The battle for healthcare consumer attention hasn't just begun, it's in full swing, and the winners are the organizations that take local listings management seriously.

Yesterday's passive process of updating listings as time allows has evolved into a high-stakes game where consumer clicks and eyeballs are a harder win. The bad news (or good, depending on what you do with what you learn here) is that tech-native users like Millennials and Gen Z are becoming an increasingly large portion of your healthcare target market. They rely on an organization's online presence to make their healthcare decisions, so optimized listings will only become more crucial to your marketing efforts.

It's time to shift your mindset around to focus on local listings and implement a strategy to ensure your online presence is doing the heavy lifting it should be.

Your #1 Listing Goal
Strategy is important here, but only after you understand the real point of making your listings shine. You're not just putting provider location and facility information out there, you're making a first impression that serves as the foundation of a potential life-long relationship with new consumers. That first impression can happen anywhere, but in today's healthcare consumer environment, it's probably happening online.

Today's healthcare consumers are avid internet users, and search engines are among the leading resources they use to research and select a healthcare provider.

That means the digital is where you have the biggest opportunity to get in front of potential new consumers and start your relationship off on the best foot possible.

Why Listings Matter More Than You Think
Since we're talking internet searches, we're talking Google. The site that invented search as we know it (with 1.7 billion users, it smashes all the competition) sits as the front door of the internet. So, you want to put out your best welcome mat possible with accurate listings on local search.

If you want to get a feel for just what that welcome mat is going to look like, visit Google and search for hospitals near you. Pay particular attention if your website — the one you've put so much work into — isn't ranking at the top in the results. Google prioritizes more than just great looking, content rich websites ... they rank those sites with accurate, trustworthy listings higher.

Stellar listings are usually composed of a description, address, and contact information, and can even include reviews, Q&A, and photos. Since engagement drops dramatically as a listing falls further down the search engine results page, your local listing has a better chance of being the first point of engagement than your actual website. This actually makes Google your front door to your organization more than your own website.

It's also worth noting that even when a consumer searches specifically for your facility, your listing pops up, big, bold, and bright on the right side of the results. The contrast is even more striking in mobile search. Optimizing your Google My Business listing can improve how this area appears.

While Google sits at the top in terms of search, other third-party sites are very popular for healthcare-specific research. This means you need a way to ensure the accuracy and accessibility of your listings across the entire search ecosystem ... no small task. Without the manpower and technology to manage this, you could be turning away potential consumers and leaving them to choose your competition.

Healthcare Local Listings Management Challenges
As local listings have started playing a bigger role in the healthcare consumer journey, the challenges around them have only increased.

Healthcare marketers are now tasked with managing multiple listings in multiple formats, keeping those updated through physician turnover, mergers, acquisitions, and brand evolution, and that's in addition to monitoring and responding to reviews as a second aspect of your online presence. Keeping all of these up-to-date and as accurate as possible is critical because they not only reflect on your brand, they are the consumer experience.

If someone is unable to find your facility because your listings information changed due to a recent acquisition, they'll simply move on to another option, and why wouldn't they? Healthcare relationships are some of the most high-stakes relationships a consumer can have. An unattractive or off-putting “front door" experience is a potential red flag that maybe there's another provider they're better off trusting.

While healthcare listings management is more complex today, it's still very navigable. Partnering with an experienced services team and technology solution can help you create the most visible, accurate, and engaging presence possible.

Since so much of search is geared toward “near me" searches, you'll want to master those first. This e-book is a great place to start.