Very recently, Google rolled out a major algorithm update for local search, which has been dubbed the “Pigeon” update by Search Engine Land, industry’s leading SEO resource. Google’s previous algorithm updates were highly focused on content and backlinks. This new update is aimed at local search results and we have been seeing huge shifts in the local rankings of our clients’ websites over the past few days and hurting the practices that don’t have any Search Engine Marketing (SEM) or SEO strategies in place.

To make sure you understand how this new update impacts your practice website, we’ve put up this short compilation to explain the Pigeon update and how it affects your rankings and how to adapt your practice to the changes.

Shorter Map Packs

The Effect: The most obvious effect of Google Pigeon update is the shorter map packs. We used to get as much as seven search results of practices or business close us. Now, we’re getting as little as two or three, sometimes none at all. Numerous websites have encountered a drop in their traffic; this is largely due to the disappearance of some local listings.

The Fix: The quick fix is to launch a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign to cover the traffic losses. The permanent fix is to focus on building a solid presence for your practice on leading local directories. Even if your potential patients are not able to find your practice on search lists, more of them can find you through local directory sites.

Exposure through Local Carousel 

The Effect: With the Pigeon update impacting the local listing packs, Google’s local carousel results remain unaffected. However, at the moment, carousel’s interactive display only affects searches for restaurants, hotels and bars. At Solution21, we think this will expand to cover healthcare services.

The Fix: It is important to local dental and medical practices to get active on Google+ so you don’t miss out on any opportunities to attract new patients.  Make sure your practice information is current, accurate and consistent and that you’re using high-quality photos because the carousel puts heavy emphasis on your listing’s image, rating and accuracy. Also, encourage your patients to put in a few good words online about you and your services on Google+ and other social sites such as Yelp, Angie’s List, etc.

Wider Geographic Area

The Effect: Before the Pigeon update, Google map pack would show you search results of dentists or doctors that were in your immediate geographical area.  The geographic location was tight and was centered on your zip code, displaying appropriate matches in as close as possible to your location. With the new algorithm update, the geographical search area is broader, covering a much larger local area. This makes it hard for dental or medical practices to rank or get found outside their location.

The Fix: To neutralize the impact of this new update on your practice online presence, your business listings throughout the internet’s directory listings and search engines must be accurate, up-to-date and consistent. Make sure you are listed in major, influential and relevant listings in your industry.

Promote Your Practice and Services

The Effect: Pigeon update has taken into account the fact that most mobile users don’t bother typing location on their searches anymore, allowing search engines to determine their location and provide the best results. As a result, we’re now seeing Google pick up the most important results from as far as the next town because the practices or businesses have strong SEM or SEO in place. This hurts practices that don’t engage in either marketing or advertising.

The Fix: To neutralize the impact of this new update on your practice online presence and make sure you continue to leverage your online presence, you must start engaging in Search Engine Marketing (SEM). To attract potential patients within your own physical location and beyond, SEM can launch strategic and targeted ads aimed at specific locations and demographics. This remains one of the most cost-effective, efficient and measurable marketing strategies to help your practice rank and compete. 

We Can Help with Our SEM Services

Overwhelmed by the impact of Google’s new update on your practice? Let us help you with our SEM services and continue to attract new patients to your practice. Please call us at 949-336-7575 or send us an email and our web specialists will contact you. You can also visit our site’s SEM page to know more about your options.