Google Changed How You Appear in Search Results – What You Need to Know

New Meta Titles

Over the past few months, Google has been testing a new design for both organic search results and paid results (a.k.a. Google Adwords). This change affects how people see your website in search results, and how many people visit your website.

Google owns approximately 80% of the medical search market, so this change has the potential to have a significant impact on your practice.

What’s Changed

While there isn’t an official statement explaining the purpose of this redesign, the reason is pretty apparent. Search results are larger and easier to read, paid ads are easier to notice, and search results are now consistent on smartphones, tablets, and computers. Let’s break down each of these changes

Easier to Read

Perhaps the most noticeable change is the removal of underlines on every link. In the past people needed the visual indication that text was clickable by underlining the link. Now that Google is so widely used the removal of underline makes the search results appear a lot cleaner, without reducing the accessibility and usability of search results.

Improved Google Adwords Results

Google Adwords results used to use an off-orange box to indicate which search results were paid ads, and which were organic search results. With this color choice people were not always aware that the top results were paid ads, and would click on them. But over time people have realized that the links in the off-orange box were paid search results.

Now with new ad format the general public will click on paid ads without any knowledge that it is an ad. This should temporarily boost the performance of paid ads.

Not Everything is Better

Meta Title Example
Overall the changes to Google’s search results are excellent and long overdue. But there is one drawback to the improved search results – Meta Titles. Meta titles are short descriptions for a search result.

With the increase in font size, the length of your meta titles will need to decrease to properly appear in the search results. The maximum length of a meta title used to be approximately 70 characters, but with the increased font size it will be approximately 60 characters. Any meta titles that are over approximately 60 characters will be truncated, and can be difficult for patients to read.

Update Your Meta Titles

Because of this change we highly recommend updating the meta titles for your most important pages on your website. If you are using WordPress just open the page that you want to update, and change the meta title in the box below.

Shots Fired in the War Against Guest Blogging

Play War Scene

Google’s head of search spam, Matt Cutts announced today that Google has penalized “a large guest blog network”. This blog network is called “My Blog Guest” and was used for years as a way for shady SEO’s to try and rank websites higher.

One of the biggest factors for determining how highly your website ranks in search engines is the amount and quality of links it has. Because of this, services like “My Blog Guest” were created to help bloggers and internet marketers connect with website owners so that they can exchange blog posts for links. While the intent of My Blog Guest may be noble, the actual use of the service has been anything but.

I have personally used the service, and the vast majority of the blogs and blog authors on the website were extremely low quality. While I have found a few high quality websites, it was apparent to me that “My Blog Guest” was used primarily as a tool to artificially boost a website’s ranking in Google.

Early Warning Signs

Google knows that services like this exist, and they have a group of employees dedicated to penalizing and removing websites that attempt to game Google’s search rankings.

Recently this team sent out a warning to the SEO and internet marketing community with the blog post The Decay and Fall of Guest Blogging for SEO. In this blog post Matt Cutts laid out the original intent of guest blogging to improve branding and relationships in the community, and how SEO’s and marketers abused the system.

The penalty of My Blog Guest is just the first of many to happen, so I recommend you talk with your agency to make sure mass guest blogging is not part of your internet marketing strategy.

What To Do Now

This strategy has been successful for far too long, so some thought it would never end. But now that Google has taken action to stop spammy guest blogging many don’t know what to do anymore. It is true that with this action by Google it will be harder to rank websites highly. But I would argue that this is a good thing. Now companies can focus less on the old-school method of SEO, and focus more on providing value to their customers.

Some Bad News

Overall the removal of spammy SEO tactics will help everyone. It will create a better search experience for consumers and it will make it easier for businesses to focus on value-based marketing instead of spammy seo-based marketing. It will however force companies to spend more time and money on marketing.

This is because using legitimate, value-based marketing tactics takes more time and effort from you the business owner, and more skill and experience from your marketing staff or marketing agency.

Work with the Best

In the past choosing a low-quality SEO and internet marketing agency meant you would get sub-par results and waste some of your money. Now choosing a low-quality agency will actually hurt you more than help you. Now more than ever it is important to choose a high-quality marketing agency.

Top tier marketing agencies like Seer Interactive and Distilled have avoided using spammy SEO tactics for years. Instead they rely upon creating real value for your customers, and reaching out to interested parties to share that value. This is what the future of SEO will focus on, so you might as well start now.

Not sure what agency is right for you? Send me a message using our Contact Form and I will personally recommend the right agency for you.

Source: Marketing Land

Google Places Guidelines Updated

google places example

Google has recently updated their Google Places Quality Guidelines to clarify how you can setup and name your Practice within Google Local and Google Maps.

Now with the updated guidelines you can add a short descriptor to your business name as long as it describes either your location or something about your practice. The revised guidelines are below (I’ve changed the examples given in the final bullet to make it more clear):

  • Your title should reflect your business’s real-world title.
  • In addition to your business’s real-world title, you may include a single descriptor that helps customers locate your business or understand what your business offers.
  • Marketing taglines, phone numbers, store codes, or URLs are not valid descriptors.
  • Examples of acceptable titles with descriptors (in italics for demonstration purposes) are “Dr. Williams Plastic Surgery Downtown” or “Family Dermatology and Associates Seattle”. Examples that would not be accepted would be “#1 Seattle Dermatologist”, “Eternal Med Spa – Best Facials”, or “Dr. Brown Plastic Surgery Washington”.

If you’re looking to update your listing on Google Local and Google Maps to make it more enticing for your patients, you can find the entire quality guidelines for Google Places below,

Source: Google Places Quality Guidelines

Google’s Matt Cutts – Backlinks Still Important for High Search Rankings

matt cutts exclude links

matt cutts exclude linksBacklinks have been the largest ranking factor for websites since Google was created. Because backlinks have been such an important ranking factor, internet marketing agencies and blackhat spammers are constantly trying to game the system.

To game the system these companies would use tactics like buying links, and spamming comment forms. This has lead to many people asking “what happens if stop trying to block spammers, and just ignore backlinks altogether?”. That is the topic that Matt Cutts, Google’s Head of Web Spam discussed today.

“We don’t have a version like that that is exposed to the public, but we have run experiments like that internally, and the quality looks much, much worse,” Matt said. “It turns out backlinks, even though there’s some noise and certainly a lot of spam, for the most part are still a really really big win in terms of quality for search results.”

What this tells us is that links from other websites will ALWAYS be one of, if not the most important factor to ranking a website highly. Because of this a fair amount of your internet marketing budget should still focus on building links from high-quality, relevant websites.

Optimize Your Meta Descriptions for More Website Visitors

Meta Description Example

With the SEO and internet marketing field evolving so fast many people seem to forget about a simple tweak that can lead to a big increase in the number of visitors to your website. Meta descriptions, along with the title of your web page are the first things people see when searching for what you have to offer. You only get one shot at a first impression, so making sure your meta description is enticing is extremely important.

Where Customers See a Meta Description

The meta description is the paragraph of text shown that describes each search result. You can see two examples of this in the image below. If you would like to see your current meta descriptions for pages on your website, google the title of each of your pages, plus the name of your website, and you will see your search result.

Where You Change Your Meta Description

Each web page and blog post should have a unique meta description. If you do not write a custom meta description Google will automatically create one for you. While having Google create a meta description for you can work in some circumstances, you will get better results writing your own custom meta descriptions. To change your meta description (assuming you are using WordPress, the most popular website platform) log in to your website, find the web page you want to edit, and scroll down to your meta description area. You should see a something similar to the picture below.
Wordpress Meta Description Field

The Anatomy of a Good Meta Description

There isn’t a recipe for creating the perfect meta description, but there are some guidelines that you should follow. Try to implement as many of these as possible and you will see the amount of visitors to your website increase.

  • Show Off – Can you claim authority or superiority to your competitors in any way? Have you won any local awards, or have a specialty that others don’t?
  • Emphasize Key Terms – If there is a specific phrase or term the patient is looking for you can capitalize the term to make it stand out more.
  • Speak to Your Audience – If your customer isn’t familiar with medical terms or is more of a conservative audience make sure your message reflects that.
  • Use Facts and Stats When Appropriate – Have you performed over 5000 of a certain procedure? This shows a high level of skill and expertise that patients are looking for.
  • Call to Action – Studies show that customers are more likely to click on your website and fill out a consultation form if you tell them to. While this might sound obvious, it works surprisingly well.

Examples to Start Your Way

Bad Meta Description

Welcome to the website of Dr. Bob. I practice in Seattle, call for a consultation at 555-555-3124

Good Meta Description

Seattle Patient’s Choice Award Winner. Create a new you with the help of Board Certified Plastic Surgeon Dr. Bob. Over 5000 happy patients and counting.

Bad Meta Description

Get a breast augmentation with Dr. Bob in Seattle area. Breast Augmentation is a surgery that enhancing the size and shape through placement of an implant.

Good Meta Description

Looking for a better bustline? Our experience Plastic Surgeon can give you the results you’re looking for. Free No-Risk Consultation.