Year after year major changes happen in the world of online marketing. Staying ahead of these changes is a large part of our success working with plastic surgeons and other medical practice specialists over the last six years. While so many practices fell over the last 18 months to Google’s major algorithm updates our clients’ sites held up. In fact many of our plastic surgeons clients websites actually jumped up in the rankings as a result of their competitors sites being penalized.
Our clients and I were very fortunate that many of the predictions I felt were coming did in fact happen. Three years ago I really felt a major shift coming, I knew Google was going to slam paid link building and fall back in love with content. Before this happened we brought on content writers to build our clients content, we followed this up by adding a licensed PA-C to our staff to insure out clients medical content would be top notch. My prediction came true. I believe most if not all of these will come true for 2015.
Non responsive medical websites for mobile users will take a beating in the search results.
Google has begun testing search results for mobile users providing icons next to sites in the search results that are mobile friendly. They recently published this article in their webmaster guidelines clearly stating “studies show that mobile visitors are more likely to revisit mobile-friendly sites.” Diving deeper into links within the Google article it states that 67% of people are more likely to buy from a mobile “friendly” experience and 61% are more likely to leave a site that is not mobile friend. Wow!
Patients are customers not matter how you look at it. If your plastic surgery website isn’t responsive you will lose your rankings and the patients those rankings bring. If your practice specialty isn’t as competitive as other plastic surgery websites you don’t have as much to lose for now but keep in mind user experience is still important. Making sure your patients can find you is still important.
Google will place a high value on brand mentions across social sites.
Quality links still have value and will continue to do so, however Google is getting smarter every day. If you do not know what link building is it goes something along these two different channels.
Option one (not recommended) – someone goes out and contacts link building companies. Most of these companies are based overseas. These companies have affiliations with tens of thousands of websites. Most of these websites are porn and gabling websites having nothing to do with plastic surgery or any type of medical practice. Links are bought and go up. Google sees these links and believes the site for which the links are pointing to is a great website therefore they rank the site higher. This method is the absolute wrong way to obtain links! Over the last two years with its Panda and Penguin updates, Google has punished medical practice websites that did this.
Option two (recommended) – Produce top quality medical related content and do your best to make sure it is published and shared across the web. This is what we specialize in. The more popular your practice is, the more popular it will be on Google.
Back to social mentions. Google is now beginning to just see your name out on the web along with the providers names in you practice. They are able to connect the dots between the two. If your name is mentioned it’s very close to the same thing as a link to your site. I believe Google will put more value on these types of brand mentions compared to link building. Its much more difficult for spam sites to track brand mentions and much easier for Google to stop trying to figure out if links are paid links or natural links. Check out this article on Moz posted a year back in April. Its coming, be ready for it! http://moz.com/blog/panda-patent-brand-mentions
Reputation management for your practice will need more attention.
Let’s face it, your online reputation isn’t always fair and it’s never going to be. Google does not segment its search algorithm for each and every type of business. When Googles bots crawl review sites such as Yelp and Google Plus and see many great reviews for a restaurant it would only make sense for Google to rank that restaurant’s website higher in their search results. Google is smart enough to know that most people are not looking for a restaurant with awful food and service that matches. The issue is simple – people love to take pictures of their meal and post them on Yelp or Facebook. When was the last time someone posted a picture of a cyst they had removed or the waterfall in your waiting room? People love to review restaurants and stores, not doctors.
The people who typically review a medical practice are not happy, pure and simple. A good amount of negative medical practice reviews are the fair opinion of the patients. Others are for the purpose of extortion. Either way these negative reviews hurt your practice in two ways. People who look you up online and read them and may cancel their appointment. Google looks them up reads them and cancels your appointment on the first page of its search results. Not only will having more reviews help keep your appointments coming into your office they will help you gain more patients via search engine. This year we launched Viaomni.com, to help more practices increase the amount of reviews they receive. In addition our system helps practices step in to stop negative reviews before they are published on the web forever. If negative online reviews are hurting your practice or you believe they may in the future, give us a call!