You’re Goin’ Places – Google Places!
New “Places” listings can be a boon or a burden. Here’s how to ensure success.
It’s Friday afternoon and your office receives a call. The caller wants to discuss breasts – more specifically, barbequed chicken breasts. Meanwhile, a restaurant nearby receives an unexpected call from a woman inquiring about an appointment for breast augmentation. There’s no mix-up with the phone lines, this is a Google Places mix-up.
This amusing anecdote is actually a true story, and Ceatus was called in to fix it. It has to do with a new category of search-result listings called Google Places. If you’re not paying attention to it, your prospective (and maybe current) patients could be trying to schedule their appointments with the BBQ restaurant down the street. But fortunately, there’s an upside. Given proper attention, Google Places can serve up what you’re really after: new patients.
The abovementioned BBQ debacle occurred as a result of changes Google has made (over the past year) to its search results pages in order to make room for the Google Places listings. Today, these “places” occupy much of the real estate at the top of the search results pages. This includes results pages for search queries that affect doctors and dentists, such as “Seattle cosmetic surgery,” “Cosmetic Dentistry Los Angeles” or “Dallas LASIK.”
The software that Google uses to construct its Places pages works by combing the Internet and “scraping” information from a variety of sources. Unfortunately, these algorithms have limitations. They work very well if your website (and other websites who reference you) contains quality information that is up to date and easy for Google to capture. However, if there is inaccurate information about your practice out there, watch out! You just may find yourself on the receiving end of reservations for four.
The best solution is to take steps to ensure this doesn’t happen to your practice. However, even if Google’s software does place someone else’s information on your Places page (or vice versa), steps can be taken to correct it – but of course, the sooner the better! The solution in the case we describe above was to work on behalf of the practice to claim their places page. We worked with the restaurant and with Google directly to achieve a successful outcome. In this case, we were able to put the hens back in the appropriate henhouse (and patients back in the appropriate practice).
How to Do Google Places Right
Call Ceatus to ensure a seamless and successful Google Places account. If you decide to do it yourself, follow these steps:
- Establish a Google Gmail Account
- Proceed to the “Google Places for Business page”
- Click on the “List Your Business” button
- Enter your primary phone number to see if Google already lists you.
- If not, click on “Add a New Listing”
- If you do see a listing for your practice, click “Edit”; add or alter information as needed
- Verify the listing with Google by phone, email or text
Once you have completed the verification process, your newly edited listing should appear.
Here are some additional tips for creating a great Google Places page:
- Select categories that match up with search queries you want to be found under (“plastic surgeon,” “surgeon,” etc.)
- Include information about you as well as your practice (certifications, memberships, photos, videos)
- Remove duplicate listings by “claiming” them and then deleting them
- Verify that your address and contact information is correct
- Avoid including information that is not part of your business name in your Place title (If you do, Google may penalize or blacklist your Places page)
- Don’t include fake reviews (Google has the technology to identify such reviews through your IP address)
- Avoid any attempt to manipulate the rankings by adding cities or locations within the various categories
Follow these simple steps and tips, and soon your practice will be going places. Google Places!
Contact Ceatus today to learn more about setting up your Google Places account.
Read about our Case Study of the Month
March Madness (noun): the period of time between the first week in March and the first week in April that sends Americans into a coordinated frenzy.
March Madness is just around the corner. Can’t wait to start your tournament bracket? Want to stay up to the minute, while simultaneously trash-talking your friends’ teams? Look no further. We’ve got the top apps for your Droid or iPhone.
1. ESPN Bracket Bound – Free (Droid)
Rated as the top free NCAA App, ESPN Bracket Bound allows you to follow your favorite teams with nightly video, blogs, and columns highlighting breaking news. Are you a WatchESPN user? Live game streaming is in your future! Customize the app to follow your favorite team. ESPN Bracket Bound provides easy access to schedules, news, videos, Twitter and so much more.
2. March Madness On Demand – Free (iPhone)
Watch free live video of every game with the NCAA’s March Madness On Demand app. Can’t watch the game at your house? No problem. A new feature, My Channels, allows you to plug in your zip code and cable provider, and instantly find out what channel your game is on. Managing your bracket has never been easier; access top picks and track their progress. March Madness On Demand also has an easy login for Facebook and Twitter, so you can comment instantly on plays. Work getting in the way of your viewing pleasure? Not anymore. Get push alerts directly on your phone for plays, wins and losses.
3. PocketBracket 2012 – $.99 (Droid and iPhone)
PocketBracket can be found on both the Droid and iPhone. Take the madness a step further. PocketBracket boasts the ability to have multiple brackets and invite friends to your pool (public and private). Having trouble deciding what team to place where? “SmartPick” makes the decision easy for you. PocketBracket also has “GameTalk,” its own private discussion room.
Ask the experts
Q I spent a lot of money for videos for my website, but they don’t display on iPhones or iPads. Why?
A Many video players are based on Flash, which is not compatible with mobile devices. One solution is to update your video player. Another solution is to present your videos through YouTube; however, image quality is typically not very good.
Internet Marketing ROI
Are you getting a big bang for your buck?
You’ve built a fancy website, bought some pay-per-click ads and invested in search engine optimization. But is it paying off? And how do you know if it is?
Traditionally, word-of-mouth-referrals have accounted for a large percentage of surgeons’ and dentists’ patients. They still do, except that now these referrals often overlap with your Internet-based referrals. Some prospective patients who receive word-of-mouth referrals go to the Internet to verify the referral, while other potential patients find you during their Internet searches and then turn to friends for verification. By the time they get to your office, the real “referral process” is convoluted at best. As a result, determining the value and return on investment (ROI) of your online marketing efforts can be tricky.
Here are some tips!
Google Analytics and other advanced statistics programs for your website can help you determine how effective your Internet marketing is. These programs help you see who is visiting your website, where they’re coming from, and which keywords they’re using to find you.
Being found under your own name isn’t enough. You also want to be found by those using search queries like “breast implants Los Angeles” or “top cosmetic dentists in Atlanta.” Analytics programs can help you determine if you are attracting these people; if not, you can adjust your Internet marketing program accordingly.
Pay Attention to the Right Metrics
If you’re using statistics programs such as Google Analytics, it’s important to know which metrics to focus on.
Two of the more crucial metrics are “time-on-site” and “pages viewed.” What you’re looking for are visitors who stay on your website for a significant amount of time and visit multiple pages. You can use these metrics to determine your best referral sources. For example, we have found that visitors from Facebook can be plentiful, but they often stay on doctors’ websites for a very short time period and view only a few pages. On the other hand, visitors that come to the site from, for example, a photo gallery or highly educational directories typically have time-on-site longer than three minutes and visit up to five pages in the site.
There are also metrics you need to be careful with, like the “bounce rate.” Often cited by “Internet experts,” this metric measures how quickly visitors leave your website after arriving. But the bounce rate can be a misleading indicator for many medical and dental practices because patients visit practice websites for different reasons. For example, a patient may hear your name from a friend and then find your phone number on your website, but then immediately leave the website to call your practice and schedule a consultation. These types of visitors are very valuable, but have very high bounce rates. Other visitors, namely those who have yet to decide whether to have a procedure, often visit a number of pages in your site and have very low bounce rates. This is also a highly valuable visitor, with the opposite bounce rate from the first. Understanding the data elements and how they correspond to consumer search is the key to making Google Analytics, or any other metrics program, work for you.
Interview Your Patients
To understand if your current (and future) Internet strategy is giving you a reasonable bang for your buck, it helps to try to determine which patients found you through your website. So ask them.
Ask them if they’ve seen your website, how they located it, which other sites they looked at, and what types of pages and topics they looked at. Consumers may not remember all of the specifics, but they can provide a very good idea of what they were looking for online. Drilling down with questions will help you determine if you’re successfully targeting the things potential patients are looking for — and if you’re not, how you can alter your marketing strategy to better target them and therefore improve your online marketing ROI.
Be Visible Online
While it is very important to evaluate the data (analytics, metrics, patient interview data), unfortunately, this information can never tell the entire story. Patients search many times, sometimes over several months, to research procedures and doctors/dentists. Because they are seeking information about procedures or your practice and not preparing to evaluate your marketing strategies, they have no incentive to remember where they saw you first.
And of course, there are many potential scenarios. Was it your website first and then your radio ad, or a word-of-mouth referral and then your website, or was it your listing in a prominent directory and then your website? You will never know, because patients simply don’t remember these things. Our own internal research data, using unique phone tracking numbers, shows that only 7% of consumers accurately identify where they obtained the practice phone number online. What does this mean to your marketing efforts? It means that you need to be visible where patients search.
The good news is that you can evaluate this yourself. Go to Google and type in key words that your prospective patient might use to learn about services you offer (“Cosmetic Dentistry Miami,” “Atlanta Lasik Surgeon,” Breast Augmentation Beverly Hills,”etc.), and don’t forget to search your name! What do you see? Are you on the first page of Google? If you are there, are you there only once? (You will want patients to see your website AND find you recommended by a credible third party site such as a directory.) Do you appear on the first page for several of your key terms? If the answer to ANY of these questions is no, then you are not maximizing your Internet ROI.
Contact Ceatus today to learn more about maximizing your Internet marketing ROI.
CEATUS Case Study of the Month
Rebrand Your Practice – Expand Your Internet Marketing Presence
Clearly LASIK/King Vision
Clearly LASIK is the largest LASIK provider in the Pacific Northwest and Central and Western Canada. In 2005, Clearly began working with Ceatus Media by sponsoring three US based listings in Ceatus’ LASIK Surgeon Directory (www.allaboutvision.com). Clearly received dozens of patient referrals and LASIK surgeries from the leads generated by their three listings. Over the next two years, Clearly LASIK added four more listings to help expand their presence in a number of markets in the US and Canada. These listings also generated an impressive number of leads and surgeries, so in 2008 Cleary asked Ceatus to take a much greater role in Internet marketing for the practice.
Ceatus began managing the Clearly LASIK website. One of the first steps was to implement new, focused SEO strategies for the various practice locations; the practice was rebranded for Dr. Joe King using a variety of Internet marketing techniques. Three additional websites, designed to focus on the new practice-brand “King Vision,” were developed for the Canadian and US markets. As a result of these efforts, King Vision has four aesthetically appealing, highly-converting websites that rank well in the markets where King Vision has locations, e.g., Seattle, Vancouver, Edmonton, Tri Cities, Victoria, etc. All of these key locations have two to three of these websites listed on the first page of Google for searches related to LASIK and a location, such as “LASIK Seattle” or “LASIK Victoria.” The practice’s email leads and conversion from the websites have more than doubled, contributing, in part, to a 20% growth in LASIK business over the last two years for King Vision.