When someone types your name into Google, can they find information about you and your practice?
This is one of the fundamental questions you should ask yourself as you think about marketing your practice. Can the person who was referred to you by a colleague or friend, or the potential client you met at a networking mixer, find your information online?
If the answer is no, take heart. I know your challenges all too well as one of hundreds of “Mariah Parker”s in the US, and I am here to help. There is a fast way that you can not only show up in search results for your own name in your area, but also show up when people look for a therapist near them. That tool is Google My Business.
Google My Business is a free tool that allows you to manage your practice’s presence in Google Search and Maps. While the name of the tool may be new, you have almost certainly seen Google My Business results if you have searched online. They are the business listings in Google Maps that show up in Google Search when you look for a restaurant, doctor, lawyer, craft store, coffee shop, or other business near you.
I’ll explain why Google My Business is such a great tool, and how to set up your profile. Let’s get started together.
Google My Business doesn’t just help you show up in searches for your own (or your practice’s) name. It can also help you show up higher in the 46% of Google Searches where people are looking for a business or service provider in their area.
Google My Business map listings show up higher than organic search results in Google searches. As a result, the business listings in Google’s “local 3-pack” get 700% more clicks than the businesses who don’t appear in that section.
I can’t begin to emphasize how powerful this is enough. Businesses spend years trying to rank at the top of organic search results for New York City, or pay for ads to put themselves at the top of search results so they can get more clients. Google My Business can help you put your practice in front of the locals who are the most likely people to want therapy with you for free, and you don’t have to spend years blogging or hire an SEO (search engine optimization) consultant to get there!
Showing up at the top of Google results can also give you a reputation boost. Since Google is so ubiquitous in our day-to-day lives, potential clients are 2.7 times more likely to consider a company to be reputable if it appears in Google search results.
I will start this section by observing that many therapy license types prevent you from soliciting reviews directly from your clients, and you should observe the ethical code of your license type at all times.
Building a Google My Business listing makes it easier to get and use client reviews without asking for them. As long as you are delivering a positive therapy experience for your clients, more of them will find your listing and provide reviews for you over time. As they do, you’ll collect those shiny stars that appear next to a Google search result and help convince other potential clients to move forward.
I have spoken with therapists who pay for profiles on therapy directories just to keep their reviews live. Putting up a Google My Business ranking as soon as possible is a great way to start getting your reviews onto a free platform.
In addition to all the benefits we listed above, Google My Business is free and easy to set up. In fact, we’ll walk you through it step-by-step. With such benefits for a minimal investment of time and money, setting up a Google My Business profile makes a lot of sense.
In fact, let’s dive into the set-up process now!
To start your listing, go to Google My Business and click the “Sign In” button at the top right.
Google will bring you to a page that says “Find and manage your business.” You can search for your business if you would like, but it is unlikely that there will already be a listing for it. If you cannot find it, click “Add your business to Google.”
Next, Google will walk you through the process of creating a basic listing. First, enter the name of your business.
Then, Google will ask you to choose the category that fits your business best. When you type in text, Google will display a drop-down menu of related categories. “Psychotherapist” is one of the main options displayed for “therapist,” and “mental health clinic” and “mental health service” are other key options. Google also covers alternative healthcare providers like acupuncturists and Reiki practitioners. Test a few words to describe your work and see which of Google’s options resonates most with you.
After business category, Google will ask you about your location. If you want your practice to show up in local search results and Google Maps, you need to add a physical location. Ideally, this location will be your main office address. If you’re not sure that you will be at the same office address forever, or even for the next year, that is okay. Google lets you change your business address after you’ve set it.
If you say that you want to add a location, Google will ask you for the address.
Google will also ask if you serve clients outside of your main office location. This will very rarely be true for therapists; only choose this option if you also do “house calls” or location independent therapy.
Next, Google will give you the option to add a phone number. If you add a phone number, make sure it is a number that you frequently or exclusively use for your practice and check regularly. Potential clients who find you on Google may call it as their first way of getting in touch with you. It is hard to predict when a new client could call you, and it is important to respond to them quickly to maximize their likelihood of moving forward.
Finally, Google asks you if you want to share a website. If you have a website, share it by all means! If not, you can just click “I don’t need a website” and move on.
After you add your website, you should come to the final confirmation page. Click “Finish” to finalize your Google My Business listing.
Google may ask you a few more questions about your profile, like the specific services your business provides, your address (if you didn’t share it earlier), how to verify your address, and your business hours.
Your Google My Business description is a crucial part of your profile; it tells prospective clients a bit more about you and encourages them to move forward.
You only have 750 characters to describe your practice, so it’s really important to make them count. Add a bit more information about your specialties and issue areas, but be sure to speak directly to your ideal client. You want to encourage them to move forward to speak to you by giving them enough information to show that you can help them.
If you aren’t quite sure what to say right now, that’s okay. You can always edit your description in your My Business profile.
Google reviews business descriptions and maintains rules for what descriptions can and cannot say. To save time, check Google’s rules here before posting your description.
You can add an email address or phone number to your business description, but Google discourages you from adding hyperlinks.
Google also gives you the option to add photos of your business to your listing. Adding photos of your practice can help people seeking therapy remove their fear of the unknown and feel more comfortable in your office before they even set foot in the door. Photos are a really powerful tool to help people move forward into therapy.
You should be taken to your Google My Business dashboard—you can come back here any time to add, remove, or amend the information that you added to your profile.
Congratulations! Your profile is finished. You have taken a big step forward to help your practice appear in search results! Over the next few weeks, we will be writing about how to take your new search presence to the next level and maximize the number of new clients you get from online channels. We are looking forward to exploring further with you!
Match with the *right* clients for your practice while growing your professional community.