From the aspect of the internet being a source of exposure for a business, and a way for a company to attract new business and customers, a question will usually arise as far as the quality of the actual services or products provided vs. the level of presentation that is received on search engines. Lets face it, Google is the starting point for most information today. If you just had a pipe burst in your house and there is water everywhere, while you are trying to stop the flow you are probably telling someone to find a plumber as quickly as possible. With no frame of reference to make a decision, most people put on this task will go to Google and pick from the first few results presented. This bears the question, how did Google go about deciding which of those businesses it put in front of you in the ordered list it returned? Are those the best plumbers, or are they placed in those positions for some other reason?
One of the most competitive businesses in our area is the veterinary care business. There are literally hundreds of veterinarians in Las Vegas, and the majority of them have a website of some sort that is giving them a presentation on the internet. However, when you Google "Las Vegas veterinarian" or "best veterinarian in Las Vegas" how is Google deciding which of this multitude of businesses who are all providing nearly identical services gets to be in the first ten results it presents on the first page? Is the list actually showing you who the "best veterinarian in Las Vegas" is, or is the list based on something else? Just to clear a few questions up, Google is not a vetting process, and employs no mechanism to judge the quality of one business or product over another, it only is judging the website and the spaces online that are discussing that particular business. These spaces include other websites and social media sites, review and testimonial sites, chat boards, answer websites and blogs. Google looks at the website of the business itself and combines that information with other information regarding the business that is owner controlled, like the Google + page that is verified by the physical location of the business and the phone number. Google looks over addresses that are listing to see if they match, phone numbers and other technical information, then it looks over the type of information listed on the website and compares it with the type of information presented on Google + in the areas beyond business specifics. Google + functions as a combination local listing service and social media space. The owner (or manager) or a business can go into their Google + page and do far more than just put photos and update business addresses and phone numbers. They can use Google + like they would use Facebook, to share information, pictures, stories, conversations, etc. It is a social experience that Google is analyzing and comparing to the information on the business website, and they are using that information to decide where the website will rank in the results.
For our example of a Las Vegas veterinarian, where in these results is the analysis of the quality of services that are provided by the veterinarian, and how is Google factoring the general public feeling about the services? The answer is literally almost nowhere. When it comes to searches that provide the list of 10 or so results that are "map-like" which are controlled almost exclusively through the development of your Google + page and reviews of the business that are done on Google +, there is almost no vetting that is happening in a real-world sense. Instead, Google is looking at the information that is on the website to provide a ranking. This comes in the form of content that is housed on the site, information about services, and how well the information on the site can answer questions that searchers would have. What this means is that if a person searches on Google for "best veterinarian in Las Vegas" they are going to find that Google returns a list of websites that answer the question "who is the best veterinarian in Las Vegas?" To further elaborate, what this means is that Google is looking to the content on the website to answer that particular question, and if it can find what it believes to be an answer to that question inside the content on the site, then that site will rank higher than another that does not answer the question. This does not mean that simply putting into the content on your website "Who is the best veterinarian in Las Vegas? We are!" is going to get you rankings for that particular question. However, addressing the aspects of content that is on a website that proves that you are better at being a veterinarian than the next competitor will provide better rankings. What are the things that would prove you are a better veterinarian than another one in the same city? This boils down to information about your subject. You can provide information about animal treatment and sickness, information about the veterinary practice and the biographies of individual veterinarians. You can provide local information to prove you are important to the local are of Las Vegas, as in pet friendly hotels or dog parks. This type of approach to the website is how Google is deciding who is better and who is the best.
What can be learned from this information is that Google is not NECESSARILY providing the best veterinarian in Las Vegas in the results that are listed for that particular search. It is providing what it believes to be a good list of veterinarians that provide the best information on the subject of "being a veterinarian" and what information it believes you are looking for. Should you trust that the top result on Google for this search is the best one in your area? The answer is absolutely not. Google is not a human being with an opinion, it is a machine that analyzes words on a website, and takes into consideration words that people say about the website. The best way to choose your next veterinarian is to look through the results and get a sense of the professionalism of the clinic.....then visit in person! Ask people at the local dog parks. Read reviews of the services. Google is just a mechanism to provide a list....it cannot make a good decision for you.