2012 A Rocky Year for SEO and Medical Marketing
Search engine optimization will never be the same again. The year 2012 saw Google unleash two potent weapons, the Panda and the Penguin updates. The reason given by Google were simple, to refine search and improve end user experience. The motive was noble, but the consequences of these updates have spelt doom on hard working SEOs and medical practitioners who have worked tirelessly to improve website rankings on organic search results page.
Organic search engine optimization is perhaps the most cost effective way small and medium healthcare websites can increase web traffic and improve revenue flow. However, Google makes zilch from organic search results, plus it is in direct competition with Google’s cash cow – Google AdWords.
Google realized that unless they tamed SEOs, expensive programs from Google like PPC would not gain as much traction. As part of the Google algorithm changes, as many as 23 Panda updates ( and still counting) and 3 Penguin updates were introduced throwing the healthcare and SEO community in a tizzy.
Many hard working and honest healthcare websites have been hit and displaced from high page rankings by these two updates.
If someone asked, whether SEO companies working for the healthcare industry were prepared for such a roller coaster ride? I ask who is.
Let us understand Google’s logic behind the release of these two updates before we consider remedial plans to counter it effectively.
Almost all sites were affected by this update. In fact Google rolled out a string of updates, as many as 23 and still counting in the year 2012, to tackle webspam. As mentioned earlier Google’s motive for this change in search algorithm was noble, to weed out websites from search results that consistently put low quality irrelevant content.
As many as 12% of total websites were affected by the first update, and since then Google released 20 smaller updates affecting 1 to 5% websites every time. To top it all, Google has indicated, in no uncertain terms, that more updates will be released in the year 2013.
From a healthcare industry perspective the biggest beneficiaries of these serial updates were undoubtedly large pharmaceutical companies with larger budgets and bigger PPC campaigns.
Google too stands to benefit from such a move as it slowly transitions from being a technology company to becoming an advertising company par excellence. You will notice that today Google’s search result page is not as uncluttered as it used to be when it first started out. Today you have paid advertisements on the top and on the right hand side while organic search barely makes an appearance above the fold.
For every click on advertisements featured on top, right-hand side, and bottom Google makes money. Who can afford such advertisements is anybody’s guess.
This again was done with noble intentions, to provide web searchers with higher quality search results. This update did not focus on on-page optimization but focused on external aspects like links. For a long time unscrupulous SEOs have used tactics like purchasing links or offering links on reciprocal basis. Google began to penalize websites with such questionable links.
To an average healthcare professional both the updates are not easily distinguishable and therefore hard to make out if your healthcare website is hit by a Panda update or by the Penguin update.
So, how can we fight this battle on both fronts and still come out smelling of roses?
Here is how you can address them:
- If your SEO company is using black hat techniques for increasing page rankings, dump it
- Hire an SEO company that uses ethical white hat techniques to organically increase page rank
- De-optimize some of your web pages or your entire website. One way to do is by getting rid of links on irrelevant and older blogs
- Stay compliant to Webmaster guidelines prescribed by Google
- Move from automated link building to earned and genuine links
- Focus on providing quality content on your healthcare website and ignore link building
- As doctors, physicians, and healthcare providers build up your authority on the World Wide Web
- Post blogs and articles on your medical website announcing new advancements in your field of specialization or new advances in treatment approaches or medicines
- Use the power of social to build up your authority and engage with your existing patients while addressing potential new patients
- Review articles and case studies posted by your peers and encourage your peers to do the same to your articles
- Use press releases to create a buzz so that your article or blog post is picked up by other media
- Update your healthcare website with fresh, unique, and quality content
- Liberally use multimedia on your websites. Images and videos are indexed separately and hence offer you another avenue to show up on search results
It is evident from the murmurs we hear in the SEO community, Google’s primary concern is to increase its shareholder value and appear less predictable in search engine results page. Google like all major corporations will protect its interest, and that is understandable. However, if your healthcare facility has an online presence or plan to have one this year, it is a great starting point as you can do the right things and avoid the pitfalls.
Google is providing tools to help websites that are affected by these updates, and the sooner you seek help in revamping your healthcare facility website the better. The longer you wait the worse things will turn out for you and your practice. All you need to do is take corrective measures to be on the right side of Google Webmaster Guidelines or call in the experts to do it for your website!
Using SEO 1 Medical has been a turning point for us and have allowed us to have a clear direction in our marketing efforts. We have committed to making our practice successful and we have found the folks at SEO 1 Medical an excellent partner.
Pain Center of Dallas
In a competitive environment of our practice it goes without saying the difficulty to get noticed. SEO 1 Medical has been able to guide us through the process with all its difficulties, by implementing strategies inline with our budget as well as with our ambitions.
Cosmetic Surgeons of Dallas