Google made a major change in August to the way they show local search results. What is the change? Why should we care? And what should we do with this new information?
What is the change?
If you do a search for any service that Google has figured out is locally oriented, like “dentist” or “Plymouth dentists”, Google shows the paid results at the top followed by a “Map” section, followed by the “organic” search results. If you include the town in your search they will feature dentists in that town, otherwise they feature dentists in the town you are located in. This map area is key. It stands out, features quality practices and until now you were a click away from speaking to someone.
The major changes are two-fold. Now instead of 7 practices appearing in the map section there are only 3. If your website is among the top 3 in the map area this is good for you. Now you are competing with only 2 other practices on the first page. If your website was in position 4-7 the news is not good. You are now not on the first page of search results in the map area.
The second change is that they have removed the address and phone numbers from the display. Instead they require you to click through to the websites to get the contact details. I am not sure why they have done this but I suspect it is another step towards trying to optimize more and more for mobile devices. But it means there is no phone number to click and call in the results and that your website better be mobile friendly and make it easy to contact you.
What does this mean for us?
Unless our websites are mobile friendly and aligned with our Google My Business profile we are probably not going to even appear in the map or the top organic results. And when someone has to click to our website to get the contact info if what they see on their phone is a scrunched-down version of our full website where they can’t get to the links easily or click to call they are probably not going to contact us. And we know that mobile searches are becoming the majority of searches done today.
What can we do to make this an opportunity?
Clearly with only 3 sites showing on the map on the first page your competition will be sharpening their saws to be one of the three. So what can we do to make sure we appear there? I provided a guide on optimizing your GoogleMyBusiness profile in a previous column. You can still download that and an updated cheat sheet at www.mediarightdental.com/gmb so I won’t go into detail on that here. But let me summarize the 3 most important steps you should take to ensure you appear on local searches for dentists.
- Log in to your Google My Business listing at google.com/business. Do a quick scan and ensure Google has no issues with your profile (eg. Duplicate Listing, Listing Not Claimed, etc.).
- Following my Google My Business Guide edit your profile and ensure all of the information is correct. Especially the Name, Address and Phone number. If anyone has tried to employ keywords in your Business name get rid of them and make it your EXACT business name.
- Try to get as many positive reviews as possible. Reviews are a key component of ranking higher on the map and they make your listing stand out, not to mention the value of positive reviews in the minds of someone seeking a new dentist.
Getting Google reviews can be difficult. Next month I am going to share with you a process one of my clients and I came up with that really works to get you more positive reviews, fewer negative reviews and powerful feedback from your patients. If you care about being found when someone searches for a dentist in your area you are going to love it.