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Why Google My Business Is Important For Therapists (Looking for Local Clients)

Are you a therapist or other practitioner interested in attracting local clients for your private practice? One of the most powerful tools available today is Google My Business (GMB). Read on for an introduction to GMB, including step-by-step instructions to get started.

What Is Google My Business (GMB)?

GMB is essentially a business listing that is embedded in Google’s search engine. When a client starts looking for a therapist either by name or by using keywords plus the phrase “near me,” they are directed to local businesses at the very top of the page that match their search. 

GMB works with the global positioning system or GPS on your phone or computer and that helps search engines to deliver the “best options” for your query back to you. Because your Google My Business listing is embedded into Google Maps, users can find and locate nearby businesses across the US and Canada (and many other places around the world). 

And, you’ve probably used GMB many times before. One common example is when visiting a new town and looking up local coffee shop or restaurant options. Whether you use Google itself or you open Google Maps, which was the most downloaded navigation app in 2022, and simply type in what you’re looking for, both deliver the local results you’re looking for.

In addition to details like hours, phone number, and website, GMB profiles also include customer ratings and reviews. This information is invaluable from a social listening perspective. It provides real time feedback, both for business owners and potential customers.

The Importance of GMB for Therapists

As a therapist, you know the value of your phone ringing. Prospective clients often use Google, Bing, and other search engines to locate therapists in their community. This is especially true if your client doesn’t have a friend or family member in therapy to refer them to someone for support.

It’s also very important to have a viable lead source if you’re not accepting insurance payments. This is perhaps one of the most common reasons why therapists hire us to manage their listing, they want their GMB listing to show at the top of search results. When this happens, your practice has the best opportunity to be in front of clients who are open to cash-pay options.

GMB offers potential clients information to get their initial questions answered, such as: 

  • How far away from you are they? 
  • Do you offer virtual services?
  • How would they navigate the drive or train/bus, with turn-by-turn directions?
  • Is your business reputable and legitimate?
  • Do you have a website and other info so they can read about you before reaching out?
  • What is your practice style and areas of expertise?
  • And most importantly, can you help them based on their individual needs?

Benefits of GMB to Find More Clients

There are countless potential benefits to GMB. Here are just a few:

  • New potential clients can see that you exist, and where!
  • Searchers can view all the important information about your business in one place, at a glance
  • More people seeing your listing means more chance for sales, referrals, and partnerships
  • Ratings and reviews showcase how great of a professional you are, building credibility
  • Reviews boost local SEO (search engine optimization, where you pop up in searches online)
  • Community engagement opportunities
  • It’s free

A Word About Google My Business Reviews

As a therapist, we know that you can’t ask for reviews. Most therapists are not able to do this as a practice value and for ethical reasons. But, it is a part of the GMB service. You can’t turn it off, nor can you remove a negative review once one is published, so you want to know this going in. 

You can, however, ask for reviews on non-therapy services like psycho-education, course, trainings, lectures, webinars, coaching and other education-based services you offer. You can also get peer-reviews just like you do on Psychology Today.

And, people LOVE reviews. They are one of the strongest drivers for sales when you’re prospecting your services to strangers. In translation, when you’re offering therapy to clients who don’t know you or were not referred to your practice.

If your worry about GMB is related to reviews, don’t let that stop you. Should a negative review get posted, we can support you with strategies to manage it. That said, if this has happened to you, you don’t want to wait. This is an important time to act so you show your attention to your clients and your online reputation.  Reach out today if you need support with a negative online review.  

How to Set Up Your Google My Business Profile 

Let’s get a little more specific about how to get started with GMB. Follow these steps for the nuts and bolts of setting up your profile.

1. Create a Google account 

You may already have a Google Business account. If not, sign up for one. You can also create a second account for your business if you’d like it to be separate from your personal account. 

Follow the sign up instructions in the link above or reach out if you need help. Once your initial account is set up, here are a few tips to get you moving along.

Try to include the main keyword in your business name. For example, instead of something general like “Miss Betty’s Office,” go with “Miss Betty’s Psychotherapy Office.” This detail will help people find you and boost your SEO later. 

Next, you will be prompted to choose a category for your business. Common categories for therapists include “psychotherapist,” “mental health service,” “mental health clinic,” “counselor,” and “psychologist.”

If you already have a Google Business account but have not claimed it as yours yet, or someone else has claimed it, you’ll need to request ownership of the business profile.

2. Verify your GMB profile 

Verifying your GMB profile means proving you own the business. It used to be more complicated, but now most people only need to provide a phone number. Google will send a confirmation code to your phone. Once you enter it, you’re good to go! Your listing should go live automatically. 

If phone verification doesn’t work, there are other ways to do it, including via email, video, or by returning a postcard Google mails to you. Read more about the details here.

There are cases where GMB profile verifications are not granted because someone else already claimed it (this could be a prior business partner or employee, for example). Google offers you the option to request access to the current listing, which gives the other person three days to respond. You have various other options too, including requesting to verify that this business profile is in fact yours (not theirs).

You can do verification as the last step in the GMB process if you prefer. But keep in mind that in order for your listing to go public, you usually need this part to be complete.

3. Complete your profile with accurate and detailed information 

Fill out every section of your GMB profile, with detail and thoughtfulness. The more specifics, the better. Prospective clients want to see if working with you would be a fit. 

You have 750 characters for your practice description, so make them count. Speak directly to your ideal client and include your specialties and experience.

You will be asked to type in your physical address. If you select no/opt not to, Google will prompt you to enter up to 20 service areas where you practice. Add all of them to maximize visibility.

If you have a website, definitely add it. Also enter your phone number (the one you use for your business/clients, that matches the one on your website or other business materials).

4. Add photos to your profile 

Photos are compelling, and always capture attention online. As a therapist, it’s especially helpful for potential clients to see your face. Include at least one clear photo of yourself in your GMB profile. 

You might also consider adding photos of your office, neighborhood, brand personality, or therapeutic philosophy. If you have a logo, add that too.

5. Share special offers and updates

Posting timely updates and offers in your profile tends to bring more engagement. Thus, you have a higher chance of people booking therapy sessions.

You could offer 15 percent off a first session or package for those booking by a certain date. Or, you can share about an upcoming event, promotion, or partnership.

Set Up Google My Business to Gain More Therapy Clients

Well done! You’ve gotten through the bulk of setting up your GMB profile. This is an important step in your therapy practice. You will start attracting more local people, and therefore be able to help more people in your community. Hopefully this is your mission, and it’s a win-win for everyone.

As you start to meet more nearby people and clients, you can also track the data in GMB. Check the “profile strength” and performance sections of your GMB account.

Stay tuned for our next blog, which will cover more on how to optimize your GMB profile.

Want further support with Google My Business or other marketing strategies? Contact us for a free website audit today.

author avatar
Melanie Gorman
Melanie Gorman is the owner and operator of Crownsville Media. She holds a masters in counseling psychology and has been in the fields of web development, SEO optimization and content creation for more than 20 years.

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