As Google tweaks its search algorithm, different ranking factors come into play. Right now, Google displays their local listing map 3-Pack at the top of the search results page, with a column of pay-per-click ads down the right hand side, and then the top 10 organic (not paid) results below the map. (image below)
The Map Pack (also referred to as the 7-pack, but now reduced to the 3-pack, also called the Address Pack) can look different on your desktop computer versus a mobile device, and variations in how it is displayed are common. If you’ll notice in the image above, below the three map results is a link for “More veterinarian”. Also, on the map itself, there are 3 large red dots with white centers, corresponding to the three vets listed below. In order to see more local results, you can either click on the “More veterinarian” link or any one of the smaller red dots on the map.
This opens up to a much larger map (image below), and a long list of local veterinarians, along with star ratings, links to reviews, website and directions. If you’re on a mobile device, you’ll see a link to call the business instead.
How does Google decide which lucky 3 businesses end up being featured in their map 3-pack? What makes them choose the 10 organic results that they feature on the first page? And how can you get your veterinary practice to gain that valuable visibility?
Step One – Google My Business
If you haven’t already created a Google My Business page, you need to do that now. This is the information they use in the Map Pack. It replaces the old Google Places. It’s kind of like a dashboard for all of your Google activity like your Google+ page (if you have one), Google Analytics and Google Adwords.
Step Two – Encourage Reviews on Google
Regardless of any other reviews your business may get, it’s the reviews on Google that count as far as the Map Pack is concerned. Those are the only ones they will display, along with your star rating. I haven’t seen any businesses show up in the Map Pack with zero reviews, so I have to conclude that they take that factor into consideration.
Step Three – Beef up Your Website
With websites, you definitely reap what you sow. The more unique content and great information you regularly add to your website, the better it performs. Every one of the three veterinary businesses featured in the 3-Pack above has an excellent website with lots of great information about their services, about pets, FAQs, etc. Sites like these inspire confidence in your potential customers and show Google that your site is valuable and deserves to be promoted.
There’s not a foolproof formula for enhancing the performance of your website in organic search results, but the three steps above represent the minimum you need to do to give your website the best chance at being competitive and gaining visibility.
p.s. If you’re not a veterinarian, congrats on reading this far. As you may have guessed, the tips in this blog post can be applied to ANY type of business, not just veterinarians.