Your Dental Practice Google Local Listings Will Soon Be A Paid Advertising Product
With all the changes in Google ads going on, we wanted to ask a dental social media guru his thoughts on paying for Google ads. Enter Chris....
With recent "Google My Business" updates donning both Google anointed and informally applied avian monikers, it appears Google is testing paid ads in place of what has up to this point been a free local search environment.
We're all familiar with this local search picture of map icons and business contact information:
With the number of updates to the local search environment, these "map listings" or "local results" have been further pushed down the page and supplanted with more ads, as seen in the here and now:
But what does the future hold?
Google just gave us a possible glimpse...It seems there is actually proof that Google is testing paid ads in place of these free listings, it was first written about - or at least noticed by this author (using the term loosely) on Wordstream.com, and here is what it looks like:
Notice the disappearing act of the "local pack" and the emergence of paid real estate.
From what this screenshot shows, we can all plainly see that the local map results have the yellow “Ads” label - which means someone is paying for them to be there...or Google is dishing out some free real estate in exchange for the guinea pig placement.
Now granted, the screenshot shows a search for "gas grills" - but will Google soon make searches for "a dentist to fix my grill" a pay-to-play proposition?
Me thinks so.
Will Google Adwords Soon Offer Local Listing Ads for Dentists?
I'd go so far as to bet you dollars to donuts that's an affirmative.
After the most recent update - nicknamed "Pigeon" which came on the heels of a larger mobile contextual semantically driven universal "Hummingbird" update in September of last year- there was a widely realized significant drop off in local listings results (once dubbed the "10 pack" then "7 pack" and now "3 pack") across a variety of industries.
Noticing a trend?
Although these ads appearing in place of what are still free local listings is just a test for now, and we certainly haven't been able to duplicate those results with any dental-centric searches, the writing does seem to be on the wall for all local businesses.
So what does all this horse pucky bird doo-doo have to do with a local search for a dentist on Google?
Here's three reasons why this cowpoke thinks dentists (and all local businesses) will have to pay Google in order to get some local play on the search engine results pages.
Reason #1: Google's Local Search Environment Is Valuable Real Estate
Google seems to be developing a pattern of releasing super-terrific attention grabbing traffic glomming conversion improving click thru enhancing visibility boosting features in their search results - only to pull them later in place of something else that could or does require monetary investment.
- Product Listing Ads Are Now Google Shopping Campaigns
- Video Snippets Have Been Greatly Reduced - Except For YouTube Videos...Which Of Course Have Ads Before Viewing
- Google Authorship Images In Search Results Are Gone
Location, location, location. The first page of Google real estate is valuable, how long do you think they will keep giving it away?
Especially since anywhere between an estimated 95-97% of their revenue comes directly from paid search.
Reason #2: The Local Ecosystem Is Polluted
How many duplicate "Google My Business" listings does your dental practice have at present - do you even know?
Since Google seems it would rather take the easy AND more profitable way out of cleaning up the local landscape rather than removing duplicates, scrubbing real world data, and punishing obvious local SEO spammers, it's the opinion of this dental scribe that dentists (and all local businesses) will soon have to pay Google in order to rank prominently in their local search results.
And you should pay them ~ let the bidding begin!
What's the alternative, not worry about how well your dental practice is represented on Google to prospective patients searching in your area?
It's much easier for Google to simply turn the whole local enchilada upside down and throw a price tag on the placement than it is for them to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty with tidying up the environment.
Reason #3: Paid Search Equals New Patients!
Dentists shouldn't take this paid local search listings ads hypothesis as doomsday news, it's OPPORTUNITY!
As most of you have realized in the past couple few years, mobile is bigger than the internet was back in '98 and our collective attention spans are shrinking by the nanosecond - so why wouldn't dentists take advantage of some paid local search ads to boost their new patient acquisition efforts?
Given the average value of a new patient (never mind lifetime value if you can manage to actually KEEP the new patient) there's certainly plenty of wiggle room there when determining ROI as compared to an entirely outdated yellow pages ad, a bottom of the barrel potty paper print Pennysaver front & back cover, or a better off lighting your money on fire direct mail campaign.
Generally speaking, people on the search for a local dentist go to Google.
In addition to having a current and engaging social media presence, a consistent local search profile portfolio, and a well-optimized website that is fast, secure, and mobile-friendly, paid search ads are the complementary icing on the cake!
Why not be here, there, and everywhere no matter how people search for a dentist in your neighborhood?
Chris Barnard is the Managing Partner at Social Dental Network, a boutique digital marketing agency consistently generating tangible return on investment for dentists across North America & the U.K.
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