As we’re all well aware, Google search is an ever changing landscape. Keeping up with new features, policies, and best practices can give your organization the edge over competitors in an increasingly crowded field. The following are the latest features in Google My Business and how they’ll impact the healthcare industry.

google-messaging-update

Google Messaging
What is it? Last year Google rolled out a messaging feature within Google My Business (GMB) allowing users to reach a business directly through SMS.

How does it work? Setting up messaging is easy, managing the incoming messages and responses is up to you and should be carefully considered before adopting this feature.

To enable messaging: Log in to your GMB account and navigate to the desired listing/location. (The account must be an owner of the listing; Communication privileges only will not be able to change this setting.) If using the bulk dashboard you’ll need to manage the listing attributes within the “classic” view which can be easily reached through opening the “Add photos” section. Once in the listing dashboard, select “Messaging.”

You’ll need to know which phone number the messages should be delivered to, and you’ll need to know which app you plan to use for viewing and responding to messages. The options are currently Allo, SMS, and Android’s App Preview Messages.

Other Considerations:

  • It is possible to set up an automatic “welcome” message that will be triggered immediately when the user clicks the Message button.
  • Once enabled, the Message button will be turned on at all times. It is not linked to business operating hours.
  • The SMS number can be changed at any time.
  • The elected number will NOT show to users in the SMS. However, a proxy number will be displayed. If using Allo, no number will appear.
  • Adoption of messaging will NOT affect ranking.

Overall, this feature is dependent on the business’ ability to manage this communication line with prompt responses during business hours. For organizations with dedicated resources, it could be an effective communication channel with current and prospective patients. For others, it might not be worth the effort.

More about messaging: https://support.google.com/business/answer/7177958?hl=en

google-video-updates

Video Posts
This feature rolled out in January and allows businesses to upload videos that will be visible in local search results or the Google Maps listing. Videos can be uploaded in the Photos section of the dashboard, and Google’s guidelines restrict the video to 30 seconds in length with a maximum file size of 100 MB. This is intended to be a brief introduction to the business but can be used to convey a number of different messages:

  • Testimonials
  • Office tour
  • Physician interview/bio
  • Tips or information about frequent issues addressed at the location
  • Any service-line specific messaging used in current marketing campaigns

The content possibilities are endless and present a unique opportunity to reach and convert consumers with a highly engaging medium. Google tracks every interaction with your listings’ content including clicks-to-call, clicks-to-website, get directions, photo views, and video views. The higher the volume of these interactions, the more importance will be assigned to your business by Google, in turn translating to improved ranking performance.

Standing out from the pack is becoming a harder game to play in local search as more and more organizations become savvy to best practices. Video not only presents a valuable consumer interface but also helps differentiate your business in a crowded field of competitors.

More Details:
Consumers can also add videos to your listing. Obviously this presents a number of concerns for privacy and inappropriate content. Offending videos can be flagged within the GMB dashboard for removal if this occurs.

It can take up to 24 after upload for videos to show in the listing. Videos will show in any area where photos are displayed.

How to add videos in Google My Business: https://support.google.com/business/answer/6103862?hl=en

Subjective Attributes
In the past year we’ve seen the rollout of “objective attributes” which give information about things like wheelchair accessibility, payment options, languages spoken, practitioner gender, etc. Recently Google revealed “subjective attributes” that users will have the option to select when leaving a review for the location.

These are based on the customer’s experience and opinion and are designed to “describe the feel and ambiance for a place.” Admittedly this is a somewhat nebulous concept as descriptions of this kind are, well, subjective.

Currently the attributes do not encompass the healthcare vertical, but we expect to start seeing them in the coming months, as Google notoriously neglects healthcare when it comes to local search. Some examples of current subjective attributes being displayed are:

  • Popular for lunch
  • Casual
  • Good for groups
  • Serves health options

We’ll be watching and waiting for this feature to hit healthcare listings!

More about: https://support.google.com/business/answer/7689763

Knowledge Panel Verification
Perhaps the most exciting news of the bunch is the ability for businesses to claim and verify their Knowledge Panel box. In the announcement Google said that “any person, organization, sports team, event, and media property with a Knowledge Panel is eligible to get verified and suggest edits to the information shown.”
This is a very fresh announcement, and not all Knowledge Panels currently display this option, but we are monitoring the rollout closely so that we can start claiming as soon as possible for our Digital Presence Management partners.

How does this help? Once the KP is verified, you’ll be able to suggest “factual changes” to the KP as well as suggest a featured image.

But don’t we already have this ability? Yes and no. Currently all information displayed in the KP is pulled in from various sources including the Google listing as well as third-party sources like Wikipedia. If a piece of data is inaccurate, the only recourse is to “Suggest an edit,” which may or may not be published after an untold number of submissions. As many of us often lament, communicating errors to Google can often be a time consuming, fruitless endeavor. Any control we can take over Google-owned assets is another way to ensure we are putting our best digital foot forward for consumers.

Step-by-Step Verification Process: https://support.google.com/posts/answer/7534902

Accurate and optimized Google My Business listings are the foundation for any digital marketing strategy. The explosion of local search and mobile users demands that businesses actively manage how they appear in search from the first step of the consumer journey on. Influence Health partners with organizations to control, optimize, and keep up with the growing demands of directory listings management.

Want to learn more about optimizing your local presence in search and beyond? Download our Local Search eBook.