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Google Local SearchGoogle has once again changed the format of its local search results, and there are some important factors you’ll want to know about as you continue to market your dental practice to a local online audience.

For the past few years, Google displayed local results in what was referred to as the 7-pack. Essentially, this showed 7 individual businesses for any local search result along with a map pin, the business phone number, address, and link to their Google + local page.

Google is now only showing three businesses for any given local search result. But the expanded result shows a maps list result of 20 different businesses.

What do all these changes mean for your local dental practice?

Your Ranking Probably Changed

If your practice was previously ranked in spots 4-7 for local searches, you might be worried about the decline in visibility now that you’re bumped off the list. However, that might not be the case entirely. With the rise in mobile search, Google has made it a point to make local search very specific based on the actual location of the searcher. That means there’s a very good chance that each local search result will be entirely different based on where the searcher is located. So even if you don’t see your business in the initial three results, it doesn’t mean it appears that way for everyone.

You Still Have Potential for Great Visibility

With the expanded list of 20 maps results, you still have a good chance at getting noticed even if you don’t show up in the first three results. The key is optimizing our listing in a way that gives your result the best chance of getting noticed amongst all of the other competitors. Here are a few tips that may help:

Give Google Lots of Information

If you haven’t already, it’s important that your Google My Business page is filled out with as much information as possible. The more information you make available to Google on your page, the more likely it is to show up for customers searching for a business like yours. This information includes:

Reviews Are More Important than Ever

Star ratings and averages are one of the most visible factors with the new local search results format. This is a big area where you could lose to your competition if it looks like your reviews and ratings fall far behind theirs. Take a look at the post we published recently about online reviews and make an office-wide effort to increase their volume and quality.

Be Specific with On-Site Optimization

When determining how to rank your site in local search results, Google relies heavily on the information from your website to know what it is you do and where you’re located.  With the increased competition of local search, however, it’s becoming harder to dominate an entire local industry in the rankings. That’s why instead you should focus on positioning yourself as a local specialist to give Google a more specific niche to rank you in. Rather than optimizing your site as “Dentist in [city],” try going after more specific terms related to what you do such as “Cosmetic dentist in [city],” or “emergency dentist in [town].”

As with every new Google update, there’s always some initial cause for concern about how it will affect the online traffic for your business. But with the new Google 3-pack, there’s no need to panic! By implementing a few best practices and making a bit more effort with your on-site and Google My Business optimization, you can be on the right track to attracting lots of local patients online.