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Google’s Local Filter Changes May Have Automatically Lowered Your Ranking

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

"Local" shot with arrowsWait. Before you do anything else today, check on your listings on Google. Recent changes in the local search routine could have dramatically slammed your standing. And your listing may have just been kicked downstairs. Here’s a little insight about local filters and how to help your listing.

Our regular readers know that local listings are an increasingly important factor in being found online with a high-visibility spot. Local search accounts for about half of all Google searches. You want to be listed on page one. And it’s a given that Internet users are usually looking for location-based resources that are nearby and convenient.

Be aware of your local filter changes…

Google wants to deliver fast, accurate, relevant and local results. So to create a quality user experience, Google has shuffled the cards in its new, automatic local search FILTERS. This is where a visitor can arrange the local listings by filter-factors such as “operating hours,” “star rating” or “best doctor.” The system now applies these automatically, and that leaves some listings in big trouble.

Related: 9 Essential Steps to Improve Doctor Ratings Online

This means you should check and manage your local standings. Listings that are “Best” or entries with fewer than three stars have less favor with the automatic filters. It seems the system favors four or five stars; lesser scores are pushed down. Thus, it is more important than ever to keep satisfaction high. (Without this, listings can disappear entirely.)

And here’s what you can do…

A major culprit in listings is neglect. When a medical practice or healthcare provider slides in the ratings it is often because they have not encouraged good, positive and recent online reviews. The answer is to inspire positive reviews and better search results.

This can be done either manually or by using an online reputation management service. An automated service platform can improve patient interest, trust and satisfaction. An automated software system helps improve patient relationships and encourages online reviews and comments.

Challenging Yelp and others…

Google doesn’t publicize their algorithm changes, but experts see this new functionality as a direct shot at competitor Yelp. A filtering capability was a significant feature that helped Yelp grow. But CNBC reports that Yelp's value took a big hit recently on “disastrous results because of Google.” Both Google and Facebook “are holding onto a larger share of the ad market, and competition is stiffening with consumers turning to social media, instead of a traditional model like Yelp, to post and read reviews.”

Have you checked your listings on Google today?

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