How Google Search Engine Updates will Impact Your Dental Practice’s Local Rankings

With the new “Possum” updates to Google’s local search algorithm, the proximity of your patients and the location of your dental practice have never mattered more.

Let me preface this post by saying that most of the updates that Google (and every other big technology company) is making is focusing on mobile. Everyone is using their phone more today than they were 1 year ago. And 2 years from now, you will be using your phone more than you do today. So to keep up with (and probably control) the way consumers are utilizing technology, Google constantly changes its search algorithm. Most of the updates they have made revolve around mobile, and in this case the GPS location of your patient’s phones and computers are being heavily factored into the equation.

As far as the most recent update is concerned, Google is trying to make it harder for bigger brands to dominate the local search listings. Let me explain in the most simple and non-technical way possible, how this is going to impact your dental practice’s rankings online.

Let’s say someone who lives/works in Beverly Hills is searching for a dentist in Beverly Hills by searching “Dentist in 90210”. Before Possum, bigger dental corporations like Aspen Dental, Heartland Dental, and Western Dental could use search engine optimization (SEO) strategies to bump their local listings to one of the first results listed. They could optimize keywords with “dentist in 90210” and even if their practice was miles away, the local listing could show up at the top.

However, since Google’s new update places a stronger emphasis on the location of the person searching and the location of the dental practice, dentists in the 90210 have a much higher probability of showing up.

How does this affect your dental practice?

You are going head to head with your friendly neighborhood dental practices. So, the new question becomes, how do you measure-up against the locals, especially on Google’s local search rankings? There are hundreds of factors that Google takes into consideration, so there is no one answer to being number 1 (as is how life works…). But, a great place to start is with reviews, which is still one of the more important factors when Google determines where to place you. Specifically, Google is looking for 3 things with your reviews:

  1. Volume ( # of total reviews)
  2. Frequency (how often)
  3. Star Rating (★★★★★)

With this new update, now is the best time to build a review strategy for your practice, that influences your bottom line. Getting positive reviews, frequently and consistently, will improve your chances at ranking higher in local search, which will ultimately help you get new patients. Tweaking your internal marketing strategy to focus on reviews, rather than paying for external advertising will not only help convert more referrals, but will also give your local search rankings a boost. And of course, the best part is that our team at Connect the Doc is constantly coming up with new ways to help grow your business – where we focus on helping you get reviews and referrals and our Lighthouse360 partnership can help you with reminders, confirmations, recall, and re-activations.

If you’re not following our updates, it’s important to note that our review platform now has direct integration with 96% of practice management softwares. With this integration, we are able to seamlessly connect with your schedule and ask every patient that walks through the door for feedback. When they have had a positive experience they are taken directly to Google or Yelp (we use artificial intelligence with our SMS and it detects if the patient is a Yelper).

As part of our integration roll out, we’re offering a $1 trial to 1 qualified practice / zip until October 31, 2016. More details about the program can be found here. Also, click here to see which dental practice management softwares integrate with our review platform.