Google Trends illustrates the increase over the last 3 years for the search term ‘dentist near me’. The graph details need to be taken with a pinch of salt, not least because the volumes indicated are relative rather than absolute, but any which way you look at it, that’s huge growth.
As in, have a properly structured, highly usable dental practice website, with some excellent content and technically optimised for the search engines. Make sure you create a frictionless user experience across all devices. Include all that a patient (not a dentist) wants to see on a dental practice website.
Google looks for a bunch of basic information about your business to display within its local listings. Things like contact information (address, phone number, email), a map (e.g. Google Maps), opening hours, customer reviews, and so on. Use schema markup for extra brownie points.
Whilst it’s important to set these up, it’s equally important to ensure the NAP (name, address and phonenumber) are the same across all local business listings. This refers to the point above about schema markup, but Moz Local to help monitor this.
Google is increasingly paying attention to reviews, and with good reason. A Brightlocal survey on the subject last August found that only 11% of consumers don’t take any notice of them. Quality and velocity matter. I feel that most brands – especially offline companies – don’t do enough to secure customer feedback, even when we know it is a crucial part of Google’s local search algorithm. I also think that Google will update social ranking signals in the years to come.
There are a number of tools that you can use to analyse local rankings, to figure out how to get one over your competitors.
Make friends with the community! There are plenty of ways of attracting links from local sites. Think about events, directories, local news sites, awards, schools and colleges, non-competing companies, and so on.
Does this really work? Colleen Harris at CDK Global investigated whether this would help by undertaking a study of 82 auto dealers over a five month period. She found that those that added ‘near me’ content increased clickthroughs by 81%, compared with those that didn’t (8,833 clicks vs 4,365 clicks). Impressions increased too, though by just 15%. Good enough!
Blog inspired by Chris Lake at Search Engine Land with thanks.