Google Algorithm Update & Local Search

Google recently announced an update to Panda (Panda is Google’s algorithm or in other words the recipe Google uses to rank sites).  It also announced 40 search updates that happened this month.

The updates are complex, but here are a few of the highlights that may affect your practice’s ranking.

1) Better local search results. Google has put weight in local search since it launched Google Places in 2010 and now it is putting even more emphasis on it. Google  says traditional algorithmic ranking factors are now playing a bigger part in triggering local search results: Improvements to ranking for local search results. This improvement improves the triggering of Local Universal results by relying more on the ranking of our main search results as a signal.

Google’s post also says local results are being improved because of a “new system to find results from a user’s city more reliably. Now we’re better able to detect when both queries and documents are local to the user.”

What does this mean for your practice?

If you have already claimed your Google Places Page you’ve taken a huge step in making sure your Website appears at the top of local search results.  Continue to monitor your Page on a regular basis to ensure all information is up to date and encourage patients to share their experience with your practice on your Google Places Page.

If you have not claimed your Google Places Page it may negatively impact where your site appears in local search results. Claiming your Google Places Page only takes about 15 minutes and has a huge impact on SEO. Contact HCA Web Services, travis.batista@hcahealthcare.com, today to receive step by step instructions for claiming your Page.

2) More locally relevant predictions in YouTube. Google is carrying over their emphasis on local results to YouTube: We’ve improved the ranking for predictions in YouTube to provide more locally relevant queries. For example, for the query [lady gaga in ] performed on the US version of YouTube, we might predict [lady gaga in times square], but for the same search performed on the Indian version of YouTube, we might predict [lady gaga in India].

What does this mean for your practice?

If your practice or your hospital has a YouTube channel, your videos may now appear higher in  search results due to your location.

2) Improvements to freshness. Google’s priority is to serve users with fresh, original, content. This is true now more than ever. Google says: We’ve applied new signals which help us surface fresh content in our results even more quickly than before.

What does this mean for your practice?

Review and update your Website’s content often in order to rank well in search results.

3) Consolidation of signals for spiking topics. Google is improving real time results for trending topics: We use a number of signals to detect when a new topic is spiking in popularity. This change consolidates some of the signals so we can rely on signals we can compute in realtime, rather than signals that need to be processed offline. This eliminates redundancy in our systems and helps to ensure we can continue to detect spiking topics as quickly as possible.

What does this mean for your practice?

The more you can write about breaking health news on your Website, blog, Facebook and Twitter pages the higher your site will appear in search results.

For questions concerning Panda 3.3 and your physician practice’s Website, contact HCA Web Services Online Marketing Strategist, Josephine Beeler (josephine.beeler@hcahealthcare.com).

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