The Post-Penguin Survival Kit
Building credibility with content and links
Like a great flood sent to wash the internet clean and start anew, recent search engine changes like Google’s Penguin update have sent many panicked web writers scrambling for a sturdier ship. There’s a pervasive fear out there that it’s already too late to bring SEO aboard the ark to safety, but these changes don’t herald the end of days for online marketers. On the contrary, the art of writing for search engines has merely shifted to emphasize a concept most good web writers embraced long ago: content is king.
In an online marketing landscape that exists in constant flux, it’s easy to become frustrated by algorithms that change dramatically and without warning. What propelled you to the peak of Google popularity yesterday may leave you lost along the long tail today. Once-ubiquitous SEO strategies like keyword stuffing have become ancient history, while even long-healthy practices like link building have become a little less important in the face of evolving criteria.
But most see content as one pillar of SEO that will never crumble. Though the way we use content is changing with the rest of the SEO structure, a smart and sustainable content strategy will give your medical website the fortification it needs to weather any storm.
Content: Your Ultimate Survival Tool for the Algorithm-apocalypse
Regardless of the changes that Google throws at us, great content will always be inherently valuable. If you deliver interesting, worthwhile content to your visitors, both parties will benefit without fail.
Search engines keep track of more than just the keywords people are searching for—they know when a user clicks through to your site, they know when that user returns to your site and they know how long that user stuck around. If a user spends a scant 10 seconds perusing your page, the search engine knows that your content’s relevancy to that user was limited. But if a user stays to eat up more—or better yet, returns for seconds—a search engine will recognize your content as valuable to that user. More content also equals more pages, which will drive traffic if those pages rank for new phrases.
This means that you need to keep your content interesting for visitors and not focus all your attention on search engines. You need to learn about your potential visitors: what are they looking for and what is the clearest, most convenient way to deliver it to them? Even if a visitor who spends some time scanning through your medical website doesn’t become a patient, the signals that visitor sends to search engines are hugely important for drawing new visitors to your pages. Your visitors may not always find exactly what they’re looking for, but content that keeps them interested will send an irrefutably positive message to Google.
Linking: The Content Survivalist’s Second Strategy
If you consistently distribute great content, your visitors will feel compelled to share it with others. The concept that links serve as “votes” to point search engines to the most important pages is nothing new, but link building still remains relevant in the changing SEO world.
By taking stock of the conversation your patients are having online, you can provide them with exactly what they’re looking for. Exploring blogs, forums and other sites relevant to your patients will reveal questions in need of answers and ideas that demand discussion. Answering the questions that patients are asking gives you link-worthy content that many people will choose to share. The act of sharing sends signals to search engine about the value and trustworthiness of your content, enhancing the position of your medical website in search results.
If you’re struggling to drive traffic to a new site, you may want to take a more proactive route and revisit those blogs, forums and sites where the topics and questions of your content were originally raised. This way, you can directly engage users with solutions to the problems that concern them. Your carefully-targeted content will invite more users to share and link back to you.
Content Drives the User Experience
Though constant changes in Google’s algorithm keep us on our toes about how best to approach search engines, most adjustments are aimed at making it easier for users to have a positive experience on the web. If you give your visitors the content that they need in a format they like, you’re aiding Google in this goal. Enhancing your visitors’ experiences online will make you more attractive to search engines and your audience alike. Approach your content with a careful plan and you’ll find yourself with a dedicated following, a burgeoning conversation and the search engine traffic your practice needs to thrive.
However, any 21st century SEO strategy should also incorporate an intelligent approach to social media. To learn how to make social media work for your website in the post-Penguin world, stay tuned for The Post-Penguin Survival Kit Part 2.