You probably noticed Google started listing more directory websites on first-page search results about a year ago. Today, in some cases, directory listings can make up half or more of the traditional organic results on the first page of your most important searches.
For instance, a Google search for “Dentists in Denver” lists seven different directory listings (Healthgrades, Yelp, Whitepages, Yellowpages, Dr-oogle, etc.) on the first page. So if Google can identify a user’s location, why would they show so many directory websites instead of listing more local provider websites? And what should your practice do?
Why Google May Favor Big Directory Websites Rather Than Your Local Website
The one primary reason that most reputable SEO experts point to as a reason for this shift was a Google updated that was coined the Pigeon update.
The Pigeon update was launched in July, 2014. It focused on Google’s local search algorithm with the intent to provide users with more useful, relevant and accurate local search results. The result was an update that was tied more closely to traditional webs search ranking signals.
What this means is that local rankings depend more on website authority. Large directory websites that display local listings possess lots of traffic (including repeat visitors), high domain authority, backlinks (from websites that want to promote their profiles/reviews), as well as a lot of other SEO ranking factors.
What Should Your Practice Do?
Of course, your website doesn’t have the same resources that go into large national directory websites. However, if your website has been pushed down, or users are not getting to your website for relevant searches, there are a number of things you can do to combat, and even leverage, these changes.
A. Identify the most influential local directories – The key is to identify which directories make the most sense for your target services and have high visibility and link authority. Here is a list of high-powered directories that YEXT (a local SEO resource) identified that you may use to start considering the right directories for your practice.
B. Be sure to also find highly relevant niche directory websites – These directory websites are those that specialize in healthcare. Websites like Healthgrades, Realself, Dr-oogle, Ratemds, etc. can have a very positive impact on your visibility, as well as your website’s SEO credibility and authority.
C. Make sure your practice is listed in these directories - There was a time when most practices found that expensive directories were a waste of time and money. Today, you need to take advantage of them, but be very strategic in selecting the right ones, and how you leverage them.
D. Optimize your Google(+) My Business (GMB) page – Ensure your Google My Business page is claimed and that you only have one profile per location. Make sure it is categorized as accurately as possible. Check to ensure your website matches the business name, address, and phone number (NAP) on your GMB page.
E. Get Local Support – Including Reviews! – A major local credibility signal that you can send to Google is the online community you build around your business, website and profiles. Local patient reviews, particularly on Google+ are important indications to Google that your business is local to a specific area and that you have an online presence and audience. Database email marketing can stimulate both more reviews from satisfied patients, but also more engagement with your profiles and website.
To learn more about which directories can make a difference in your practice, register for our online course:
Wednesday, June 3, 2015 at 1:00p EDT (10:00a PDT)