Most Aesthetics business owners recognise that appearing on Page 1 of the Google search results for key search terms, can have a significant impact on traffic and enquiries. But “local” search is the name of the game when it comes to attracting potential patients within a radius of your business location, and the most critical element of local search is the Google Business Profile. So what is it, how do you manage it, and how can you optimise it for best results? Read on and all shall become clear.
We’ve all heard the term “SEO” (Search Engine Optimisation). It’s a big topic, and not one you can cover in comprehensive detail without putting on a week-long workshop. But there is one specific element of SEO that matters more than any other for an Aesthetics clinic, particularly one with a fixed location, and that is what’s commonly referred to as Local Search, or a “Near Me” search. This is when someone types into Google, for example “Skincare clinic near me” or “Skincare clinic” (with location/GPS enabled on their mobile). According to HubSpot this kind of search has grown by over 900% between 2013 and 2017, and this growth continues. So clearly this represents a significant opportunity to owners of Aesthetic clinics, but where do you start in order to capitalise on this type of web traffic?
A typical “near me” search for skincare clinics. Each listing shown below the map is a “Google Business Profile”.
What is a Google Business Profile?
A Google Business Profile is your business’ ‘listing’ on Google. Sometimes Google will create one automatically if it finds a business via it’s website or other sources, sometimes you will need to create one. A Google Business Profile contains information such as your business name, location, opening hours, website address etc (but also much, much, more as I’ll cover later).
But simply ‘having’ a Google Business Profile is only the start. In order to optimise your profile to appear for the right searches, and the right kinds of potential patients, you need to actually ‘manage’ it. To do this, you need a website (and App) called Google My Business.
A Google Business profile will usually appear to the right of the Google search results page when a search is performed on your business name, EG “LTF Digital Agency”.
What is Google My Business (GMB)?
A GMB account is the only means by which you can claim ownership of your Business Profile (which may already exist) or create one (if it doesn’t already exist), verify it, attain management rights to it, and unlock additional free features to increase your visibility on Google. You can find GMB online at https://business.google.com and they also have an excellent mobile application called “My Business” which I would highly recommend to help you keep on top of your Google Business Profile optimisation and updates (including responding to Reviews, which as you will hear below, is very important).
How Do I Get Started With GMB?
There are 4 important steps to getting started and optimising your GMB Profile:
- Create an account and claim your business
- Verify your business
- Optimise your profile
- Get the app!
So let’s break each of those down into some simple actions you can take today to have a significant impact on your results from Google search.
Creating an account and claiming your business
- Log into the Google account you want to use to manage your business from. This will be linked to your Gmail email address, or if you don’t already have one you will need to create one.
- Once logged in, head to https://business.google.com and click “Manage” top right.
- Search for your business and click “Manage now”, or if you can’t find it click “Add your business to Google”. Follow the steps and populate your information.
Verifying your business
In the process of populating your GMB profile, Google will ask you to verify it. There are several ways to do this including getting a phone call, or even being sent a postcard. This is a vital step, as the verification mark means you get the full range of options for managing your profile and optimising it, and more potential patients will find you as a result.
Optimising your GMB
Once you’ve got full access to your GMB profile, and it’s been verified with Google, the real work starts! Optimising your GMB profile is an important, and also ongoing, task. It makes the difference between having a GMB profile that only shows when people search your business by name, and having a GMB that appears when people search by treatment or condition – which is where the additional traffic comes from to help you scale your business.
At my agency, LTF, we’ve been optimising GMB profiles for several years and have kept a careful eye on the elements that make the biggest difference to where your profile appears in the local results. Our internal check list now contains over 80 ways to optimise a GMB for the best possible position in result, here are the 14 most important ones (assuming you’ve already claimed/created and verified as above):
- Complete every section of your Google My Business account, in as much detail as you possibly can. Include key terms such as the types of consultations you offer.
- Be meticulous with contact information. Google “connects” all the instances of your business name and address on the internet, and if they all match, you are ranked higher in search results.
- Select primary and secondary categories for your business type.
- Mark off applicable attributes – things like accessibility, payment options etc.
- Write a complete “from the business” description. Again, include important key phrases relating to the services you provide.
- Publish Google posts weekly (these are like social posts, but appear on your GMB)
- Upload new (high quality) photos weekly
- Answer questions / Add Questions
- Collect and respond to reviews – this is a big one, the amount of positive reviews and how quickly you respond to them makes a significant difference to when and how high up your profile appears for searches.
- Add your treatments and services
- Set up messaging – the GMB app offers a way to do this in real time and converse with people viewing your GMB in real-time.
- Maintain your Business Profile – keep a check lists of updates and do/delegate this at least fortnightly
- Connect your Social Media profiles
- Connect your appointment booking link
And don’t forget about Voice Search!
Voice search, which is an increasingly important part of these “near me” searches, continues to grow not only with the proliferation of smart speakers, but on mobiles, laptops and other devices as well. And people use voice assistants not just for general questions and tasks, but also to find local businesses.
A 2018 BrightLocal survey showed the following results:
- 50% of people used voice search to find a local business over the past year.
- 74% of voice search users looked for a local business weekly.
- 46% of voice search users looked for a local business daily.
That was three years ago and voice search has continued to grow since then. The bottom line being, people are using voice assistants to look for local businesses. Does your business show up for these potential patients?
Verifying and optimising your GMB profile can have a significant impact on your Google presence and therefore the traffic and calls coming into your Aesthetics clinic. With these “near me” searches on Google continuing to rise, and an equally sharp rise in the use of voice search (Alexa, Siri, Google) now is the time to take this action and benefit from the results.
Rick O’Neill, FRSA, is a digital consultant to the medical aesthetics, cosmetic surgery and pharma sectors. With over 20 years’ experience in digital marketing, O’Neill is the founder and owner of the award-winning digital agency ‘Look Touch & Feel’ (known as “LTF”) based at Silverstone Race Circuit, a founding partner of The Aesthetic Entrepreneurs, investor and advisor to several other digital. Find him at www.rickyoneill.co.uk