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It’s more important than ever before that urgent care centers optimize for local search. If you don’t know what that phrase means, keep reading!

It’s estimated that one in three consumers will do a local search, on a smartphone or computer, before visiting a store or other facility. Google My Business is a free business listing on the search engine. The tool allows businesses to update their location, to actually look at the mapped location and ensure the address is accurate and it’s in the right spot. Once it’s set correctly, you click “apply.” It’s that easy—and it’s so critical for reaching patients.

An article this month at Search Engine Land discusses the rising tide of mobile searches being done by consumers. The number of “near me” searches—queries that contain a location qualifier such as “nearby” or “near me”—doubled from 2014 to 2015, according to Google trends data. And 80 percent of those searches came from mobile devices.

“Individuals who seek medical care via search are likely doing so as a last resort and are in need of care fast,” the Search Engine Land article explains. Google shows there are literally hundreds of thousands of searches each month for the terms “urgent care near me,” 24-hour urgent care near me,” and “urgent care clinic near me.”

When it comes to urgent care, there’s a broad market of transient patients to be reached who have no connection to a primary care provider or would simply rather be seen in a walk-in clinic. Plus, accidents happen and as consumer awareness grows about avoiding emergency room trips for less-serious cases, more are seeking out urgent care centers.

local searchIf consumers are new to the area or simply want to find the closest urgent care center, they turn to their phones. If the location for your urgent care center doesn’t show up, chances are the patient will opt for a competitor who has that information listed. We’ve all been frustrated at times over not being able to find simple details about location or hours during what should be a quick Google search.

If the location information for your facility is wrong and the patient ends up in the wrong place and frustrated (or worse, depending on the severity of the injury or condition) that customer is unlikely to ever seek out your urgent care center again. And he’ll probably tell his friends about the bad experience.

Always remember how important positive word-of-mouth is in urgent care, as it is in most retail-oriented industries. Customer service should always be top of mind, and in the case of Google that means making sure you optimize for local search to help your customers. Plus, taking the time to fine-tune your listing in Google may give your urgent care center a little SEO bump overall. It’s a win-win.

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