
- Respond to Reviews nicely. Always. Don’t ever make excuse or rant at negative reviews. Remember the rules of customer service. Don’t write more than two lines in case of negative reviews. Here’s the thing, how you handle negative reviews says a lot about your business. If I see a hotel ranting back at a guest or worse revealing personal details, I will never consider them, because if they can do it to them, they could do it to me. And as patrons we’re always thinking of the worst case scenario. Apologize for what happened, invite the person to visit again and for an opportunity to serve them better. Then zip it!
- People aren’t stupid. They are intelligent to understand bad reviews from fake reviews.
- Build your brand. I guess at some point I will do a QMC on branding but put information out there about who you are. Not your personal life, but your publications, affiliations, articles you’ve written, organizations that you run and charities where you serve, prizes or nominations you’ve won.
- List your business with a dedicated website and keep it fresh. Add a weekly blog (I can help with that! ;)) or share new research studies that is relevant to your patient demographic.
- Ask for help if you don’t understand Google and it’s complicated mechanisms.
A Google listing is a great idea to attract new patients, to gather feedback and to give your practice an online presence. Lot’s of doctors have woken up to this but have failed in many ways because they didn’t have a sound plan before they listed. So plan this, take one month or three, set up, and then go live. You should be ready for everything online. Google is constantly changing and it rewards members of it’s business directory if you evolve with them. Hope this helps.