Google My Business for Dentists: A Short Guide

As dentists, we share a passion for providing care for those in need. Before we can do that, however, we first need to make sure those who need a helping hand are able to find it. In an increasingly digital world, that means taking advantage of online marketing.

The good news is that you don't need to be a marketing professional to establish a presence for your practice. All you need to do to get started is understand how prospective patients search for your dental business and ensure the details they find are correct. That's exactly what makes Google My Business such a valuable tool for those with limited time and marketing resources.

October 20, 2021

*Please note that shortly after the publication of this article Google renamed Google My Business to Google Business Profile. Many people still refer to the platform as Google My Business and for the purpose of this article, we will as well.

Google My Business Reviews

What Is Google Business Profile (Formerly 'Google My Business'?)

When people need local goods or services and aren't sure where to find them, they overwhelmingly turn to Google. In fact, a staggering 97% of search engine users say they use web searches to locate and learn about local businesses, including but not limited to dental practices. Prospective patients are likely finding out about your practice in the same way, but beyond just online patient reviews, what are they really learning?

Google My Business (GMB) is built to help you answer that question. Simply put, a GMB listing is a free tool that allows you to manage the information Google displays in your Business Profile. This is the listing that appears for your business across the search giant's suite of products, including Google Maps, Google Organic Search and Local Search. Ideally, the Business Profile for your dental office is designed to include your address, contact information, office hours and anything else potential patients might need at a glance.

Google Maps Listing Screenshot

Why Do You Need a GMB Profile?

Despite its apparent simplicity, Google My Business is one of the most powerful and versatile free marketing tools available to you. Whether you're actively trying to grow your practice or simply looking to establish your digital marketing strategy, creating a GMB profile is worth a bit of your time. Also, did we mention it's free?

Correct and Control Information for Your Location

Google is always going to serve up information about your business, so shouldn't you make sure it's coming from you? Even if you don't intend to do anything else, consider starting a GMB profile and entering your business' basic information. This benefits both current and potential patients, ensuring they can quickly find details like contact numbers, appointment links and business hours of operation whenever they need them.

Expand Your Reach

If you're interested in reaching more people, few tools are more valuable than local searches. On average, 88% of people who are looking for a business in Google will call or visit within 24 hours. A well-done GMB profile is among the most effective ways to turn more of those searches into dental patients visiting your office.

In fact, Google My Business is by far the most important factor in determining your business' local search engine rankings. Just as your SEO efforts can move your website toward the top of traditional web results, an optimized Business Profile can help you achieve prominent placement in local searches. A built-in analytics tab also provides data and insights on how people are finding you and how they're engaging with your profile.

Engage Directly With Patients

In addition to managing your Business Profile, Google My Business also provides a variety of tools to help you engage with patients more directly. You can showcase and respond to both positive and negative reviews, collect feedback and even create posts and upload photos that highlight your business or provide important details. Google Maps (Google Places) users can also like and follow your business, allowing you to send them notifications and foster stronger social connections.

The GMB platform can also serve key customer service functions. Perhaps the most useful is the Book an Appointment feature, which lets patients set up appointments quickly and seamlessly from within your profile. The details are even handled by one of Google's supported scheduling providers, so there's no added hassle on your end.

Google My Business Profile Page

Creating a GMB Profile

Although some of the Google My Business platform's features can seem overwhelming, establishing a profile is easier than you might think. Following a step-by-step tutorial can be very helpful, but it only takes a few steps to get started.

Sign Up for Google My Business

To join Google My Business, you'll first need a standard Google account for your business that is separate from any personal accounts you own. If you don't already have one, simply create a new account and select the "To manage my business" option. Next, visit the Google My Business webpage and click the “Manage now” button. Continue by filling out the required information for your business.

Claim Your Business Profile

Once you're armed with your new GMB account, you'll need to connect it to a Business Profile. In most cases, this profile will already exist and should pop up when conduct a relevant search for the name on Google Maps. To take ownership of the profile, simply click "Claim this business" and follow the instructions. Once again, make sure you're signed in with your business' Google account before doing so.

If a profile doesn't appear in the Google search terms results, select the "Add a missing place" option and fill out the requested information. Note that this pop-up form also allows you to claim the business directly without having to repeat the instructions above.

Verify Ownership of Your Business

After staking your claim to your Business Profile, the final step is to verify ownership. Depending on your business and the information available in your Google account, this process may happen immediately. If it doesn't, you'll simply be asked to enter a five-digit authorization code in your Google My Business dashboard. You may receive this code through email, text or postal mail depending on your account's security requirements.

Common Mistakes To Avoid

Simply establishing a Google My Business profile is a great start, but it doesn't guarantee success. To manage your business like a pro, you'll need to avoid the issues that plague so many ineffective, low-quality profiles.

Supplying Incorrect Information

on your own Business Profile. Getting the basic details correct is essential, but be sure to select the not only the right Primary Category, but accurate secondary categories as well. Listing under the wrong business category can penalize your business and make it harder to find for people in need of your services. Be sure to set an accurate category to represent your business. Whether your practice focuses on family dentistry, cosmetic dentistry or pediatric dentistry be sure to select the correct primary category and pad the listing with accurate additional categories. 

Some of the most common categories are:

  • general dentist
  • oral surgeon
  • family dentist 
  • cosmetic dentist
  • pediatric dentist

Not Properly Utilizing Photos

If you aren't adding authentic photos (read... not "stock photos") to your profile, you're missing a huge opportunity. Whether it's logos, portraits of staff, your cover photo or photos of your office, pictures can help you attract attention and set yourself apart from the crowd. In particular, it's always a good idea to post a few high-quality photos showing the interior and exterior photos of your office.

Online Reputation Management: The Importance of Online Reviews

Depending on how you handle them, online reviews can be one of the best or worst aspects of your Business Profile. Positive reviews (actually, all reviews) are essential in your business' local search ranking, so it's worth gently reminding happy patients to leave them. When they do, be sure to reply and thank them. If you receive a negative business review, respond graciously and take whatever steps you can to resolve the issue.

Not Optimizing Your Business Description

It can be tempting to write a long, detailed description for your business, but Google's search format means users will only see the first 250 characters. In other words, brevity is key. A good description should clearly and succinctly communicate what services you offer, detail what sets you apart and provide any other essential info readers might need when making a decision. Within these first 250 characters, be sure to list the dental services which are most important and will appeal to your target audience and customer base. 

With Google My Business, you don't need to invest a lot of time or money to improve your online marketing, improve your SEO strategy and grow your business. In a few quick steps, you can make it easy for people to discover your practice and start getting the help they need.

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