Google My Business for Dental Practices
Google provides businesses with a free marketing tool that has the power to reach potential customers and drive traffic to your dental practice website: a Google My Business (GMB) account. And just because it’s free doesn’t mean it doesn’t have much value. Knowing how to maximize your GMB increases the likelihood searchers will choose your dental practice when looking for dental care providers.
To begin, we’re going to assume your dental practice already has a listing on Google My Business, and that you got it verified. If you haven’t yet created your account, or if you need help with how to get your listing verified, this straightforward article from Google will walk you through the process.
Once you are logged in to your GMB profile, fill out as much of info section as you possibly can. The more you fill out, the more positive signals are sent to Google. Now we’ll highlight things you can do to maximize your GMB listing.
1. Focus on Your NAP
In the SEO world, we know the importance of standardizing your practice’s NAP: Name, Address, Phone number. We’ve found a surprising number of dental practices have variations of their NAP across their digital properties. One address is on the website, a small variation on the Facebook page, and yet another variation on their GMB profile. Or sometimes it’s the practice name that varies, which can result in duplicate listings on Google My Business, Yelp, or other directory sites – a sure way to lower rankings. In the example below, both the dental practice name and the address have slight variations between what’s on their GMB listing (top) and an on their website (bottom):
So look your NAP over closely on each of your digital properties – website, Facebook page, GMB listing, and any other social media accounts your dental practice may have. Make sure they are each exactly the same. If you include a suite number in one place, make sure it’s listed in each place – and we even recommend using the same abbreviations each time. Don’t have “Ste 101” one place and “#101” another place – pick one and use it everywhere. If you spell out “Street” on your website, spell it out on all other digital properties.
Those differences may be slight, but in the dog-eat-dog world of SEO, those slight variations can mean the difference between showing up in the local maps section or not, as well as affect your ranking in the organic search results.
2. Show Your Best Side
Upload quality photos to your GMB profile. Google allows anyone to add photos to your listing, and they may or may not be favorable, high-quality images. So take advantage of the photo section of your listing to give people a good visual representation of your dental office. With your staff’s permission, you can add their smiling faces as well. Google’s data says that customers are more likely to request directions to businesses that have photos, as well as more likely to visit their website.
Details about GMB’s preferred image sizes and types can be found here.
Don’t resort to using stock photos. Get out your camera, get some great shots (or hire a professional to take some), and load those photos onto your GMB profile. Then add new photos regularly, which signals Google you are keeping your profile up to date, ultimately helping your rankings.
3. Communicate Frequently with Posts
Your main opportunity to communicate with patients and potential patients through your GMB profile is by posting regularly. You have a range of options when it comes to the type of post you put up:
Most of the time, you’ll probably use “Add Update,” which can be a post about almost anything – reminders for people to schedule cleanings, short bits about various dental services you provide, special holiday hours, etc. You may want to try the “Add Offer” option to post a special promotion you are running during certain dates. The “Add Event” post type works for announcing special happenings in your dental office, such as a coloring contest or a visit from the tooth fairy.
As with adding photos, posting regularly is a positive signal to Google. And note that you can use the same content for this post that you are doing on your Facebook or Instagram page, saving you time and effort.
4. Respond to Reviews
Another way to demonstrate to Google that your dental practice is engaging with people and worthy of ranking well is to respond to reviews. The owner (and often the managers) of the GMB listing will get emails notifying them that a new review has been received. To respond, simply log in to your GMB account, go to the Reviews section, hit the “Reply” button next to each review, and type your response. Since the majority of people read reviews before choosing a dental practice, replying to reviews shows that your office cares.
Where this gets tricky for dental practices is that all responses must be HIPAA compliant. That means responding in a way that doesn’t disclose the reviewer is a patient – even if the reviewer clearly states so in his or her review. So this response from a dental practice is not HIPAA compliant, since it acknowledges the reviewer as a patient:
A better reply would have been “Thank you for your review and your recommendation. We love to hear about positive experiences!” This doesn’t confirm the reviewer was a patient, but communicates gratitude for the review. For more examples of how to respond to both good and bad reviews in a HIPAA-compliant manner, read this article from doctor.com.
5. Respond to Questions (and Even Prime the Pump with Some of Your Own)
While most dentists are aware of the reviews that the practice receives, far fewer are aware that people can pose questions directly on the office’s GMB listing. To find out if your practice listing has any questions posed by the public, go to Google.com and search for your practice name (not your website address). You should see your GMB listing as a member of the public does. Scroll down until you see the Questions & Answers section then click on “See all questions.”
Anyone is allowed to answer questions for your practice. Since their answers may not reflect the reality at your practice, you want to be sure to reply to each question. As long as you are currently logged in to the same Google account that owns your dental practice GMB account, the reply will show that is the owner that answered the question and is therefore the authoritative response. Notice the difference between the two responses below – one from the dental practice and one from a “local guide.”
And here’s the best part: you can even decide to add common questions, with their answers, before they are asked. Things people might wonder about, such as parking, insurances, and accessibility are issues you can address even if no one has asked. But doing so will still send positive engagement signals to Google.
Using the free Google My Business tool is an easy way to up your digital marketing game and position your dental practice to reap the benefits. If you’d like help with managing your practice’s Google My Business listing, or with other aspects of dental SEO or PPC, reach out to DDSRank to see how we can help grow your practice.