While touching just about every aspect of our digital life and beyond, Google and its core mission – research – remains a mystery. And Google likes it that way. Of course, they’ll post a note here or there saying they’re updating their famous algorithm, often on Twitter. But they don’t give up much on how the world’s most popular search engine does its job.
Sometimes these updates are named. Two of the most famous updates were named Panda in 2011 and Penguin in 2012. Hummingbird followed in 2013. Sometimes these are just referred to as “broad base algorithm update”. RankBrain came in 2015, a machine learning algorithm that filters results to help users best answer their query. BERT arrived on Halloween of 2019, and Google said it was the biggest search change since 2014. BERT was intended to better understand long-tail searches.
At the end of the line? Google changes its search algorithm almost every day. No one knows how big this thing is anymore; that was over 2 billion lines of code in 2015.
But no matter how much things change or update with Google, some important parts of Google’s ranking criteria are set in stone. Let’s go into this first blog of December. In our second blog, we’ll cover what’s coming from Google in 2021.
There was a time when limited verbiage on websites was in vogue. These are the beginnings of web design and search engines. « Nobody reads the copy » was the thought, so just give readers a bunch of bulleted lists. Behind the scenes, the game was to try to outsmart the keyword system that governed search at the time.
It was then. As of 2015, Google grew tired of companies loading endless keywords, many of which were irrelevant to the actual content of the website. They didn’t like it because it made researchers miserable.
At this point, Google started to improve the quality of the content on the pages of each website. The algorithm has been changed to increase the value of quality content, and this has continued to evolve. Google webcrawlers visit every website and every page of those sites. They review all of the content, trying to figure out what the pages and the site as a whole are and whether they will meet the user’s request.
For your practice, that means a cryptic one paragraph description of your tummy tuck or Mohs surgery isn’t enough with Google. You need quality descriptive content on the procedures you want to be known for. If you are extracting wisdom teeth and want to be known for it, despite being a general dentist, you want content on wisdom teeth, why they need to be extracted and how you do it.
All content should be at least 300 words long and the writing should be good. This is not something to be left with an intern or your nephew, unless that person has a background in English and writing. Google rewards good grammar, writing free of typos and spelling, easy to understand and perfectly readable.
Content is king in search optimization because content makes users happy. Period. That’s why, at Advice Media, we value great content as much as we do website design or our optimization techniques – without it your site cannot rank.
The links are both internal and external. When a Google robot crawls your site, it starts on the home page. Then it hits links to subpages, following those links and understanding what the site needs to be known for. Your link structure should therefore be clear, which makes it easy for Google to understand the structure of your site.
External links are also called backlinks. This could be your site linking to other sites, such as an academic medical school or a seminar site where the practice owner is the keynote speaker. Stuff like that.
At Advice, our website design is clear and logical. This is important for the user, of course, but also for webcrawlers who are trying to make sense of your site.
How well your site is built
Site navigation and design are important in ranking. If the pages load slowly, if there are dead links, if people who come to your site instantly click on Google (which means they can’t find what they wanted on your site), these types of issues all result in lower organic search rankings. These are 101 web design elements, but you would be surprised at how many poorly constructed websites there are.
This is the reason why you should not ask your son-in-law, the computer genius, to design and create your website. Computer skills don’t necessarily equate with web design skills.
Mobile search is king
Everyone knows the number of mobile searches that passed the computer search a few years ago. While this may not be as true for medical or dental practices, it is essential for companies that can provide instant solutions. If you are looking for the most recent running shoe, you will search your phone and the store that appears first is likely to receive the sale.
Research shows that research on more complex issues such as banking and health is still the domain of computer research. After all, a person researching breast augmentation will not do their research while sitting in the park and then walk both blocks to the office and have the procedure.
That said, mobile search is key for ranking: your site should be mobile-friendly. If not, mobile-friendly sites will outperform you because they will punish your site.
When you think about your practice site, you have to remember what Google is trying to do. Google wants to know all the information in the world and provide access to the precise information that the researcher is looking for. It really is that simple, although executing this goal is incredibly complex. The better your site responds to Google’s questions about what your practice offers, the higher you rank and the more patients you will get from your search.
Fortunately, Advice Media is expert in all of the above categories, so you don’t have to be. You are an expert surgeon or a dermatologist, a dentist or a gynecologist. We are experts in providing clear, readable and informative content. We build perfectly designed, flawlessly functioning websites that make it easy for Google to know what your practice is doing and what it wants to be known for. And we design every site to be mobile-friendly from the start. Next, we monitor your site to make sure your content stays up to date, your links are up to date, and everything is working properly.
If you have any questions about what Google wants in terms of website ranking, call your Advice Media representative and we’ll show you what we’re doing to get your website ranked. If you’re not a customer, let’s talk. Call us or fill out a contact form to get started.