Someone is trying to find you. Throw them a bone! Local search and check-in services are growing in popularity at a “you better get with the program quick” rate. More and more folks are finding local businesses through services like Google Places, Yelp, Foursquare and other new ones that pop up almost daily. Do you have a presence on any of these yet?
You may have noticed recently when you performed a search for a local business that the top results are pins corresponding to a map on the right. What’s that all about? In Google’s never-ending quest to deliver to you (the searcher) the most relevant search results to your request (ahem… and the most relevant ads), they developed a product called Google Places. It allows great dental practices like yours, as well as every other business, to set up a wonderful and informative Google Places Page for free. Why does that matter? Great question. As Local Search continues to grow in popularity, non local search results–general organic results–will matter less though they will still be important.
Here’s an example:
A competitor’s dental practice, Suburban Dental, invests in local search as part of their dental marketing strategy. You pass this go-around because you have the #1 organic result. Whoops. Suburban dental now has the top local search results for dentists in town. You’re not showing up anywhere in the local search results. Your #1 organic search result is great, but in actuality, you are #8 on the search results page because seven competitors (including Suburban Dental at #1) are listed above you with the corresponding map in the local search results. Your inbound calls are dropping and you now know why.
Let’s talk about social local search now. Recent research published by the Pew Institute indicates that a full 1/4 of Americans are using location based check-in services on their smart phones. Foursquare is one of this group that allows users to check-in when they visit a local business. Businesses can offer special incentives like 10% for checking in, or be the mayor of the ice cream shop by being the most loyal customer and so on.
This is where things are going, friends. So great dentists of the world, the question is… are you going to incorporate local search into your dental marketing strategy?