Improving Your Google My Business Ranking

Google Map ResultsOne of the questions we are frequently asked is “How do I get my practice to show up in the maps?” When a dentist asks that they are talking about the 3-pack of map results on a Google search results page. The map pack typically appears near the top of the page on Google, below the 3 or 4 AdWords listings at the top of the page, and above the start of the organic results. The assumption is that dental practices that show up in those 3 spots receive a lot of clicks to their website. And that is not a bad assumption to make.

The Value Of Ranking well

The number of people using Google every day is staggering. They currently process 40,000 search queries per second, and over 3.5 billion searches per day. While there is some talk that their market share has dropped over the past year, they still process over 67% of all searches, which is about 4.5 times as many as Bing, their nearest competitor. When you couple that with the fact that over 70% of people search online before buying local goods or services, it all adds up to the fact that in today’s economy your practice has to be found online if you want to attract new patients.

The Factors That Influence Map Rankings

The Google algorithm for ranking sites has always been proprietary, but that doesn’t mean that all the factors that go into the ranking calculation are a mystery. Google has released some information about what they look at when figuring their map results, giving web masters some ideas about how to improve their performance. They list general guidelines to use when trying to optimize your site, which are a great place to start.

Steps You Can Take

Here are a few items you should look at as the first steps to improving your map performance:

  • Make your listing complete – The biggest factor in any search is relevance. The more info you add about what kind of dentist you are and what services you offer the better chance you will have of appearing for relevant searches. Check your categories and also the elements of your address. Make sure they are accurate, and also match your website and other social properties like Facebook and Yelp.
  • Verify your location with Google – Where you are in proximity to the area being searched and the person doing the searching is also a critical factor. One way to make sure Google knows exactly where you are is to verify your listing address. There are several ways to verify your location with Google – phone call, post card, and even instant and bulk options – so be sure to take this step. And once it is verified, go back over your website schema tags and social properties to make sure they all match this address exactly. If you want to rank on Google, it makes sense that the address you verify with them should be the one the others all parrot.
  • Make sure your hours of operation are correct – Since Google is all about delivering the best results for the searchers, they are more likely to favor a listing that takes the time to specify accurate hours of operation for potential clients. And like the address elements, be sure to list the same hours on your site in the schema tags.
  • Add pictures of your business – Again, Google is all about user experience. Pictures make you look better, they make Google results look better for Google, and they make prospective patients interested, so they are a win for everyone. You can get great pics from an iPhone, iPad, or other smartphone, so don’t hesitate to snap some shots of the office and staff and upload them to your profile. Just make sure to get a release from any patient photos before putting them online.
  • Stay on top of reviews – Good reviews are often the deciding factor when people are comparing dental practices. By gathering good reviews (Have a happy patient? Ask for a review!) searchers will see you are a thriving practice, and Google will see that you value your clients. And they like it when people use their products, so responding to and managing your reviews are also good steps to take.

Beyond The Basics

While the items above are the core of a good map ranking campaign, there are a number of additional factors that play in to a winning strategy. Citation audits, cleanup, and building will also help you improve your visibility in the maps. If you’d like our dental SEO professionals to analyze your website, search market, social properties, and competition ask for a free audit today!