In response to the rapid growth of mobile search, Google is adding a key component to their search algorithms: mobile-first indexing. Given the fact that the majority of local searches are now conducted by smartphone users, it only makes sense for Google to adjust its ranking algorithms accordingly.
The writing has been on the wall for a few years that mobile phones were taking over local search. Around May 2015, it was announced that more than half of all Google searches were performed on mobile devices. By August 2016, that number approached sixty percent. As we head into 2018, mobile search is showing no signs of slowing down. It’s Mobilegeddon!
What is Mobile-First Indexing?
The name is fairly straight-forward! Instead of crawling and ranking a website based on its full-screen, desktop/laptop appearance, Google will now make its primary evaluation of a site based on how it appears and performs on a mobile device.
What is a citation? No, not the kind you receive for parking too close to a fire hydrant; the kind of citation that you hear about when listening to Internet marketing presentations or talking to an SEO specialist.
A citation for your business on the Internet is any mention of your business name and street address on other web pages. A well-established orthodontic practice will normally have hundreds of citations dispersed around the Internet, everywhere from Yelp and Facebook to nominal sites you’ve never heard of. The overall collection of online citations essentially compromises the “digital footprint” of a business.
Even if there is no link to your website from these other web pages, any mention of your business’s name and street address on another web page will count as a citation. (A link from any page on the Internet back to your own website is called a “backlink” and those are important, too.)
Once we understand what a citation is, we must determine which citations are the most important. With hundreds of thousands of websites storing massive amounts of data on the Internet, where is a business owner to begin? What are the most important citation sites for an orthodontist?
Big news this week for Google My Business users: Google has introduced a “Posts” feature on the Google My Business (GMB) dashboard that allows business owners to publish a mini-blog post to their business listing on Google!
The destination for the posts will be the knowledge panel (or knowledge graph) that shows up in the results when someone searches for a business. Initial testing shows these GMB posts only showing to mobile users, but expect the posts to start showing up in knowledge panels across desktop searches as more businesses start to utilize the feature.
The Posts feature is not immediately available for all categories, but it is already available for Orthodontics. What is the maximum word count? Can you include a photo with the Posts from Google My Business?
You don’t need us to tell you that online reviews are important. As a business owner in 2017, online reviews can make or break you. But let’s take a look at some numbers from a recent study by BrightLocal — a leading provider of SEO tools and tracking software — and explore how you can leverage your reviews to increase conversions on your website and landing pages.
The marketing landscape has changed dramatically in just a few short years. Not long ago, word-of-mouth referrals seemed to be the unquestioned leader when it came to trustworthiness. However, responses to the 2016 Consumer Review Survey conducted by BrightLocal showed that a whopping 84% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. So much for not believing everything you read on the Internet!
Along those same lines, BrightLocal found that 74% of consumers surveyed will trust a local business more if they find positive reviews for that business on the Internet. When it comes to your practice, roughly three-quarters of potential patients will place their trust in you once they find positive feedback about you on the Internet.
A hot topic in dental and orthodontic study groups is the matter of website accessibility and being compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (AwDA). Recent news of dentists in Texas receiving letters from attorneys alleging that their websites violate AwDA has sent shock waves through the dental and orthodontic professions.
The letters seem to request some amount of money in order to avoid a lawsuit. It is still unclear whether any moneys were paid or if any of these cases involving dental practices have gone to court. At this stage, we are still in fact-finding mode.
What we do know is that dental and orthodontic offices are subject to the AwDA and bear a legal obligation to make their business accessible to persons with disabilities. As the consumer landscape has shifted to digital interactions and e-commerce, the laws have adapted to include websites. What does this mean for you and your website?
Something that is sure to ruin any business owner’s day: a negative Yelp review. Despite your best efforts, despite your best intentions, someone was compelled to badmouth your business on Yelp.
Maybe the information in the review is fabricated or embellished. Perhaps the name of the reviewer is not even in your customer database. Or maybe you just had a very difficult patient and the treatment did not go smoothly. It happens to a lot of orthodontic practices.
A bad review on Yelp could be bad for business. Sometimes, Yelp seems to feature the negative reviews more prominently than the good ones. Why is that? How can you get Yelp to remove negative reviews?
2016 will go down as the year of the secure domain. OK, maybe not. But the last 12 months have shown a major uptick in the number of websites opting for secure domains (HTTPS) over the standard HTTP configuration.
In January of 2016, the top Google search results tracked by Moz were about 25% HTTPS. In July that number had grown to 30% and by Halloween the number was at 40%. By the end of 2016, almost half of the top search results on the web will have secure domains.
You might be asking yourself these questions: What is HTTPS? Does it affect ranking? Do I need to change my website to HTTPS?
One of the most common Internet scams today involves domain names. Business owners are duped into thinking their website is going to expire unless they fork over a couple hundred bucks to keep their domain. Here’s how it works:
Companies such as Domain Registry Services will send professional-looking documents to businesses. These notices will have official letterheads and a very believable appearance. They use a mixture of common customer service terminology and mild threats to confuse and manipulate business owners into spending money on domain registration services that they already have.
Just because your domain is already registered, that doesn’t mean another provider can’t try to trick you into transferring your domain to their service instead. These scams are preying on the uninformed. Educate yourself on how to identify spam domain notices.
Google Maps results have changed drastically in many parts of the United States. Starting around the second week of September, we have seen a recent Google update impact hundreds of thousands of search terms, including local searches for an orthodontist.
Generally speaking, it appears that Google has expanded its overall search area. Businesses located a long way from the city center are now ranking where they didn’t before. Google has essentially let more ping pong balls into the lottery machine.
Prior to the Possum update, Google placed a larger emphasis on the “centroid” which is the part of a city or town that features the most businesses in a given category. The centroid for one city can vary based on the different search terms people use. For example, the centroid for manufacturing in a given city could be a considerable distance from the centroid for healthcare providers.
Who Has Been Hit?
The worst of it appears to be an issue that arises when competing businesses are located extremely close to one another. If two different businesses share the same category, i.e. Orthodontist, and they are located next door to one another, one of them could be filtered out of the Maps results.
Adapt or perish.
Consumers today expect to be impressed at every turn. They want the best technology, distilled into a form that is easy to digest. It is not always easy to make the “latest and greatest” technology available to the masses, but we must find a way.
At the 2016 Northeastern Society of Orthodontists’ annual meeting in New York City on October 7th and 8th, Orthopreneur will contribute our piece to the tech puzzle that all orthodontic practices must solve. A progressive, intuitive website that provides a helpful, informative experience for users of all devices.
The Office Of The Future is a full-scale replica of an orthodontic office, constructed on the exhibit floor, showcasing innovative goods and services. Orthopreneur is proud to present a progressive, leading-edge website to the attendees of this year’s meeting.