Turning Google's Changes into Your Competitive Advantages
Just as formulating a patient diagnosis requires research and introspection, so too does addressing Google's tireless modification to its search engine results and the manner in which your practice is effected.
However, building and maintaining a solid web presence will help your practice quickly adapt to search engine changes and reduce the risk that these changes will impact your bottom line.
Google's Ever-Changing Bar
"The only thing that is constant is change."
A recent update to Google's local search results caused a stir amongst business owners.
The search engine giant made many adjustments, but two significant changes have the potential to immediately impact your practice's web-based traffic:
1. Reduced the Number of "Local Results" from Seven to Three
Notice the three listings circled in red below? This portion of Google search results displayed up to seven businesses in the past.
Google's new format increases competition for this space significantly, with more than half of the businesses used to showing up in local results now left in the dark.
2. Removed Phone Number & Full Address
Google's new local search results no longer include the business phone number or full address on the initial search result page. Consumers must click on the listing or navigate to the business website to find this information.
Google searches on mobile devices offer a call option from the listing, but do not show the exact phone number on the initial search result.
Old Local Results with Phone Number and Address
New Local Results with Street Name Only
What's the Big Deal with these Changes to Local Search Results?
Scarcity of space and multitude of competitors means local businesses are now competing in an even more aggressive online arena.
In a 2014 study, Google reported that four out of five consumers used search engines to find local information.
Another study reported that 38% of consumers searched online for a doctor or dentist in the last year.
The local yellow pages are a distant memory for many of your prospective patients, so representation in local search results is incredibly important. Accordingly, the urgency to properly integrate schema for your practice phone number and address into your website has increased significantly.
How to handle this and inevitable future Google updates?
The Best Defense is a Good Offense
Building and maintaining a solid web presence provides a degree of insulation from Google's constant changes.
Four elements are critical in developing your practice's web presence. Proper implementation of these elements not only helps you provide better value to prospective patients, but also helps to minimize any negative impact your site may face due to future Google changes:
- Proper use of schema markup.
- Rigorous local SEO strategy.
- Integrated social media strategy.
- Rich content such as video and Google Business View.
"The best preparation for tomorrow is to do today's work superbly well."
- Sir William Osler
Do you know where you stand?
The most appropriate first step in this process is to conduct an audit of your website to determine which areas are in need of improvement. Feel free to contact us to get the process moving forward.