2016 has been a big year for Google’s local search, as they have made many changes to perfect their product. With any change comes implications, especially to healthcare business marketers such as local chiropractic companies, dental offices, and surgeons.
There are four major changes that have occurred over the past several months to Google’s local search:
- No more description edits. Google is no longer allowing description edits to Google My Business. Google+ still allows this, but probably not for long.
- No more additional categories. Along with description edits, google removed the ability to add additional categories such as email, fax, city, landing page URL, icon URL, categories, and payment types.
- No more Google+ metrics. Instead of Google+ metrics provided on the dashboard, Google is providing more information on the source of users to your Google My Business page. You can find out if your users came from search or Google maps as well as the actions being taken.
- Better critic review support. Now Google My Business allows for greater local critic reviews, enabling them to be published right in the results. There is additional Schema Markup required to apply for critic reviews. Your healthcare organization can respond directly to these reviews through the most recent version of API.
These changes show that Google is serious about perfecting their local search. 50% of Google’s traffic is from mobile devices, and 30% of that is local. These changes also reveal that Google is extremely sure about their crawl data, verifying it several times over.
What do these changes imply to healthcare companies marketing their local businesses? Well, first it shows that Google is confident about acquiring the data by themselves. It also shows that Google is successfully yielding information about local businesses, more so than ever before. This is good news for Google users, but it is important to realize that Google is putting themselves at a huge risk. Each piece of information they yield in a search result is a chance for a potential mistake, making them very vulnerable. The last take away point is that Google has made a huge effort to get critic reviews into its platform.
The actions taken by healthcare marketers are as follows: get your information in places Google will look, make sure the information is easy to understand, implement schema markup, make sure all business information is accurate, implement a review strategy, and earn good links.