If you're like most chiropractors, your primary reason for having a website is to attract new patients. Getting new patients from your chiropractic website can be dependent upon your site turning up in the search results. Extensive research has been done on how people use search engines, and consistently, these studies find that if you want to maximize site traffic, you need to be at the top of the search rankings. As we've written in a previous blog post, in any given search, the first three results get about 60% of the traffic. The bottom line is that if you want to get new patients, you should put effort into climbing to the top of the rankings.
The Challenge of Local Search
Google first released Google Local in 2004, but it wasn't until 2007 that Google started to increase focus on geographically constrained searching. In the last few years, a tremendous number of updates have been targeted at optimizing the local search engine.
Google is working off of the following premise:
When people are searching for locally-based business, Google wants to provide the best businesses as options to the searcher.
The big mystery is how Google determines the "best" businesses. Google is very secretive about the formulas it uses for displaying search results, but after years of experience and research, we do have some insights. In this article, we're going to cover the basic ranking factors that you need to be working on with your chiropractic marketing plan.
Google Local Business Ranking Factors
Here are the factors that appear to most strongly determine local search ranking. These are not necessarily in order of importance; Google weights their algorithm with each of these factors. Some might be more important than others, so it's worthwhile to address all of these elements.
- Business Location. This one is pretty straightforward. If you want to appear in the Google Local Business listings for a particular city, you'll have to be located in that city. When it comes to rankings, location within your city doesn't seem to have a great influence upon which websites appear first in the Google Local Business listings.
- Google Local Business Profile. This profile is what Google displays in the map listings, so you need to have a Google Local Business Profile and you need to get it verified for your business. Additionally, our research shows that the more photos you have of your business, the better you'll rank.
- Domain Age. We did an analysis of the first page map listings for the search "Chiropractor in Olympia," and found that the average year of the domains was 2008. Google is clearly looking at how long your site has been active and related to your business when ranking it in Google Local. This is also a good reason to carefully choose your domain name and avoid changing it!
- Reviews. Google wants people to continue to use its service--to achieve this, it wants to provide people with good search experiences. This includes finding local businesses that provide quality service. Google uses the number of reviews that a business has and the score of those reviews to rank sites. In our analysis of "Chiropractors in Olympia," we found that the first and third results had 11 reviews and 16 reviews, respectively. On page 2 of the results, you see chiropractors with five or less reviews. Getting reviews from your happy patients is critical.
- Citations. Google wants to only display legitimate, established businesses in its local search results. One of the ways that it determines this is by looking at how many citations or directory listings you have. These listings must match your address, business name, and phone number. Here's more information about how citations work.
- Social Media Signals. From our analysis, there does seem to be some connection between the number of Facebook shares and your ranking. In our Olympia, WA results, the #1 Google Local Business chiropractor has 12 Facebook shares and 2 Google +1s. Getting people to share your content on social media seems to be important.
- Backlinks. Getting links to your website has been a ranking signal for many years, and it still seems to be the case. The more legitimate websites that link to you, the more credibility you have in Google's algorithm. However, these need to be real, quality links; don't purchase links! The best links of all will be from directories or other businesses in your community, so if you work with other business owners in your city, get them to link to you. A link from your local business group or the Chamber of Commerce would be especially valuable.
Getting a better placement for your chiropractic practice in Google Local Business takes time and effort; it isn't something that happens immediately. If you need help with getting better exposure for your chiropractic office, we can help. Learn more about our Expert SEO Service here or give us a call at (800) 295-3346 for more information.