We’ve all pulled up a listing for a business on Google, Facebook, or Yelp to confirm a business was open, driven there, and then discovered that they aren’t really open that day or have moved.  Frustrating, right?  

It is incredibly easy to keep these platforms updated so that this never happens to your business.  Once you own your Google profile, it takes less than 2 minutes to log in and update hours.  It is a simple tool to keep customers updated on your business.  You’ll need to own your profiles, build out your content, and decide on a strategy for updates.

Own Your Profiles

First, you must own your profiles.  This is an absolute must on Google via Google My Business.  And, then Facebook and Yelp.  If patients come to your office, add Waze, Apple Maps, and MapQuest to make it easy for patients to navigate to your office.  You’ll also likely want LinkedIn for credibility, but less so for wayfinding and hours.

Before setting up profiles, be sure all of your National Provider Identifier information is up to date at https://nppes.cms.hhs.gov/#/.  Some medical profiles pull from there. 

Then, search your business name in any browser because it’s quite possible that you already have profiles.  If you already have a profile, please don’t create a duplicate as this dilutes and confuses your online presence.  If you find profiles, each platform uses a different process to gain access to your profile. 

If you don’t find profiles, create one from scratch if you want to be on that platform.  Google is a must; the others are discretionary with one caution.  Users can add content that will create a profile for you.  So, if you choose not to set up a profile, be sure to search for your company occasionally to ensure one hasn’t been set up.  Once it has, you can claim it and may be able to delete it, but not on all platforms.  Sometimes, it is easier to just set it up and own it rather than take the chance. 

Also, there are lots of companies that you can hire to create and claim your profiles.  It’s fine to hire someone, but you absolutely need to own your profiles.  Don’t let the vendor own your profile.  You want login information for each profile and/or access tied to your personal Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.  They can be a manager or editor, but you need to be the owner or administrator every time or you will forever be at the mercy of that vendor.  Also, there are companies that mass push out to profiles.  Those are fast, but are inferior when it comes to being able to dynamically update profiles and often don’t allow you to actually own your profile.

Build Out Content

To get the most search traffic and conversions out of your profile, build out as much content as you can, especially on Google.  Add pictures of your business, especially the outside to make it easy to fine.  Add content on your specialties and use all the search terms that people utilize when searching for your practice and your products.  More is better on these.  Include any languages that your team speaks.  Offer details on how to schedule an appointment and what format you are using (in-person, telemed).  Include your service area.

Plug in your practice hours and your holiday hours.  You can update holiday hours at any time, but if you have the schedule set ahead of time, do it now.  This is a great way to manage expectations on when your office is open.

Decide on an Update Strategy

Now, you must decide how to handle updates.  If your office doesn’t move or there aren’t other substantial changes to your clinic, an annual update on profiles is sufficient.  If you do have changes, it will be quick and easy to make those updates because you already have access.  And, many other sites pull their data from sites like Google.  So, for example, if you have an upcoming move, updating your address on Google My Business will populate many other sites over time.

If you have the staff or the time, updating more frequently can drive search traffic on platforms like Google and Facebook.  Did you know you can do posts on Google just like a social media platform?  It is a great way to announce new service offerings or team members.  If you have a vendor doing social for you, you can give them access and develop a strategy for them to keep these posts fresh and interesting.  Or, play around with it yourself and watch the analytics to learn what works! 

This is also a good time to set up a Google Alert on your medical practice and yourself so that you’ll be alerted of new online activity.  Many times, new profiles will pop up.  Although, it’s not a sure way to track profiles as some platforms like Yelp don’t show up.  Also, considering setting up alerts for key leadership in your practice.  You may find good news that you want to share on social!

And, in closing, if this seems like too much, just pick one platform to update.  Google is a great spot to start!  Owning one of your profiles is better than none.