Despite touching virtually every area of modern life, the original (and still core) mission of Google Search is somewhat of a mystery. Much of this is because of the secrecy that surrounds the famed Google algorithm. How it works no one really knows, although Google does give hints about what it finds important. Still, no one knows all of the ins and outs behind a decision to rank one business ahead of another when it comes to organic search.
And Google keeps moving the target. This is usually a response to changes in the way people search. For instance, it’s thought that in 2018 Google is going to place mobile search factors ahead of desktop search. This is simply a response to how people search — more and more it’s on their phones.
Other changes are responses to people trying to outsmart the algorithm. Just a couple years ago, keywords were a dominant factor in search ranking (they still are important, but not to the same extent). But once Google realized a whole industry had sprung up around gaming the keyword system, they changed the algorithm to place much more emphasis on content rather than keywords.
Still, there are major parts of Google’s ranking that are well known to all.
There was a time when limiting words on websites was in vogue. Just give readers a bunch of bulleted lists. Those days are gone, as Google views content as critical to a good website. Google’s bots are continually crawling all over your website, figuring out what’s it about, what you want to be known for, and how it would fit into a searcher’s query.
For your practice, that means having a one-paragraph description of your radiofrequency-assisted liposuction doesn’t cut it. You need quality, descriptive content about the procedures you want to be known for. If you extract wisdom teeth and want to be known for that, despite being a general dentist, you want content about wisdom teeth, why they need extraction, and how it is done.
Any content should be at least 600 words, and the writing should be professional yet digestible. Don’t have your office manager write your site’s content unless that person has been a writer in the past. Google rewards good grammar, writing that is free of typos and misspellings, and that is easily understood and readable.
Links are both internal and external. When a Google bot is crawling your site, it starts on the home page. Then it hits links onto secondary pages, following those links and understanding what the site should be known for. Your link structure needs to be clear, making it easy for Google to understand your site’s structure.
External links are also known as backlinks. These can be your site linking to other sites, such as a university medical school or a seminar site where the practice owner is a keynote speaker. This helps Google understand that you have trustworthy content.
How well your site is built
Site navigation is important in ranking. If pages load slowly, if there are dead links if people hitting your site instantly click back to Google (meaning they couldn’t find what they wanted on your site), those types of problems all result in lower organic search rankings.
That’s the reason you shouldn’t have your nephew, the video game expert, design and build your website.
Mobile isn’t in Alabama
Everyone knows mobile search is becoming more and more prevalent. While it may not be true of medical or dental practices to the same degree, it is critical for businesses that can provide instant solutions. If you’re out and about and looking for the new “grain-free” dog food, you’ll search on your phone and the store that shows up first will probably get the sale.
There is research that shows search on more complicated issues such as banking and health is still the domain of desktop search. After all, a person researching tummy tucks isn’t going to do her research while sitting in the park and then walk the two blocks to the practice and have the procedure.
That said, mobile search is still becoming more and more important, so your site has to be mobile friendly. If it isn’t, sites that are mobile friendly will outrank you.
When thinking of your practice site, you need to remember what Google is trying to do. Google wants to know all of the information in the world and provides access to the precise information you’re looking for when you put in a search query. It’s really that simple, although that goal is incredibly complex. The better your site answers questions Google has that pertain to what your practice offers, the higher you will rank and the more patients you’ll garner through search.
Fortunately, MyAdvice is expert at all of the above categories, so you don’t have to be. You’re expert at being a surgeon or a dermatologist, a dentist or a gynecologist. We’re experts at providing clear, readable, informative content. We build cleanly designed, perfectly functioning websites that make it easy for Google to know exactly what your practice does and what it wants to be known for. And we build every site to be mobile friendly. Then we monitor your site to be sure your content stays fresh, your links are current, and everything functions smoothly.
If you have any questions about what Google wants when it comes to ranking a website, simply ask your MyAdvice representative. He or she will be happy to show you.