What Is Google My Business And Why Is Maps Visibility So Important?
What is Google My Business?
Google My Business (GMB) is a tool developed by Google to help its users get more accurate information more quickly about businesses that they are searching for, without necessarily having to navigate to the business’ website. Alongside the normal search results, the GMB widget includes the basic business info such as name, website, phone number, and hours of operation along with an increasingly detailed list of extras such as reviews, photos, Q&As, and more. To see it yourself, just search for the name of any business on Google and peruse the GMB listing that pops up to the right of the traditional search results.
“But wait, don’t I want people to use their search results to navigate to my website so that I can use my content market to start building a relationship with them?”
That’s a valid question, and the answer is still yes … in the right circumstances. GMB listings are intended to give quick answers to people who are looking for them, and aren’t necessarily at the right place in their journey to get more detailed info of the kind they would find throughout your website. If a person just wants to know your hours of operation or get a quick link to your phone number, they would much rather be able to get what they need directly from Google without having to spend the extra time looking around your website. In the right situations, GMB makes it easier for your prospects to get what they need and move on with their journey, and you should welcome that development whether it occurs in your ecosystem or not.
Also, Google has added so much functionality to GMB since it was introduced that it has become a more useful tool than ever for users and local businesses. In the early stages, GMB offered mostly bare-bones information, but Google has made a concerted effort to make the display as dense as possible with relevant information while still being functional as a quick resource. A wealth of useful information about your business is available to patients and prospective patients in a matter of seconds, and best of all it’s free to add a business to Google and easy to set up.
Why Google My Business has become such an important marketing tool for dental practices
For local businesses such as dental practices, search remains one of the most important marketing channels available. Local businesses have to find ways to stand out in the crowded digital field, and executing an effective SEO strategy and consistently placing high in search results is the best way to accomplish that.
You can think of your GMB listing as an extra tool in your local search tool belt that can help you engage with patients more quickly and make the process more convenient for them.
GMB allows you to control much of the information about your business that shows up in search results (not including things like patient reviews, which we will discuss a bit later). As long as you are diligent about keeping your listing updated with the correct information, GMB can be a one-stop resource for a searcher who wants to quickly find out some important details about your practice.
Additionally, having a complete GMB listing makes your business look legitimate and established in the community. Or, perhaps, more importantly, not having a fleshed-out listing makes your business seem slapdash and questionable. These days GMB is often the first impression that prospective patients will have with your business, even before they visit your website or speak to a staff member on the phone; you can’t afford to waste it.
How to get your business on Google My Business
Google has invested a lot of energy in making GMB easy to set up and use, and you can reap the benefits. It’s also free, so there’s nothing holding you back from using this important tool to the fullest extent. You don’t have to subscribe to upgrade to a pro option or pay for ad space; all you have to do is give Google the info, and they’ll take it from there.
To get started, you first have to create a Google account for your practice and claim your business on their platform. This is the first step of the process to verify that you are in fact the owner/operator of this business and that you are authorized to maintain the listing for it on Google.
You’ll begin by entering some basic info for your practice, such as the business name, address, category, phone number, and website. Once you’ve completed these fields, you’ll be asked to choose a verification option, which include postcard by mail, phone, email, or instant verification if your business is already listed on the Google Search Console. Obviously the postcard option takes the longest, so we don’t recommend choosing it unless you have to.
Once the verification is complete, you’re ready to begin the process of optimizing your listing so that it gives you and the Google users the best results possible. Technically all you need for a GMB listing is this basic info, but there’s so much more that you can do with the platform in order to turn it into a value-added tool for your practice.
Tips for optimizing your Google My Business listing
With your business newly verified, you can now access your GMB dashboard when you log into the platform and begin to make edits. The breadth of categories you can edit is considerable, and the best advice we can give you is to make your profile as complete as possible for the best results.
Categories such as “attributes” allow you to list amenities like “free wifi” and if you are wheelchair accessible. You should include a summary of your business and the location(s) that you serve as well.
Media is another category that is incredibly important for your performance on GMB. Google notes that businesses with photos are 42% more likely to get a request for driving directions, and 35% more likely to get a clickthrough to the company website when compared with those that don’t have photos. You can include as many photos as you like, but be sure that you have a cover photo that shows up first on GMB, and a profile photo that acts as your company avatar. Videos can also be uploaded if you find they are useful for conveying something about your practice, but they must be 30 seconds or shorter. Keep in mind that users can also submit photos of your business as well.
In fact, users are allowed to suggest any edit to your listing that they feel is necessary, which is one of the main reasons why it’s important to fill out your listing as completely as possible so that users are discouraged from adding their own info. It’s also a good idea to log into your GMB dashboard on a frequent basis and ensure that all info is up to date, even if anything hasn’t changed at your business recently. You can use the GMB app that is available for all major platforms to make changes and monitor your listing on the go as well.
Reading and responding to Google My Business reviews
Reviews have also become a core part of the GMB experience, and while this may intimidate some local business owners, you can use it to your advantage. Google puts their own reviews front and center, so prospective patients can see your hopefully many glowing reviews even when they are looking for something rudimentary.
It’s important to respond to both positive and negative reviews, as it shows you care about the patient experience and you’re active on the platform. It also places an emphasis on positive reviews as well. Thank the patient for their feedback, and apologize to those who had a negative experience and indicate how you are following up. Don’t get into fights with negative reviewers; acknowledge them, remain professional, and offer them an opportunity to return.
Your guide to Google Maps marketing and increasing the visibility of your business
The integration of GMB and Google Maps also means that the more complete your listing is, the greater the visibility you’ll have on Google Maps. As long as your address information is correct your location in Maps will appear on your listing when a user searches for you, allowing them to easily get driving or transit directions with a single click.
A snapshot of the information on your GMB listing will also appear on the Maps platform when a user hovers over your business. And if users have searched for you before and you have a complete GMB listing, Google is more likely to feature your business on their Maps interface, which can make your practice stand out even more. Google Maps marketing has become a vital part of the local search experience, and creating and maintaining your GMB listing is the key to achieving Google Maps optimization for your practice.
How you can use Google’s tools to boost your marketing power and connect with patients
Google’s quest is to become a repository for all information available on the internet, and their user base and your pool of potential patients are one and the same. That means it’s up to you to create strategies for using the tools that Google has developed to reach your prospective patients in the digital interfaces that they frequently use, notably Google search results pages and Google Maps.
You can work on optimizing your GMB listing today, but that is only the beginning of making sure that your dental practice is ready to engage with your patients through a variety of digital marketing channels. At Connect the Doc we believe that holistic digital marketing strategies are crucial to helping practices achieve their desired results, so reach out to us today to learn more about how we can help you excel in the Google ecosystem and beyond.