Google My Business simplifies how you present your practice across the various Google platforms. Most of you probably had a Google Places or Google+ account. That’s where you could post your location, some keywords about your business, a description and, if you were doing it right, some images. Others could also post reviews about your practice.
But some people found Google Places for Business and Google+ Local difficult to manage. One was more about listing and being found. The other was more about competing with Facebook and being social.
Now Google has simplified things significantly. The new platform is called Google My Business.
Google says Google My Business allows you update business information across its multiple channels. That means Search, Maps and Google+ – all of which can help you attract more and better patients. And if you were using Google Places for Business or Google+ Pages Dashboard, your account has been upgraded to Google My Business.
That means now you can:
- Update information about your business across Search, Maps and Google+ from one location.
- Use apps on Android and Apple mobile devices.
- See and respond to reviews of your business and track ratings over time from one location.
- See the numbers of views and clicks you get and where customers are when they request directions.
- Manage multiple office locations from one place.
Are Your Local Search Results Flying the Coop or Coming Home to Roost?
Very few of you are running a nationwide dental practice. That means any web search in which you come up is likely to fall into the category of a “local search.” A change to Google’s local search algorithm could help your business.
Local search means that a person is looking for a product or service in a specific geographical area. So going to Wikipedia to find the last time the Indiana University football team made a bowl game is not local search. But searching for a “Minneapolis cosmetic dentist” is, because you defined the geographic area and identified a medical provider.
So Google presents the results in a couple of different ways.
If you search something like “McDonald’s on Broadway Louisville KY,” then the result will pop up in one box at top of the organic results. If you were to search a term like “McDonald’s Louisville KY,” then the results will come back in a cluster at the top of the list, though sometimes farther down the list, with all the McDonald’s and their relevant information. If you were to search “restaurants Louisville KY,” you would get an even bigger list, often at the top but sometimes in the middle of the search results. Of course, if you were to just search “restaurants,” then you may or may not get any specific restaurants show up in your results.
In the middle of last year, Google changed its local algorithm to return results more like organic search results. Search engine analysts have been studying the effects since then, and here are a couple of things they have found:
- Directories like Yelp are now ranking higher than they have before.
That means when someone searches “Minneapolis cosmetic dentist,” any Yelp reviews talking about how great – or poor – a cosmetic dentist you are will likely rank higher than in the past. This is one of the reasons we help our clients get their patients to give great reviews online.
- Medical providers (which would include dentists) received a small boost in their growth in Google Places results. That means when someone queries “Minneapolis cosmetic dentist,” the results are about 2 percent more likely to return the complete listing for a specific dentist or dentists.
As with most Google tweaks, this one may not be over yet.
To increase your chances of being found and ranked highly using local search, you should do these three things:
- Make sure your Google My Business is up to date and includes photos and targeted keywords.
- Get as many Yelp, Bing, Google+, etc., reviews as you can from happy patients.
- Use local SEO terms. If you live in a small town, just using the name of the town may be enough. But if you live in a metropolitan area, using the big city name isn’t local enough. You may have to go to area of town, smaller incorporated area, or even neighborhood to get good local SEO.