As you may already be aware, Google’s recent changes to how local listings show up in search results makes it more important than ever to improve ranking for your map listings.
Previously, when searching for a particular type of business or service on Google, you would see up to 7 map listings, if there were enough relevant map listings to display. Now, only 3 listings will show up in search results, with the option to click to see more. If your map listing ranks below #3, your map listing is no longer showing up on the first page of search results. Since many people don’t look beyond the first page of search results, this could mean that potential patients aren’t seeing your local map listings.
With all of these changes, you now have to work even harder to improve your search rankings if you want your map listing to be displayed on the first page of search results. It can take some time to build up ranking for your map listings. First, you need to have all of the important information about your practice–locations, phone numbers, and hours of operation–on your website. Once you’ve taken care of that, these steps will help you improve ranking for your map listings.
1. Claim your Google listing.
Even if your map listing is already ranking on the first page, we still recommend that you complete this step. Verifying your listing is an important part of keeping your ranking. It also allows you to quickly update your map listing if any of the information changes.
2. Make sure your map listing is filled out as completely as possible.
Try not to leave anything blank if you can help it. You should always include a link to your website. If you have a separate page on your site for each location, link to that page instead of your homepage. Make sure that when you are filling out your business name, address, phone number, and hours of operation that everything matches up with the information you have on your website. Consistency is key if you want to improve your ranking. Try adding photos of your practice’s logo (if you have one) and photos of your location to help your listing stand out even more.
3. Claim your local listings on as many other directory sites as you can.
Follow the same process you did with your Google listings–verify your listings and fill them out as completely as possible. Again, make sure that all of your information stays consistent with what is on your website and your Google map listing. By keeping the information consistent across all of your online listings, you are reinforcing the information in your Google listing, and are therefore more likely to have a higher ranking in Google map listings.
4. Encourage your patients to leave reviews.
The more reviews you have for your listings, the more likely you are to have better ranking, especially if you have positive reviews. The problem is, most patients don’t think about posting online reviews unless they have had very negative experiences. Make it easier for your patients to leave you a review by letting them know where they can find your listings online. You could send a follow-up email after the appointment with links to the review sites that you are listed on. You could also add a reminder on your business cards and appointment cards to let patients know where you are listed so that they can go and leave a review. You’ll find that many of your patients are willing to leave a review for your practice, but most just don’t think about it unless you remind them.
All of these steps may be more effort than you had to make in the past to keep your map listings on the first page of search results, but it’s certainly worth the effort. Keep in mind that the patient’s proximity to your practice also plays a part in whether or not your map listing will show up in search results, so it isn’t likely that your listing will show up for a patient two cities over unless there are no other relevant options. If you’d like to learn more about local search ranking factors, Moz recently wrote a more in-depth article on this topic.