By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer
[Part of a continuing series.] In the world of Search Engine Optimization, the cute- and cuddly-sounding critters—Panda and Penguin—are decidedly frightening beasts. They are code names for Google algorithm updates with a digital “license to kill” the black-hat bad guys and to praise and reward high quality content.
White-hat Internet marketers need not fear, but unless you watch your step, Panda and Penguin may be out to kill your website. Here’s the brief back-story, and what to do to tame these critters.
To deliberately oversimplify, a vital key to Internet Marketing is online search; the key to online search is search engine optimization (SEO); and the key to SEO is Google. There’s a lot more to successful medical marketing online, but perhaps the most important component is playing well with Google’s rules of search.
Search Engine Optimization is a fusion of art and science that Google has packed into an incredibly complex, artificial intelligence algorithm. Exactly how it works is a trade secret, but what it does is what’s important.
The Panda series of updates (2011), and the Penguin series (2012) are on a mission to deliver quality results for Google search users. Websites that provide poor user experience are ranked lower. Deliberate manipulation techniques—such as keyword stuffing, duplicate content. spamming—are not allowed. And the websites that demonstrate quality characteristics are recognized as having greater value, importance and relevance in the search process and PageRank reporting.
The first six (non-technical) tips on the SEO road to success…
Increasingly, prospective patients are looking first to the Internet (websites, blogs, social media, etc.) for information and guidance about health-related questions, helpful resources and actionable peer recommendations.
Experienced professionals are best qualified to handle all the intricate techie details of optimizing for successful search. But there’s no need to get technical until you master these bedrock elements.
- QUALITY CONTENT – The overarching theme of Google’s search rules is to deliver relevant, important and authoritative results for online searchers. In other words, content is the cornerstone and it’s got to be good stuff to attract visitors, links and sharing. Fortunately, physicians and hospitals have a good starting position as a source of respected expertise.
- FRESH CONTENT – Through Google’s eyes, “fresh” has two meanings. It seems to favor websites and blogs that change or update regularly, and it dislikes old, stale and static postings. “Fresh” also means presenting information and ideas that are new and original in thought and substance.
- SHARABLE CONTENT – Content can include text, videos, visuals, etc. that relate to and/or benefit the intended audience/visitor. Being useful means that it delivers value to reader, holds their attention and inspires the reader to share it with others by way of forwards, links, comments, LIKES, Tweets, and the like. (Google sees sharing actions as validation of content quality.)
- KEYWORDS – The proper selection and use of keywords and keyword phrases is a delicate balance. Focus a page or post on one topical (with appropriately descriptive) keyword, and use in the text, title, description, image titles and page URL. Overuse (“keyword stuffing”) is a no-no.
- INTERNAL LINKS – It’s a simple matter to connect your content with related material or topics on your own site. Link internally to a previous post among your own library. This is easy to do, but often overlooked.
- SOCIAL LINKS – A new post on your own blog is a destination for links that invite new readers by way of social media notices on Twitter, Google+, and others. Your fresh content is more “visible” to the search engine indexing process.
These SEO tips are among the easiest to implement and are some of the most important considerations to improved PageRank and avoiding the painful bite of the Penguin and Panda.
We’ll be bringing you additional post in this series. And for reference, see our previous articles: Search Engine Optimization Strategies for Doctors Tired of Being Invisible Onlineand Healthcare Search Engine Optimization – Spiders, Crawlers and Bots.