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.
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
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.