The search engine giant Google made its fortune by finding things online. Google dominates the world of Internet search in a way that "dominate" doesn't seem like a strong enough description. In reality, if Google doesn't find and list your website on the first page or two of search results, you are destined to be overlooked.
But Google just changed some of the rules of the search game. As of now, if you want your medical practice or hospital website to rank higher among those sites that "get found" via a Google search, your online presence also has to be timely. Otherwise, your website could seem to disappear, perhaps in favor of your competition.
Most healthcare Internet marketers—certainly the savvy ones—recognize that a "set-and-forget" approach for websites doesn't play well at all with Google. At least a modest Search Engine Optimization (SEO) effort is necessary to produce and maintain good standings in online search results. Quickly defined, SEO are those web techniques and technical touches that attract search engine attention and push your listing higher than the next guy.
Keeping up with—and appealing to—elaborate search algorithms isn't an easy task. (Professional help is well advised for this.) And since Google is constantly introducing changes to its algorithm, a neglected website tends to be left behind and gradually slip further down the results page.
Last week, Google made a significant change that is intended to generate more timely and useful search results. The change is a biggie that they call a "freshness algorithm," and it will affect better than one-third of all searches. So if your site isn't keeping up with the way Google is looking for you—and staying "fresh" in Google's search process—there's a good chance that your medical practice or hospital website might effectively disappear.
Google has the general public in mind with this and earlier changes. They expect to deliver more relevant and meaningful results in any search.
Earlier this year, for example, another significant change in the algorithm assigned greater importance to "high-quality" sites. Google now differentiates between sites with truly useful content and "low-quality," content farm sites that talk a lot but don't actually say much.
Anyone who has used Google can appreciate that having 27-zillion "results" is not as valuable as having a few pages that are both recent and squarely on target. Google doesn't reveal the complexities of how it makes these judgments, but here are a few ways to bring the "fresh" concept to your own medical practice, hospital or healthcare website.
Anyone tempted to think this is so much techno-talk, could be putting a lot on the line. First there is the cost of creating a medical practice or hospital website in the first place. And further, if your online marketing plan does not include regular maintenance and search engine optimization, your site is not producing new business. That's lost initial cost, lost new business and lost opportunity in business that goes to a competitor.
For more background on Google's new algorithm, see this Wall Street Journal article, and this related article on our website.
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