November 30th, 2011 Mike Wilton
By now, many of you have probably read Joyce Sunila’s “New Google Rules Make Keywords the Dinosaurs of the Internet” on PSP’s eReport. If you haven’t, I encourage you to read it so that you understand how misinformation can cause hysteria among SEO clients. Many Plastic Surgery Studios clients have already called in about the article fearing that SEO is dead and that there is some truth to the statements made by Ms. Sunila. In short, Ms. Sunila suggests that with Google’s recent update keywords are dead and that they no longer matter to an internet marketing strategy. She goes on to call internet marketers “search monsters” who are “gobbling up big chunks of your marketing budget,” suggesting that with the update all that matters is that you “keep adding relevant, up-to-date copy to your Web site, whether you have something new to say or not.”
The Facts About Google’s Algorithm Update
- Google has made improvements to its ranking algorithm that impacts roughly 35 percent of searches and better determines when to give you more up-to-date relevant results for these varying degrees of freshness.
- The change only impacts roughly one result within a search results page.
- This change noticeably impacts six to 10 percent of searches, depending on the language and domain you’re searching on.
When The Freshness Update Applies
The purpose of Google’s algorithm update is to ensure that its search results would deliver fresher, more timely results when it was deemed necessary based on a searcher’s intent. Some instances where this algorithm change would actually impact your search results:
- When a search is related to recent events or hot topics, such as Occupy LA or a natural disaster
- When a search is related to a regularly recurring event, such as annual conferences, presidential elections, or even the latest on Dancing with the Stars
- When a search is related to something that frequently updates, such as “the best SLR cameras” or reviews on a car
The freshness update is designed to give you content that is relevant to topics that are more related to real time events or are time sensitive. In most cases, it will not impact your overall search experience with Google. Additionally, this won’t impact searches related to you or your medical practice since most searches related to doctors and their websites are not time sensitive, unless they surround a current event or happening with that doctor or their practice.
I Don’t Want To Be A Monster
Despite Ms. Sunila’s blatant attack on the SEO industry, there were some truth’s to what she said. If your SEO company is working to “populate your site with awkward copy stuffed with keywords about your location and procedures,” then you are wasting money on your internet marketing efforts. The days of keyword stuffing content to make it rank are long gone. You still need to include keywords so that the search engines can see relevance, but the content shouldn’t read poorly. The keywords should naturally occur in the content – if they don’t, you have a problem. Keywords should be at the core of all of your internet marketing strategies since they are what drive search results, but they shouldn’t trump strong, engaging, informative content.
I would also agree that you should “keep adding relevant, up-to-date copy to your Web site,” not just in the event that you are writing about a timely topic, but as a means of showing the search engines that your site is active and to show your readers that you are in fact an authority in your field. However, I will disagree with this statement: “whether you have something new to say or not,” as Google’s guidelines on building a high quality website raises questions like:
- Does the site have duplicate, overlapping, or redundant articles on the same or similar topics with slightly different keyword variations?
- Does the article provide original content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?
- Does this article contain insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?
- Are the articles short, unsubstantial, or otherwise lacking in helpful specifics?
Unfortunately, this article, which is spread to hundreds, if not thousands of plastic surgeons, is built on a foundation of misinformation. As you can see, keywords still matter if they are used properly, and SEO still matters. Misinformation like this is damaging to the SEO industry as a whole, particularly because it is an unregulated industry that is riddled with monsters that will gobble up your marketing budget. The best way to protect yourself from these “monsters” is to stay informed by reading blogs like this one, or subscribing to our newsletter so that you have the latest information on search engine trends. Not all internet marketing companies follow the same philosophies and Plastic Surgery Studios prides itself in focusing on the overall goals of our clients.
Over the last couple of years, we have reformed our processes to ensure that the long term goals of our clients are always at the forefront and not spamy or quick fix techniques that are built upon short term results. For more information about our medical search engine optimization services and how we can help you develop an effective internet marketing strategy, contact us today.
November 10th, 2011 Mark Oleszczak
Why Is This Important?
Sometimes it is important to trust the experts when it comes to what you should and shouldn’t enable within Google.
Put simply – enable this.
For more information, read this and this.
As Google continues to increase the importance of secured browsing, they also continue to focus on providing a better user experience for all the existing Google services. By merging the data into one consolidated place, it will allow you to more easily view organic search impressions, click-through rate, and clicks average organic position.
Did we mention this could also help bridge the gap between the (not provided) keywords we mentioned on our Facebook Page as well? You can learn more about “not provided” keywords here
- Log into Google Webmaster Tools
- Click “Manage Sites > Google Analytics property”
- Select the proper Analytics Web Property from the list, and click “Save”
- When prompted with the message, “You are about to save a new associate. Any existing Webmaster Tools association for this web property will be removed.” click “OK”
- Boom! Done
Though we have not seen the loss of keyword data very widespread among clients, this is definitely a growing trend that many larger SEO firms and websites are talking about. In some instances in-house we have seen the (not provided) keyword show up for the second, third, and sometimes fourth most popular keyword on a site. By integrating Webmaster Tools with Google Analytics you will be able to better understand what’s going on with your website traffic, and potentially recover some of the lost data from the (not provided) keywords.
November 8th, 2011 Mike Wilton
Following the launch of Google+ we put out a warning to our doctors to hold off on creating Google+ Pages for their practice since Google had promised that the days of Google+ for business were coming, and yesterday was the day. We spent the afternoon creating and updating our Google+ Page and we decided we would take some time to put together a step by step guide to help doctors get setup.
Creating a Google+ Page
Below is a look at the Google+ Page creation form:
Note: You must first have a Google+ profile in order to create a page.
Google+ allows you to create a Page for a Local Business, Product or Brand, Company, or personality. While each option is inherently similar in terms of setup, Local Business or Place actually starts the process by identifying your phone number as a means of looking up your location in Google Places. For doctors, this is going to be your best option as it is in my opinion that we will see Google Places integration with Google+ in the future. In fact, in an article from Search Engine Land Google alludes to the idea that they will eventually be able to be managed together when they stated, “Currently, Place pages and Google+ Pages must be managed separately…” To play it safe I would recommend creating your Google+ Page under the same account you currently manage your Google Places Page to ensure you don’t run into any issues in the future in case integration does in fact happen.
Local Businesses vs Other Google+ Pages
The benefits of using Local Business over something like Brand or Company is that you are given exclusive features relevant to your location, such as a map of your location, address, phone number, and hours of operation. In addition to displaying this information the Google+ Page will loosely be tied to your Google Places listing.
To create a Local Business Page you must provide your phone number. After providing your phone number it will take you to a search results page featuring listings from Google Places. From there you can select your Google Places listing and proceed with Page setup. If you do not have a Google Places listing you will be given the option to setup a Page with Google.
After selecting your business you will be taken to a screen to confirm your basic business information, such as name, phone number, address, category, and privacy settings for your Page.
Note: Changing your information on this screen will not have any impact on your Google Places listing. Furthermore, the information provided does not always exactly match what is listed in your Places listing.
After completing your profile information you can click on “Create Page” to create your page. You will then be taken to a screen that will allow you to begin customizing your public profile by uploading a photo. You will then have the option to share your new Page with your Google+ circles.
After completing the setup of your Page you will be given a variety of options to choose from to help start the conversation about your business on Google+ as well as promote it. Pay close attention to the URL displayed under the section that says “Tell the world”  as it is the direct URL to your Google+ Page.
Page vs Profile
Similar to Facebook, you’ll have to access your business page through your personal Google+ profile. And much like Facebook you have the option to toggle between acting as your Page and acting as your self by simply clicking on the drop down under your photo in the upper right corner.
Both Pages and profiles can:
- Share Photos
- Share videos
- Share links
- Conduct Hangouts
However, where Pages and profiles greatly differ is in their ability to add other users to Circles. Profiles are able to add anyone they want to a Circle, however as a Page you cannot add someone to a Circle and follow them unless they follow you first. While many will dislike this feature, I think it is an awesome feature that will help stop spam and unwanted interactions from brands or businesses.
Another notable difference between the two is that Pages do not receive notifications via email, text, or in the Google bar. Very curious to see how Pages will be kept in the loop in the future. You can read a list of additional difference between Pages and Profiles here
Verifying Your Page
One of the downsides to Google+ Pages that I have found is that anyone can create a Page for your brand. In fact at one point while we were testing this we had 3 separate Plastic Surgery Studios Pages. However Google plans to combat problems regarding this by only allowing badges, icons, and Direct Connect ability if the account has been verified by linking the Page to a site.
The first step for verifying your Page is to make sure you have linked to your website in within your Page. The second step is to link your website to your Google+ Page using the Rel=”publisher” link, which you can learn more about in Google’s webmaster tools help.
Linking your Google+ page and your site not only helps you build relationships with friends and followers, but also gives Google information they can use to determine the relevancy of your site to a user query in Google Web Search. As an added bonus linking your site makes you eligible for Google+ Direct Connect, which lets people quickly navigate to a Google+ page from within Google search.
We’re excited to see what Google+ Pages bring to the social realm and are looking forward to seeing our doctors get involved with this new platform. Be sure to head over to the Plastic Surgery Studios Google+ Page and add us to your circles. If you’re in need of help with setting up your Google+ profile or medical social media marketing we encourage you to contact us or give us a call at (909) 758-8300 and we’d be happy to help.
November 7th, 2011 Mike Wilton
Over the last few months we’ve stressed a lot of important factors related to blogging. First we stressed the importance of keeping your version of WordPress updated, them more recently we discussed how to integrate social media into your daily business practices, but sadly it seems there is still one element of social media and blogging that doctors still struggle with; blog comments. As we mentioned in our post on integrating social media into your daily business practices, responding to blog comments is just as important as commenting or responding on sites like Facebook and Twitter.
The other day one of our designers was working on one of our client’s blogs and noticed a plethora of unapproved and disregarded comments in the doctors WordPress dashboard. He later asked me why so many doctors seem to ignore their blog comments, and unfortunately I didn’t have a good answer. What he witnessed was something similar to the image you see below. A list of unapproved, untouched, and ignored comments on a blog. Note: Information has been blurred to protect the doctor and those who left comments.
He went on to mention how as a potential patient he would not want to go to a doctor who did not respond to or engage a questions that are asked. Oftentimes the excuse for this behavior is lack of time or resources, however it is time for these excuses to stop. Just as in social media, everytime you ignore a comment or question you are ignoring a potential patient and relaying the message that they are simply not important enough for you to respond to and I guarantee you they will find another doctor who is willing to give them their time.
Managing Your Blog Comments
There are a couple ways that you can go about managing your blog comments. Most blogging software allows you to manage notifications so that you can receive an email anytime someone comments on your blog. This is probably the easiest way to address blog comments as they happen. If you’re using a WordPress blog these emails will allow you to approve or spam the comment directly from the email by clicking on the link and logging in to your WordPress dashboard.
If this solution doesn’t work for you then I would recommend you designate some time for yourself or a member of your staff to approve and respond to comments once or twice a week. Though not as timely, it will ensure that your blog visitors and their questions do not go ignored.
Regardless of which solution you choose, remember responding to blog comments is just as important as responding to social media comments and mentions.
Dealing With Blog Comment Spam
Another common concern among doctors is sorting through spam comments. While timeliness of follow up on comments will make this more manageable here are some things to look for that can help you week out the spammers:
- Do they use a keyword as their name in the comment? (e.g. Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon)
- Do they use a site like Google.com, Yahoo.com, or the like as their web address? This is oftentimes a tactic used by spammers to see if they can easily inject spam comments
- Does the comment lack purpose? (e.g. “This is a nice post.I learned a lot about Liposuction,keep up the good work!”)
- Does the comment include a link? Note: Not all comments with a link are spam, however if they are out of context or link to a competing site, then they most likely are.
Spam is usually pretty easy to spot, just use common sense and if it seems like they are just looking to dump a link then it’s probably safe to mark it as spam. It’s important to weed out spam, as Google has openly stated
that spam that goes unattended can have a negative impact on the trust of a website and ultimately hurt it’s SEO efforts.
At the end of the day it’s important to recognize that a blog is just as much a part of social media strategy as Facebook or Twitter and best of all, it’s completely under your control. You control the content, the conversation, and ultimately what does and doesn’t appear on your site. With many doctors being completely disengaged from their blogs it may be easy to overlook things like this, but understand that even if you’re not developing and posting all of the content yourself, it’s important that you or your staff are involved in the conversations that happen on your blog after your content is live.
November 2nd, 2011 Mike Wilton
We’ve stressed the importance of claimed Google Places listings, but following an announcement from Google yesterday, claiming and completing your Google Places listing has become more crucial than ever. Yesterday Google announced a new format for Google Places information in the search results. Certain branded queries, such as [redbones bbq], the example used by Google, will now provide Google Places data to the right of the search results. In instances where the data does not appear immediately there will be an instant preview available for blended Places results.
Below is an example of a branded search for Dallas Plastic Surgeon Dr. Robert Wilcox. You’ll notice that the Places information for Dr. Wilcox immediately appears next to the search results and prominently displays his Map (1), Photos (2), Details, such as business hours and closest public transit (3), and online reviews (4). This information appears because Dr. Wilcox’s Google Places Page is complete and optimized.
A Places page that has not been optimized with reviews, images, and pertinent details about a business will only display a map and keywords associated with the business, similar to the listing below. As you can see, it’s quite plain and doesn’t really give a lot of depth to the business.
The examples above show you what happens during a branded search in the new Google search results, however it’s important to realize that these changes also impact another facet of Google search. These changes also impact Google instant previews. When conducting a search for Plano plastic surgeon you’ll see you can now see the Google Places information that we saw in the branded search results above, by scrolling over a Places enhanced listing and clicking on the arrows to the right of it. Again, as you can see in the image below Dr. Wilcox’s listing details are provided alongside the search results after the arrows are clicked. This in addition to the website preview that was previously available with Google instant preview.
It’s in this situation that the difference between a fully optimized and completed listing vs a non-optimized and incomplete listing become crucial. As I preview the results for the various plastic surgeons in the Plano area, I find that many of them offer relevant information about their business that might entice me to click and learn more about them via their Google Places page. However, among those listed there are also a handful of doctors that have nothing more than a website preview because they have an incomplete Google Places listing associated with their site. It’s these sorts of differences that can influence the final decision to clickthrough to a doctors website and ultimately it can set you apart from competitors in your area. Helping them to understand who you are and what you do before they even visit your site may be enough to win them over in the search engine results.
Plastic Surgery Studios prides itself in staying on top of the latest local search trends and we help each of our doctors to optimize and complete their Google Places listing. If you are having trouble penetrating your local market, or simply aren’t sure how to get the most out of your Google Places listing contact us, or call us at (909) 758-8300 to find out how we can help your local search efforts.