It may seem obvious, but a local result is what comes up for a person searching for a business or place near their current location. They come up in Maps and in general Google searches. And what good is a search result for a “dog walker” in Orlando when you live in Wichita? So, when you want a local business (versus a product that you’re having shipped to you), Google tries to show you relevant results near you.
But how do you move up in those searches? Whether we handle this aspect of your online presence for you or not, Google My Business is key to improved local search results. Here are some things you need to button up to make it easier for Google to give you some local props.
Steps to take to be sure you’re found in local search
Enter complete data
Accuracy and consistency is key here. You should be consistent wherever your information is posted, be it Google My Business or anyplace else. This means it’s not 343 Elm Street here, 343 Elm St. there, and 343 Elm elsewhere. Make should you’ve entered all of your business information in Google My Business: physical address, phone number, category, and other relevant information. If something changes, be sure to update your information.
Verify your practice
This may seem odd, but just because you have a Google My Business listing doesn’t mean it will appear on Google Search or Google Maps. You need to verify it. Your verification allows you to manage your practice information on Maps, Search, and other Google properties. The verification ensures that your business information is accurate and that only you, the business/practice owner or manager, has access to it. Most locals businesses verify by postcard, but some businesses have other options such as email, phone, or Search Console.
Make sure your hours are correct
If you say your practice is open every day 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., yet in the summer you’re closed on Fridays, that’s a problem for customers. One call or trip to your office when you’re closed when your Maps listing says you’re open is the fastest way to a bad review.
Manage and respond to reviews
Speaking of reviews, when you get one you need to respond to it. This shows that you are cognizant of your reviews and actively interested in solving any problems. High-quality, positive reviews from customers raise your overall rating score and improve your rank in search. Of course, be sure that you don’t divulge any personal health information on your patients in your responses. This means making sure you follow the HIPAA rules.
Add as many photos as are relevant to your Google My Business listing. Photos can give potential patients a kind of site tour, helping them get comfortable with your practice to a degree before proceeding to maybe scheduling a consultation or using your chat feature.
So how does Google rank local businesses?
Google says it ranks local results based primarily on three criteria: relevance, distance, and prominence. These three factors are mixed together to try and find the best match for your search. The closest business may not rank the highest if another local option (just maybe not quite as close by) has a better offering for what you’re looking for.
This is where making sure you’ve provided complete and detailed business information comes in. If Google’s algorithm fully understands what your practice does — the procedures it specializes in and other services it provides — it is more able to accurately match you with the searcher.
This is simply proximity. If a user adds specific location to his or her search, such as “Dog walkers in Telluride,” the proximity is obvious. If the user didn’t specify, Google will use what it knows about where the person is. With smart phones, Google knows exactly where you are. On desktop search, sometimes your location can be skewed by your Internet provider’s hub.
Prominence is how well known your practice is. Some businesses have prominence because they’re, well, famous. The Huntsman Cancer Institute and The Smithsonian Air & Space Museum are very well known and this makes them prominent in search.
Google also assigns prominence based on what it finds about the business/practice across the web. Links, articles written by the doctors, listings in directories — these all increase a practice’s prominence. This is where reviews also are factored in. More positive reviews and ratings will improve the practice’s local ranking. Prominence is also improved by SEO best practices, and that’s where we, of course, give you a leg up.
If your practice isn’t coming up in local search, make sure you’re checking off all of the steps above. And if you have, and you’re still not showing up, give your Advice Media representative a call and let’s see about moving you on up.