The Latest on Google Places (Local Maps) & Natural SEO!
Google is changing. They now merged Google Places (Local Maps) and the Natural (Organic) results and everyday there seems to be something new!
Google is now giving everyone a real reason to scroll down the entire Page 1 results. Once you’re on Page 1, your actual ranking position is going to become less and less important throughout 2011.
Why? Because people may never click on your website link or even take a look at your website, unless you have a lot of 4/5 star reviews, a pretty thumbnail photo of your practice (uploaded via Google Places) and a wonderful website “preview image” to attract their interest.
The good news is that you’ll get a lower Bounce Rate (the ratio for website visitors that leave immediately after just looking at 1 page) – if you ever cared about that! – because those who would leave will simply choose not to visit your website at all. 🙂
What about Google Natural Vs Google AdWords?
I view Google AdWords Pay-Per-Click Sponsored advertising as a short term 1st year fix to gain immediate rankings while you wait for your local and natural SEO to come to fruition over 3-6 months or 6-12 months, depending on the competitive nature of the keywords/locations. Google AdWords should not become part of a long term strategy.
I know a lot of dentists can SAVE LOADS OF MONEY immediately. All they need to do is STOP PAYING to advertise for their own name when they already rank no.1 on the natural listing for their name.
People looking up your name would normally click on the first link they see and if you’re already no.1 on the natural then it’ll be FREE. If you pay-per-click for your own name then you’re competing with yourself and that is such a ridiculous waste. And you wonder why dentists are paying so much money on Google?
I understand that your Google Analytics statistics may indicate that a lot of people find your website after searching your own name!
Why are people searching for your name and who are they?
1. People google everything, even if they know your web address. They don’t know how to get directly to your website via the URL bar – “The only way is Google!” And that gets reflected in your Analytics.
2. Thus, existing patients coming to see you are Googling you to get telephone/directions/fees before treatment/appointment.
3. Thus, existing patients who have just seen you are Googling you to check out your website after treatment. Hopefully, you reminded all your visiting patients to lookup website!
4. I strongly believe that those who Google your name are existing patients. Not brand new patients, unless you’re doing a lot of direct marketing. Are you?
5. The only way to really find out the truth about your visitors is to have a pop-up window that asks “Are you a registered patient?” Yes/No.
I believe in spending on Natural SEO rankings. The sky is the limit because you can always increase your catchment by ranking on Page 1 for more and more surrounding towns and cities and more and more dental keyphrases.
Just to give you an insight, about 3-4 years ago, I used to spend £600+VAT per month on Google AdWords for Dental Focus Web Design. Over the last 3 years, I stopped AdWords and put ALL my budget into our own TOP natural rankings. Its the best thing I ever did – I’ll never do AdWords again. I strongly advise you to consider this approach.
At Dental Focus Web Design, we won’t manage everyone’s Google AdWords otherwise it would be a conflict of interest by bidding our clients against each other. These days we provide Google AdWords Empowerment for setup and training so you and your team are in full control 24/7.
If I were you, I wouldn’t waste money on pay-per-click unless its a short term strategy just to get out there immediately and the keywords are for high ROI treatments i.e. dental implants. But even then, why bother paying-per-click unless you have really strong Unique Selling Points (USPs) on your website and you can convert the visitors into enquiries. If you can’t convert, then you’re throwing your money down the drain, especially since AdWords is all about current consumption, the here and now!
Remember that natural rankings get more than 80% of the Page 1 traffic. If you put all your eggs in the Google AdWords pay-per-click basket then you are definitely missing out on HUGE traffic – you’re only getting a little taste of it.
If you care about being on the natural listings of Google Page 1 in two years time, five years time or even still in ten years time, then you should really start NOW because Google remembers your historically established relevancy. What you do now or choose not to do, will affect your rankings in the future. That’s why its getting harder and harder for new websites to beat the old websites and new websites will have to do more and more work just to get the same rankings as an old established website.
One last myth I’d really love to bust – Google AdWords does NOT help your local/natural rankings!
Hope all this helps.
Krishan Joshi aka The Master Internet Marketing Director
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First published in the Confidence Club ezine on 25 November 2010