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For medical practices who want to increase their online visibility, it is a must to be present on Google My Business (in a previous blog post, we explained how to create a Google My Business account and its importance).
Being listed on Google My Business is an essential part of any local SEO strategy. But there are certain scenarios where a medical practice faces google listing rejection if not executed properly. I’ll share more details pertaining to that later in this blog. But first, let’s talk about the importance of Google My Business.
Why Your Medical Practice Needs a Google My Business Listing
Google My Business makes it easy for patients to find your practice. Google is the most popular of the big three search engines. They own more than 80% of the total search volume worldwide.
However, over time, Google has made changes to how it displays search results for patients looking for information about health-related conditions, injuries, and treatments, giving preference to healthcare providers located closest to the searcher’s physical location.
Best Methods to Set Up Google Listing
Now that you understand the importance of setting up a Google listing, let’s look at the different options you have. Because, as we all know, there isn’t a one size fits all model for medical practices (or practitioners); the size, specialty, and the number of locations for each medical practice is different. So, let’s take a look at how to set up a Google listing based on some of the most common scenarios.
According to the Google policy, individual practitioners, like doctors, are allowed to have their individual practitioner listings with the same address and phone number as the business page of the clinic or branded organizations that they work with. This is because doctors are often associated with multiple clinics or branded organizations and Google wants to allow users the option to review the medical practitioners instead of the clinic or branded organization. These types of medical practitioner listings are not considered duplicate listings by Google.
Single Doctor Who Works at Multiple Locations
If you’re a doctor who works at multiple locations, then you should have a separate Google Business listing for each of the locations. However, you must use the same Google account for all locations and manage them from the same GMB dashboard. Creating a unique phone number for each location would give a positive effect on your SEO, although it is not necessary. And the hours of operation will need to be different for each listing.
If all locations provide the same service, you must adhere to the same rules as a single location and have the same business name (don’t add the city name to each) and category.
If all locations offer different services, then you would categorize them accordingly with the same business name (don’t add the city name to each).
Solo Doctor That Belongs to a Branded Organization
If you are the only public-facing medical practitioner at a location and you represent a branded organization, it’s best for you to share a page with the organization. Create a single page, named using the following format: [brand/company]:[practitioner name].
Note: If Dr. Rieger Kenneth is the sole public-facing medical practitioner at thisNew Jersey Spine Center-branded location.
Multiple Doctors who Share an Office Space but Choose to Operate Independently
If you’re a doctor who shares the same office with another doctor but chooses to operate under your own brand, your own GMB location page should have at least two of the primary pieces of business information (business name, phone number, and address) need to be different. Otherwise, Google will flag them as duplicates.
Multiple Doctors At One Medical Practice
For practices with multiple public-facing doctors, it is acceptable to create local pages for each doctor, in addition to the practice’s local page. The title of the page for each public-facing doctor should include only his/her name and shouldn’t include the name of the organization or medical practice.
Doctors Who Own Multiple Business Brands in the Same Practice
According to Google, if a business has separate brands in one location, you can create separate Google listing pages for each brand. Therefore, if you’re a doctor who specializes in three very different medicines but serves all your patients under one roof, you can create multiple location pages for different specialties. And each specialty needs to operate independently as its own brand. Also, the same rules apply as if you were sharing your office with another doctor. Each location page must have:
- A unique business name and brand
- A unique website
- An exclusive phone number
- A unique business category
And just to be safe, you should try to acquire a legal suite number for each different business brand, too. So you can ensure that none of your location pages are misinterpreted or conflated with another, hurting your SEO in the process.
When a Doctor Stops Working At a Location
If a doctor stops working at a particular clinic or branded organization, then he/she should mark the listing with that location’s address as ‘Permanently Closed’. To do so, he/she would log in to business.google.com and select ‘Manage Location’ for the location that he/she no longer works at.
Then, select ‘Info’ from the left column and choose ‘Close or remove this listing’. This is where they can choose to ‘Mark as Permanently Closed’.
Note: The other option within ‘Close or remove this listing’ is to ‘Remove Listing’. This option simply undoes the verification of the page. It takes away your ability to manage that page, respond to reviews, and it also lets anyone claim that page as their own (requiring verification).
When a Doctor Moves To a Different City in The Same Country
The doctor can create a new Google listing for the location he/she is working at now and get it verified. Then he/she can request Google to mark the old listings as ‘Moved to a New Location’ and punch in the details of the new location. By doing so, the review strength of the doctor will be passed over to the new listing.
When a Doctor Moves To a New Country
If the doctor moves to a new country, then the old listing cannot be ‘Moved to the new location’. In this case, the old listing will need to be marked as ‘Permanently Closed’. Remember, this does not remove the listing from the Google database. However, it does eventually delete the listing when there is no engagement with the listing. But this can take 1-2 years and there is nothing that can be done to speed up the process.
While it is difficult to understand all of Google’s changes and their impact on your medical practice, it is necessary to learn about this topic. We all want to rank higher on Google. Adhering to its policies will ensure the highest potential for being noticed and showing up in search results.
To learn more about optimizing Google My Business listings for multi-location businesses and to understand how to turn GMB data into actionable insights, schedule a consultation with Website4MD. We’re a medical digital marketing company that will help you kick off your marketing strategy and improve your rankings!