Have the best online presence in your healthcare market
Are you trying to improve your medical practice’s “online presence”? The website is looking fresh and the advertisements are eye-catching, but now it’s time to clean up those review pages on platforms like Google, Healthgrades, and Vitals.
A smart first step is to complete a quick Google search of your practice’s name as well as a few of its most popular providers. What shows up? It may not be amazing — and that’s O.K.
Perhaps the Google listing of your practice, on the right side of your desktop, might boast an unremarkable photo of your establishment. Below the practice name, the grey text might describe it as a non-descript “clinic.” The bottom half of the listing might invite you to be “the first to leave a review,” instead of segueing into an informative collection of patient testimonials.
This may not be an ideal representation of your practice, and the lack of solid Healthgrades and Vitals profiles for your top doctors isn’t helping draw new patients, either.
An online presence — your online billboard — needs to be as attractive, fluid, and eye-catching as your website and your advertisements. The Google search you just completed should inform the patient with key information and everything they need to know to be comfortable booking an appointment.
In addition, reviews provide crucial feedback to improve your practice, and being able to respond to them efficiently will better the experience for prospective and existing patients. (Having completed listings with lots of reviews also improves your practice’s chances of showing up above your competitors in broader Google searches.)
Depending on where your practice’s online presence currently stands, you may be gearing up for a renovation or an entire online construction project — the claiming, creating, and/or optimizing of your review platform listings. Let’s start where we left off, with Google.
Step 1: Claim, create, and optimize your Google My Business presence
While Google isn’t the only search engine, it accounts for over 92% of the global search market. If the search you just completed of your practice turned up a not-so-ideal result — an unpleasant listing or none at all — follow the steps below.
- Ensure your access: Make sure you have access to all of the Google My Business listings you want to have: all of your offices and all of your providers. Visit this link to either find or add your practice and doctors to Google.
- Creating your Google My Business profiles all from scratch? If you weren’t able to find your Google My Business listing above, then you’ll need to create one from scratch.
Step 1: From the link above, click “Add your business to Google” while signed into your Google account.
Step 2: Follow the step-by-step walkthrough from Google. Google will prompt you for the practice name, address, category, phone number, and website URL. Once you create the listing, then you’ll be able to: promote your business with photos and posts; track business analytics to understand your customers; and respond to customer reviews.
Step 3: Finally, you’ll want to select a verification option. Selecting “Verify later” and then “Later,” will allow you to resume the process at another time, including if you’d like this step completed by someone else in your organization.
- Optimize: Now that you’ve found, created, or claimed your listing, it’s time to prepare your Google My Business profile for public viewing. Once you’re logged in, click the Info page from the menu. No matter where you are in the process, make sure you’ve checked off the to-dos below in optimizing your listing.
- Why it’s important: Google likes businesses which create complete listings with all the elements below in place. Complete listings are ranked higher in Google’s search algorithms and result in more visibility for your practice and doctors.
- Photos: Photos are eye-catching, and it’s important for patients to know what your practice looks like on the outside and inside. Consider including a group photo of your providers in addition to helpful interior and exterior shots. For more on selecting the most effective photos, click here.
- Headshot: Add a headshot of your provider to improve his or her recognition. Try to make sure the photo is well lit and captures their entire face.
- Category: Upon adding your business, Google will ask you for its category. Use this to describe the specialty and/or type of your practice — don’t worry, you can change this later. Avoid using generic categories like “Doctor”. If you’re an orthopedic surgeon, for example, use a more specific category.
- Description: This is the best place to include a brief doctor or practice biography, awards and recognitions, or any other information you’d like prospective patients to consider when they see your profiles. When writing your description, include keywords on what the doctor does (e.g., knee replacements, LASIK surgery, etc.) to help with SEO/procedure searches by patients.
- Business hours: What hours is your office open, or what time is this doctor available for an appointment? This will make the scheduling process more fluid for both the patient and the provider.
- Physical address: By putting the address of your office or where your doctor works, Google Maps will be able to route the patient to the correct location.
- If your practice, or one of your doctors, has multiple locations, consider creating an individual listing for each unique address for the most accurate information.
- Be sure to use a consistent format for your address. You want your GMB address format to match the one on your website.
- 123 Main St. vs. 123 Main Street
- 123 Arlington Way, Suite 123 vs. 123 Arlington Way, #123
- Phone number: Including this makes sure the patient has a way to contact your practice.
- Website: Remember, the Google listing acts as the online billboard, not the be-all and end-all for information. Link to that fresh website to create a fluid process for the patient.
- Appointments: All of the information above may be up-to-date and the reviews may solidify patient opinions, but having Appointments directly on the listing can help seal the deal with a prospective patient. Add a URL through the “Appointment” tab on the Info menu.
Step 2: Claim, create, and optimize your Healthgrades presence
Healthgrades is one of the most frequented physician review sites. Every provider registered in the National Provider Identifier Registry has a free Healthgrades profile. To claim these profiles and associate them with practices and locations, here’s how to get started:
Sign up for your own Healthgrades account: Visit this link to create your account. If you work on behalf of a provider, you will need to register for your own account and then request authorization from each provider — making you an “authorized representative.” If you already have an account, log in here.
- Tip: To find all your provider’s profiles, you can filter down the search field by practice, specialties, and other fields.
Optimize: Once you’ve gained access to all of your providers’ Healthgrades profiles, you’ll be able to manage them on the “Providers” page (visible by default upon signing in), from which you can edit each individually. Complete all the elements of the listings just as you did for Google.
Step 3: Claim, create, and optimize your Vitals listings
Finally, including listings for your providers on Vitals, another popular review site, provides another boost for your practice.
Get set up: First, visit Vitals’ homepage here and check in the search bar to see if your providers already have profiles — avoiding duplicate and/or redundant listings across not just Vitals but all review sites makes it easier to manage and track reviews. From each providers’ profile, click the ‘Claim this profile’ link.
Optimize: Once each profile has been claimed, you will be directed in each to upload the necessary data elements. For the most optimized profiles, complete all the elements for each listing just as you did for Google and Healthgrades. Consistent information between Healthgrades, Vitals, and Google will make it easier for Google to recognize the profiles as belonging to the same provider, ensuring they show up in search results.
In all, creating, optimizing, and building reviews for your listings on Google, Healthgrades, and Vitals will significantly improve a prospective patient’s likelihood of booking an appointment and feeling confident they are receiving quality care by your providers. Being able to track and manage these reviews in an organized manner will allow you to see key trends and begin the journey of practice improvement. All of this relies on two basic steps for each site: claiming and creating your profiles as needed, and optimizing them to include all of the information a patient might like to have.
By following these steps, the next time you complete a Google search of your practice and top providers, you won’t be disappointed. You’ll have eye-catching images, up-to-date information, and reviews will continue to trickle in, more accurately representing the true quality of your practice and bringing it to the top of patients’ Google searches. You might even want to book an appointment!