By Agustin Gonzalez, OD, FAAO, ABCMO
Oct. 7, 2015
Google has a new way of arranging search results for users. It recently changed from displaying seven search results to just three. Experts in search engine optimization speculate that Google made this change because clicks on items four through seven were insignificant compared to the top three. This new arrangement of search results is sometimes referred to as Google’s new “Snack Pack,” or “3-Pack.”
Google Snack Pack: Two Actions to Take Now to Prepare
Ask your SEO editor to correct erroneous citations. This includes having consistency in the NAP (name, address and phone number). Small inconsistencies, such as the presence and absence of middle initial in your doctor name, and /or office name, is a sure way to lose your SEO ranking.
Make sure you have a social media presence. Sites like Facebook and Google + create links to your web page. Just having a social media account for your practice on Facebook and Google + will help your SEO rankings. If you do not have a Facebook or Google + page for your practice, create one. The more links that point to your web site, the higher the SEO rank.
This is a great thing for independents as Google search is local and favors independent services by giving less weight to national chains, which typically have a much higher presence on Google’s pay-per-click Adwords platform.
The Snack Pack gives the independent a big free leg up, but only if the practice is within the top three SEO ranked practices.
The question for practice owners:How will your patients use the Snack Pack to find your practice, and what can you do to make it easier for them to find you?
Less space means more visibility. The top three SEO enabled web sites will have the higher exposure by being at the top of the search results (people don’t look at page two of Google for services).
At first look, this is an efficient move by Google since it leaves their client, the searcher, to browse the top three search results. That said, there are two major reasons why Google would set up its search along these lines. For one, now there are fewer organic options for individuals, making it simple, but this means that more listings will resort to paid search via Google Adwords.
If you Google “optometrist,”you will notice that at the top of first page, you can see Google Adword’s pay-per-click spots (alongside other paid promotions on the right sidebar), and below that, a short guide and then the “3-Pack.” There’s a slight variety to this configuration depending on what service or item you search for, what device you’re utilizing and where you are located.
The 3-Pack’s arrangement on the page varies by search, as does the number of advertisements you see on the top and sidebar, and this organization could change marginally over the long haul. You could seek the same term in the morning, and again in the evening, and possibly see a change in the findings format.
With the transition to the 3-Pack, Google additionally brought back the “More” search link right below the last business in the spotlight. Once a patient clicks on that “More” link, a map of businesses related to the search term will appear highlighting the businesses in the geographically searched area. Each page on the map now lists 20 results.
Google has also made changes to the information displayed. It removed specific addresses from the Snack Pack, instead just posting the street name. This obliges a searcher to either click through to the web site, or the map listing, to get the exact address.
Desktop searchers will no longer have simple access to the phone number of the business. They now need to navigate the posting, or get the number from the web site. The mobile version no longer displays the phone number, but does have a “Call” option for each listing.
A feature removed is the Google+ links. Perhaps Google is pushing for local businesses to assert their page officially. Google has also included store hours, including opening and closing times, depending on the time of day of the search. Absent from the information are the reviews listing “Google Reviews.” They are now just called “Reviews.”
As patients flock to the internet to do their provider and services check, it is important for us to be aware of the changes in search engines, especially Google, in order to better oversee our web site, content and search engine optimization. Just as you do, your patients begin their quest for information online, and having a web site SEO to Google’s liking means the difference between patients finding you or your competitors first.
Have you heard of the new Google Snack Pack? Do you have a search engine optimization strategy? How do you ensure your practice is listed near the top of the search results when people in your area look online for a new eye doctor?