Have you ever wondered why some websites rank higher than others on a search results page? Or why some websites show up on page one versus page two of the results? Have you ever noticed that sometimes a small business with relevant information can rank higher than the Wikipedia page with the same related content? In this blog, we’ll take a look at Google’s top ranking factors and how you can help YOUR medical practice obtain a higher ranking than your competitors.
If you read our last SEO blog (Search Engine Optimization: An Introduction) you may recall the various definitions we mentioned for Search Engine Optimization. But just as a refresher, SEO is defined by one source as a “methodology of strategies, techniques and tactics used to increase the amount of visitors to a website by obtaining a high-ranking placement in the search results page of a search engine” (Webopedia). A search engine, for instance, like Google. The former CEO of Google once reported that Google uses over 200 ranking factors to determine which sites rank higher in the search engine. That’s right…OVER 200!!! Here’s the thing: the process of SEO and search engine ranking within Google revolves around three main principles: Relevance, Authority, and Trust.
Google employs complex mathematical algorithms that rely on over 200 clues or signals to determine the relevancy of a website. These determine how your medical website will rank in online searches. Yes, these algorithms are complex, but the great news is, as long as you remember those three principals stated above (i.e. relevance, authority, and trust), you can help your medical practice push its way to the proverbial front of the classroom in search results.
These three principals are the focus and core of Google’s algorithms and can be used to your advantage in obtaining higher rankings:
The bottom line is this: If Dr. Competitor on the other side of town has more of the above factors featured on his website than you do, his website is more likely to rank higher than yours. We will be discussing each of these above ranking factors in depth within future blogs, so stay tuned! Also, Medical Site Solutions offers various tiers of SEO packages for ALL our medical website designs. Contact us today for more information on how we can help your medical practice achieve your online goals for 2017!
We all know that Google is the search engine leader of the internet, and we’ve all heard the saying, “Google it.” With more than 60% market share in the United States (and growing every year), Google is rapidly becoming the preferred search engine in other parts of the world as well. Bottom line: Google is REALLY important to your business, reputation, and marketing efforts.
In order to give you a better understanding of how Google is effecting your business RIGHT NOW, we’d like to provide some quick background. Google was cofounded by Stanford students Larry Page and Sergey Brin in the 1990’s. The underlying key to Google’s early success was that the algorithms behind this search engine were different from those that came before. Algorithms, as Google explains them, are simply computer processes and formulas that look for clues to turn questions into answers. You see, Larry and Sergey believed that web page authority and relevance could be derived algorithmically by indexing the entire website and then analyzing the connections between links, or who links to whom. While the Google algorithm is wayyy more complex than simply analyzing who links to whom, it was this process of algorithmically analyzing links that separated Google from the competition. Fast forward to 2016, and we now know that Google’s algorithms rely on over 200 unique “clues” or signals that determine the relevancy of a website (and therefore, how a site will rank in online searches). These clues determine whether your site is at the front of the classroom or at the back, and include things like: content freshness, terms on your website, your region, etc.
Ok, the Google lesson is over. Now how does all of this apply to you? Well, in recent years Google has been relentlessly pushing everyone (including medical websites) toward a more accurate and exemplary mobile-friendly experience. In fact, last year (on April 21rst, 2015 to be exact) Google released a new mobile-friendly ranking algorithm that is specifically designed to give a boost to mobile-friendly pages in Google’s mobile search results. The change was so monumental that the date this algorithm was released is referred to as “mobilepocalypse” by many. In short, Google’s latest mobile search algorithm update is either sabotaging or rewarding websites according to mobile friendliness factors. Without getting too technical and geeking out completely with Search Engine Optimization lingo, here’s why all of this is important to you: Medical and healthcare websites that are easily viewed on mobile devices will rank higher on mobile search results pages (the reward). However, a non-mobile friendly website will rank even lower than before (the sabotage). So yeah, last year’s algorithm update was a strong SEO ranking signal, with the bottom line being: Google has essentially put a “virtual mandate” on websites to put mobile users first.
While Google never gives away its algorithm details, they do publish useful information such as Mobile Optimization Guidelines for website owners and webmasters. And it’s not only about being mobile friendly, but having a website that is responsive in design. Having a “responsive” website simply means that the website is designed to smoothly provide patients with an optimal experience by automatically detecting the type of device being used (and displaying content based on that device).
The thing is, Google knows a trend when it sees it, and statistics reveal that internet access via mobile devices has soared by more than 65% in recent months. That percentage seems to be growing more and more as time passes, with mobile devices and apps accounting for approximately 60% of all digital traffic. Quick reality check: are you reading this right now on a smartphone?
Healthcare and medical website owners absolutely need to update their website with mobile-friendly changes if they currently have a non-mobile friendly website. There are changes that you can make, and companies who will provide website SEO audits (that can test for mobile friendliness). Should you choose not to have a mobile-friendly website, you can expect to be treated as a SEO straggler by Google and will be reseated at the back of the room, while you watch your competition shoot to the front.
The great news is, at Medical Site Solutions ALL of our website designs are already built to be mobile friendly and responsive! Our designs look beautiful on smartphones, tablets, and desktops. If you don’t have a mobile-friendly website, or have an outdated and older looking site in general, it may be time for a change. Check out our responsive designs today and let us know how we can help you achieve your goals.
Having a website to represent your practice is a great first step in establishing your online presence. But let’s face it, even if you have the most beautiful website on the planet, that doesn’t mean that new business is going to suddenly come gushing through your door…or that your shiny new website is going to deliver the results that you’d expected. We hear the story again and again from physicians: they drop thousands of dollars for a customized website chock-full of nifty graphics and design, and yeah, it LOOKS pretty but it’s not DOING anything for their business. At Medical Site Solutions, we use the following analogy: having a gorgeous website without SEO (or an understanding of SEO) is like having a pretty new sail boat with no wind to propel it forward (we’ll talk a lot more about SEO in the coming months).
Unfortunately appearance isn’t the only factor in having an EFFECTIVE website. There could be many reasons why your current website isn’t delivering. At the very minimum, every physician needs to know about Google Analytics and why it’s an absolutely invaluable tool for your practice. Google Analytics is absolutely AWESOME. Yes, that’s AWESOME in all caps. In a nutshell, Google Analytics is a website tracking service that can be embedded into your website. It is working 24/7 and silently watches all the visitors that come on to your website. You can see how patients come to your site, where they click on the site, how long they stay on each page, the length of their session, where they are geographically, and much more. This service offers a boatload of invaluable marketing data and statistics. The bottom line is this: having knowledge and insight as to where your traffic is coming from and the activity taking place can greatly enhance the performance of your website.
Because Google Analytics tells you about visitor behavior and HOW patients get to your website, you’ll be able to tell which links or social media avenues are most effective for your practice, specifically focusing your marketing efforts in those places.
♦ You’ll be able to see, in hard numbers, which pages are the most popular on your website (and how long each visitor stays on that page). Knowing which pages are the most important and the most viewed is power. Why? Because you can now make adjustments and improvements to your website that yield the results you want. These are the pages where important messaging can be refined (or where you may want to add call-to-action buttons).
♦ Again, we will talk more about SEO in the future, but for now, just know that there is a correlative relationship between Search Engine Optimization and Google Analytics. Understanding and reviewing this relationship regularly is intrinsic to the overall success of your website.
♦ Google Analytics is also essential to SEO because the analytics pinpoint which keywords are effective. This is critical in creating effective advertising campaigns or improving your PPC (pay-per-click) campaigns. And this is where is becomes REALLY important: for advertising campaigns, tracking reveals performance in leads captured and converted.
Google Analytics is an incredible tool and can be set up to generate reports that are user-friendly and ridiculously informative. Installing Google Analytics involves a little programming which includes embedding code on each page of your website (or embedding it to the root of your site). The great news is, at Medical Site Solutions we offer a package (our Premier Plus package) where this is automatically done as part of your monthly services. This means that your site is launched right from the start with Google Analytics embedded and ready to go! We set up your Google Analytics account and send you a customized monthly report that breaks down all the data discussed in this blog. Every physician and healthcare provider needs to be looking at Google Analytics reports on a regular basis if they want to engage their audience or enhance results and online reputation.