April 25th, 2012 Mike Wilton
In the past we’ve talked about effective blogging tactics and how to create, optimize and distribute content. But this week we thought we’d share a successfully executed post and the elements that went into the construction of the post to make it successful.
In a post featured recently on the blog of Houston plastic surgeon, Dr. Christopher Patronella, the author explored the topic of patient satisfaction following tummy tuck and liposuction. The post was well-written and featured a series of elements that can make a run-of-the-mill blog post even better.
The post itself piggybacks off of a recently published study featured in the April 2012 Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Having a current spin not only makes your blog look current and relevant, but it can also help the post show up for searches related to the current topic, event, or news story.
It’s Backed By Facts
Nothing says authority like hard data. Again, piggybacking off of the recent study, the post features a number of statistics from the report to support not only the topic, but the writer’s opinion. Quoting data or statistics from a trusted source can help reflect expertise and identify the author as an authority.
It Gets Personal
Rather than spouting off opinion or regurgitating facts already published in the study, the post uses personal examples from one of the doctors to bring the post to life. This tie-in not only gives a personal feel to the story, but it reflects real life experiences of one of the doctors patients. Real life examples are a great means of making your content unique, and ultimately helping your readers connect with your topic.
It Uses Images
One of the biggest mistakes I see most doctors make when posting to their blog is the lack of imagery. Here are some core reasons to include imagery in your posts:
- Users tend to skim content, so an image can help the piece stand out.
- Facebook “shares” will include a photo with the share if it’s available, which can increase social click-throughs.
- It breaks up large blocks of content, ultimately enhancing the readability of the content.
Remember though, images should be relevant and support the textual content. If you don’t have an image of your own to use you can always user Flickr photos that support the topic. Just make sure to follow the rules of creative commons. If you’re not familiar with Creative Commons, here is a nice guide on how to easily and legally use Flickr photos.
It Links Out
When it comes to search engine optimization, it’s easy to want to be greedy with your link juice, but at the end of the day linking to nothing but your own content isn’t really helping the natural link graph of the web. Linking out to other sources can not only help make your site more visible to other websites in your niche, but it can oftentimes help build relationships with other websites or bloggers. These types of relationships can often lead to links to your website, social shares, or other mentions of your work online. It also helps users who may want more information on the supporting content of your piece, making your content even more resourceful and authoritative.
It Speaks To Its Target Audience
Another mistake I often see on doctor blogs is the technical writing that you may see in a medical journal or publication. In most cases your blog audience should be your patients or potential patients, so writing in a way that is tailored to a patient’s knowledge or reading level is key.
Patients aren’t always going to know what “severe grade 3 ptosis” is or what the “nipple areolar complex” is, so try your hardest to write in a way that will make sense to someone without your level of expertise. It’s fine if you want your content to appeal to other members of the medical community, but it still needs to make sense to an everyday reader.
April 20th, 2012 Mike Wilton
A few months back we posted an introduction to Pinterest – the now third most popular social network in the U.S. behind Facbook and Twitter. As it remains the talk of the town, the buzz surrounding Pinterest is naturally giving growth to a lot of questions among many medical professionals. They are wondering how they can incorporate Pinterest into their social media strategy, and whether or not it makes sense to do so.
In my previous post, I outlined a few ways doctors can utilize Pinterest. Today, I am providing healthcare professionals some real life examples of this, which may inspire them to become involved with this site. After all, Pinterest is intended to be a “fun way to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests.”
Become A Unique Resource
The MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texashas created a very useful Pinterest page that does more than just give basic information and support for cancer. The Center has taken their efforts a step further and features boards on unique topics fanging from minority cancer awareness and cancer-fighting foods.
Embrace Your Audience
The Children’s Medical Center in Dayton, Ohio knows that its target audience is made up of parents who are concerned with the health and well-being of their children. They have set up their Pinterest boards as extensive resources for that audience. The hospital has 22 boards dedicated to the health and well-being of children, offering resources on everything from child safety information, kids recipes, and nutrition to pregnancy and parenting tips. The focus of their Pinterest boards are less about the hospital and its care, and more about being a resource for parents.
Ask For Help
The gift of giving has no limits, and Pinterest is no exception. Phoenix Children’s Hospital in Phoenix, Arizona has set up boards featuring items the hospital needs for the various children taking up residency in their hospital. While the overall presence of Children’s Hospital on Pinterest is lacking, this is a unique and very visual means of showcasing items the hospital needs for the numerous patients they treat year-round.
The premise of Pinterest relies heavily on imagery and visual appeal. Baylor Health Care System in Dallas, Texasfeatures an array of health related boards, all of which are visually stimulating. Each board cover features an image with vibrant colors and exciting imagery, which is enticing to users and will encourage clicks.
Don’t Be Afraid to Be Funny
Personality is an integral part of social media and humor on Pinterest can go a long way. Delray Beach, Florida dentist Dr. Robert Adami features a number of amusing pins related to teeth and dentistry on the handful of boards he manages. From the comic reenactment of an impacted tooth to unconventional shark dentistry before and after photos, Dr. Adami gives Pinterest users a more humorous spin on dentistry and focuses more on related content and less on dentistry and his practice. This is a great way to convey your personality and the style of your practice.
Be a Celebrity – Or At Least Be Seen With One
Beverly Hills Cosmetic Dentist Dr. Kevin Sands features one board on his Pinterest Page – Celebrity Smiles. It’s not too over-the-top, as it plays into something people love to consume on a daily basis: celebrity gossip. Seeing the likes of Britney Spears, Charlie Sheen, and Kim Kardashian at the dentist is probably amusing to many, and starstruck fans may want to repin and promote.
Not all Pinterest strategies are created equal. What has worked for these medical professionals may not always apply to you and your practice, but it can hopefully inspire some new ideas of your own. It’s been two month since my initial post in Pinterest, and the medical industry has still been slow to adopt. Right now, hospitals seem to be at the forefront of the movement with individual practitioners making up nothing more than a slew of empty profiles. Early adopters that can make Pinterest work for them could quickly harness the buying power behind Pinterest search and reap the benefits of Pinterest traffic.
What creative Pinterest uses have you come across or implemented in your practice? Please comment and let me know!
April 19th, 2012 Mike Wilton
Though we’ve stressed that there are far more important metrics to measure than rankings, they are still a metric and oftentimes when webmasters see a sudden drop they panic and rightfully so. Recently Search Engine Roundtable reported an uptick in webmaster complaints regarding significant drops in rankings. Many believed this to be the beginning of the Over-Optimization Penalty rollout, or some sort of algorithm update. However, we now know that it was neither.
In a candid post on Google+ Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s web spam team, clarified with users that the change was caused by a mistake from Google. “…it turns out that our classifier for parked domains was reading from a couple files which mistakenly were empty. As a result, we classified some sites as parked when they weren’t,” reported Cutts.
Parked domains are websites that are unused by webmasters and oftentimes feature nothing more than ads, which make them useless to searchers on Google and ultimately a poor search engine result.
Cutts followed up the statement with an apology and reported that the issue had since been fixed, meaning that if your site was impacted by the error you should hopefully see a recovery soon. You can read the full post from Matt Cutts below:
April 16th, 2012 Mike Wilton
I have received a handful of questions lately about Google’s proposed “over-optimization penalty,” or OOPs as its being referred to in some SEO circles. The penalty, which was alluded to by Google’s Matt Cutts during the Dear Google & Bing: Help Me Rank Better! panel at SXSW, is being designed to help “level the playing field” and is set to be released in the coming months. But…what does it mean?
During the panel, Matt Cutts outlined two specific SEO facets that the penalty may target. The first was the use of “too many keywords on the page.” Though no specifics were mentioned regarding extensive keyword usage on a single page, he could be referring to the potential problem of placing the same keyword in the Title, Meta Description, Meta Keywords, H1, and in multiple places throughout your content (could come back to bite you.) If you obsess over things such as “keyword density” instead of writing naturally about a topic, this may perhaps be a red flag for the future Google.
Another common tactic that Cutts specifically called out was the exchange of “way too many links” on a site. In the medical SEO space this is still used by an overwhelming number of medical marketing companies. Reciprocal links and link farms are a great way to quickly generate a large number of links for clients in a short amount of time. In most instances they appear as a “Resources” page or a “Links” page and will feature numerous doctors in other states or countries.
Reciprocal linking and link farms were a huge hit for SEO in the late 90’s and a practice that was widely used. However, many industries began to take penalties for this practice by the mid 2000s. I can personally attest to this during my tenure as an SEO in the real estate industry, where I saw an entire network of real estate agents get wiped out on Google, MSN, and Yahoo, as well as being specifically called out by the search engines for being an industry heavily focused on this tactic.
Sadly this practice has still been heavily used in the medical SEO space and appears to continue to be successful. But with the proposed “over-optimization penalty” many websites using these practices and featuring these pages could take a hit.
In addition to direct statements about “over-optimization” practices, many folks in the search industry have speculated other facets of the penalty from additional recent statements made by Cutts both at SXSW and in the recent months. Other strategies that may fall under the hammer of Google’s “over-optimization penalty” include:
- Paid Links – Even though paid links are already against webmaster guidelines, a stronger effort may be in the works. One way to combat this would be to better identify links from non-topical websites (e.g. a link to a plastic surgeon’s website from a domain like free-car-insurance.org)
- Exact Match Domains – This is a topic that Cutts and the Google camp have been discussing over the last year. Sites that use keyword-specific domains with a mix of the over-optimization keyword practices mentioned by Matt at SXSW could possibly be impacted.
It’s been nearly a month since these statements were made, and there still hasn’t been an announcement confirming that the over-optimization penalty has been rolled out. During the talk Matt said that usually they don’t “pre-announce changes” and there is a reason for that. Google has made statements in the past and then retracted them because they simply weren’t the right fit for the direction Google was going with search.
The over-optimization penalty may or may not be coming, but either way you need to be aware of what the search engines are doing and where their focus is. Even if this never officially rolls out, both Bing and Google are focusing on combating these practices.
If you are going to keep playing in the search results and continue to focus solely on quick gains via efforts used to game the search engines, your time is running out.
With the search engines looking more towards other signals from social media, user engagement, and semantics, the backlink game is changing and its time to align your efforts with the focus of the search engines.
April 11th, 2012 Mike Wilton
Described as an effort “toward a simpler, more beautiful Google“, Google released a significant overhaul to its Google+ user interface this morning. The new design, which is set to roll out over the next few days, was created as a means of making the user experience more engaging and fluid. The updates which include customizable navigation, a dedicated Hangouts page, and a variety of elements designed to increase engagement also included the roll out of new profile pages.
The new profile layout features a Facebook Timeline-esque cover photo feature, which allows both profiles and pages to highlight a select group of photos or a panoramic image to help highlight their personality or brand. By selecting “Change cover photo” users and Pages alike can choose between two cover photo templates.
Scrapbook Cover Photos
The first layout mimics the previous Google+ profile format by displaying a row of images next to a larger profile photo. Each image thumbnail is 110 pixels x 110 pixels and can be clicked on to display a larger image. Google recommends that scrapbook photos be at least 150×150 pixels in dimension and in .jpg, .gif, or .png format.
Panoramic Cover Photo
The other option, which is similar to the Facebook Timeline cover photo, uses a panoramic image across the top of your page. The image, which will appear under the profile photo and across the top of the page is 940 pixels wide and 180 pixels tall and must be at least 940 pixels wide to upload. Images that are larger than 180 pixels tall can be cropped after upload to feature only the section of the picture you wish to use. Google recommends .jpg or .png fiels for this cover photo template.
While the scrapbook format offers a unique look in comparison with Facebook Timeline, Google’s cover photos also offer a unique marketing opportunity for brands and businesses. Earlier this afternoon I verified with Google+ Your Business that Google+ cover photos did not hold any limitations in terms of marketing. In fact, the only limitations to cover photos are those set forth by the general photo sharing guidelines on Google+.
Unlike Facebook Timeline, Google does not limit the use of calls to action, contact information and the like. This creates a great opportunity for businesses to draw attention to promotional content via Google+ that is otherwise prohibited on Facebook.
Love it or hate it, the new Google+ layout is actually pretty impressive. Though most users loved the original Google+ format, revisions and new additions to the social network definitely made the interface more clunky than when it started. The new format is more streamlined and clearly designed for growth moving forward. If you haven’t setup your Google+ Page for business, now is a better time than ever. Be sure to check out our Google+ For Business Setup Guide or contact our offices about our medical social media services, which include the setup of Google+ and a number of other social media services. If you’ve already setup your Google+ page with the new cover photos, feel free to share your creativity with a link to your page in the comments below.