What do local search results look like?
Dentistry is a local business, your patients want to find a Dentist close to where they live or work for convenience. So when it comes to Dental Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), the importance of local search cannot be underestimated. If people living within a certain radius of your practice are looking for a Dentist, you want to be high on the list of search results.
So where to begin with making sure your practice ranks highly on Google for a local Dentist search? If we look at an example search for the term “dentist London”, we can see the variety of results Google displays:
The first three results are paid adverts. Just underneath this, we can see what is called the ‘Local Pack’. On the top right the corresponding map listings for each of the businesses in the Local Pack are displayed.
What is the Local Pack?
The Local Pack contains the contact details and map listings of dental businesses in the local area, in this case London, which is likely to be exactly the information the searcher is looking for. If somebody is searching on Google for Dentists, they probably either want to make an appointment or check where the practice is.
Typically, the Local Pack will show three results, but this will vary and sometimes seven results will display, as in our London example, and sometimes none.
The Local Pack is triggered even if we don’t include a geographic limiter such as Aberdeen. Google uses geo-targeting based on the searcher’s location to display the most relevant results in the local area. Other dentistry phrases will also trigger local results such as “emergency dentist”, “dental practice”, “cosmetic dentist” and “dental care”.
Mobile results are also geo-targeted. Thrive Analytics have found that 60% of consumers use mobile devices to find information on local products and services, with 40% being on the move while searching. Google recently announced a deadline of 21st April, after which mobile search results will favour content that is optimised for mobile devices. Don’t have a responsive website? Read our five recommendations on what to do now.
In the following image, taken from the Moz blog, you will see the click patterns of searchers, and how this relates to the Local Pack, on an example local search for “salt lake city hotel”:
The first paid advert is receiving a high amount of clicks, as is the first organic result which is linking to review website TripAdvisor. Interestingly in this example, the local pack is displayed above the first organic result and seems to be receiving a fair amount of clicks spread across the three results. This graphic demonstrates that although Google+ and local SEO are important in helping people to find your dental business, organic SEO and paid advertising are still important and should be considered in your digital marketing strategy.
How to increase your chances of appearing in the Local Pack
Going back to the local pack in our “dentist London” search, if we hover over the arrows next to each business listing we are given a box displaying more detailed information:
In this case, for the Bow Lane Dental Group, the box includes photos, the map listing, patient reviews, contact details and opening hours. All of this information is taken from the Bow Lane Dental Group Google+ page.
Creating a Google+ page is free, and an essential part of your dental practice online visibility.
When thinking about your Dental SEO, Google+ is a very good place to start. We recently posted a useful blog on Google My Business, to guide you through the set up process. Google My Business is a dashboard for business owners looking to increase their visibility on Google. Having a well-optimised Google+ page is an element of this and can be managed directly from your Google My Business account.
Once you have created your Google+ page, it’s crucial to make sure it is fully optimised and that you have filled out as much information as possible. When choosing a Dentist, trust and professionalism are important to patients, as well as location. These messages should be central to your Dental digital marketing strategy and communicated via your Google+ page.
The Bow Lane Dental Group Google+ is a good example of a well-optimised page.
They have included:
- The address, phone number website
- Opening times which is useful for patients wanting to call the practice
- A branded image, which looks smart and professional
- The larger cover image is of the team, which adds a personal and reassuring touch (for tips on using photos on Google+, read our recent blog)
- The category “Dental Clinics”
A range of categories are available for you to choose from, for example Cosmetic Dentist, Paediatric Dentist, Dental Clinic, Dental Hygienist, Dental Supply Store or Denture Care Centre. Listing your business under the most relevant category is important to ensure that Google, as well as people visiting your page, know exactly what you do.
Trust signals are further emphasised by the five star reviews which can be seen in the middle of the page. These are reviews left by patients on Bow Lane Dental Group’s Google+ page, in other words Google’s own reviews. Remember the popularity of the TripAdvisor link in the “salt lake city hotel” example? People like reviews. We are increasingly using them to choose everything from a hotel to a healthcare provider.
A good tip to encourage reviews on your Google+ page is to send out an email to all of your patients with a Gmail account (@gmail.com or @ googlemail.com at the end of the email address) politely asking them to do so. To leave a review on Google+ you need to be logged into a Google account. These patients will be logged in through the email account, so leaving a review will be a quick and simple process for them.
Compare the Bow Lane Dental Group Google+ page to this one for the London Court Dental Clinic:
The vital information is on there – the address and phone number. However, this listing has not been verified, meaning that this company have not claimed their Google+ page. As a result, the overall impression given to patients from this page is not reassuring, professional and modern like the Bow Lane Dental Group page. There are no trust signals from reviews, photos or branding. This represents a missed opportunity in London Court Dental Clinic’s SEO strategy.
Another important element of having a well-optimised Google+ page is to update it on a regular basis. Looking at this page for Sensu London, they update their page once every couple of days and sometimes more often.
Kensington Dental Practice’s page is updated less frequently, once every couple of months:
There are no set rules as to how often you should post on your Google+ page. The most important thing is that the content you post is relevant, interesting and engaging and that it emphasises the messages of trust and professionalism you are trying to communicate through your page. Both of these pages are posting good content, from a parody music video and outlining what makes the surgery stand out, to more in-depth posts on potential side effects of medicines and vitamins.
Google+ won’t answer all of your dental SEO prayers, but if your practice doesn’t already have a page I would strongly suggest that you set one up. If you do have one, ensure you are making the most of it by adding your branding, requesting reviews from your patients and posting quality content regularly. A well-optimised Google+ page will help your dental practice to stand out on Google and stay one step ahead of the competition.