As users become increasingly hyper-local with their queries, local businesses need to ensure their websites are optimized for local. In 2015, Google reported that “near me” searches have doubled in volume. What does this mean for your practice as a local business? It’s time to make sure that you are capitalizing on the opportunity that your potential patients are giving you to win their business. In the following post, you’ll read about the what, how, and why “near me” searches are important.
Ranking is a Challenge but it’s Possible
Whether you have a single location or multiple locations for your business, it’s a challenge to show up in the organic results on the first page of any search engine result page (SERP).
It’s also a challenge to show up in what’s called the “local pack,” which is the top three local businesses ranked via the map shown on various SERPs.
Let’s take for example a potential patient who has just moved to a new city. We’ll call her Heather. One day while shopping or eating lunch, Heather receives an email from her old dentist reminding her of her upcoming checkup. Heather knows she can’t see her old dentist, since she lives too far away now. What does she do? She navigates to her maps program on her phone and types in “dentists near me.”
This is how dentists have the greatest opportunity of garnering new online patients via the “near me” search. People are constantly looking for a service or product, one of them being dental services. According to Google’s report about “near me” doubling in 2015, it seems to be a trend that continues to grow and doesn’t look to be disappearing any time soon.
How do Dentists Optimize for “Near Me” Searches?
Google increases the importance of the proximity of the searcher to the service they’re searching.
For example, a user who searches “dentists” in their phone may not get the most accurate results, although Google will return local results. However, if a user searches “dentists near me,” the results are much more accurate based on relevance and proximity.
You as a local business owner can optimize for this type of online search, and this is how:
NAP: Ensure your business name, address, and phone number are visible in plain text on your website. The ideal location is in the header or the footer, which places your NAP on every page of your site.
Structured Data: You will also want to wrap your business information in what’s called Structured Data (Schema). This helps search engines understand what your NAP means instead of it being a string of characters and numbers. Here is a link to Google’s guidelines.
Not sure if your site is utilizing Schema? Check your site using this tool Google offers for free.
Google + Business Page: Check and make sure you’ve created/claimed your G+ Business page. Ensure it’s optimized for your business and that all information/photos are accurate. You’ll want to verify this page, too. You will also want to make sure the NAP on your page is exactly the same as what is on your website. Here’s a link to Google’s guidelines for Google + Business Pages.
Reviews: Gain as many positive reviews as you possibly can. The more people who say your business is a great place to visit shows Google you’re legitimate, and gains the trust of potential patients. Consider it as being pre-approved for a loan. Here is Google’s guidelines on reviews.
A Quick Wrap Up
Just as your business offline garners a positive reputation, you need to do the same online. It’s imperative that you are not only creating a positive online presence, but that your presence is optimized to complete the conversion process by turning users into patients.