Customers are the lifeblood of any business whether established or new. While Audiologists and doctors will be focused on patients occupational/industrial health companies will be looking for clients (who have patients). Either way, you need more of them.
A problem I often hear is "my local association's scope of practice for my industry doesn't allow me to offer services outside of a set distance" or "I'm worried about transgressing the ethical boundaries of marketing set out by my association". The result is that many medical professionals simply never advertise their business. Instead, they rely solely on word of mouth referrals.
Local business marketing to the rescue. If you're looking for a free and easy way to get more customers locally, without transgressing any ethical boundaries, and I am sure you are, then this is just the thing you need.
What is local business marketing?
Local Marketing is a popular SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) buzzword that refers to the narrowing down of your marketing efforts to a focussed geographic area.
When we are looking for a product or service we jump straight onto Google and search. Yes, I know I'm stating the obvious, but, it is important to understand that EVERYONE does it. That's the very reason search engines exist.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the act of ensuring that your business is easily found when people search for your products or services. It is made up of 2 main elements on-page and off-page.
On-page SEO involves directly tailoring your website and its content to specific search terms that you would like to found for. On-page SEO requires keyword research to find the most relevant search terms in order to target them. ( I will cover this in another post soon)
Off-Page SEO involves activities external to your own site that support the search terms you are looking for. This could be business listings or guest writing of content for other sites who link back to your website, known as link building.
Off-page activities support your on-page efforts. Together, they support your search engine ranking (where your web page appears in the search results of popular search engines).
Local business marketing is also a combination of on-page and off-page SEO which targets your website or a particular piece of content to a hyper-local area gives you access to local customers who are looking for your services without having to compete with other businesses who don't operate in your area. This is particularly useful for brick and mortar companies who want to attract customers from their neighbourhood or the surrounding areas.
What is Google My Business (GMB)?
GMB is a free tool from Google that offers everything you need for a potential customer to find and use your services, buy your products or visit your business. It lets you control how your business appears in Google Search results and in Google Maps and lets you add your business logo, operating hours, location and more.
It also allows your customers to give your business reviews ( those little yellow stars are super important for social proof). Additionally GMB allows you to respond to questions, add pictures of your practice and news content which can be found directly in the search results.
This is what GMB Listings, known as the Local Pack looks like in search results:
Go ahead and try searching for your "type" of business or service and you will quickly see that google surfaces this listing right below the paid search ads. It is the most prominent object on the screen and therefore receives a large proportion of the attention. ( can you believe its free?)
The bottom line is that if you do not have a GMB listing, you simply can't compete in local search results which is why it is the very best place to start.
If you're already a website owner you get the same results and benefits and you may even see the results quicker.
What is the difference between GMB and regular business listings?
The key difference between Google My Business profiles and other directories is that your GMB listing can be incredibly detailed and immediately available without having to click through to another website to access important and useful details. Google is also able to surface your listing in multiple applications such as google maps, search and other Google partners.
Registering your business on regular listings is certainly advised as doing so will also impact your ranking in search so, if you have the time, do both. If you don't, then start with GMB.
Do healthcare businesses qualify for GMB?
To qualify for a GMB listing you need to have a business that personally interacts with customers within your chosen location and during the hours you set. With that in mind, healthcare services are perfectly suited to google who are in the business of providing the most relevant search results to their users.
GMB works for both small businesses and large. It doesn't matter if you're in occupational health, audiology, plumbing or if you are a doctor. The most important thing is that your business listing is visible where people search (on google) and more specifically is relevant to the location they are searching from.
It is very useful for businesses who rely on their local community to support them such as audiologists. This is because patients always prefer a local provider to those further away and in healthcare, your provider's location is even more important.
Your location matters as a point of convenience for customers, but it is also seen as a form of social proof. ("if this business exists in my area, then other people like me will also make use of it")
If your business has multiple branches, such as an audiology practice that has offices London, Manchester and Glasgow, each can be listed individually which will provide better visibility in each area.
What are the benefits?
Limit the effect of competing businesses
Because Google has access to the user's location data it is able to surface the most relevant businesses for the user. The benefit here is that your competitors who are further away are less likely to be shown because your business is nearer and therefore more relevant to the user. Bear in mind that they may still appear although, done right, you will be shown above them and receive more attention.
Draw in new customers from your own area.
When you are more visible in your local community nearby patients will be more likely to use your services. Both you and your patients will be able to avoid travelling long distances. This is especially useful for mobile audiologists who want to offer an in-home service but don't want to travel too far to do so. The control is in your hands because you can set your own service area.
Attract new customers in other areas.
In GMB you can also set your service area based on the cities, postal codes, or other areas that you serve. This allows you to target specific areas where your particular service is needed. This is particularly useful for occupational or industrial health companies who may have a head office in the city but who service mines or industries who are often nowhere nearby. Simply set the locations you are able to service and let GMB do the rest.
Put the power of social proof to work
By being able to generate quality google reviews and respond to them is an important ranking factor for Google and also lets your potential patients/customers know what others think of your business. The more positive reviews you get for your practice of business the higher you will rank in local search results and the more customers you will attract.
Also, when you register and confirm your business on GMB they will throw in a coupon for paid google advertising too.
Do I need a website?
Yes, your website is your opportunity to let potential customers know even more about you, your brand and to show excellent examples of the customer service you offer. Your website is also a fantastic tool to provide the signals that Google needs to rank your business listing for the terms you are targeting.
For example, if your GMB listing states that you offer workplace health assessments but your website only mentions spirometry, audiometry and screening you will likely not come up in search as often for that term. GMB and your website work together and reference each other to validate what is being displayed.
Google search is the most important element of local marketing right now and enables direct transaction or interaction with your business without ever leaving the search engine. But it is by no means the silver bullet.
So, how do I get listed on Google My Business?
Well, that's actually the easy part.
The process of setting up your google my business account will take around 15 minutes.
- Set up a google account (skip if you already have one)
- Visit Google My Business
- Enter your business name
- Enter your address
- Specify your service areas
- Select a business category
- Add your contact number and website address ( if you don't have one yet you can leave this blank)
- Complete the verification process ( through the mail, phone, or email )
The verification process takes up to 7 days to complete and doesn't guarantee instant results but you should start to see your listing in a couple of weeks.
Once you are officially verified you can get to work adding photos, write a compelling company description, use the Q&A feature add content pieces or blog posts, monitor your search volume and more.
There is still a lot more you can do to improve your results which we will get into in other pieces but for now, you're on your way.
Any questions Let me know in the comments.