Everyone knows that if you want to reach more patients, you’ve got to be visible on Google…but what about Google Maps? This week, we’ll show you how to win the Map Pack and why Google My Business is such a powerful tool for growing your practice.
Episode Transcript: How to Harness the Power of the Map Pack and Google My Business
Hello everybody, and welcome to the Medical Marketing Podcast from Messenger – the show where we give physicians and practice marketing managers like you actionable tips and advice to help improve your marketing, grow your revenue, and take patient experience to the next level.
I’m your host, Crawford Ifland, and today we’re going to be discussing why this thing called the “Map Pack” is so important, and how you should be using Google My Business to reach new patients from organic search.
If you’re ready to get more local patients, this is the episode for you…so let’s dive in.
What is the Map Pack?
Everyone knows that if you want to reach more patients, you’ve got to be visible on Google. But what about Google Maps?
That’s where the Map Pack comes in.
The Map Pack is the set of 3-4 businesses that come up alongside a map when a user performs a local search on Google.
A local search is one where a user is trying to find businesses near them. This is in contrast with a normal Google search, where a user might be trying to answer a question, look up a quick fact, or search for a business’s website, but not their actual headquarters.
So when a user does a local search, more often than not, Google will return 3-4 local businesses that it thinks match what that user is searching for. This is the Map Pack.
The Map Pack comes up above organic search results …so even if you’re crushing the rest of your SEO efforts, you could be missing out on traffic and patient visits if your practice isn’t showing up in the Map Pack.
So that’s what the Map Pack is. But why is it important?
Why is the Map Pack Important?
Google Maps is a huge platform. In fact, 85% of all Internet users use Google Maps to find local products and services they need, and nearly 1 in 5 people will make a purchase within 24 hours of checking out a business online.
As much as 78% of local, mobile searches result in an offline purchase, so appearing high in Map Pack results can have a real effect on your revenue. Combine this with the fact that there has been over 900% growth in mobile searches using the phrases “near me” in recent years, and you’ve got a real opportunity on your hands.
And it’s not just that the market is huge – the Map Pack attracts clicks. A study by MacMillan found that when the Map Pack is present on Google’s Search Results for local queries, it attracts nearly 40% of all clicks.
So the Map Pack isn’t just some feature that’s “nice to have” – if you run a local business with one – or multiple – locations, showing up in the Map Pack is crucial. If you want to grow your patient traffic coming from organic search, you can’t ignore the Map Pack.
But that begs the question: how can you break into the coveted Top Three?
How Can I Break into the Top Three?
Ok, so by now I’ve convinced you that being in the top three results in the Map Pack is really important. But how can you get there?
Well, there are a number of factors at play. While Google doesn’t disclose exactly how to break into the top three results, there are a few things we know about what it takes to rank well.
The #1 factor in ranking well in the Map Pack is physical proximity to the user who is searching for your business – and there’s not much you can do about that.
But another important factor in Map Pack visibility is reviews.
Various studies by industry experts have shown that things like the aggregate number of reviews and the average star rating of your business on Google are important for visibility. A study by Moz found that reviews make up 13% of your business’s chance of ranking in the Map Pack, so they’re definitely worth paying attention to.
Think about it: if two businesses in the same category are the exact same distance away from a user performing a search, Google is going to reward the one that has a better review profile with a higher ranking, because other customers have verified that they had a good experience there.
And it’s not just the number of reviews or your star average that count – Google also rewards recent reviews, so maintaining a healthy review profile over time is essential. If you have lots of positive reviews but the most recent review is six months old, you’re going to see your local rankings suffer. After all, 9 out of 10 patients check a practice’s reviews before committing, and 97% of those patients say that reviews definitely impact their buying decisions.
The third major factor in Map Pack appearance is what we in the SEO world like to call “citations.”
Ensuring that your “NAP” info (which is short for Name, Address, and Phone Number) are consistent everywhere your business has a profile online is important, too. There are tons of platforms out there that display this information, and consistency is vital…so it’s worth doing an audit to ensure that all of your business information is up-to-date.
And while there are many online business directories out there with your information, the very best place to manage your reputation is with a little tool called Google My Business.
The Importance of Google My Business
Google My Business is one of the most important – and frankly, one of the most under-valued – tools for improving your visibility online. If you want to reap the benefits of more real estate on the Search Engine Results Page and inclusion in the Map Pack, you need to be using Google My Business.
Remember that study by Moz I mentioned earlier? The same study found that your Google My Business Profile accounts for 19% of your business’s chance of ranking in the Map pack, so having the right information there is crucial.
If want to be using Google My Business well, there are some critical features you need to know about…and that’s what we’ll explore next.
The Most Valuable Google My Business Features
Google My Business is full of useful features for engaging with potential customers. Here are some of our favorites features and tactics you can use to enhance your Google My Business presence:
- Use Google My Business’s Reviews Feature. As I mentioned earlier, halving a healthy review profile is a critical element to success in local SEO. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that it’s the best way to grow, especially if your practice is just starting out. If you don’t have an established, automated way to collect feedback and reviews from every single patient who walks in the door, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll hook you up with an automated system to get more reviews on Google in no time.
- Post offers and specials. Google’s posting functionality is under-used – businesses often opt for Facebook to promote offers, deals, or seasonal specials that their business is running. But Google My Business’s tools are powerful, because they allow you to reach new customers, not just existing ones. Not too many people interact with brands or businesses they’ve never heard of on Facebook – Facebook is more of a tool for engaging with brands you already have a relationship with. But tons of people do Google searches looking for new businesses or services each and every day…so using the posting features of Google My Business can be a great way to draw new customers in. As a best practice, we recommend treating Google My Business like another social network to engage with prospective patients. It may not achieve as much engagement as other platforms like Facebook, but it will make your practice’s appearance in search results stand out.
- Ensure your hours are correct. We’re just coming off the holiday season, so this one is top of mind – ensuring your business hours are correct (especially during holidays) is a must. If your practice is going to be closed for staff training or something like that, be sure to update your profile to make sure patients know.
- If you run a multi-location practice, make sure all information for all of your locations is correct, and actively collect reviews for each of them. Too many practices only collect reviews for their headquarters and leave satellite offices in the dark…and if a patient is closer to one of those offices but it doesn’t have a good review profile, they’re likely to go somewhere else. You don’t want that to happen to you.
So, let’s recap what we’ve learned today:
- The Map Pack is the set of 3-4 businesses that appears alongside a map in Google searches with local intent.
- These results appear above organic search results, so even if you’re doing well with your organic SEO but aren’t in the Map Pack, your practice could be missing out on patients performing local searches.
- If you want to break into the top three results in the Map Pack, reviews are one of the best ways to do it. Google counts not only the number of reviews you have, but your overall star average and the recency of your reviews…so make sure you have an automated system in place to continually collect more.
- Ensuring your critical business information (like your Name, Address, and Phone Number) are accurate across all platforms is key to appearing well in the Map Pack.
- And finally, if you want to stand out from your competition, be sure to use all features that Google My Business has to offer. Treat it like its own social network and you’re bound to see better local results.
Well, that’s all for this week’s episode of the Medical Marketing Podcast – thanks for tuning in. Next week, we’ll take a more in-depth look at patient reviews and how you can leverage your patients’ voices to help do your marketing for you.
And whether you’re new to the show or have been listening for a long time, check out our website at www.messenger.md. We’re always adding more resources to help you improve your practice marketing, grow revenue, and take your patient experience to the next level.
For Messenger, I’m Crawford Ifland – see you next week!
Crawford Ifland is the CEO of Messenger Healthcare Marketing. Messenger is a digital marketing agency specializing in custom healthcare website design, healthcare SEO, promotional videos, and more. Messenger gives the nation’s leading physicians and healthcare organizations the tools they need to grow their organizations.