Every day, Google processes 8.5 billion searches and commands the search engine market with 91.9 percent of the market share.1 Google Maps also dominates as the app had nearly 25 million downloads in 2022, followed by Waze at 9.1 million.2
From analyzing troubling symptoms to finding the best deals on flights, it's clear people search Google more than anywhere else for their informational needs.
This combination of real-time search results and location-based information makes a good case for a Google Business Profile (GBP). This free tool gives business owners control over their appearance in web searches and on maps.
By optimizing their profile, healthcare providers can drive health equity and better health outcomes among those served by Community Health Centers (CHCs), urgent care centers, outpatient services facilities, acute care hospitals and other community-based healthcare settings.
How Google is prioritizing health equity
Recognizing information as a "determinant of health," Google has added features to help make it easier for users to find doctors who accept their insurance and/or find providers that accept Medicare and Medicaid.3
The company also invites healthcare providers to keep their relevant information (hours, services, accessibility, etc.) current by claiming and updating their Google Business Profile.4 By leveraging this simple tool, CHCs and other healthcare facilities can engage with their patients before they walk through the door.
With these recent initiatives, Google is demonstrating a commitment to health equity.5
Invest in optimizing your Google Business Profile
CHCs and other community-based health settings are well-versed in the challenges of serving diverse populations with equally diverse needs. As the hub for everything from mental health services to cancer care and COVID vaccine management, the ability to multitask in a constantly changing environment is critical.
And, for the patients being served, the process of accessing care starts before they get to the CHC or health setting. This is where investing in Google Business Profile page optimization becomes a strategic move for providers and a vital service to the patient population.
Regularly updating your profile means patients can easily search things like:
- Is there a Community Health Center near me?
- Will the health center near me be open when I arrive?
- Is the nearby CHC or health center accessible (regarding transportation and ADA compliance)?
Additional filters to leverage include insurance acceptance, translator availability and other valuable services that ensure culturally competent, inclusive and equitable care.
All these features help a patient determine if the time, effort and cost required to get to the location are justified. This is especially critical for vulnerable populations — such as older adults or patients with chronic conditions — who may not have other means of accessing care or face other barriers to care.
And while investing your time is important, another excellent reason to update your Google Business Profile is that it is free to do so. In this case, a little investment really does go a long way.
A checklist for updating your GBP listing
When you're ready to optimize a Google Business Profile, here are ten things to keep in mind:
1. Operating hours. If you've ever visited an address found online – only to find it closed on arrival – you'll understand why keeping this information current is so vital. Other updates to consider include:
- Separate hours for independent onsite facilities such as labs
- Indication of a temporary or permanent closure due to a natural disaster, holiday or other unexpected reason
2. Location. The street address is only one part of the location equation. This section allows you to list more details like:
- Whether your facility is located within a larger building complex or other unusual location
- Precise door-to-door walking directions
- A list of nearby parking garages or public transport access points
3. Accessibility. In this category, you can include information about special amenities such as wheelchair or Wi-Fi accessibility and accommodations for sign language or ESL speakers.
4. Visuals. Upload photos and videos of your center so people can see visual features of interest, such as:
- The surrounding area and nearby businesses
- Parking lots or on-street spaces
- The size of the exam rooms
- Ground-level entrances
- Wide elevators for accessibility
- Waiting area layouts to indicate social distancing options
5. Reviews. While the thought of unbiased, unfiltered feedback from patients may feel intimidating, centers with a Google Business Profile can:
- Remove fake reviews
- Respond to negative ones
- Potentially mitigate or address concerns or issues
Positive reviews may also encourage prospective patients to make an appointment, where other data and information may fall flat.
6. Mobile clinics and services. If your center or facility offers mobile services or does house calls, you can indicate a radius of areas served in this section. This is especially meaningful for patients who may be immunocompromised, can't take much time off work or require the support of a care partner.
7. Services. Does your site offer mammograms? Online care? Disease or drug testing? You can also include helpful details like:
- Conditions treated
- Counseling services available
- Vaccination offerings or COVID testing
8. Appointments. Save time by enabling a BOOKING button on your listing. This feature allows you to include Google Meet links for online or telehealth appointments, streamlining the path to patient-friendly care.
9. Insurances accepted. It's particularly helpful for patients with insurance (including Medicare or Medicaid) to know whether theirs is accepted at your facility.
10. Other information. Here's a list of questions to consider for adding more details for Google Business Profile page optimization:
- Is your CHC woman-owned?
- Do you require masks?
- Are you temporarily out of flu vaccines?
- Are you open for limited hours during a holiday?
- Is there construction near your building?
Take advantage of the opportunity to notify patients of real-time or last-minute changes, communicate updates and report progress with this listing.
Top 3 tips for Google Business Profile optimization
Here are three easy ways to combine GBP optimization with your busy schedule:
1. Set a weekly Google or Outlook calendar reminder to update your listing. The time of day matters too. For example, the experts at Simplified, an AI-powered app, say the best times to post updates are between 9:00 am and 11:00 am on Thursdays and Fridays.6
2. Start a photo and video-taking routine. This helps you establish a habit of keeping your GBP listing photos up-to-date and presents your healthcare facility in the best possible light.
Another suggestion is displaying everyday photos of people in the center. The familiarity offers patients a soothing sense of belonging.
3. Read reviews and seek out user/patient feedback. Keeping up with user feedback gives you the opportunity to direct it in a positive, constructive way.
Ready to optimize your Google Business Profile? Consult this Google tutorial to verify your eligibility, claim your listing and take steps to ensure your healthcare facility shows up — and is well-represented — in online searches.