Post-Hummingbird Optimization for Healthcare Websites

Back in September, Google made a huge update to their search algorithm that altered the way they now rank websites. Its aim is to better understand the overall concept and meaning of the search query to give users better answers. So now of course everybody’s wondering what this means for their site. What do I need to be doing to help my site rank better? What’s the big important piece to the puzzle that I must make sure I optimize?

In my humble opinion, I don’t think this really changes how an SEO should optimize much at all. Essentially, this new ranking algorithm aims to further prevent people from being able to play the system. For years, web developers and SEOs having been obsessing over the “rules,” and all the individual characteristics believed to be part of the Google algorithm. But when everyone gets so caught up in keyword stuffing, unnaturally linking, cloaking…. What does any of that do for the USER? For the people that are visiting your site for information about your company or to make a purchase? Nothing! So why do it? To sneak our way up the Google rankings? Well sure, if it works. But according to Google, it won’t work anymore.  It’s time to get back to focusing on what’s important to your users – creating useful content and establishing real connections with your visitors and partners.

Healthcare websites in particular should be aware of the strategies to increase rankings on search engines because of the sheer volume of consumers going straight to search engines to find a new healthcare professional these days. For more reasons why digital marketing is so important to your marketing strategy, check out this past post: Healthcare Marketing 2014: 10 Reasons to Demand Digital. If you’re not ranking, you’re just handing your patients over to another healthcare provider. Healthcare marketing should always be an important focus for your website to keep a competitive edge. Below are just a few of the important optimizations that are still important to your website and should continually be optimized going forward.

Sharing is Caring

One thing that is becoming more important than ever is social interaction. Are you creating content that people are engaging with? Are they sharing that content with others on social media? These factors help Google determine if you are a trustworthy site. The more times your content is shared, the more sites that choose to link to you, the more Google can trust that you have useful, current, relevant content that users will be interested in.

So what can you do?

  1. Manage a blog.  Write about current events and hot topics that will keep your readers engaged and want to share this content with others. Think of topics that are most likely to grab attention. Guest blogging is another way to get other blog websites to link back to your website. You write the content and include strategic links within the blog, then have it posted on someone else’s blog site.
  2. Reach out to make connections with other websites. Those with reference pages or lists are a great place to get a link back to your site. For example, a site that lists doctors/hospitals in the area – See if you can get your own website added to the list!

Content is Still King

They’ve said it before and they’re saying it again. At the end of the day, we all just need to make sure we have great content on our site rich with keywords and interesting information – and updated regularly! Design your site in a way that is user friendly so that your information is well organized and easily accessible.

Need some content ideas?

  • Recent medical discoveries and breakthroughs
  • Information about recent disease outbreaks or how to protect yourself from this season’s illnesses (winter flu, spring allergies, summer bug bites, etc)
  • Latest news updates

Mobile Optimizations

Matt Cutts, head of Google’s web spam team, recently announced that websites that are not mobile-friendly or optimized for mobile devices are at risk for simply not ranking at all on mobile devices. Google is trying to provide the best possible experience for mobile users, so those websites that are not mobile-optimized are essentially thrown aside as useless.

Why is this especially crucial for healthcare websites? When people are searching for a new doctor in the area, it’s very likely those people will perform the search on a mobile device. In fact, this year mobile searches have actually surpassed desktop searches – and most healthcare websites are not optimized! Get ahead of your competition and make sure you’re optimized. Don’t ever miss a chance to get in front of your patients. If mobile is where your potential customers are looking for you, be present and helpful!

To learn more about mobile website optimization, check out this earlier post from Zeon Solutions.

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