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How Google’s Latest Announcements Impact Your Website | May 2020

Although it’s been a while since we’ve told you about some of Google’s latest changes, that’s not to say they haven’t been happening! In fact, during the COVID pandemic, Google has continued to push out a ton of important announcements and updates that may impact the performance of your online marketing campaigns. Here are just a few of the most recent ones, and what you should change, if anything. 

COVID-19 = Changes

Yes, in case you didn’t know, COVID caused some big shifts across the board. In order to place emphasis on healthcare related news and updates for the public, Google did a phenomenal job of prioritizing certain elements of their algorithms and indexing. Some of those include:

Google Pauses New Reviews

Although this may seem like a terrible rollout because practices are unable to gain new, positive reviews, it’s actually a very smart move on Google’s part. At the beginning of the COVID pandemic, Google completely paused incoming reviews and responses to all reviews. The reason for doing this was because they wanted to prevent people from leaving negative reviews that were based off of a COVID procedure. For example, if a patient left a negative review about a practice being closed due to state restrictions, the only way to previously have that removed would be to go through Google’s lengthy review removal process. However, because of the anticipation that a lot of these reviews would be happening, Google proactively decided to block reviews temporarily. Over the past few weeks, Google has opened up review responses for older reviews, and has started to roll out new reviews in certain countries and regions, but it is still a slow process. 

Google on computer

GMB Adds COVID and Telehealth Links

Google My Business is already quite intuitive. However, in light of COVID, they took it up a notch and added specific links about COVID and telehealth to GMB profiles for providers and practices. This will allow for people to quickly find information about your practice with that “zero click” mentality. GMB information is typically found before your site is organically, so it’s a huge user benefit. What’s even better is that these links will automatically be updated if Google can easily find those related links within your website. 

COVID News Is Prioritized

While this one doesn’t necessarily impact your site in a positive manner, it’s worth it to note that there was a change. As expected, COVID based searches skyrocketed as announcements were made. In order to help the general users of Google, they have placed a large emphasis on providing searchers with the top factual articles. As you’ll notice, many of the top results are going to be the most popular ones, so if your practice has released an announcement, it’s doubtful that you’ll see that rank nationally. 

What Does This Mean for Your Healthcare Website?

With all of this information moving, what does it mean!? Well, the answer is actually simple: use your resources! For reviews, don’t stop soliciting new ones. Sure, Google is of the utmost importance, but there are still other listings out there taking on new reviews, along with your website. You can add these in multiple places to make sure your reputation is built up. Also, since there’s no definitive timeline on when GMB reviews will come back, so it’s best to be proactive. In addition, make sure that you’re keeping all of your information accurate! Use these new GMB links to add additional information to your site. Remember, the goal is to make sure that your practice stays thriving

Users’ Recent Activity Will Cause Recommended Google Results

Although this is something that has seemingly been happening for ages, Google is now showing that they’re taking steps to really personalize a searcher’s results. Now, Google will suggest search queries based on your recent activity, essentially pushing you towards more (potentially) relevant results. So, let’s say you searched “primary care doctors” one day and then searched “sore throat” the next, there’s a chance that you’ll see a suggestion for something like “sore throat doctors” leading you to sites with pertinent information. 

What Does This Mean for Your Healthcare Website?

Keep your site optimized and full of rich content! The ultimate goal should always be to capitalize on long tail search terms, but this proves that the way you write and optimize your site’s content is important. Although you should never go overboard with rogue content, make sure that you have quality pages on the top services for which you know potential patients may search. In addition, keep your more technical components like metas and schema built for these types of searches and you’re well on your way to patient acquisition!

There Was a Core Algorithm Update in May

As if there wasn’t enough going on, Google decided to release a HUGE algorithm update on May 4th. Of course, these rollouts can take about 3-4 weeks until marketers officially know what’s happening, but there has been some impact reported. In fact, some reports have shown that sites have lost up to 90% of their organic traffic in a matter of days. 

What Does This Mean for Your Healthcare Website?

Be proactive and do your research. At Practis, we are already doing a great deal of analyzing to determine if this algorithm update had an impact, and determining ways to prevent our sites from taking a hit. It’s very similar to a few of the more insurance-style measures taken prior to COVID. Because Google’s rollouts are often ambiguous up front, the only way to really know what is going on is to follow your analytics. If you’re concerned about this or any of the other announcements, or have further questions, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at (704) 887-5300, or contact us online! Our team is here to help. 

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