When people search for things such as Italian restaurants or hardware stores, Google assumes they are seeking local options so it returns local results. For instance, if you search for Italian restaurant and you’re in Omaha, a famous New York City trattoria won’t show up. What comes up, complete with star ratings, addresses, and hours, and is colloquially called the “three-pack,” three listings and their location on a Google map.
If your practice isn’t making it into that three-pack, Google recently updated its information on how to improve your local ranking. The document explains what your practice needs to do in Google My Business first, and then details how it ranks local searches. We’ll go through their advice.
Enter complete data
Be thorough here. Local results favor the most relevant results for each search, and businesses with complete and accurate information are easier to match with the right searches. Make sure all of the information about your business in Google My Business is complete, so there is no question about exactly what you do or offer, where you are, and your hours. Go beyond just the basics where possible and update this information if anything changes. Inconsistency is a sure way to be downgraded in Google searches, as items such as conflicting telephone numbers create confusion.
Verify your location
Verify your practice location. This has to be done with Google, either through a request for a postcard or, if you’re lucky, a phone call.
Be accurate with your practice hours
Don’t be lackadaisical about your practice hours thinking that everyone will know you’re open when any sane practice is open. Be specific. Are you open every fourth Saturday? Which holidays are you closed/open?
Respond to reviews
Google likes that you actually pay attention to reviews people write about your practice. When you respond to them it earns you Brownie points in local search. It shows Google that you’re engaged with your patients, not just taking their money. This is particularly true if, for whatever reason, you get a bad review.
Don’t be shy — add photos
Add photos of your practice, not just the customary street shot, but interior shots, too. Have some new laser equipment? Add a photo. Photos tell Google you’re trying to help people understand what you offer.
OK, now you’ve done that. Here’s how Google determines your local ranking
Local search results are based on relevance, distance, and prominence. Google’s algorithms use those three factors to deliver search results. For instance, you may not be the closest practice to the searcher, but by offering Kybella you may be more in line with the jowly person searching for help so you’ll come up ahead of a practice that is closer but only does facelifts.
Relevance is how well a local listing matches what someone is searching for. This is why you want to make it as easy as possible for Google to understand exactly what your practice does.
If the user doesn’t specify a location in their search, Google will put up results based on what’s known about the user’s location. This is especially becoming more relevant on phone searches, since the user’s location is precisely known.
Prominence means how well-known your practice is. Prominence is based on information that Google has about a business from across the web. This includes links, articles you’ve written or been mentioned in, and directories. It also counts reviews and positive ratings to improve your local ranking. Again, this is why consistency is key. For instance, how you write your address and phone needs to be the same across all directories you are listed in.
The easiest way to accomplish all of the above? Let us do it. At Advice Media we have our PowerUp Local tool that provides consistency across all directories from a single dashboard. We’re also Google My Business pros, so rather than deal with these details, let us do it and you run your practice.