Chiropractic SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is about more than just your website these days! You also have to optimize your Google+ page and information across many 3rd party listings (Yelp, Yellow Pages, etc.). The reason is that there are many factors that Google takes into account when deciding how to rank search results for local listings. On July 24th, 2014 Google released their “Pigeon” update, aimed to improve Google local search ranking.
If you think chiropractic SEO is not important, think again. Studies show that 59% of U.S. adults search online for health information before making a decision to visit a doctor.
SEO consulting and software company “MOZ” compiled a list of Google local negative ranking factors, ranked from most to least important. I added explanation for each one below so you can check your business pages (Google+ My Business, Yelp, YellowPages, and other business listings) for compliance.
Negative Ranking Factors for Google Local/Maps Search
1. Listing detected at false business location
Google checks across various listings with your address. Try to use a consistent spelling and format for your address to avoid issues. For example if you have a “Suite #” make sure to include the suite # in every listing that same way. The location address should correspond to your “brick and mortar” location (i.e. practice location).
2. Incorrect business category
The business category should be what your business is not what it does. Examples of Google+ business categories for a chiropractor could be Chiropractor, Massage Therapist, Sports Medicine Clinic, or Acupuncture Clinic.
3. Mis-match NAP (Name Address Phone number) / Tracking Phone Numbers Across Data Ecosystem
You can check for inconsistencies across the data ecosystem by entering your business name and zip code into Moz Local (Click Here to Test your Business) This will check and compare your business listing accross various websites (like Yelp, Google+, Yellow Pages, etc). You might need to claim your profile on these pages before making changes.
4. Mis-match NAP (Name Address Phone) / Tracking Phone Number on My Business Landing Page
Check your Google “My Business” landing page as someone in the public would see it. “My Business Landing Page” is the page that is linked via URL to your Google+ business profile. Make sure the phone number matches your listing and website. It should also be a local area code, not a 1-800 number.
5. Mis-match Address on My Business Landing Page
The address on the page that you link from your Google “My Business” page (usually your business’s home page) should match the address in the URL on your Google “My Business” Google+ page.
6. Presence of malware on site
Use Google Webmaster tools to make sure your site is clear of malware. If Google detects that your site has been compromised, they will tell you about it in Webmaster Tools (to ensure that you’re notified quickly, you can have your Message Center messages forwarded to your email account). If the hacker inserted malware into your site, they will also identify your site as infected in our search results to protect other users. If your site has been hacked or infected with malware, you should act quickly to repair the damage. Google recommends reviewing the recommendations provided by the organization antiphishing.org.
7. Keyword stuffing in business name
Keyword stuffing may have helped in the past but Google is really cracking down on this practice lately. The business name should be consistent with your actual registered business name.
8. Reports of Violations on your My Business page
Anyone can report a violation with your My Business page. Google reviews these violations and will notify you if there’s a violation but you might want to review Google’s content policies and conduct policies to make sure you are compliant.
9. Presence of Multiple My Business Pages with Same Phone Number
This is easy to check by searching for your business name in Google Maps. Sometimes you might see duplicate listings if you have multiple doctors in your practice. This makes it confusing for search engines. Contact Google if you see multiple listings for your practice. Be patient and persistent, as Google is not always the quickest at getting back to customers.
10. Absence of Crawlable NAP on Location Landing Page
Always make your practices address and phone number on your home webpage (landing page) in text and not image content. This has several benefits:
- Makes it easier for people to click your phone number to call you.
- Makes it easier for people to navigate to your practice because they can just click the address to open in their maps app.
- Allows Google to crawl the name address and phone number on your landing page.
11. Absence of Crawlable NAP on Website
Make sure to include your Name, Address, and Phone number on your website. The numbers should be in crawlable text, not an image.
12. Association of Google My Business account with other suppressed listings
If you have duplicate listings or had a suppressed listing with violations in the past you can’t just create a new one. Google will see the association between the two and penalize your local ranking.
13. Presence of Multiple My Business Pages with Same/Similar Business Title and Address
Similar to #9 above you also want to make sure you don’t have duplicate listings for the same/similar address.
14. Incorrectly placing your map marker
Sometimes having a typo in your website or moving your practice can result in an incorrectly placed map marker. Check your map marker by searching in Google maps as one of your patients might do. You can click to drag your map marker when logged in as the business owner. If you have any problems fixing your map marker then check this video from an attorney in Utah that had similar issues with Google Map marker after he moved his practice. If this doesn’t work you can also submit a ticket to Google by clicking HERE.
15. Address includes suite number similar to UPS Mail Store addresses
Your address should coincide with a physical location and not a PO Box or UPS mailbox.
16. Listing 800 Number as Only Phone Number on My Business Page
Some larger companies like fast food chains and franchises might get away with this, but if you are a chiropractic practice you should not post a 1-800 number. Additionally, the phone number you use should coincide with the area code where your practice resides.
17. Keyword/city stuffed My Business page descriptions
The rule of not stuffing keywords also applies to your business description on your Google My Business page. Try not to use a keyword or phrase more than 4-5 times in the body content and one time in your description.
18. Keyword-Stuffing in Title Tag of My Business Landing Page
Keyword stuffing used to be ok, but make sure not to do this in any part of your content, not just the title tags.
19. Choosing to Hide My Business Page Address
Go to “Settings” in your Google My Business page to make sure your address is showing to public. You can also toggle the view to view as “public” to make sure address is showing. This feature is being phased out by Google, but may still affect you. Check #22 below as your address might not show if your business is configured to serve an “area” and not on-site.
20. Including Location Keyword in Categories *
Don’t include your location in your categories. These should be relatively general, like “chiropractor” or “massage therapist” NOT “chiropractor in Charlotte” or “massage therapist in Charlotte”.
21. Presence of Multiple Categories in Same Input Field *
Make sure your categories are separated out so it’s easy for Google to distinguish them.
22. Choosing Service Area on My Business Page (as opposed to in-location visits)
Check this by following the steps below:
- Log in to Google My Business and choose the page you’d like to manage.
- Click Edit.
- Click Address.
- Beneath your address information, UNCHECK the checkbox for I deliver goods and services to my customers at their locations.
TIP: If you previously used the old Places for Business dashboard, you’ll notice that Google no longer has the Do not show my business address on my Maps option.
23. Non-Compliant Categories (those that do not fit “My Business Is a _____”) *
This is similar to #2 above. Make sure your categories describe what your business IS, not what it DOES. (See examples in #2 above). Google TIP: select some categories that are more specific.
24. Presence of Multiple Crawlable NAP on My Business Landing Page
Make sure to only have one name, address, and phone number on your business website homepage.
25. Low Numerical Ratings of Place by Google Users (e.g. 1-2)
Make sure to get as many good reviews as possible by improving your customer service. Sometimes you can’t prevent a bad review but you can respond to them and more good reviews can help negate the effects on one bad review.
26. Low Numerical Ratings of Place by Third-Party Users (e.g. 1-2)
Google does not allow ratings by non-Google users anymore, but if you have some from the past then you might be negatively affected in ranking by these.
27. 50+ MyMaps referring to your location
Not sure how to check for this one, but just be careful not to try any tricks to boost your rank by having people add your practice to their “My Maps” locations. Google has merged “Classic Maps” with the new “My Maps” at the end of 2014 so expect to see many more changes in search related to “My Maps” in the future.
28. Negative Sentiment in Place Reviews
Check your reviews online, especially in Google+. You can’t change a review but you can reply to the reviewer. If they are gracious and if you properly address the issue (or perceived issue) then they could decide to edit their review. However, the best way to fix this is to have more positive reviews.
29. Mis-Matched or Private WHOIS Information
Check your name and address at WhoIs.com to make sure it matches the name and address of your business.
30. Multi-lingual listing for the same place
Make sure you don’t have multi-lingual listings for the same place. There’s no reason to have this since you can make your website multi-lingual.
I know it can be confusing to keep up with all of the Google ranking factors. But have faith! If you incorporate basic chiropractic SEO best practices then you will continue to rank and bring in new patients from web search. Just beware, if someone contacts you with a scheme to rank you #1 overnight it may involve shady practices and result in negatively affecting your rank in the long run. If it sounds too good to be true it probably is.
Don’t stop with your Google local SEO, make sure your chiropractic website is also conducive to converting new patients by reading my FREE ebook below!