On September 24, David Mihm published the 2015 Local Search Ranking Factors, which is a collaborative project across the SEO industry to evaluate which factors are the most important for local SEO. The timing is perfect because Google My Business (GMB) has been proven in this research to be a powerful tool to assist local SEO efforts. Using this published research, I have pulled out three things you need to get right within your GMB experience to maximize your dental practice SEO efforts.

1. Title Structure on Your Website and Your GMB Listing

The report cites GMB listing title and the title of the website linked to the GMB listing as very significant factors to ranking in local search. Here are my recommendations for dental practices:

First, it’s important to link your practice website to your GMB profile (I was surprised by how many GMB listings I see in which there is no linked website.)

Second, add the city and state into your website title. It’s important to distinguish between your GMB listing title and your website title. When I say website title, I mean the html <title> element on your website that is linked to your GMB profile. Your GMB listing title is your actual business name that appears on your GMB listing. Look at the images below to see the difference between the website title for the Patterson Dental home page and the GMB title for our Minnesota Branch GMB listing.

Google My Business for Dental Practices: Part 2

Google My Business for Dental Practices: Part 2

For an example, let’s say you are optimizing the local search experience for Galactic Orthodontics in Austin, Texas. Here are two ways you could optimize the website title:

“Galactic Orthodontics | Austin, TX”

“Orthodontic Clinic in Austin, TX | Galactic”

However, your GMB listing title should exactly reflect the name of your business that you’ve determined in your NAP convention (see #3 below). In this example it might simply be “Galactic Orthodontics”. Don’t add location or other keywords here.

2. GMB Category Associations

The Local Ranking Factors 2015 prove that category associations are incredibly important. In fact, the report cites “incorrect business category” as the #1 negative ranking factor. Make sure you nail your primary category as closely as possible to your actual service offering.

Here are my recommendations for dental practices:

If you have a clinic or practice with one dentist, either build a page for the clinic and select “dental clinic” as the category or build a page for the individual dentist and select “dentist” as the category. What you don’t want to do is create a listing for the dentist and for the clinic. This would be flagged as duplicative and hurt your overall rankings as a result.

If you have a clinic with multiple dentists, start by creating one page for the clinic itself. Unlike the one dentist, one practice scenario, in this case it’s okay for the dentists to build a page specifically for themselves. The clinic listing should choose “dental clinic” and the dentist should choose the closest available category match that is available in GMB.

For a fictitious example: Dr. Cathy Smith is one of many dentists that work out of Viking Dental.

There could be a listing for Viking Dental and Cathy could also build a listing for herself titled: Cathy Smith, DDS. Only the dentist should have a unique page, not any of the other staff.

If your practice has a specialized focus, use the category that aligns. For example:

Pediatric Dentist, Orthodontist, Endodontist, Oral Surgeon and Periodontist all exist as category options.

Multiple clinic locations with multiple dentists? There is a GMB function that allows bulk location management (typically 10 locations or more is the baseline).  Read more

3. NAP

In previous posts, I’ve mentioned the importance of NAP consistency or Name, Address and Phone Number. The first piece of this is making sure you have decided upon an exact Name, Address and Phone number convention (punctuation and capitalization all have to be exact).

Step 2 is making sure you have your NAP on every page of your website. One common way to do this is to add the NAP as part of your page template in the footer.

For the purpose of GMB and the local search rankings report, the NAP on your web page has to exactly match the NAP in your GMB listing.

This sounds simple, but I always come across NAP inconsistencies when I’ve done local SEO audits. For example, I might find one variation of an address in Yelp, another in Google and yet another on the website. Fixing these seems tedious and time consuming, but the SEO value for doing it far exceeds the effort.

Keeping up with Google platform updates is no easy task. Seconds before I published this post, I received a notification that Google is rolling out a new design for the Google My Business Portal. It’s too soon to say what this means exactly, but certainly the intent is to make the experience easier for all of us. Regardless, the 2015 Local Search Ranking Factors report offers clear evidence that the GMB portal is an essential tool for managing the local search experience.

3 comments on “Google My Business for Dental Practices: Part 2

  1. Great point on the time/dividends about consistent NAP data. Easy work, just tedious & time-consuming. And requires ongoing monitoring to ensure any changes or incorrect data flushing through the ecosystem is handled in a timely fashion.

    We see drs ranking in the new 3 pack without even 5+ reviews (and no access to on-page SEO factors), and feel it’s due to proper GMB optimization, consistent citations, & fresh relevant question answering local content (blog/social).

    Properly formatted local schema is also a worthy attribute IMO – although I’m not sure if that has been proven to be a direct rankings booster.

    A must read report for any small business – look forward to David Mihm’s findings every year.

    BrightLocal (UK), Whitespark (for those in Canada too), & Mike Blumenthal’s blogs are also great resources for small businesses – and dental practices, DSOs, or one man shop sole proprietors.

    Great post, thanks for sharing some actionable info.

  2. Eric,

    For tip #2. We have pediatric dentist, orthodontist and dentist at one location. In your advice are you saying call the office the dental clinic and each doc the corresponding profession that they are? Won’t that hurt the main business one being called a dental clinic? It’s funny cause I recently saw someone give the advice of categorizing the individual docs as dental clinic to hurt their ranking so that the office ranking could get boosted. Was the intent of your advice to help the individual doc ranking or the office ranking?

  3. Thanks Bryan. Having multiple practitioners with multiple specialties at one location is complex from a Google My Business perspective. The following link briefly describes the best practice from Google: https://support.google.com/business/answer/3038177?hl=en (scroll down to individual practitioners)
    To answer your first question, if you have a clinic with multiple practitioners, yes you should have one page for the clinic categorized as “dental clinic” and pages for the practitioners categorized with their respective specialty. The titles are also very important; make sure the GMB Title for the practitioner does not include the name of the clinic at all. It should read the name of the practitioner along with specialty and degree certification. Example: John Doe, DDS
    The next question is more strategic because it depends on what you want to accomplish. It’s important to note that you can create pages for individual practitioners but you do not have to do so. Rather than categorizing them incorrectly, I would assess whether or not they should exist at all. A good exercise is to define what searches you want each GMB page to rank for. If you want the clinic page and a practitioner page to rank for the same search you are competing against yourself and should consider eliminate the practitioner page. If the clinic is well branded and capturing high level/generic dental searches, the practitioner pages could be used to capture searches for the specialties they provide. The best strategy is to make sure that each page has a unique focus rather than multiple pages that are all trying to do the same thing.

    I hope this helps! Great questions.

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