After years of working on search ranking, your medical practice has likely hired numerous SEO consultants who’ve encouraged you to stuff website pages with important keywords and to generate content for the sake of generating content for Google. The good news is SEO gaming is nearly dead. The maybe bad news is that what matters most to ranking is creating quality content. You know, the kind of stuff you’re actually interested in reading and sharing.
The highly educated and compensated engineers for Google are spending thousands of man hours trying to improve search ranking. One aspect they’re locked on to is that quality is the most important determinant on how a web page gets ranked. In extreme cases of low quality content, they’ll remove a site from their results.
Of course, neither Bing nor Google is about to reveal the secret sauce they use in their calculations but they’ve made it very clear what constitutes low quality: content that’s generic, old, copied from other sites or otherwise provides little value.
(This was a major goal of Panda, Google’s 2011 update that helped scour the web of so-called “content farms,” i.e., sites that gamed the ranking system by producing endless pages that were off-subject, poorly written, lifted from other sites or all of the above.)
So, what constitutes high-quality content? Google provides a full list of what will attract the right kind of attention but the bottom line is that it should be credible, authoritative, original and well-written. When reviewing the content on your practice website, ask yourself:
- Would a reader consider my site a recognized authority on its topic?
- Would they think that the article in question was written by someone who knows the topic well, or is it more shallow in nature?
- Does the article provide original information, reporting, research or analysis?
- Are the topics driven by genuine interests of readers or does the site generate content by attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines?
- Is this the sort of page they’d want to bookmark, share with a friend or recommend?
If you can’t answer yes to all of the above, it may be time to have a long talk with your marketing team. As the English writer John Ruskin once said, “Quality is never an accident. It is always the result of intelligent effort.”
1. Nobody likes housekeeping but a messy site is an SEO killer
Old content, duplicate pages, even poor grammar and spelling can drag down rankings. Worse, according to Google, such content, even if isolated on a few, seldom-visited pages can impact your website’s overall ranking.
2. Not all pages are created equal so focus on high-traffic ones
Monitor your analytics to determine which pages people visit and for how long. If they only stay a few seconds, they’re probably not finding much value; if they stick around, it’s likely that they’re actually reading your content. Update or eliminate the former, consider what makes the latter more appealing and try to replicate that going forward.
3. Guard your content as if because it’s your own
There’s nothing more frustrating than taking the time and effort to create quality content and seeing it show up on another website — especially if that site appears higher in the rankings. As Duane Forrester, a Bing Webmaster, notes: “If it’s your content, and someone is outranking you with it, that means they are optimizing more than you. Investing in building a stronger website of your own, one that’s better optimized, can help level the field.”