While Google is extremely secretive about its search algorithm, there are proven strategies that will enable you to expand your local reach online. So, let’s dive into the basics of Google marketing for optometrists and learn how you can increase your odds of showing up on a local search results page!
The Anatomy of Google’s Local Search Results Page
When someone performs a local search for an optometrist, Google presents the results in a specific order:
Tier 1 — Google Ads
Google Ads show at the very top of the page, before all else, so they can be a great way to immediately catch a potential customer’s attention. The platform offers several formats and features that help you convey a lot of information about your optometry office in a single ad — for example, your star rating, your location, special promotions, etc.
Tier 2 — Local Map Pack
Below the paid ads, the searcher will see a map of the area with pins marking relevant businesses. It also shows three listings for what Google has determined are businesses that most closely match the searcher’s needs. If no paid ads are running, the Local Map Pack shows top of page. This section is powered by Google My Business (GMB) and is a valuable piece of digital real-estate for local businesses.
Tier 3 — Organic Results
Only after they scroll through the paid ads and the Local Map Pack, will the searcher finally see the organic listings (on a mobile device, this can be as many as five or six slots down). Organic listings are generated by Google’s algorithm — and comprise a mix of your website, business directories, social media profiles, and other third-party listings.
Appearing in multiple tiers at the same time for a given search results page builds trust. But businesses don’t show up at the top of local search results by luck — they have a local marketing strategy and carefully maintain their digital presence.
So, what’s the key to building a digital footprint that gets your practice visibility across all tiers?
Building Online Visibility
There are over 200 ranking factors that Google uses to determine which local business gets shown over another in local search results. However, this doesn’t mean you have to focus your strategy on optimizing all of them. Rather, there are certain ranking factors that are more significant (and which you can influence). We like to call them the five pillars of online visibility. If you are not focusing on these five local search ranking factors, your optometry practice will miss out on ideal customers. Instead, you will more likely get found by unqualified prospects, which is a waste of your time and marketing dollars.
These five pillars of online visibility are:
Relevance: How well does your business listing match what someone is searching for?
Relevance is a BIG DEAL for Google. So think about what you are posting online. Does your content include the same eye care keywords or queries that the searcher used? Is what you have to say insightful and helpful for potential patients? If your online presence doesn’t strongly convey that you are relevant to people looking for optometrist services, your business isn’t going to rank well in local searches.
Recency: How long ago was your online information (via your GMB profile or website) updated relative to a person’s search?
It is important to maintain an active and current online presence. For example, are you regularly publishing content like blog articles, photos, videos, podcasts, etc., across your various digital marketing channels? Are you consistently asking people to review your practice on sites like Google, Facebook, and Yelp? Do you update the offers you promote on social, paid advertising, and your business listings?
Distance: How far is your practice from the location of the searcher?
When it comes to local search, an obvious factor is location. Namely, how close is your office to the searcher? To increase your odds of appearing in a local search you need to reinforce your location by forming strong proximity signals. For example, creating location-based content for your website and claiming your profile and adding your address on popular listing sites (Google My Business, Facebook, Nextdoor, Yelp, Angie’s List, Thumbtack, etc).
Prominence: How well-known is your business both in the offline and online worlds?
Quite simply, Google doesn’t want to promote scam businesses (as doing so damages their own reputation). Rather, they want to know that your optometry practice is a trusted brand that is safe to send people to. They are looking for signals like having good reviews and star ratings. That your business helps support local charities and organizations within your community. Or that you are seen as an authority in your field — as evidenced by other websites linking back to your website.
Availability: Is your office open at the time of someone searching and are you easy to contact?
In addition to being located nearby, Google wants to make sure that you are actually available to help the searcher. This means you want to have consistent information like hours of operation, email address, and phone number across all your listings — particularly your Google My Business profile.
Top Tips for Improving Visibility & Seeing Results in Each Google Search Results Tier
Tier 1: Google Ads
A well-managed Google Ads campaign can be a highly effective way to get in front of the right prospects. Some best practices for running effective Google Ads campaigns include:
- Carefully defining your target audience by looking at what characteristics and behaviors your ideal clients have in common. For example, where they live, their age range, what types of devices they use for searching the web, etc.
- Setting a monthly ad budget and choosing a bidding strategy that makes sense for your budget and campaign objectives.
- Researching and managing keywords to make your ads a better match to your ideal customers’ search queries. (Expert tip: Also use negative keywords to clarify which searches you don’t want your ads to run in. For example, if you don’t offer LASIK surgery, make sure to add that as a negative keyword).
- Writing compelling ad copy that will catch the reader’s interest and make your optometry office stand out from competitors.
- Optimizing your landing pages. The content, design, and load speed of your landing page are all critical elements for successfully converting visitors coming from your Google Ads. (Expert tip: Make each landing page specific to the service/product you are advertising. For example, if your ad is about eyewear, the landing page should be specifically about eyewear).
- Leveraging remarketing ads to retarget people who have visited your website/social profile/etc. This will help your brand stay top of mind as prospects continue along their search journey across the web.
Tier 2: Local Map Pack (Google My Business)
To show up in Local Map Pack, you need to focus on optimizing your Google My Business profile and creating location-based content. Recommended tactics include:
- Claiming your Google My Business listing. Make sure to complete your profile by adding your business name, address, contact information, list of services, and photos and videos.
- Requesting and responding to reviews. When evaluating which listings to feature in the Local Map Pack, Google looks at the number of reviews you have and your overall star rating.
- Creating Google Posts. Demonstrate that you have an active profile by sharing content such as blog articles, special offers, and announcements directly on your GMB Knowledge Panel.
- Filling out the Q&A section of your GMB profile. In addition to answering questions from the public, you can also ask — and answer — your own questions. This process is known as “seeding” and is a great way to get the ball rolling on your Q&A section as well as provide important information to prospects.
Tier 3: Organic
Ranking well in local organic search results depends on your ability to optimize your website and maintain accurate, relevant, and consistent business information across your online presence overall. Some best practices include:
- Adding structured data and local schema into your website’s back-end code.
- Creating and publishing relevant content that your audience will find valuable.
- Creating location-based pages on your website.
- Claiming your optometry practice on as many online listing sites as possible – particularly local directories.
- Maintaining an active presence on social media platforms used by your target audience.
- Getting first-party reviews on your website.
Partner with the Leading Software for Marketing Your Optometry Practice on Google
Local search marketing can be a lot to tackle. That’s why we built the Surefire Local Marketing Platform: to help you take charge of your marketing and more easily reach local prospects. From a single place, you’re able to leverage the all tools you need to manage your online presence across all three local search tiers.
Book a demo of the industry’s most powerful platform and discover how you can increase your visibility in local search results!