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September 2013

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September 2013

If Your Search Results Ranking Drops, Blame it on Penguin

Have you checked your Google search results lately? As soon as you have a free moment, make a couple of Google searches to see where your website stands. Try a few common-language keyword phrases a prospective patient might use when searching online.

For the uninitiated, over 90 percent of web traffic that goes to your website is largely influenced by your ranking in search engine results. And in the world of search engine optimization (SEO), Google’s first-page search ranking is the top-rate real estate.

When it comes to search engines, Google is king of the hill. That’s why virtually all SEO campaigns revolve around Google’s search algorithms.

Recently, many doctors and dentists were spooked by Google’s algorithm changes. Many healthcare websites that once appeared on the first page of search results, suddenly dropped off. If your website took a nosedive in Google’s search results, you might be able to blame it on the Penguin. No, not that cute creature that waddles around near the icy waters of Antarctica or Batman’s nemesis, but Google’s newest search engine algorithm.

Why You Might be Penalized

Google Penguin is actually an algorithm update that went live in April 2012. It was designed to demote or penalize certain websites for violating Google’s “Webmaster Guidelines.” Among the most common violations are the so-called “black-hat” SEO techniques – keyword stuffing, cloaking and intentional use of duplicate content.

Additional Google updates were introduced to penalize websites that use manipulative practices to achieve top search engine rankings. The idea was to snag excessive spammers.

While Penguin’s purpose is to deter websites that are underhandedly over-optimized, many legitimate websites have also lost their established rankings. For medical, dental and other healthcare organizations and practitioners, it’s important to determine how Penguin impacted them.

Seven Ways to Make Nice With Penguin

Staying within the bounds of Google’s guidelines is a matter of fairness, appropriateness and common sense. Using black-hat SEO methods may result in being banned. Here are seven tips for medical and dental healthcare marketing websites:

  • Learn the right keywords of your target audience. Ask your patients what keywords they would use when they search.
  • Understand that search engines only recognize words, while people respond to graphics, design and imagery. Enhance your written contents with a harmonious balance of appropriate images and design.
  • Regularly add new, high-quality, unique content that is relevant to your website.
  • Understand that different links are not, in SEO terms, of equal value. An incoming link from a quality website carries more value than a link from your site to a lesser-quality page.
  • Engage prospective patients. If a visitor leaves your website quickly, Google will likely interpret their prompt departure as a sign of poor website quality. Keep visitors interested in your website with engaging online material such as videos, patient surveys and other interactive features. This is called having “stickyness.”
  • Placing too many keywords close together is bad SEO writing technique. Google may penalize you for keyword stuffing.
  • Good grammar and punctuation matter. While one or two grammatical or spelling errors may be okay, having too many can cause an SEO penalty.

SEO is not to be taken lightly. Obtaining the prized first-page search ranking requires a dedicated professional and ongoing maintenance. Seek outside help from well-qualified SEO resources. When done properly, SEO can make a huge difference in your medical, dental or ancillary healthcare practice search engine ranking.

If you’d like more information about Google algorithms and SEO, call Practice Builders at 800.679.1200 and speak to a program consultant.

Your feedback is always welcome

If you have questions or comments about this newsletter, please email them to: hedgar@practicebuilders.com.

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