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SEO and Google Business Profiles for Healthcare


As internet users, SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is something that we interact with everyday whether we realize it or not. For healthcare providers, it’s a low-cost way to help reach more people, and ensure you show up in Google searches when they are trying to find care. No one knows this better than today’s guest, our very own Senior Digital Producer, Suzie Schmitt.

Suzie discusses how important it is to use terms that patients would use when searching, which may often not be the same terms doctors would use. She talks about the differences between desktop and mobile optimization, the advantages of using Google My Business, and how to best set it up to get zero-click conversions coming directly to you. For healthcare providers Suzie explains just how granular to get with your listing so that patients can have enough information at a first glance, just how important ratings and reviews can be, and so much more. 

Finally, Suzie explains which areas of SEO to focus on for providers that are just getting started with their search engine visibility. 

If you’re ready to reach more patients, today’s episode is a must listen!

Watch their discussion below or listen to the podcast, We Are Marketing Happy – A Healthcare Marketing Podcast.

Other Links and Resources

Connect with Suzie on LinkedIn:

Connect with Jenny on LinkedIn:


Full Transcript:

JENNY: [00:00:00] Hi friends. Welcome to this week’s episode of We Are, Marketing Happy, a healthcare marketing podcast. I’m Jenny Bristow and I’m so excited to have with me today Suzie Schmitt. She is a Senior Digital Producer here at H&H and I’m so excited to have her on. 

Today we’re gonna be diving in and talking about search engine optimization and Google My Business or Google places through the lens of healthcare and all of our healthcare providers we work with. 

So, Suzie, to start out, I’d love to have you provide a little bit of context and understanding. We have a lot of providers, hospital systems, etc, that come to us and they’re trying to understand how much energy or effort they should put into search engine optimization.

So can you give us some context about where it lies and kind of the value for patients that SEO provides? 

Suzie: For sure. So SEO for Healthcare provides a really unique opportunity because it lets providers meet their [00:01:00] prospective patients where they’re searching on the internet. So whether or not that’s something that the provider would call that service, or it’s something that might be a little mislabeled, it’s a great way for everybody to get connected for providing the services they need. 

JENNY: Yeah. Let’s talk about that phrase a little bit – “whether it’s something that is mislabeled.” 

We had a client a couple of years ago, and they had a policy where within their hospital system, the service lead or department lead had to approve all website content changes that were push live.

And I will never forget the head of cardiology being so mad that we were using the phrase heart health and heart doctor. He was so angry. He was like, that’s not what it’s called. It’s cardiology. Well, maybe to you Doctor, but to an average patient, we have to really understand the keyword that they’re using.

So what process do you go through when we start working with a provider and let’s say they have a couple of specific service lines they [00:02:00] want to promote. What’s a process that you would go through to help them understand what patients are actually searching? 

Suzie: So we always start with keyword research, which is where we start with the seed keywords that the provider gives us.

And then from there we find all of the other different versions and variations that the actual patients are searching. And a lot of times they are not what the doctors would describe them as. But it’s really important because these are people who are searching for care and they’re searching for what they know.

And it’s especially, it’s more prominent with patients who need care the most. Since a lot of the communities that have less access to care, they also tend to have a lower level of health literacy. So in a lot of situations, we need to meet them with what they’re searching and serve them the proper results and kind of help educate them along the.

JENNY: Yeah, that’s an excellent point. I mean, one thing that we’ve worked with a lot of clients on, for example, is really understanding the difference between desktop optimization versus mobile [00:03:00] optimization when it comes to site speed. And that’s something I know we talk a lot about – content. Now we’re thinking about seo, but site architecture changes are really where you and your team spend a lot of time.

So let’s talk about that a little bit. If you’re thinking about, you know, those most fragile communities, those that really need access to care, where should mobile optimization be as far as prioritization? 

Suzie: Yeah, so another huge part of this is within Google My Business, because a lot of these people, one, they either don’t have a computer, so they only have access to cell cell phones, and they also tend to, we’re seeing a huge increase in zero click conversions, so people who never leave the search engine results page.

So they’re seeing that listing, they’re getting their information from that business listing, and they’re making the call from there. These are people that generally don’t have as much time as they would like to do the research, so they’re gathering what they can from that search engine results page and making a call there.

JENNY: And that is an [00:04:00] element of search engine optimization that a lot of the clients don’t think about before they come to us is that map listing. And for people that are, you know, not familiar with what we’re talking about, whenever you do a search that is local, Google often tries to show a map and has local provider listings or local restaurant listings or whatever it may have be.

On the map that then you can click to it and it expands in a little knowledge, info panel, and then it lists a little bit of key information about that provider. So, so many different questions, and so many different things we can talk about here. 

How does a business optimize for Google My business? It’s not the same as optimizing for a website. 

Suzie: No, it’s not. It’s actually, I would say easier to optimize your Google listing than it is your website. It’s a lot more cut and dry. Google really does have a simple way of guiding you through the process, and really, the more information you provide, you can get as granular as showing which insurance providers you accept [00:05:00] and whether or not your facility is accessible, whether or not you offer telehealth appointments, all from the search engine results page, and it’s a proprietary Google product, which means that you’re doing exactly what Google wants you to do, which is so rare in the SEO world to know exactly what you need to do and then be able to execute. 

JENNY: Yeah, it’s definitely for clients and people that are trying to show the exact return on investment whenever they’re talking about SEO activities.

That is an area that’s good to focus on. Explain what zero click conversions, what that phrase means for people that haven’t heard it before. 

Suzie: Sure. So if you’ve ever done anything where you search for a service, and then you see an appropriate business pop up and you click the phone number directly from Google.

That’s a zero click conversion. It means that that customer never made it to your website. So you really need to think about your Google profile as almost a mini version of your website because a lot of people are gonna get all of their information just from that. [00:06:00] 

JENNY: Yep. That’s an excellent point. Let’s talk about some information that you can upload because clearly address phone number. You’ve made a great point about insurances that you accept and accessibility. Some things that we run into that I think clients don’t think about are things like photos and then reviews. And the role that reviews play in the ranking if it does happen to be a competitive phrase. 

Suzie: It really plays a huge role.

When Google gives these results, they’re prioritize on a few different factors. They’re gonna prioritize on your location. So how close this place is to you, the relevance of it, depending on what you searched, and then also the rankings. A place with higher rankings is inherently going to rank higher on Google, so it’s important that you are getting those rankings and those reviews and that you’re also replying to reviews, something that may be a bad review, put a positive spin on that and say, Hey, you know, we’re really sorry. This is not how we usually do things and [00:07:00] here’s how we’re gonna make this right. And that can make people feel more comfortable if they feel like they’re putting their health in the hands of somebody who’s responsible and actually cares.That really carries a lot of weight. 

JENNY: Yeah, that is an excellent point, Suzie. And a step so many people miss, because they are monitoring all their different social media channels and they just have a lot of inputs. So it’s easy to forget about that. 

One thing that we’ve done for clients, and I think an interesting decision that people have to make when they’re going down that GMB setup process is deciding if they’re going to be creating, optimizing and managing listings just for each location, or if they’re also gonna dig into the next step and actually do it for each physician that works for their location.

So what are some tips or some thoughts around thinking about whether you should move on, you know, to the physician level or if you’re newer, if you should just stick at the location level. 

Suzie: I think it’s always a good idea to optimize to some degree at the physician level because people really, they don’t choose a practice.

[00:08:00] They choose a doctor and they choose that on recommendations and then things they read on the internet. And if a patient that has specific needs, maybe they really need somebody with an excellent bedside manner. Maybe they’re looking for somebody who specializes in something really specific, then that is going to be at the physician level.

So it’s important to make sure that you’re passing that information along. 

JENNY: Yeah, that’s an excellent point. So if somebody is wanting to get started with search engine optimization, maybe their website sat dormant for the last couple of years, you know, maybe they had something more important they were focused on.

If now they’re ready to kind of like refocus on the improvement of their rankings, would you recommend that they start at the organic search level as far as website optimizations or GMB? And how should they make that decision of budgeting prioritization. 

Suzie: I would recommend that they start with the website optimizations because all of those things will support the GMB listing because when you list a service, it’s gonna have to link to your website and you’re going to [00:09:00] need to have some backup information.

So you wanna get your foundation really solid and then get your GMB profile in a place where that supports that content. 

JENNY: That’s a great recommendation. Last question. We have a lot of clients that have to go through that decision of should they manage it either themselves or alongside their agency partner directly through the Google interface, or should I use a third party tool to be able to manage it?

At what point or how many locations do you think it makes sense to be able to start thinking about using a third party tool? 

Suzie: If you have more than two or three locations, or if you’re operating in more than one market, I think it’s important to start using a third party tool. Otherwise, it is so easy to get bogged down and you’re going to save a lot of time if you just go ahead and use another tool to help you manage that and you’ll much more likely to not miss notifications [00:10:00] whenever somebody does leave a review that you have an opportunity to respond to. Absolutely. Which is so key and you just wanna make sure that. , you’re continuing to post on GMB. You can post to that. A lot of people don’t realize that, that it is kind of a micro site with a mini social media aspect.

So it is really important to keep that up to date and you can manage that a lot more easily through third party tools. You can schedule those posts out. If you know that you have, you know, Hey, our flu shots will be available on X date, go ahead and schedule a post out so you don’t have to remember it.

It’s a great way to get things off your plate now and make sure they’re still done. 

JENNY: Yeah. I love it. Perfect. Well, Suzie, thank you so much for being on today and talking a little bit about this topic. We’ve had so many conversations about it with clients and folks, you know, prospects over the last couple of weeks that I think it was good to just talk about it a little bit more in depth. So thank you so much for being on. And for listeners, please remember to subscribe and [00:11:00] share and provide some feedback. Let us know what you’d like to hear about in an upcoming episode. Thanks for tuning in.



About the Author

Jenny Bristow is the CEO and Founder of Hedy & Hopp. Prior to starting Hedy & Hopp, Jenny launched, grew and sold a digital agency in Seattle and worked at Amazon. She was named one of St. Louis Business Journal’s 30 under 30, won a Stevie Award for Female Entrepreneur of the Year in 2018 and speaks regularly at healthcare marketing industry events.

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