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Speaker 2: Welcome to the Dr. Marketing Tips podcast, your prescription to the answers you seek to grow your medical practice easier, better, and faster. This show is all about connecting practice administrators and medical marketing professionals with peers working in practices, learning from experiences, making mistakes, and sharing successes. Let’s get started.
Jennifer: Hey there. Welcome to the Dr. Marketing Tips podcast. This is Jennifer, and I am joined today by Corey.
Corey: Hey, guys. Happy to be here as always.
Jennifer: We thought today we would take the opportunity to share with our listeners the ramifications or potential ramifications of an update that was recently conducted by Google. Recently Google released what they’re calling the June 19th core update, and really this came to our attention because we do on a regular basis, whether it’s monthly or quarterly, we provide dashboard reports to our clients. The dashboard reports are really a glimpse at how all of their KPI’s are tracking, and what metrics are up and what metrics are down. So, I was taking a look at all of the dashboard reports a couple of weeks ago, and I noticed a trend on certain practice websites that it looked like, “Geez, our trends are going in the negative direction, and I don’t understand what would be different because we’ve had double and triple digit increases month over month for some clients.”
Jennifer: So, when Google released this, Corey and I chatted about it, and when Google released this it really struck me at the core of understanding that we have to be on top of what the world’s largest search engine is doing. Especially when you consider that the third most popular search on Google is something related to healthcare. So, we thought that maybe we would sit down today and Corey and I would have a discussion, and with that, let’s go ahead and get started. So Corey, can you tell our listeners a little bit more about this June 2019 core update and the impact that it may have had on their website? If they want to take a look at it and see what impact it might have been.
Corey: Yeah. So basically, the June core update, it rolled out on the first Monday of June and we’re starting to see that it’s being felt by certain people in the SEO industry as well as publishers, site owners, and webmasters. So, usually how these things work, Google, they’re not the most transparent when they update these things. So, we sort of have to pull data from different SEO tool set providers and make recommendations and changes in inferences from those. What we’ve been seeing, actually, is that a lot of folks strangely within the gambling niche, as well as health and finance, are impacted across the board. What we’ve been seeing, like Jen was just talking about with some of our clients when we look at their dashboards, is we’ve had some [inaudible] really, really well from an organic SEO standpoint. Now since this update, we’re seeing that they’re honestly just not doing it as well.
Corey: So basically what happened, is behind the scenes Google for this update, they tweaked some of the knobs and dials if you will on the way that the search engine works. So, some posts that were doing really well are now not doing as well. There’s been traffic dips as much as 95%. We’re seeing some posts go 55% lower, some are just a couple. Some are even up. So far, we haven’t been able to identify one specific thing to say, “Oh, do this, or do not do this.” Just keep your eye on it is what we’re seeing so far.
Jennifer: Specifically, I already shared it, but have we seen impact with our client websites? Maybe you can get specific on the types of things that we saw impacted.
Corey: Yeah, absolutely we’ve seen this impact some of our clients’ websites. So as I was just mentioning, we have some folks that have posts that do really well from an organic SEO standpoint. One post in particular, it was about a vascular specialist. It was When to See a Vascular Specialist, and before this update, we were actually seeing that if you were to type in a version of that question, of that phrase into Google, this clinic’s website would come up either as the number one answer or very close to the top. So, that’s a huge traffic driver for them. Since this update, that page has basically taken a nosedive. So have the traffic numbers associated with it. Same thing for an ear, nose, and throat group that we work with. We had one page that would show up as hands down the number one result in the US when someone would say, “Why am I losing my voice?” This blog post would come up and it would explain it. So, that was a huge, huge traffic driver for them, as I’m sure you can imagine.
Corey: Same thing. We’ve seen that post fall of the map. It’s not that we changed anything on the website, it’s not that the content is outdated or inaccurate anymore, but just because of the way that these Google updates work and some of the cross links and the back links and all that. We’ve just seen that they’re now not as effective as they were prior to the updates. So, we’re seeing some fluctuations up and down in the search result pages so early that we don’t know if they’re going to come back up. I would say that as we move along here and Google does further updates, which they will continue to do, we’ll just see where they land basically.
Jennifer: Should the practices out there be panicking if they’ve seen a shift in their metrics?
Corey: No, I wouldn’t say that practices should be panicking if they’ve seen a shift in their metrics, but they do need to be able to explain these things. So, it’s early. I would say that’s number one. I’m going to repeat that probably a few more times. That’s something to definitely keep in mind. It’s early, Google is still rolling out these updates to their data centers, but we wanted to share some of this early data that we’ve found about the update. So my advice, our advice, is to remain calm. Let the dust settle over the next couple of weeks, and then take a deeper look at the analytics and see where you’re at there. I would say that panicking is not necessarily. What we always say to clients, for example, the couple of posts that I mentioned just a few minutes ago that did really well. Those are a huge traffic driver, but not necessarily all from within the geographic location of the practice.
Corey: So obviously, the better that something ranks the more Google thinks that people want to see it. So, if you’re the number one post for, “What happens when I lose my voice?” That means when someone locally is looking for an answer to that question, you’re going to come up number one. So, that’s where the value is, but if someone is looking for it in California and you’re in Maine, that person, that view is not as valuable. So, it’s okay if the traffic fluctuates. As long as some of the key metrics are the same, so your appointment numbers are still there, the time on the page is still the same, and your website overall is healthy, that’s what really matters. If those things change, that’s when it’s time to panic.
Jennifer: Okay. So, let’s say someone has a physician or a stakeholder worried about the dip in traffic over the past month or two. How would you suggest one of our listeners address and respond to their concerns?
Corey: So, if someone has a physician or stakeholder that’s worried about the dip in traffic, I would say the same advice. There’s not really a need to panic, but definitely there is a need to explain what’s going on because you will see suddenly you’re down 20% from your year over year number, or your month over month, whatever the case may be. Whatever metric that you’re looking at, but here’s the explanation why. To an extent, it is out of our hands. It’s up to Google and the search engine wizardry that they are deciding to use over there, but it’s not worth getting riled up over.
Corey: Again, it’s still very early. This update is still rolling out and these numbers are going to fluctuate, but as long as those key metrics as far as how full your clinic is and how people are on the pages, if the appointment requests are still coming in. Those kinds of things, people are still downloading the forms, they’re getting to the patient portal, all of that. If those things haven’t changed, then I would not worry about big jumps either up or down as a result of this update. That’s what I would tell any physician or stakeholder that sees this, this traffic fluctuation, and kind of freaks out over it.
Jennifer: That’s a really good point. Okay, so moving forward. What should practices do to maintain or improve their standing on search engines?
Corey: Yeah, that’s a great question. Moving forward, I would say that practices to either maintain their standing or improve it, should do the same thing that they should have been doing all along, which is creating really good search friendly content. So, if you’re on a platform like WordPress, which most practices probably are, that’s a content management system where you can edit your website, you’ll want to make sure that you have some sort of SEO plugin installed and that’s up to date and when you post a new piece of content on there, everything is filled out correctly to the best of your ability. If you’re doing that and you’re creating content that’s really good, that’s really dynamic, then you’re going to be okay. If you’re not trying to game the system and you’re not just putting up 30 word blog posts, then you’re probably going to be okay.
Corey: Now obviously there’s a big scale there on what we would define as okay or not. Typically when we do a post or a piece of content for a client, we will create something that is between 500 and 1,000 words, that has the search term or the key phrase that we’re trying to rank for in there. We’ll also add some sort of video or some GIFS or GIFS, however you want to say that, in there so there’s some movement explaining something. We did a post for a PT group that we work with, and it was Five Common Exercises for Your Knees You Can Do at Home. Something along those lines, and rather than just a video, we actually made GIFS of each exercise. That post has done really well. So, if you can think of interesting things to do when you’re creating this content, then you’re going to be fine. The post is going to rank well, and you don’t have to worry about it.
Jennifer: Are there any more major updates planned from Google in the near future?
Corey: Yes, there are some major updates planned from Google in the near future. There really always is. There’s always something going on. They’re always tweaking and changing things. The core updates they don’t do as often, but they will in fact change the way that the search engine results show up occasionally. Then I would say every couple of months usually there’s some sort of big update. You may have heard in the past the term the Penguin Update. That was a recent one that they did. Every change that they make is trying to provide a better result to the user.
Corey: So, the Google makes their money by selling ads basically. That’s one of their big dollar drivers, and to get people to click on the ads, you have to use the service. To use the service, it has to be good. So, they’re always refining and tweaking the way that the search engine results pages show up, because they want whoever goes there to get the answers that they’re looking for, because that means they’re going to continue to go back. If you continue to go back, you might click on an ad. You might make them some money. So moving forward, yes there are some major updates and some minor updates planned from Google. You just have to keep your eye on it and again, pay attention to those key metrics because when those things start to fluctuate, the appointment requests, the total visits, the time on the page, those kinds of things, that’s when you should worry. Not if one piece of content as gone way up or way down.
Corey: Yes, it’s nice to see that big jump, but it’s not necessary to the success of the overall practice. What’s more important is your local footprint, and this bleeds into some other things as far as online reputation management is concerned. Making sure that your Maps listing is up to date, you’ve got good reviews across all of the review websites, the RateMDs, the Healthgrades, Bing, Yelp, et cetera, et cetera. Those things are just as important as what’s going on from the Maps side, the local footprints side with Google.
Jennifer: What’s the one thing our listeners should take away from the June 2019 core update from Google?
Corey: Yeah, that’s another great question, Jen. The one thing that I would say that listeners should take away from the June 2019 core update is that there’s been a big fluctuation in what we’re seeing. So, some posts have gone down for some of our clients, and some posts have really gone up for some other clients. Again, very early. They’re rolling out this update, but do not panic, do not freak out about what’s happening with one or two blog posts. Just stay the course, create good content, make sure your website is up to date. If you haven’t updated your site in quite some time, it’s probably worth taking a look at that. This is another reminder that you may want to do that, but don’t panic. Everything is going to be okay.
Jennifer: This has been a really good episode, Corey. Thank you so much for diving into this and being our resident expert over at Insight Marketing Group. We appreciate. I appreciate you, our clients appreciate you, and I’m sure that our listeners appreciate you too. So with that, I’m Jennifer.
Corey: And I’m Corey.
Jennifer: We’ll see you next time on the Dr. Marketing Tips podcast.
Corey: Thanks, guys. We’ll talk to you in the next one.
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