n June’s first blog, we talked about Google adding a feature to its Google My Business listings enabling business owners to shorten the URL to a manageable “short name.” This feature will make it easier for practices to share their Google My Business link on business cards, in-office signs, and other locations, which should increase the value of their Google My Business listing.
Recent research sought to find out how much customers value Google My Business versus a local business website. The results show that Google My Business still is just a blip compared to your practice website when it comes to providing patients and potential patients with the information they seek.
As Google strives to continue growing the value of Google My Business (GMB), some people wonder if this is making local business websites less and less relevant. That’s what the survey from BrightLocal sought to find out. The survey results show the value of your local website is just as important as ever.
The survey asked questions about how customers find local business information, such as phone numbers and hours, and it asked how much customers trusted different sources for accuracy with this information. It also asked questions specifically about the use of local business websites for finding information, along with the preferred method of contacting the business (i.e. phone, email, contact form, visit, etc.).
What do customers use GMB for?
The survey of 500 consumers asked how they found a local business phone number or address. Google My Business was the top answer (62%), but those were delivered through search, so there is a built-in shortcut. The second source was the business website (49%), followed by the GMB listing in Google Maps (44%).
Patients or potential patients looking for your practice will use the ease of your GMB listing to get your phone and other contact details. That makes it paramount you keep your listing accurate, updating your information for something like special summer office hours.
In the survey, consumers said they used GMB the most to find opening hours, directions, and reviews.
But what about accuracy?
The survey next asked consumers which source of this information they believed to be the most accurate. Here, the business website was king, with 55% saying they believed it provided the most accurate and up-to-date contact information. GMB was a distant 32% of those believing it provided the most accurate information. Online directories merited trust in only 12% of respondents.
What does this mean for your practice? It is a mixed message. First, your website is still the go-to resource and it needs to be well-built and optimized. But 44% of people use GMB or online directories to find your information. This doesn’t necessarily mean your website has diminished value (especially once a patient gets past the initial contact phase), but it does mean it is imperative your practice information is current and relevant across your GMB listing and all other online directories.
Local business websites
The survey then moved into questions about the use of local business websites. It asked, “When deciding which local business to use, how often do you visit a local business website?”
- 22% — Every time I’m deciding on a local business I check the website
- 30% — Over half the time
- 23% — Half the time
- 16% — Less than half the time
- 8% — Never
Now you can see the value of your practice website. Fully three quarters of respondents use the business website over half the time when deciding whether or not to patronize the establishment. This is likely even higher when it comes to the medical world.
What about local business websites send potential customers elsewhere?
The survey then delved a little deeper into site usage, asking, “When looking at websites, what would make you less likely to use a local business?”
OK, so you have the patient/potential patient on your practice website, but if your site is poorly designed, content is poorly written, or information is out of date, now you have a problem. Here are the biggest boo boos.
- 50% — Contact information was out of date
- 39% — Content was poorly written/had typos
- 33% — Site was hard to find in search results
- 29% — Site had few or no images
- 27% — Website is poorly designed
- 22% — There were no testimonials or reviews on site
- 18% — There was no map
- 17% — Site was not mobile friendly
And, how do they prefer to contact your practice?
It’s easy to assume everyone is eschewing the good old telephone these days. After all, it seems most people now text without ever actually using their phone’s namesake feature. But this assumption seems inaccurate based on what respondents answered in this survey.
The survey asked how consumers contacted the local business after they found it online. The results could be deemed a little old school:
- 60% — Call business on the phone
- 16% — Send the business an email
- 15% — Visit the actual location
- 4% — Message via contact form on site
- 3% — Contact on social media
Yes, customers still overwhelmingly use your practice phone to contact you for information or to make an appointment.
What does it all mean?
At Advice Media, we’re constantly stressing the importance of keeping your listings up to date across the web, or you can have us do that for you. We’ve been building the best-designed, highest quality websites for our medical practices for over two decades. If nothing else, this survey points to the value of all of our services, and how important they are to helping potential patients find your practice and then pick up the phone and give you a call.