A new trend has emerged in Google’s local results: Local listings are now being returned with search justifications. Let’s discuss what this means and how it could affect your healthcare practice.
What are Search Justifications?
Search justifications help searchers better connect results with their query. In most cases, search engines show bolded words to demonstrate the ways the search query matches the result provided.
For example, when I search [best place to get a flu shot], one of the results returned is for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention flu vaccine locator (see below). You’ll notice the word “flu” is bolded. This is because “flu” was part of my query.
Additionally, Google recognized that I wanted a flu vaccine — not a shot to get the flu — so it bolded the word “vaccine.” The search engine justified the results it showed by matching the intent of the query with textual content available on the page.
Local Results Without Justifications
Some search results do not require justifications. One example is the local pack — the group of three businesses that have their own box in search results. For example, a search for [doctors near me] returns a list of doctors near your geographic location. There is no need for additional justification.
Local Results with Justifications
Now imagine results that do not have a direct connection to the query posted. Take the query [teeth whitening] as an example. Google could return a list of dentists without clear justification, but how does the searcher know that these particular dentists offer teeth-whitening services? They could call the practice … or Google could offer justification, like you see below.
You’ll notice the first result has “Teeth Whitening” in its name, whereas the last result includes a review that uses the phrase “teeth whitening.” Searchers can feel confident that these practices offer teeth whitening services without having to do any extra work.
Local Results with Structured Data
Check out the query [soup near me] (below). Google uses information sourced from these restaurants’ menus to justify its results. The justification “On the menu: soup” is delivered via structured data.
What Search Justification Means for Healthcare Providers
There aren’t a lot of opportunities to provide data to Google in a structured format today. However, it is being collected from users through the “Know this place?” prompt to answer questions about a location and through Google My Business.
Throughout the last month, Google My Business has been asking the languages spoken and gender of practitioners. You can imagine this information could be used to help a patient choose between physicians in the future. For example, a woman who speaks Spanish and feels most comfortable with women doctors could be more likely to click a result with justifications that show a doctor is female and Spanish-speaking.
Want to know more about Google local search? Check out some of my other recent blog posts!