A quick and costless way to make your business more visible online.
Are you making it easy for potential customers to find you online?
Take advantage of Google’s “local pack,” which makes it exponentially easier—or harder—for potential customers to find you online, suggests Robert Sanchez, CEO of Digital Empathy, a website design and marketing firm.
The Local Pack
Try this: Open a web browser and type in “veterinarian near me.” Notice the prominent map that appears, with red location markers and clickable listings just below for three local veterinary businesses, including their stars (review scores), phone numbers and distances from you. A fourth listing may also appear, but it will be a paid advertisement that doesn’t appear on the map. Farther below is a list of regular links.
Those three spots on the map are the “local pack.” It’s where you want to be when a potential customer near you searches online for a veterinarian. “This is where 50% of the business goes,” says Sanchez. “Half of the clicks from the search will go to the local pack.”
To boost your practice’s chances of appearing in one of the coveted spots, there’s a powerful and easy step you can take, says Sanchez: Create and optimize a free Google My Business (GMB) profile for your practice. (Or if you find that one already exists, claim it as yours.)
A study by search engine analysis company Moz found that GMB is the top factor (25%) in the ranking algorithm that decides who will appear in the local pack. “That’s huge, almost twice as impactful as anything else you can do,” says Sanchez. And how you fill in the fields on your GMB profile determines how strongly it can raise your rank.
“There are some really simple things you can do to stack the deck in your favor,” says Sanchez. Here’s how:
1. Categories. Claim both “veterinarian” and “animal hospital,” as well as any other services you offer. “So many veterinary sites are categorized just as ‘pet/boarding facilities’ when they don’t even do boarding,” says Sanchez. “Claiming the right categories will give you more rank weight for those searches.”
2. Description. Write three to six sentences about your business, your unique value proposition and the services you offer. Include keywords of your services to help you rank for those searches. “The business description is heavily prioritized,” says Sanchez. “This is money lying on the ground.”
3. Special offers. Always include a new-client special or other promotion. “Having an offer will drive you up the rankings and probably bring more business to your practice,” says Sanchez.
4. Posts. Once a month, post something from your website (an update, offer, event or service) to your GMB profile. “This is a wonderful opportunity to write about your services, and it’s a pretty big rank factor,” says Sanchez.
5. Media. Post pictures and video to set your business apart. “Not a lot of practices post their own pictures,” says Sanchez. “Clients often post pictures for you, which is great, but this is an opportunity for you to share photos and videos you’ve taken internally.”
6. Q&A. Ask your team to jot down the 10 or 12 most common questions you hear from clients every day. Ask friends, family or team members to post those questions from their own Google accounts (only their first name and last initial will appear), then answer those questions on your GMB profile. “Don’t use up any relationship capital by asking customers to do this; save that for requesting reviews,” recommends Sanchez.
“If you take 20 or 30 minutes to optimize your Google My Business page, the rewards will be disproportionate,” says Sanchez. “I bet that if you go online and do this, you will see an increase in your traffic.”