Several changes have been made to the ways Google serves up local search information to its users.
The Local Stack
You may have heard of its predecessor, the “Local 6 Pack.” Well, the “6 Pack” is out and a much leaner, more efficient system for showcasing local businesses has taken its place: The Local Stack.
The Local Stack now showcases only THREE (3) businesses on the front page of Google, meaning that local optimization is now more important than ever. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Is your practice branded consistently across every local listing? Every character and letter counts, and they should be 100% identical.
- Do you have a consistent address and phone number on every listing? These too should be 100% identical across every listing.
- Have you created local business listings with all of the major aggregators? These are companies like Infogroup, Neustar, and Acxiom.
Need help with your local business optimization? Drop us a line.
Local [Home] Service Ads
Possibly the biggest change to the front page of Google in several years are the Local Service Ads currently being tested in the San Francisco market. These local ads will feature three pre-qualified home service professionals in your area. Users can select up to three of them and request to receive a quote.
What does this mean for Plastic Surgery? Honestly, nothing yet. There will be people running around capitalizing on the news of these local ads, and perhaps even getting you to sign up with them to be the first in your area to run local service ads. Do not fall for this hype just yet.
Local Service ads are currently — as the name suggests — for HOME service professionals like plumbers, electricians, and repairs. In the future, perhaps even the near future, these types of ads may come to the medical industry.
If Google Home Service Ads do come to the medical industry, they might include similar background checks to ensure you are properly licensed, board-certified, and that you are what you claim to be in your ads.
One of the key features of these ads is how they present your contact information as well as your reviews. You should always be working to earn better reviews from your patients and customers. After all, who would you choose when presented with three choices? We would all naturally gravitate toward the one with the highest review score and the most reviews.
What Does All of This Mean for the Front Page of Google?
Every update moves us closer and closer to Google itself becoming the ultimate resource for its users. If Google can guide its users to contact you directly, and make money in the process, then that is what’s best for Google.
A typical front page of Google will now offer Adwords results, Service Ads, the Local Stack, and Organic links. Adding more real estate to the front page also means the organic search results are being pushed down further, thus being less visible and likely to be clicked on. This also means that there will be less space for organic listings. Ensuring your marketing reaches beyond the borders of just your website can not be overemphasized.
Be proactive and take the necessary steps to ensure your practice is visible to potential patients and customers searching for your services online.