Being easily found in the search engines is crucial for every type of business, organisation and service provider, regardless of industry. For the GP website, search engine presence matters just as much as it does for any other organisation.
We've discussed in a previous post why every GP surgery needs a website, but of course having a website is pointless unless people can actually find it. Whether you are aiming to engage with existing patients, or gain new ones, without a reasonable search engine (in particular Google) ranking, the GP website you invested in is quite simply going to be invisible.
There are numerous methods the GP practice can employ in order to boost their GP website Google ranking. One of the most effective is to set up a Google My Business Listing, and this is precisely what we are going to take a look at in this article. We'll also be providing an overview of the importance of Google reviews, why they are vital to the GP practice and how to go about achieving them.
Why Your GP Practice Needs a Google My Business Listing
A Google My Business listing is essential for any local business, and GP practice. It is free to set up and allows your practice to appear in local search results. In the previous post we mentioned earlier on why GP websites are important, we talked about the Google Local Pack. When someone conducts a web search for a local service, the Local Pack delivers a list of results right at the top of the page. Without a Google My Business listing, you are not going to make it into this list.
For the purposes of this article, we're going to refer to a practice we've been working closely with to help boost their Google presence and improve their patient reviews. Just in the last six months, the practice has been boosted from 1.3 stars out of 5, up to 3.4 out of 5. With a coveted spot in the Local Pack top three, the practice is now more easily found online and its GP website is more likely to experience increased traffic.
As you can see, for a search for 'GP practice London SE23', Jenner Practice appears at position two in the Local Pack.
Clicking on the listing reveals the practice's Google My Business listing:
A Google My Business listing perfectly complements a GP practice website and, as you can see, provides a link to it.
When a patient searches for your practice, because it has a Google My Business listing, it will appear in the 'knowledge' panel to the right of the results. Consider this a showcase for your practice. People are also able to access one-click directions to the practice and call it directly.
In summary, the listing boosts Google presence, and anything that does so has to be worth investing a little time into. Not having a Google My Business listing means you are missing out on a highly useful resource that could be connecting you with patients. It is also very powerful in relation to analytics: through your Google dashboard, you will be able to discover figures that show you how many people are visiting and engaging with your listing. You also have the ability to optimise the listing so you have a better chance of achieving one of the Local Pack top spots.
So now you know the importance of a Google My Business listing, we're going to guide you through how to set one up.
How to Set Up Your Google My Business Listing
Simply follow these steps to set up your Google My Business Listing:
Step 1: Get Your Business on Google
Follow this link: https://www.google.com/business/
Sign into your Google account, or create one if you don't have one.
Once you're signed in click START NOW and complete the fields in the form that appears. The information may appear automatically once you enter your practice name, but do not worry if it doesn't: just complete the details yourself.
Be sure to match the information to that which appears on your GP website otherwise Google may think you are two different entities.
For category, you can start typing general practitioner into the field to see suggestions.
For the 'I deliver goods and services' question, because your practice has a physical address of its own, you should leave these checked as 'no'.
Step 2: Verify Your Business
Check the authorisation box and agree to the terms of service.
How would you like to get your verification code?
Generally the only option you'll see is 'by post' as Google will want to verify that your practice operates at the address you entered.
Enter the contact name and address to which you'd like the verification card sent.
DO NOT click 'verify later' because you need to verify your listing, otherwise it will remain incomplete and will not appear in search results.
You'll usually receive the verification card within 1-3 weeks. The card will provide a verification code.
Bookmark or save the web address of your Google My Business dashboard, as you will need to return to it to complete the verification process.
Once you have the code, return to your Google My Business dashboard and enter it where indicated.
Your account is now verified and you can go ahead and start optimising it by adding photographs, and working on your reviews, which we'll talk about next.
Say a potential patient is researching new practices to join. They have their short list, so what's their next step? Of course they will start the vetting process. For this reason, online reviews are essential.
Having already found your GP practice on Google, the first port of call for prospective patients is most likely going to be your Google listing. For this reason you're going to need to work on acquiring and managing your Google reviews.
Requesting reviews tends to be something of an awkward subject for many, but it really shouldn't be, especially nowadays where being asked to leave a review is part and parcel of any transaction: people are used to it, so you should never feel like you are bothering them by asking. Plus it shows that you are interested in their feedback.
So we know why reviews are essential, but the question is: how best to request them?
Making it easy to leave reviews is very important. Here are some ideas:
1. GP surgery posters - place posters in waiting rooms so that patients know you are welcoming reviews. You could say something like, 'How was your visit today? Had a positive experience? Visit our website and let us know. Not so good? Here's how to tell us...' then follow this with your standard procedure for feedback.
2. Email - if you send newsletters or email bulletins to your patients, that's a great place to include a prompt and link to your Google My Business listing to leave a review.
3. Website alerts - for our case study practice, Jenner, we created an alert that pops up on visiting their GP website. For patients wishing to leave positive feedback, the thumbs-up link takes them to the Google My Business listing. The thumbs-down link on the other hand directs them to the website contact form so they can communicate their issues privately and give the practice the opportunity to attend to them.
4. All Tree View Designs GP websites include as standard a feedback section. This section provides patients with links to leave feedback via the Friends and Family Test; Google and NHS Choices, which we will cover in more detail in our next post. There's also the option to use the website contact form to raise any suggestions or complaints.
The alert we added to the Jenner Practice GP website and the enabling of the feedback section have led to a significant increase in reviews on both Google and NHS Choices.
So, your next steps? Follow the instructions above to set up your Google My Business listing. Enable the feedback function on your GP website - and start requesting patient reviews. In addition, look out for our next article on managing NHS Choices reviews, where we'll also talk about how best to respond to feedback.
If you don't already have a website for your GP practice, why not talk to Tree View Designs about having one designed? As specialists in NHS website design, we are well placed to help you achieve a strong online presence that acts as a valuable engagement tool for your practice.