If you searched yourself and find you aren’t showing up at the top of search results anymore, you might be freaking out. And understandably so – everyone who shows up in the top three on Google’s review system gets most of the calls.
This makes sense – something just happened with local SEO. Before we dive into all the specifics, we want to take a moment to remind you about local SEO and why it’s critical to focus on ensuring you show well here alongside organic SEO. This is a critical area of your online marketing – patients rely on reviews every day to help make the best decisions for their health. And since it’s other patients telling their stories, reviews are highly reliable.
So let’s talk about what changed.
This might come as a surprise, but this update actually started all the way back in November of 2021. One thing that is very common with Google updates is that they do a kind of rolling update – you won’t see all of it at once.
So while this started in November, you might not be seeing anything until recently. And it isn’t just you – everyone is impacted in some way!
If you’re already a VMD client, be assured that we have you completely covered. We’ve already anticipated the changes Google has made, and in fact, we expect they’ll continue updating this particular area of rankings. We’re keeping a close eye on your rankings and the results you are seeing.
If you aren’t a VMD client and you’ve suddenly stopped receiving calls, or appointment requests, or your schedule looks awfully empty, we’d be happy to have a free consultation with you to let you know how this update may be hurting you!
Now let’s get into the update itself…
Here’s a basic summary.
Proximity & Distance
First up, proximity has been updated. What does this mean? Google is constantly looking to provide the best results, and a key item that impacts that is how close someone is to you when they are performing a search.
Specifically, they tightened the distance you can show up for.
If you used to show up at a distance of 15-25 miles, you probably won’t show up there anymore. You will much more likely to show up for searches within a 10-mile radius right now. If that’s concerning for you, remember this – your competitors can’t show up as far away anymore either.
Titles and Keywords
This one has been a big complaint for marketers for quite a while. This has to do with adding keywords in the title of Google profiles.
Basically, if someone had a local geographical term, like a city name, they had a boost in rankings. This has led to additional keywords being added to business titles to help with rankings.
Google has updated this to make this fairer for practices that may not naturally have those keywords in their names.
What does this mean for you?
You need to pay attention! And keep these things in mind before you panic:
- VMD Services has been aware of this, and we have been planning for it. We already have a plan in place and items to complete to build up your rankings.
- As we mentioned before, keep in mind that this is not just impacting you… your competitors are facing the same thing! Google doesn’t pick and choose who is impacted by their updates – it’s the same for everyone.
- On this same note, make sure you are not only paying attention to rankings, but also the critical numbers and results. Even more important than how you are showing up on Google may be the number of calls you receive from your listings. This may have actually INCREASED! This means you may not be searching the same way your patients are – which is more common than you might think.
So, while we do what we do best and we tackle some of the technical specifics, what can you do?
- Keep up on your reviews! And make sure you get high-quality reviews, not just one sentence “They were good!” Google is looking for high-quality reviews that dive into the details. Specific keywords in reviews will help you show up for similar searches. For example, “heel pain” would help you show up better for heel pain-related searches.
- Make sure you have a strong “About Us” page that summarizes your practice really well. If you wonder what that might look like, give us a call.
- Make sure you are posting to your Google Business Profiles (the same profile that houses your reviews).
- Get more local backlinks from other businesses in your area. And yes, this one will be tricky!
- Send us photos – or update your photos on your Google Profile. Specifically with more staff photos. (This should be done once a month or at the very least once a quarter.)
That’s just a start, and of course, we will continue to provide more details as this update continues to have an impact on your listings. If you are seeing a change in numbers, keep in mind that you can help make sure your Google listing can show by utilizing Google ads.
It Doesn’t Matter – My Competitors Dominate the Top of Search
In the specific case where you have a competitor, and you can tell they are going all out, yes – it will be tough to get to the top.
We still recommend you do the work (or have us do it for you!) as building up your organic reach is incredibly important. But you need results right now!
Google ads can help with this. Yes, you have to pay for the results, but so long as you have a decent number of reviews and a website that can work for you, you can show up without having all of your ranking factors in line.
And just in case you didn’t know, ads can show up in the local map pack with your reviews showing up at the top. To really make the most of Google ads in this area, we recommend a decent number of reviews at a decent rating – we recommend shooting for a minimum of 40 reviews as well as a minimum rating of 4.3 stars.
If you need help with your online reputation, we have solutions for that as well.
If this is something you are interested in, reach out to us.
I Still Want To Show Up Further Away
We hear you – just keep in mind, you will have to pay for it now unless you are in the middle of nowhere USA (if you don’t have anyone around you, you’ll show up for a larger radius).
Google ads can still help you show up further away, and in fact, we can make it so that is all you pay for – ads that only show up for searches more than 5-10 miles away.
Google has advanced targeting that allows us to exclude targeting an area while only targeting the area you wish to specifically market to. If you know you are showing well organically within a specific radius, we can exclude that area while ensuring your ad only shows up in the further areas that Google may now be inhibiting.