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How Google’s Latest Announcements Impact Your Website | October 2018

 You wake up on a cold, dark morning and search for your practice’s name on the internet. As the page loads, you realize that you’re nowhere to be found and, in fact, your competitor has now taken over your ranking on the front page of the search results. You click on page 2, then page 3, but still cannot find yourself. Then you slowly realize the amount of potential patients you could be missing. 

Sure, it’s close to Halloween, but that’s a horror story that even we can’t read! The sad part is that it could become a reality to some if you don’t stay on top of the latest digital news and trends. So, what should you know during this spooky month?

Say goodbye to Google+. 

Sending shockwaves around the world (we’re totally kidding), Google made the announcement a few weeks ago that Google+ would cease to exist over the next few months. Although the platform never quite made it to its full potential and had rather low engagement over the years, they cited a privacy bug as the primary reason for closing. 

Google Logo

What does this mean for your healthcare website? 

For the vast majority, this will have little to no impact on the websites themselves. Google+ was never really a ranking factor, and acted more as a social media style asset for businesses. However, if you are someone that may have used Google+, it’s important to check if or how it may have been impacts. In addition, you’ll want to find out more about how to migrate any sort of data that you may have placed on there, if you deem it important!

Google may record call conversion on ads for quality assurance.

Taking a step in the safe direction, Google is now rolling out a feature in which they will randomly record a few calls from call-only ads or call extensions in ads. The idea is that they will be able to find out common trends in spam calls and hopefully block those signals, preventing them from happening again.  

What does this mean for your healthcare website?

If you’re running PPC (and not using a reputable PPC company), you’re going to want to do your research here. As with a lot of things in healthcare, this raises a red flag based on HIPAA and other compliance laws. While Google is noting that the pool from which they’ll pick which calls to record is very, very small, there is a chance that your healthcare centric ad may be the chosen one. The feature does require that you opt in, but if you don’t you practically lose the call-only or call extension capabilities, practically forcing you to opt in. Because Google is aware of the nature of medical compliance and have proven that with their approval process for healthcare ads, there is hope that they’ll release more information about how to prevent an issue. However, if you’re not staying up to date on the news, will you know what to do?

Voice search and AI mean the fight for position zero is on. 

When someone hears the term AI, they immediately think that robots are taking over the world. While there’s maybe some truth to that (just surf the web for modern day robots), it’s not technically something to worry about quite yet. Having said that, AI is something that you’ll need to worry about with regards to your online ranking. While voice search is one thing, people are more prone to use their conversational assistants like Cortana, Alexa, and Siri in order to find results. Because these run off of databases, it’s important to note that old school search tactics won’t work, and position one on page one is long gone. Thus begins the fight for position zero. 

What does this mean for your healthcare website? 

Healthcare voice searches are poised to continue growing along with the other specialties and markets, so it’s certainly something to pay attention to rather closely. The one thing you do not want to do is throw your eggs in one basket, whether that be AI related search or those done by humans. In fact, you should have a healthy split between both. Humans will still continue to find you via their desktop and mobile devices, but every so often they may want to shoot a question to Alexa. It’s important to focus on creating rich snippets for your site and developing strong technical elements such as schema that can help get you closer to position zero. If not, you may just lose out on a large group of potential patients that aren’t scared of a robot takeover and happily engage with Cortana!

Bonus: Google will stay the default search engine on Safari.  

$9 billion. Just let that number sink in a bit. That’s the amount that Google will pay Apple in order to remain the default search engine on Safari, the browser that comes pre-installed on your iPhone or Mac device. After some back and forth with Siri, and losing that placement to Bing from 2013 to 2017, Google has slowly regained almost all functionality of Apple devices and remains the default search engine on all programs. 

What does this mean for your healthcare website? 

Google is king! Yes, you’ll absolutely want to make sure you’re ranking on other search engines, but it’s safe to say that Google should be your focus here. If they’re open to paying $9 billion to remain the default search engine on the browser with the second highest market share (Chrome = 59.7%, Safari = 14.5%), then they are obviously shooting for dominance. Continue to monitor Google and you’ll inevitable help your mobile rankings as well. 

Stay on top of the most recent updates with Practis!

As always, we’re here to help take your practice in the right direction. Our Goal is to ALWAY stay on top of the latest trends, and not just the ones that positively impact websites. In fact, sometimes it’s the negative news that helps us the most. Contact us today to get answers to any of your questions and get started on an easy (but exciting) patient acquisition journey!