Google’s New Algorithm and What It Means for Your Practice’s Website

I heard a joke recently from our very own Web Development Manager, Aaron Clifford. He said, “It’s Google’s world and we all just rank in it.” As a practice Manager, physician or other healthcare professional you may not think it is your job to care about search engine ranking, but in reality if Google doesn’t rank your practice’s Website high, your Website will not be found. Patients are not looking in the yellow pages for your phone number or to find a new doctor. They are looking on the Internet. And on the Internet Google is king. Increased search ranking means increased revenue for your practice.

You may have noticed though that Google recently updated their algorithm (how they rank Websites). One of the biggest changes is that in order for your practice to rank well with the search engine gods your online presence has to be timely. Otherwise, your website could seem to disappear, perhaps in favor of your competition. What does this mean? The change has been referred to the “freshness algorithm,” and it will affect more than one-third of all searches. Google simply wants to deliver more relevant and meaningful content in their search results. To rank high you need to get rid of stale outdated content. The good news is you don’t have to be an SEO expert to develop fresh, timely, content for your practice’s Website.

Here are a few tips on developing a Google friendly Website:

  • Refresh and update existing content regularly. Websites that are not updated on a regular basis quickly become stale and aging in Google’s view. Even though a new visitor-seeing your page content for the first time-may regard the information as new, search engines have already seen it an view it as outdated.
  • Add new content. Search engines have always put weight in new content, but the newest algorithm is gives greater emphasis on new material that is also timely and up-to-date. Google especially favors information about recent events, relevant or trending topics, frequently updated or changing information, and/or new developments. Is your practice taking part in any health fairs or health related activities? Has there been any recalls or other health related news you can comment on? Do you have any practice related news (new physician, change in office hours, etc)? Is your division sponsoring anything you can help promote (a health walk, local fair, etc)? Just by taking a few minutes to brainstorm each month, you’ll discover a lot of content you can add to the site! Set a reminder to take down announcements after they have happened. No one (especially Google) wants to see info about a health walk that took place two months ago!
  • Integrate your social media resources. Social media sites, like Facebook, Twitter and blog sites, rank high with the search engines. Having a strong social presence indicates to Google that you are relevant and want to engage with users. You can add a social media feed to your Website that will pull in content from your social sites helping to keep content fresh. In order for this to work though you need to be constantly updating your social sites! Not sure what content to put on the social sites? Don’t have a social presence yet? Not sure how to get started? It’s ok! HCA’s web services team is here to help. Contact Josephine Beeler (josephine.beeler@hcahealthcare.com) with any questions you have!
  • Rethink your Website. The ideal model for a new medical or healthcare Website created today is significantly different and more advanced than what was top of the line even last year. If your site has not kept pace with Internet technology, it may be time to either reengineer or begin now to create a future-facing new site.
  • Consider SEO and content resources. Search Engine Optimization and regular maintenance are required continuing support for any website, new or existing. Contact HCA’s web services team for content and SEO assistance.

Yes, it is Google’s world, but with a few simple steps you can insure your practice ranks high in it!

Sources:

Healthsuccess.com

nytimes.com

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