Help your practice rank higher in local Google searches

Optometry Times Journal, September digital edition 2022, Volume 14, Issue 9

A robust online presence is crucial if you’re looking to acquire new patients, grow your practice, and increase revenue.

Online searches are used every day to find just about everything: a nice restaurant, curated cocktails, a coffee shop, and even the friendly neighborhood eye doctor.

A robust online presence is crucial if you’re looking to acquire new patients, grow your practice, and increase revenue. With this in mind, ensuring your private practice ranks high in local and “near me” Google searches is pivotal.

With more than 86% of the search market share, Google stands out as the No. 1 search engine optimization (SEO) platform, followed by YouTube, which Google also owns.1

As an eye care professional (ECP), ranking high in Google’s search engine is important if you provide a product or service and want to grow your practice. It allows potential patients to find you faster and schedule an appointment. Why? Because this is where the younger generations spend most of their time.

Research shows that the younger generations—Gen Z and millennials—read and trust online reviews before making a purchase.

Although we are not in the restaurant industry, studies show that Gen Z and millennials are 99% more likely to rely on online reviews when choosing a restaurant.2

As ECPs, potential new patients are looking online and reading what others say about you, your practice, your staff, and your customer service. What can you expect when you optimize your practice’s Google profile? Many new and established patients will be calling you and making appointments.

Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at our practice’s Google analytics for May 2022. During that month, our practice’s Google profile was viewed 22,800 times (Figure 1).

Our practice was found 10,248 times on Google’s SEO.

» 72% (7,376) via mobile

» 16% (1,667) via desktop

» 11% (1,113) via Google Maps–mobile

» 1% (92) via Google Maps–desktop (Figure 2)

We received 894 lead phone calls directly from our Google profile to our practice (Figure 3) and 235 inquiries for directions to get to our practice via Google maps (Figure 4). Even more impressive is that the 280 photos we uploaded to our Google profile received 179,036 views in the past month (Figure 5).

These are thousands of eyeballs checking what we have to offer before deciding to make an appointment, call, or visit to us. This is another example of why it is imperative to ensure your practice’s Google profile is optimized and that you do everything you can to help potential patients find you online.

Here are some tips that cost you nothing (except some time and energy) to help you achieve a higher rank on your local Google search engine:

Step #1: Open your practice’s Google profile and claim it.

If you already have a Google profile for your practice, make sure all your information is accurate and up to date. Verify street addresses, phone numbers, email, website, and store hours. Most potential clients prefer to use Google to look up your practice’s hours rather than calling the office and asking your receptionist. You want to ensure that potential patients have your correct information so they can easily reach out to you. Add any missing information. Once all information is up to date, verify your page.

If you don’t have a Google profile for your practice yet:

Go to google.com and, in the search box, type your practice or ECP's name. You can also add and claim your business through Google Maps. Google will prompt you with the steps needed to claim your page. If someone already opened a Google profile under your practice name or doctor’s name, go ahead and claim it by clicking on “Own this Business?”3

Step #2: Show engagement on your page.

Engagement includes—but is not limited to—uploading pictures of the inside and outside of your practice, uploading videos, posting regularly on your Google profile—just like you would on a Facebook page or LinkedIn—and acquiring as many 5-star reviews as possible.

If you have pictures of your practice uploaded on your profile, and your competitor does not, there is a higher probability that your potential patient will prefer to call your practice. Patients often want to know what a practice looks like before they make an appointment or visit.

Make sure these pictures showcase your practice’s best features. These images may be your newest equipment, optical coherence tomography equipment, hottest selling eyeglass frame, etc. Make certain these pictures are clear and avoid uploading blurry photos or photographs with clutter. Encourage patients and staff to upload pictures to your profile directly from their mobile phones. These authentic, personal pictures create engagement and help others see your practice through the eyes of current patients.

Step #3: Start gathering 5-star reviews from patients on Google.

Reviews are considered substantial engagement by Google. You must reply to every single review: the good and especially the bad reviews. Check out “6 tips to address, survive 1-star online reviews," featured in Optometry Times®’ November 2017 issue.4

The higher your review rate is on Google, the higher you will position your practice online. The more reviews you have on your Google profile, the more engagement Google sees, and the more Google will propel you to the top of the SEO page organically. Patients trust Google ratings. You want to have a high rating with a generous number of reviews.

Research and data show that when a potential client (or patient) is looking for services, they usually use their mobile device to search, rather than a computer or laptop, and are looking to shop local and within 24 hours.5-7

If you’re looking to acquire new patients and establish credibility online, it’s worth examining your practice’s Google profile, taking the time to claim it, and verifying all the information is correct so that new patients can find you online.

References
1. Davies D. Meet the 7 most popular search engines in the world. Search Engine Journa. March 3, 2021. Accessed July 26, 2022. https://www.searchenginejournal.com/seo-guide/meet-search-engines/#close
2. Baer J. How Gen Z uses word of mouth [11 statistics]. Convince&Convert. Accessed July 26, 2022. https://www.convinceandconvert.com/word-of-mouth/gen-z-statistics/
3. How to add or claim your business profile on Google. Google Business Profile Help. Accessed July 26, 2022. https://support.google.com/business/answer/2911778?hl=en&co=GENIE.Platform%3D
4. Canto-Sims D. 6 tips to address, survive one-star online reviews. Optometry Times®. November 15, 2017. Accessed July 26, 2022. https://www.optometrytimes.com/view/6-tips-address-survive-one-star-online-reviews
5. Ahluwalia B. Local SEO — why it matters & how to rank in local search. RankMath Blog. Accessed July 26, 2022. https://rankmath.com/blog/local-seo/
6. Walker-Ford M. 12 local SEO stats every business owner and marketer should know in 2019 [Infographic]. SocialMediaToday. Feb. 26, 2019. Accessed July 26, 2022. https://www.socialmediatoday.com/news/12-local-seo-stats-every-business-owner-and-marketer-should-know-in-2019-i/549079/
7. Google Local SEO statistics that every search marketer should read. SEOExpert. Accessed July 26, 2022. https://seoexpertbrad.com/local-seo-stats/