Think you know how clients search for your business? Think again.
The way we use the internet has changed. Gone are the days of tailoring Google searches by SEO keywords and phrases. Today, people search in ways more similar to speech. People are more likely to search for best beef kebab nearby and Google will show them the best places to find Mediterranean food in the area. Pretty smart, huh? As a result, however, the way we approach and interact with local businesses has changed.
The result is a more accurate, user-friendly search result that benefits you -- local businesses. In this new world of hyper-intelligent search engines, how are pet owners searching for veterinary clinics? More importantly, how can you best position your practice?
Google Local Search: What's Changed
When a potential client searches for a business, they'll look for something along the lines of "vet clinics nearby." This search will display local businesses at the top of the page, just under the sponsor ads. Even if the client is searching for something more specific -- say "vet clinics in San Diego, CA" -- the local search will be shown at the top of the page. This list atop the search is referred to as the 3-pack.
With search engines today, every search is a local search. Since we're always given relevant content during searches now, this can be considered a good thing.
You may ask: "What about all of those marketing companies out there offering expensive SEO and SEM services for your clinic?" Good question. They're not worth the money -- especially in this industry. That money is better spent on marketing to your existing clients, but that's a another topic entirely.
The key takeaway here is that local search rankings are incredibly important today. If your business isn't there, your new potential clients won't see it. If you find yourself in the 3-pack, your reviews become even more important. Ask yourself when the last time you visited a restaurant with 3 or fewer stars on Google. The same applies here.
How Google Determines Local Ranking
There are three primary ways Google determines rankings on local search. The first is relevance. If someone searches for nearby plumbers, they're going to see local plumbers. If they search for nearby vet clinics, they're going to see local vet clinics. Easy enough.
The second determining factor in local rankings? Distance. Nearby veterinary clinics will rank higher in local rankings. This is determined by either a specified location entered into the search or by the location of the IP address. Take a drive across town and your clinic might drop out of the local search results.
The third and final determining factor in local ranking is prominence. How well-known is the business? If your clinic has been around for generations of doctors, then you're more likely to be considered a prominent business. Landmarks, museums, local attractions -- these are all locations sure to be highly listed in local search. Businesses with online content or other information will also boost prominence. More reviews and links to your website will boost your ranking.
How to Get Your Veterinary Clinic Ranked on Local Search
How can you promote your business in this new era of hyper-intelligent search engines?
- Claim your Google My Business page: If you haven't already, claim your local business page by signing up. Ensure the information is accurate so your clients know when and where they can bring their pet in for a checkup. Verify the location, keep the hours accurate, add specific details, ect.
- Manage and respond to reviews: Interacting with reviews shows that you value the feedback of your clients. Not only is this a good business practice but businesses with positive reviews are ranked higher in local search than their lower-star counterparts. Higher rankings mean more traffic and more traffic means more business for your veterinary clinic.
Your clients use the internet differently today than in the past. Google local search results are highly important in today's world. Claim your business page and maintain your presence. Ask for your clients to review you on Google and respond to their reviews. You'll be providing a better customer experience and helping yourself climb the rankings on Google local search.