Local SEO is a digital marketing tactic that helps businesses increase their online search visibility. The main focus of local SEO encompasses claiming a business listing, managing online reviews and ratings, and making sure your office location appears on Google when users perform a local search.
As the owner of a dental practice, your online presence plays a huge role in attracting new patients and even retaining current patients. To rank in search engines, you should follow on-page SEO best practices to drive local traffic to your website.
In fact, five years ago it was easy to rank on the first page of search engine page results by regularly posting informative blog posts targeted at prospective patients. Now, the internet is flooded with a variety of branded content from major brands and outlets, which dominate search engine results pages (SERPs).
Currently, there is too much content to compete with and users spend too little time engaging with it to convert. The main reason, however, that local SEO strategies have had to undergo such significant shift is Google.
How has Google influenced local SEO?
Every time the search engine updates its algorithm and ad placement, SEO practices have to be adapted accordingly. This may be partly due to Google’s efforts to eliminate bad SEO practices.
To add to that, there has been a tremendous increase in content posted to the web, and Google indexed between 1 trillion to 30 trillion pages over the course of 2008 to 2014. However, over the past several years, Google has changed its layout.
Between 2013 and 2019:
- Organic listings, including the first listing, appeared further down on the page, whereas today, they are listed further up; and
- Google ads were designed differently and were easily identifiable, however, they now look similar to organic listings.
What marketers are seeing is that organic search results are no longer listed at the top of the search page. They have been placed about 3 search results further down the page; this is a drastic change. What’s more, 95% of people searching the internet typically only review the first page of results, which is why it is by far, the most important and valuable page for your business to appear.
Today, Google listings could be accompanied by a map, videos and images, and even data gathered from their knowledge graph. Effectively, Google now gives users more valuable information quickly and efficiently without reading a 500-word blog. To drive patients to your practice, you have to adapt your SEO strategy for the new digital marketing landscape.
Read more about how Google Maps, local citations, and accurate practice listings can drive your local practice ranking and give you an edge over the competition.
Why Google Maps is more powerful than blogs
Ensuring that your practice shows up in Google Maps is paramount to long-term viability. Prospective patients are often skeptical of businesses and services with little or no online presence. However, thanks to Google Maps, it’s easier and quicker than ever for businesses to establish a reputable online presence.
As a business owner, utilizing Google Maps gives your business an advantage over competitors and an opportunity to market your goods and services to people searching on their mobile device, in real-time. As one of the most powerful search engines in the world, approximately 3.5 billion searches are conducted on Google daily.
In addition to that, 88% of all searches on Google are made through mobile devices and 76% of people performing local Google searches are highly likely to visit a store within the day with the intention of buying.
To put it simply, if you are a dental practice trying to attract new patients in your area, appearing in the top-3 spots of Google Maps listing can significantly improve website clicks, phone calls, and scheduled appointments.
In the past, when people were searching for a specific location, “near me” queries, or if they were directly searching on Google Maps, Google would display 7 results. With that being said, Google only displays the first 3 results and if you want to view the rest, you’ll need to click on “more results.” As a matter of fact, about 50% of all clicks on the SERPs are focused toward the top 3 results.
The top 3 results, called the 3-pack, are vital to getting businesses more exposure and provide a competitive advantage over those results listed after them. Often perceived by online users as the more credible and relevant results on the search page, the 3-pack typically leads to more conversions and sales.
Now, more than ever, people are utilizing “near me” searches either by typing their queries into the search field or by using the voice search feature on their mobile devices when researching local businesses. For this reason, it is extremely beneficial that your practice appears in the local 3-pack. Let us take a quick glance at the key benefits in ranking on the top-3 spots of Google Maps.
Advantages of appearing on Google Maps 3-pack:
- Within 24 hours, almost 90% of searches result in an in-person visit, with 28% purchasing a product or service.
- People are now making decisions based on whether they can easily find/contact/visit your practice and whether patients are saying positive things about you. The easiest way for potential customers to find this information about your practice is through Google Maps.
- Online users can look up the directions to your practice and call your practice directly from the search results, with just one click, because Google Maps results are interactive. Interestingly enough, a study carried out by Google found that 70% of people conducting a mobile search use the click-to-call feature.
Why local citations are more powerful than blogs
In the past, blogs used to drive consumers to their goods or services. However, a Google market study found that 4 out of 5 consumers are driven to use search engines in order to pinpoint local businesses and information.
If you’re like 80% of the rest of the world, you’re probably looking for local information online, too. Search engine algorithms care about citations. If you want to increase your practice’s online visibility, increase your search engine rank, and draw in more potential customers, then citations are key.
What are local citations?
Local citations – linked or unlinked – are listings of your practice or online mentions that include your business address, contact information, and sometimes, your website. For example, you can find citations listed on social media sites like Facebook, listed on the website of your local chamber of commerce, online directories such as Superpages.com, and even review-focused websites like Yelp.com.
How do local citations work?
Every local citation validates your business and informs search engines of your practice’s legitimacy. This is crucial for search engine optimization. More citations lead to more certainty. Without citations, a dental practice might look nondescript to the search engine algorithm, and therefore be less likely to show up in relevant searches.
On top of increasing a search engine’s certainty about your practice’s information, citations also boost your rank. Say for instance, there are two local competing practices, when a potential customer performs a local online search, the practice that has more citations will more often than not, rank higher even if they don’t have a direct link.
For that reason, local businesses that don’t have an official website should focus on increasing their citations, which has a direct correlation to prospective customers finding their business online.
3 ways local citations can help with site visibility
1. Improve local SEO rankings
Local citations have a massive impact on your local SEO efforts and on whether your practice will show up in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
Local SEO and citations help search engines verify your business’s information: name, address, and phone number (NAP).
They are two of the ways search engines keep tabs on your site’s authority and prominence, so the more often your practice’s info appears online, the more prominent your site appears to search engines.
2. Increase site traffic
When your local SEO rank improves that means your visibility in local search results also increases, leading to increased site traffic.
Surprisingly enough, unlinked citations also drive traffic and can improve local search results. They are a good way to gauge additional listings, claim new links and build your link portfolio.
3. Impact customers
Local citations help your practice establish trust with search engines and potential patients.
If you have multiple websites, especially high-authority, trusted websites that are citing the same information about your practice, it tells the search engines and your customers that your site and practice can be trusted.
Why listing practice NAPs is more powerful than blogs
One of the most important aspects of website optimization is presenting accurate data. Google’s algorithm favors consistency which is why your business’ NAP – its name, address and phone number – must be correct in order for your online presence to surge when local online searches are performed.
Why NAP is important for local SEO
In order to get optimal SEO results especially locally, it’s important that your NAP is correct for every listing you place on the internet. Google’s algorithm scans your practice’s listings, then the data is stored and used when determining search engine ranking. Incorrect information in NAP citations can lead to confusion for customers and poor user experience.
How to create a NAP record for local SEO
- On your website, accurately input your business’ name, address and phone number so your customers can read it and Google can capture the information. It’s very important that you list your NAP via text and not an image in order for Google to scan and process the information.
- You must claim your My Business listing or listings on Google. Be sure to double-check that each listing has the correct NAP.
- Do your due diligence by finding any incorrect listings of your business on Google by searching “My Business” on Yelp.com or input your business name, address or phone number to see which listings come up.
- Begin correcting any information that isn’t accurately listed and create a document or spreadsheet so you can keep track.
- Maintain a thorough record of all your listings so you can quickly correct this information if you ever change your practice’s phone number or address in the future.
The evolving landscape of SEO marketing requires evolving strategies. Google’s new algorithm and ad placement have made SEO blogging ineffective for today’s modern dental practice. By harnessing the power of Google Maps, local citations, and accurate NAPs, you can reach potential patients in your community and grow your practice.
Let Conversion Whale show you how to develop your dental marketing strategy
If you’re like most dentists, you don’t have the time to spend developing your SEO strategy. That’s why Conversion Whale is here to help. Our new SEO service focuses on what drives local practice ranking with proven, data-driven results. We are experts in the dental field, with years of experience to help you drive new patients to your practice. Conversion Whale is ready to help you every step of the way and give you the competitive edge you need!