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The healthcare provider's guide to local search optimization, part 3: The local stack

The first three local search listings are set apart in prime search engine results real estate: the Local Stack.

While being on the front page of Google at all is desirable, the local stack is the coveted spot for ultimate local search visibility.

When you Google “OBGYN Santa Monica” the top three local search results — known as the Local Stack — look clearly different than the search results below.

These three local search results are highlighted on Google maps, while their simple, visually striking listing only shows hours, address, phone number, overall Google rating, as well as icons for website and directions.

Google recognizes that we’re looking for a local practitioner, so they provide a map in case distance was a factor. They give us ratings so we can see how their patients feel about them. They also give us business hours, and other pertinent information, at a glance.

healthcare provider guide to local searches

If you make it into the Local Stack, prospective patients see you — and can easily convert — before they ever see the first website listing on the local search results.

Deeper into the Google Maps Integration

After clicking on one of the local search listings, you are taken to a Google Maps page with all of the local providers listed on the left-side of the screen.

healthcare provider guide to local searches

Note that the first three local search listings are the same ones listed on the Google search results page, but Google maps has expanded their listings. Here you can also see slimmed down versions of Google My Business listings, including a bar chart showing reviews.

While these local search listings are fully integrated with Google Maps, the listing itself is actually part of the Google Business Platform.

The Standard Local Stack

The local stack displays when someone searches for a geocoded local search term that also includes a category from your Google My Business listing.

In the below example, these three search terms will bring up a local stack when geocoded using a specific city in their local search query.

healthcare provider guide to local searches

The “Hidden” Local Stack

Google is always experimenting with new ways to improve local search results. SEO specialists have recently discovered that Google is displaying the local stack for local search terms that don’t have their own categories, but for which Google knows the person is looking for a local provider.

This means that with some careful optimization work, you can rank for more and more local search keywords, and capture more and more business.

For instance, if you perform a local search for “dentures Los Angeles,” Google will provide a local stack, even though there isn’t a “dentures” GMB category.

healthcare provider guide to local searches

Do some research on the alternate local search keywords you could rank for – for instance a specific service you offer or a particular name for a neighborhood. Use your browser’s incognito option, as Google knows when you’ve been to a site before. If you do a local search normally, it will elevate sites that you’ve been to because it already knows you think they are valuable. You can utilize Google’s keyword planner to expand on the local search terms you’ve been using already in your search optimization strategy.

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