[Local Search] Healthcare Marketing: Categories & Keywords | The Healthy Practice

Healthcare Marketing: Categories & Keywords

A big part of healthcare marketing is building awareness about your brand when your brand is unknown. Previously, I talked about building your practice’s brand so that you can gain search visibility with steady branding. Ultimately, you want a recognizable brand that has a healthy online reputation.

That said, you’ll also want to be found when you’re unknown. That’s where optimizing for categorical searches comes into play. There are many factors that can impact being found for keywords, and I’m going to lightly touch on just a few of them, focusing on the business listing appearing in Google. All of these options can impact your appearing for categorical or keyword searches on Google.


Categories are attached to your business listing and are among the primary signals Google uses to assign relevance to your business listing.

When choosing categories in Google My Business, you’ll want to describe what your business is, not what it does or can sell. Essentially, you’ll want to complete the statement with This business is a rather than This business has or This business sells. All categories are Google My Business are predefined, so you can’t go wrong when selecting one of their categories.* Product lines, services, and other facts are considered attributes for your business listing, which will discuss later.

The primary category appears on your listing in Google when people see your business there. This category is set in Google My Business along with additional categories. You’ll want to choose a categories that are as specific as possible and represent your business well. So, if you’re a periodontist that specializes in implants and want to primarily market your implants business, choose Dental Implants Periodontist, not just Periodontist.

Additional categories can be added too. You can add as many as you like, but target about five. Note that categories are hierarchical in Google’s backend. We don’t have a published list of the hierarchy, but you can imagine it looks something like:

Doctor > Surgeon > Orthopedic Surgeon > Hand Surgeon

So, all hand surgeons get the other categories in the hierarchy automatically added to Google’s backend. While it doesn’t mean you’ll automatically be found for the search [Doctor] if you’re a hand surgeon, be reassured that specific categories are sufficient to capture the broad ones. The more specific you are in your category selection, the more likely Google with send you qualified traffic for your speciality. Be aware that adding categories that span different hierarchies is fine, but if they are vastly different fields, this may confuse Google and you may not show up for either (e.g., being a Neurosurgeon and an Arborist and Tree Surgeon isn’t going to help your online marketing for just [surgeon]).

Ultimately, you’ll want to your primary category to be specific and additional categories to be comprehensive. If you feel you have to choose among categories, try for categories you suspect would be lower in the hierarchy, capturing the broader ones automatically.


Attributes attempt to answer the questions This business has or This business does. There are different types attributes, including Accessibility, Amenities, Offerings, and Planning. The types of attributes available depend on the categories attached to your listings. Most locations include restroom information while healthcare marketers are given the option to select Accepts new patients and dental practices can include Teeth whitening.

While attributes are editable through Google My Business, that’s not an exhaustive list available for attributes to add to your listing.** You’ll want to search on Google Maps for mobile (the Android app, because the iOS app is a bit disabled in this respect) and there might be more attributes to add to your listing. Dentists also have Appointments recommend attribute showing, for example.

To find them on the Android app, search for your listing and on the listing’s details section, you’ll see Describe this place with the option to select additional attributes.

Attributes were created initially for the restaurant and hospitality industry, so look to search results in those categories to see how attributes might be used in the future for healthcare. Not only can they help in keyword searches, you might see them pop up as filtering options after a keyword search or even with icons on the listing.


Google My Business now allows you to list a “Menu” URL for healthcare practices. Originally intended to be a restaurant feature, when Google started soliciting menu data for restuarants from 3rd party partners, they got more than they anticipated and those data dumps included services for healthcare providers. As a result, lists of services from 3rd parties like Locu and Single Platform appear in some types of searches.

Now, through Google My Business, you can add a URL from your own site that lists the services you provide. It’s another signal to Google about your business. Even if you’ve updated the listing with your own page, you might want to check on those other platforms to see if the proper services are added to help improve the data Google is collecting.


Most of the information appearing on your listing can help to determine the keywords Google associates with your business. If there’s something unique to your business which can help you stand out and isn’t available in a more structured format listed above, you may want to ask your patients that leave you reviews to mention it in their review. The text of reviews are mined to come up with keywords that describe your business, and if there’s something unique to your location or service you offer, as patients describe that in their reviews, you’ll get a bump in relevancy for those search terms.

As you develop a marketing strategy that complements the healthcare services you provide, more prospective patients will find your practice for just the right search that will ultimately bring them to your front door. Use these tips along with other creative ways to let search engines know what keywords they should be associating with your listing without just stuffing them into the “title” or brand of your practice. It will lay the proper groundwork to build your brand while still being found in the exploratory searches folks that don’t yet know about your brand.


*Google doesn’t consistently name their categories and will sometimes will violate the rule of thumb about completing the This business is a statement. For example, for a while they actually had teeth whitening as a category and offering. They’ve since renamed the category to teeth whitening service. It still feels a bit out of place, but Google does what it does and you just try to optimize against that.

**Here, Google divisions among teams start to show. With the desktop, Android & iOS apps, even the Google My Business API, all are different teams that get different features at different times. For example, the attribute for Practitioner gender (options: Female, Male, and Non-binary) is available to add via the API, but not through any other frontend that I’m aware.

  • Posted in:Local Search Marketing
  • Tagged in:categories, google local search, keywords, local search, local search marketing, local search optimization, marketing, online reputation, online visibility, search engine optimization, SEO

Original article by Joel Headley

This post was curated with edits by Gordon Fletcher, Principal Consultant(Engineering & Mobile Technology) at Compumagick Associates can be reached at https://www.compumgickassociates.com/contact, @compumagick