Medical Practice SEO: Why You Should Be Worried About Google Maps

  • SEO

You are Probably Focusing on the Wrong Kind of SEO

How we run and grow our business is changing every day. The most significant changes seem to be coming in how you have to market your business to ensure continual growth. With limited time, money and resources, owners and managers have to make every resource spent count towards the next sale. While most people are becoming familiar with methods such a social media marketing and Google ads, they fail to pay attention to their ranking on Google Maps.

When a potential customer begins searching for something on Google, they are in what’s considered the “research phase.” This is when they start to gather information about a product or service to see if they need or want it as well as gathering details and educating themselves on the services they are looking for and the potential companies out there that can fulfill these services. We like to call these people the educated customer and it seems like everyone is turning into this new breed of buyer.

During this phase, people are searching through the top 10 traditional organic search results because that is where Google ranks websites for their content in relation to how well it meets the needs of the searcher. The results are not necessarily even a service provider for what ever these people are searching for, but maybe a blog , a review, or a research article about that service or product.

Unfortunately, many local businesses and their SEOs are still focusing on ranking key terms in this section of Google search results.

While this isn’t a bad strategy since it is a way to drive traffic and potential customers to the site, it often fails to generate the desired results, compared to resources expended, since people are still typically on the fence and evaluating their various options at this point. In other words, they’re window shopping.

The worst part about this is that companies are dumping a lot of money and effort into this and not getting the return on investment they are hoping for.

Let’s say that you offer CoolSculting at your practice and you want to get more people in the door for that procedure. The first step most SEOs take is to do a keyword search and start ranking them for traffic vs. difficulty.

Once people understand how they can get the most traffic the easiest, they then start doing SEO work by producing content and backlinks to rank the key terms they deem most relevant.

As you can see below, some of the lower difficulty key terms like CoolSculpting arms, how much is CoolSculpting, and non invasive fat removal look like some pretty good terms to target based on their traffic and difficulty.

Medical Practice Keyword Research

As you start to build things out around this, you start to see your rankings going up and site traffic going up, but for some reason you just are not seeing any increase in people coming in or calling for CoolSculpting procedures.

This is easy to explain.

While it seems like you are doing some good work and investing your resources smartly here, you are not. Those traffic volumes are for the entire US, and so a very tiny fraction of those people will ever even become one of your customers.

The second thing here is that if you think about the terms, how much is CoolSculpting vs. something like CoolSculpting near me or your city, or price, the first term is a research or curiosity term while the latter are buyer intent terms.

The people searching for CoolSculpting arms are not buyers yet, while CoolSculpting near me is a person searching for the service provider that they are investigating buying from.

You need to be in front of local people first and foremost and you need to be in front of the people that are buyers now or in the very near future.

This is where ranking on Google Local Listings or Google Maps comes in.

While most people will do a general search on Google to get a better idea of what they want, when they search on maps, they are actively searching for a place to do business with, and this is why your maps ranking is key. It means that they’ve done their homework, they know what they are looking for and now they are searching for a place close by that can provide the product or service they are looking for.

What is the Google 3 pack?

The Google 3 pack the local search results that show up in the Map section, above the traditional organic search, for service providers that Google deems most relevant to the search term entered by the searcher.

Plastic Surgery SEO Google Maps Search

This means that while there might be 30 other similar businesses in town, only the 3 most relevant are going to show up on page one in the maps section.

The 3 pack has a few key features that make it much easier for your customers to find out basic information about your business. With the click of a button, they can see your reviews, hours of operation or call your company directly. These tools allow your potential customers to engage with your business directly and with the least amount of work on their part.

The 3-Pack ranks in the #1 position in 93% of Google searches, according to a study by seoClarity. That means that Google Maps is where the buyers are looking and the easier it is for your customers to see who you are, the quality of your service, and reach out to you, the easier it is for them to become one of your customers, instead of the other practice down the road.

Keep in mind that the 3 pack is not a separate service from Google, it’s part of the organic search engine. The difference here is that Google is looking for entirely different indicators for local maps listings vs. traditional organic search results. They are only looking for actual local businesses that provide the product or service being searched for.

What that means, is that since Google is looking at different indicators for the 2 organic search sections, the SEO work required to rank in the each section is actually different.

The work you put into ranking at the top of Google for traditional organic search results may still land you in position 7 for the maps. If you are not in the top 3 results in Google Maps, you might as well be invisible.

Let’s Compare Traditional Organic Search Vs. Google Local Search

An excellent example for a cosmetic surgeon is breast implants. While “breast implants” gets searched over 30,000 times per month in the US, it doesn’t mean that having a top rank for that term is going to do much good because almost all of those searching are not local to you. It turns out that even for a place as big as New York City only about 800 people out of that 30,000 are in that city.

As you can see below, the top 5 results below the local maps listing are high authority informational sites, government sits, and trade organizations.

Medical Practice Traditional Organic SEO

Here is the beauty of this search though, it shows the maps listings and it shows the traditional organic search. Unfortunately, if you are trying to get to #1 in traditional organic search, you are going to be competing with website like webmd.com and plasticsurgery.org. While in the Maps search, you are only competing with local cosmetic surgery practices.

Google Local Maps SEO for Medical Practices Listings

So, if you are trying to compete with the likes of plasticsurgery.org, webmd.com, and thousands of other sites for the real estate that does not even produce the buyers you are looking for, you are going to spend a lot of money you do not need to spend and get a return well below your expectations.

It turns out that plasticsurgery.org, webmd.com and all of those informational sites and directories cannot get into the local maps listings, so you go from competing with thousands of site, some of which have huge budgets to competing with dozens. The best part is, most of your competitors here are not doing the right kind of SEO to get ranked 1 or 2 in the local listings so the opportunity is still wide open.

Where do you think you are going to have a better chance of ranking #1 faster, cheaper, and be in the place that your buyers are searching?

That’s right, in the Google Maps listings!!!

What does this mean for you?

For your business to remain viable and grow, you have to make every dollar count and to do this; you need to have a solid understanding of not only who your customers are but how they find your business and interact with you online.

You need to be working on your local SEO.

You have three options with Google.

As a business owner, you have to understand Google and how it impacts your bottom line. You more or less have three choices when it comes to this.

  • You can do nothing and hope that your site performs well enough to be ranked on the first page of the search results, which will not happen.
  • You can pay for Ads via Google AdWords and hope that you are doing it correctly so that you are not wasting your money.
  • You can invest local SEO to get ranked in the Google 3 pack.

We all know that that the first option really isn’t an option and that if your company isn’t on the first page, it might as well not exist at all since very few people look past page 1.

Google AdWords has been one of the top methods of driving traffic and getting new business for years. While it’s a great tool and one that should be utilized as part of a broader marketing strategy, it is in no way the end all be all of online marketing, and in my opinion, not the first place to start your digital marketing efforts. Not only is this type of marketing expensive, but it is also difficult to learn and optimize, and it should only be done once you are driving traffic to your website from cheaper sources.

When you start working on your local SEO, you can concentrate your budget directly towards the people that are going to be your new customers. This allows your business to be highly visible and easy to reach when someone is actively seeking out a service you provide and allows them to access key information quickly as well as being able to contact you with the push of a button.

How do customer reviews factor in?  

The numbers make it very clear that customers trust other customers and online reviews play a crucial role in a person’s choice to purchase products or services from a business. People will often look at somewhere between two and ten reviews when evaluating a business. It’s common sense that having bad reviews is bad for business, having zero reviews isn’t good either. Customers want to know what others have experienced in terms of products and services and not having reviews diminishes the credibility of your company.

According to Bright local not only do 88% of people read reviews about a company before doing business with them, but 85% of people also trust these reviews as much as a personal recommendation from friends or family members.

Looking at the image below, if I were a woman in my mid 40s looking for CoolSculpting in Omaha, which one of these 3 practices will I most likely not be using?

Medical Practice Reputation Management

I think we all picked the same one, and that just goes to show that just being there is not the only factor, you need to look attractice to your prospective customer.

Like it or not, you have to not only pay attention to reviews, you need to actively work to gain more of them while working to get as close to 5.0 as possible. This is called reputation management.

The good news about reviews is the simple fact that they give you direct feedback in terms of who your customers are, how they feel about your business, and how you can implement strategies that will help you improve customer satisfaction and continue to grow. This feedback is often invaluable since it’s honest. Most people tend to avoid conflict or confrontation and they might not feel comfortable expressing their opinions directly to you or your office staff whereas, in the comfort of their own home, they’re able to process and give their honest feedback. 

Another critical thing to consider with reviews is that they have a date stamp that show potential customers that the information is current and has the additional effect of letting Google know you are actually operating your business, people are happy with it and that increase your overall rank in the local search results. So this is one of the key factors in increasing your ranking in Google Maps.

It’s true that there are numerous factors such as product and location that factor into a customer’s choice, but that is not the final deciding factor, you need to keep in mind that over 68% of people say they’d be more likely to engage with a company with positive reviews where 40% of those also said that negative reviews would push them to shop at another business. Just because you are 3 or 5 miles further down the road, it does not mean you will not be able to capture that buyer, you just have to look better than the closer business and show up in the search results before them.

Building trust is key to getting new customers and growing your business so do not forget to make reputation management a cornerstone to your local SEO strategy.

Moving forward

Being a business owner is harder now than ever, and your visibility on the internet can be a deciding factor in the continued growth and success of your company. You need to make sure that your marketing budget is working for you, driving customers through your doors and not being wasted. This means you need to have some focus on local SEO to ensure you are showing up in the Google Maps 3 pack.

Getting into the 3 pack puts you in front of those people who are actively looking to purchase your products and services, but you still need to make sure that you look good when you show up.

Just remember, if you are not doing the work to get in front of your buyers, the next business is, and they are going to be the ones seeing their business flourish.

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