“Google My Business is the modern version of the Yellow Pages and serves as the foundation for search engine optimization for dental offices. With GMB you are able to add your business information to Google so that people looking locally for your services are able to find you.”
Ok so now we understand Google My Business’ role but you might still be wondering why is local search so important? When I thought about answering this question I realized the answer may be best presented by way of statistics that unveil local search’s true value.
5 Statistics That Show How Important Local Search is:
46% of all Google searches are looking for local information. (Source: GoGulf)
88% of searches for local businesses on a mobile device either call or visit the business within 24 hours. (Source: Nectafy)
92% of searchers will pick businesses on the first page of local search results. (Source: SEO Expert)
Steps to Optimize Your Dentist Office’s GMB Listing
Ok so now that we know, and by we I mean you, just how important being included in Google’s local search results is lets get you on track to optimizing yours:
1) NAP Accuracy
NAP stands for Name Address and Phone Number and is one of the important areas in determining your ranking in Googles local search results.
The basics of it is that wherever your name address and phone number appear online, also known as citations, they should all follow the same style and use the same verbiage as your Google My Business account. This also includes your NAP that is listed on your dental practice’s website.
I’ve shown an example below of Google My Business on the left and Facebook on the right. See how the address and phone number are identical. It needs to be this way across all listings of your dental practice online. And, though it doesn’t show the name is also identical.
2) Choosing Your Dental Business’ Categories
When choosing your main category and subsequent categories you need to be sure you are selecting the best options for your business. I’ve had clients that didn’t rank well for their main keywords and once their GMB categories were corrected they began popping up in the ranking reports.
In fact in a survey held by Moz it was found that the Google My Business categories you choose for your dentist office ranked #3 on the top factors that influence Google’s local rankings.
To ensure you are heading in the right direction when choosing your categories, below I have included Googles guidelines.
GMB Category Guidelines
Use as few categories as possible to describe your overall core business from the provided list.
Choose categories that are as specific as possible, but representative of your main business.
Do not use categories solely as keywords or to describe attributes of your business.
Do not use categories that pertain to other businesses that are nearby or related, such as a business physically contained within your business or an entity that contains your business.
Below is a screenshot of some of the options that are available to dentists. As you can see, based on the options, the process is fairly straightforward. Keep in mind, you can also select multiple categories.
Here is what it looks like live in your GMB listing.
3) Crafting a Solid Business Description
Your Google My Business description is another area that needs to be completed. These haven’t always been available as they were once removed by Google. Luckily they are now back.
Important to note, as with all areas within GMB are the guidelines to follow when optimizing your business description.
There has been debate over the years as to whether keywords in the description provides any ranking value, however, the consensus has been that it does not, until recently that is when this surfaced:
However, shortly after this Google updated the document and the suggestion that keywords in your Google My Business description would aid in your local rankings has been removed.
Here is Google’s description, with an example, of how you should write your descriptions:
Feel free to include keywords in your description so long as they are helpful in describing your business to your users.
Here are some important dos for your GMB descriptions:
Keep it brief
Include what you offer
Include what makes you different from the competition
Include any historical information you feel users would find interesting or helpful
Focus on your business’ details
4) Business Photos
The average number of photos posted in GMB listings for Dentists is 12 (Source: Statista)
To be competitive and extract more benefit than competing dental offices we recommend posting above average amounts of photos so at a minimum you should post 15 to get you started. After that add a photo or more every week/2 weeks depending on the frequency in which you get them.
Now, you might be saying to yourself “Self, how do I get more photos, I have already taken all the pictures I can think of?”. Not to worry, I’ve got you covered.
I’ve listed some great ways to increase your dental practice’s photo counts. But, before I get into those here is some important information.
GMB has types of photos that you can add to your listing. Filling in as many of these types as you can is the goal.
Categories/types of GMB listing photos:
Guidelines for GMB listing photos:
Format: JPG or PNG
Size: Between 10 KB and 5 MB
Recommended Resolution: 720px tall, 720px wide
Quality: Well lit, in focus, no excessive filtering
Should represent reality
And now, without further ado.
Ideas for GMB listing photos (no rocket science here):
Hold a contest and to enter your patients need to take a picture at your office.
Take photos of the outside of your dental office from different angles.
Take photos of your staff members when new ones come on board.
Take photos during different events eg. for Easter, company picnics or bbqs
Take different group photos with staff
Google’s Photo Tips on How to Improve Your Ranking in Local Search
What Are Local Reviews?
An online local business review is written sentiment left directly by a customer on any website or platform that supports this type of content. Yelp, Google, and Facebook are three of the major review platforms, but there are numerous other options.
Why Are Reviews Important?
Consumers are becoming more review-savvy, preferring businesses that receive high volumes of high-scoring reviews on a regular basis.
82% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses
91% of consumers say that positive reviews make them more likely to use a business.
76% trust online reviews as much as recommendations from family and friends
48% of consumers only pay attention to reviews written within the past 2 weeks
84% believe that reviews older than 3 months aren’t relevant
Businesses without 5 stars risk losing 12% of their customers
Only 53% of people would consider using a business with less than 4 stars
Most important factors in reviews
How recent reviews are
The business’s overall star rating
How many reviews a business has
How legitimate reviews appear to me
The sentiment of the existing reviews
Top ways to ask for a review
In person during the sale
In an email
Over the phone
On a receipt
In an SMS message
The average consumer reads 10 reviews before feeling able to trust a business
Only 53% of people would consider using a business with less than 4 stars
67% of consumers have now been asked to leave a review for a local business – with 24% of these being offered a discount, gift or cash in return
Many businesses take a passive approach to getting reviews which commonly produces:
Zero or very few reviews
Little or no recent reviews
Large gaps of time between reviews
More negative reviews than desired
What does this mean for your business?
More local businesses are learning just how valuable optimizing their efforts for receiving positive reviews is and they are putting processes in place to accomplish this. If you aren’t one of them then you are losing customers to your competitors who are.
Google’s Review Tips on How to Improve Your Ranking in Local Search
Making the Most of Google My Business
I have added some areas that need to be optimized in Google My Business and how to go about accomplishing this. It is important to note that your Google My Business listing information should be as complete as possible and taking advantage of all relevant areas for your dental practice.