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How Google’s Latest Announcements Impact Your Website | February 2021

Just because we’re still getting adjusted to writing 2021 instead of 2020 doesn’t mean Google is moving any slower than usual. In fact, they’ve released a variety of new updates that could have a big impact on your healthcare website or the way you analyze data. It’s crucial to monitor these updates proactively, as finding out about them after the fact can potentially be disastrous to your online presence. Here are just a few that we’ve deemed important to start the year!

The Page Experience Update Is Near

You’ve heard about it time and time again, but have you paid attention and made updates? If not, you need to start quickly since the year shows no signs of slowing down. In May of this year, Google’s Page Experience will happen, which means user experience will play a big factor in how a site is ranking. Factors like load speed, HTTPS, and mobile friendliness should have been a focus for you already, but they will continue to play a role in how Google ranks a site starting in May.

Google Logo

What Does This Mean for Your Healthcare Website?

As with anything Google, it could have a major impact or it could have a minor impact. That’s why it’s always important to be proactive and brace yourself. Understanding page experience or consulting with someone who does is a good first step. Don’t make changes at random, as they could wind up being detrimental. Rather, focus on what data Google provides you via the Core Web Vitals report and build from there. At the end of the day, keep in mind that your website needs to be extremely easy to use for all searchers. Take a poll from your patients and see what they think about your website, too, as it might be eye opening!

Passage Ranking Means More Visibility

One of the more interesting rollouts of late last year was Google’s passage indexing, which essentially was a way of digging through a page to find a specific answer as opposed to indexing that whole page. For example, if you were simply looking for an answer to “how long is the recovery time for BPH treatment” and were served up a full page on BPH treatment, you’d have to dig for that answer. Google basically said that they would make attempts to index that separately. However, over time it became apparent that they meant they would help it rank better, and thus show up the same way a featured snipped would at the top of a page and in a box. What was once passage indexing is now called passage ranking. This means a searcher wouldn’t even have to click into the page for the answer, but rather would see it easily right after their search.

What Does This Mean for Your Healthcare Website?

Content is key. It may be something redundant to hear in the SEO world, but it remains true. In fact, this is a great opportunity to not only assess your content, but also your user experience. Make sure that your page lays out important sections broken up by headers that explain answers to the users’ questions. Think FAQ-style copy, or just your typical “what is, how to” copy in which you explain the procedure and then what happens after a patient is determined as a good candidate for that procedure: how it’s performed, risks, recovery, etc. If your site just has large, run-on pages that contain too much copy to digest, now’s your time to break them up into separate, well-optimized pages and gain more real estate on the SERPs!

Your Years in Business Can Be Front and (Almost) Center

If you’ve been practicing for a long time and have a strong reputation, that could lead to more patients almost immediately. Google My Business now shows your years in business alongside your reviews in the local pack! All you have to do is simply log in to your location or provider GMB profiles and add the opening date. This will then allow Google to display your years in business. For example, if your opening start date was January 1990, Google can now say 30+ years in business as soon as someone searches for your specialty.

What Does This Mean for Your Healthcare Website?

In healthcare, the years that a doctor has practiced is often a deciding factor for many patients. While some prefer doctors that have practiced for 25+ years, others want younger doctors that have practiced <10 years. It’s all a matter of personal preference. Regardless, you now have the option of making sure that your years of practice are seen BEFORE a searcher gets to your site. This could lead to a call directly from GMB which could be a quick win for you and your practice. Don’t forget to keep your reputation clean though. If you have 25+ years of experience but a 1 star average, it might not even matter.

Phrase Match Includes Broad Match Modifier Traffic

If you’re running Google (PPC) ads yourself or through another company, this may be of interest to you. Though broad match and phrase match were previously created to help advertisers reach a wider audience through use of longer queries, they are now essentially becoming one. The new matching behavior aims to merge both broad and phrase match by providing users with the ability aiming to capitalize on search and drive performance and conversions with relevant targets. With that said, broad match will begin to phase out over time with the new phrase matching blend taking over. Below, from Google, shows how this will look:

https://support.google.com/google-ads/answer/10346549?visit_id=637487547197066027-3702077033&amp;rd=1

What Does This Mean for Your Healthcare Website?

If you’re not currently running ads, you really have nothing to worry about. Over time, this will just be something that is built in and standard. However, if you are running ads or are currently thinking about it, you’ll want to make sure you have someone with experience (like Practis) assisting you. Your current campaigns may require a bit of massaging to get them to fit your exact goals. In addition, you’ll want to closely monitor what is happening with the update so you know when an impact does happen. It’s all about the analysis of your campaigns, so set it and forget it doesn’t really work.

GMB’s Flag Review Feature Has Expanded

In the past, when you’d flag a review to Google, you wouldn’t really have any insight into what the categories meant. For example, a “hateful, violent, or inappropriate” review could be left up to the person flagging to assume if Google would actually think it was that type of review. Beyond that, the categories were limited, so often times you had to pick the closest possible description and hope for the best. Google has now expanded their feature to include the following answers to the “Why are you reporting this review” question:

  • Off topic: Review doesn’t pertain to an experience at or with this business
  • Spam: Review is from a bot, a fake account, or contains ads and promotions
  • Conflict of interest: Review is from someone affiliated with the business or a competitor’s business
  • Profanity: Review contains swear words, has sexually explicit language, or details graphic violence or other illegal activity
  • Bullying or harassment: Review personally attacks a specific individual
  • Discrimination or hate speech: Review has harmful language about an individual or group based on identity
  • Personal information: Contains personal information such as address or phone number

What Does This Mean for Your Healthcare Website?

In healthcare, your reputation is pretty much everything. But, as we all know, some of the reviews received are irrelevant or false. Before, flagging reviews would ultimately lead to a timely process in which you would potentially communicate with a Google rep, only to find out that your review didn’t meet the criteria. While the criteria remain the same, the new options allow for you to pick a more relevant answer that may allow Google’s system to determine that the review is incorrect. In fact, we’ve already seen tremendous success in the past few weeks with getting “off topic” and “conflict of interest” reviews removed.

As always, we’re constantly following Google’s latest trends and looking for ways to make our partners stand out among the competition. Should you have any questions on any of the above, or want to discuss how you can get ahead of the pack, contact Practis today!

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