With the latest major update from Google (code name "Possum") that hit the local search market on September 1, 2016 we were left wondering what had changed and how this would affect us in the Dental marketplace. With a couple months under our belts we are now able to look at the data we have collected and identify what changed and how to best position our dental practices moving forward.

Google 3-Pack and Your Practice

It's important to know what the Google 3-Pack is because it was one of the things most affected by the Possum update. When you search for a local business (example: Orthodontist Spokane) Google shows a local map and the top 3 most relevant results which is called the "Google 3-Pack". (See example below)  If you click on the "More Places" at the bottom of the 3-Pack you will then get the rest of the local search results. Obviously, the goal is to get your practice listed in the top 3-pack, but it is also good to gauge your progress along the way in the local search results. The following will highlight how local search and the 3-pack was affected with this new update.

Google 3-Pack

What was changed and how does it affect me as a dentist?

The first significant change that we noticed in our research from data collected was that Google seems to have expanded it's city limits parameters. Before this update, it was next to impossible for a dentist to get listed in the 3-pack if that practice fell just outside of the physical limits of that particular city. Now after this update, the limits have been expanded and should result in new opportunities for the astute dentist and his marketing team.

The next major change comes in the form of filtering out similar local search results based on website and physical addresses. In the past if your dental practice had multiple listings, say for multiple dentists at the same physical address or multiple physical addresses with the same website address, you could still get each of these listed in the local results. Now after Possum we have seen these duplicates get filtered and instead Google picks the one that seems the most relevant to the search and displays it. This is an interesting predicament in that in many of these cases it would be beneficial for the patient to see all of the listings due to the fact that there may be different phone #s, addresses, emails, etc. We are still looking into this change and will update this post with any new insight we find in how to optimize your dental listings accordingly.

Finally, the last major change comes in the form of different search results based on slight variations to the keyword being searched. For example, Spokane Orthodontist vs. Orthodontist Spokane. In the past this didn't change the search result too dramatically, but since the Possum update we have noticed a pretty significant change in results based on these minor changes in search terms.

What does this mean for your practice? SEO, SEO, SEO! Your search engine optimization was always very important to your local search results, but now after this update it is even more important that your dental marketing team is constantly researching and building your keywords and search engine optimization for your practice and website. If you are not taking an active role in developing this part of your practice you will soon find that other more active dentists will be showing up in more search results while your practice will continue to fall behind.

Summary: Dental Marketing Experts

In conclusion, it is obvious that local search results were hit in a big way with this update. It doesn't have to be all doom and gloom though, in fact as we mentioned above there are quite a few new opportunities that you as a dentist could take advantage of before your competition does. We here at DentalROI can help you in this endeavour, we are experts in this field and would be happy to help you get your practice to where you want it to be. So what are you waiting for? Give us a call today! 208-473-2155