Ever think about using Google+ to reach patients online? If not, you may be surprised to learn how Google+ can make your practice more “findable” on the web. When you consider that 44 percent of all Internet users search online  to find information about health professionals, the importance of having a good online presence should be more clear.
Here are three reasons why using Google+, the newest social network, can improve the chances your name will come up when prospective patients search for something you’ve written about.
1) Rise in the rankings. Participating in Google+ gives doctors an advantage because content you share on Google+ has an “edge” against other stories. That’s right -- Google (the search engine) gives preference to stories that have been shared or +1’d on Google+.
For example, if a doctor writes a post about back pain and shares it via Google+, Google may favor this post in search results for topics related to back pain over comparable results not linked to a Google+ user. That’s important because the higher up your content appears in search results, the more likely it is someone will visit your site .
2) Amplified web activity. Benefits of participating in Google+ grow as your network grows. Search marketing expert Brian Whalley elaborates  on what this means:
“[As you build up] a large following on Google+, content you've shared with your followers will also show up in those followers' relevant Google.com searches, keeping your business top of mind and increasing its visibility among existing followers across multiple channels.”
3) Standing out from the crowd. Google+ helps you stand out in search results because of the social data (such as your headshot, a link to your Google+ profile, and/or the number of people who have +1’d your article) included along with your content as another perk of participating. Social data will make people trust your content and make a searcher more likely to click it.
You might’ve read recent articles criticizing Google+ because there “isn’t a lot to do on it ” or because people spend (waste?) less time  on it than on its competitors.
But the truth is, these articles miss the point: When you use Google+, you enhance your visibility every time someone searches on Google.com. Who cares if your patients don’t use Google+? They definitely use Google -- and that’s where the results of your engagement on Google+ will show up.
Establishing yourself as a trusted medical expert is only going to become more important over time. The cost of care is rising and patients often don’t view distance as a deal-breaker  if it means better treatment at lower cost. Where will patients head to find the best care out there?
More than likely, to the web.
Katie Matlack is the medical market analyst at Software Advice. She writes about health IT, covering topics ranging from healthcare marketing to key figures in HIT to medical billing software reviews . For a full 5-step guide to getting started on Google+, plus a more in-depth discussion of the perks of Google+ and more resources to help you get started, please visit the original article  on the Software Advice blog.