We’ve done it. You have done it. So have a lot of other people we all know.
What is it?
Searched for information about a health condition online. As of February 2015, Google made it easier to find this type of information with a knowledge graph containing details for more than 400 medical conditions. And in early September, they more than doubled the number of conditions and enhanced the visual appearance of the health conditions knowledge graph, and added a downloadable PDF with the information. So now, when you search for a common condition such as “asthma”, you will see a page that looks like this:
I’m sure you’re thinking, “This is great – I get information about the condition, including symptoms and treatments. I don’t see any problems.” The problem is what if you are a hospital or medical facility with an asthma treatment program, and you have just spent time optimizing your web pages to rank in one of the top positions for the term? Now you are not only competing with health information sites such as WebMD as well as other hospitals, but you need to drag the searcher’s attention away from the bold visual.
All is not hopeless with this development. There are opportunities for hospitals and health care providers, including:
- Users that will scroll past the knowledge graph to organic results are likely to be more qualified leads. Students and casual browsers who are simply looking for definitions and general information will have no need to look further. Patients and families truly looking for care for a condition will be seeking additional information.
- Long-tail queries are (at least for now) not displaying the knowledge graph. So although phrases such as “exercise induced asthma” and “pediatric asthma” have less search volume than the broad term “asthma”, organic search results have better visibility and thus better click-throughs.
Beyond this, the question that remains for hospitals and healthcare providers is whether there is any benefit for them in maintaining pages on their site about medical conditions. For users that are seeking care for a condition, there is still value in gaining a ranking position in that space as the knowledge graph does not provide direction for treatment. Bottom line – perhaps there is a silver lining in the knowledge graph in allowing hospitals to do what they do best, provide treatment.
Earlier this year, Google started including brands’ social profiles within its Knowledge Graph panel. In the past, this feature only applied to famous people, such as actors, musicians and politicians. What does this mean for brands that Google will now pick up their social handles?
Branded search results are hugely important; this addition of social profiles makes it clear that:
• If your brand is already active in the social space and has a great presence, it will have even a better visibility in search results.
• If you haven’t had the time to build out your brands’ social profiles, this is yet another reason why you absolutely should. ASAP.
Since its launch in 2011, there has been reluctance among many marketers and non-marketers to embrace Google+ as a preferred social platform. Any mention of Google+ is usually met with an eye roll and the common (often-rhetorical) question: ‘Who even uses Google+?’ What has been lost on some, however, has become an advantage for others, considering the Google-owned social network functions hand-in-hand with local search and organic search display.
You can find local search influence in the Google Carousel, Google Maps, and on mobile devices – all three pull from Google+ and local search.
Google+ commands 300 million users and influences 43% of all Google searches with local query intent. Since the early years of Google’s social network, there have been several updates to increase ease of use. Previously known as Google Places, which became Google+ Local, the platform evolved last week to become Google My Business. The recent launch of Google My Business has changed the way we utilize Google products through the successful integration of social, search, and maps, all of which provide a better experience for customers worldwide (Google My Business is available in 236 countries and 65 languages).
Two of the most important updates in Google+ evolution are the improved user experience and cleaner dashboard operating system, as Local SEO experts have been bemoaning both for years. Google took notice and delivered a strong solution with Google My Business.
Google My Business Updates – in plain English
Charles River Interactive of Lexington Moves to Accommodate Rapid Growth
Lexington, MA, April 1, 2014
Mark Desrochers of Westford, MA, president and founder of Charles River Interactive, announces the move of Charles River Interactive corporate offices from Lexington, MA to double the quarters at 890 Winter St. in Waltham. Charles River Interactive will move operations to the new facility in Waltham, MA to accommodate an employee count that has doubled over the last 18 months. The new office increases individual work space to improve efficiency, provides multiple conference rooms to host a large regional customer-base, and allows for future employee growth.
Charles River Interactive is a digital marketing agency specializing in search marketing and web analytics. “Our customer-base has grown significantly over the last few years and we’ve enjoyed the ability to hire key internet marketing talent,” states Desrochers. “This new space is not only a step up in square footage for us, but it’s also a significant step up in quality of space including not only the work environment but also amenities for our employees. Internet marketing, including search engine optimization and pay per click are recognized as integral pieces of company’s marketing budgets and strategies,” says Desrochers, “we expect continued robust growth.”
About Charles River Interactive
Charles River Interactive helps clients meet their varied business goals through cutting-edge search engine marketing (SEM) and social media strategies. CRI is made up of industry-leading organic search, paid search and web analytics experts, as well as experienced project and account managers. CRI takes a highly consultative approach to developing holistic SEM strategies that are backed by data and designed to meet clearly identifiable business goals. Account teams work closely with clients to educate website stakeholders on the key components of search and we strive to integrate search marketing principles throughout each aspect of a client’s overall marketing strategy.
With search marketing on the enterprise level, the biggest challenge is surprisingly not the scale or complexity of your website. It’s getting different people and groups to understand that their work can impact SEO, and the company’s bottom line. As an organic search strategist for a number of large businesses, I often find myself working to help marketers and eCommerce professionals get “buy in” from their coworkers for ongoing optimization efforts.
With big companies, you can have dozens – in some cases hundreds – of people within your organization making changes on your website and other online properties every day. Publish a press release? Change a URL? Name a new product? Promote a special offer on Twitter? Redo your site’s navigation? Post a blog? Start a new TV and radio campaign? All of these things – big and small – can have a major impact on organic search performance.
So how do you transition your company from being reactive to proactive about search engine optimization? Here are a few strategies we’ve found helpful with our own clients:
1. Customize SEO Education and Training Based on Department
The first step to getting everyone in your company more serious about search is to make sure each department has its own version of “SEO 101.” Employees need to know not just the fundamentals of how search engines work, but what specific tactics they can use within the scope of their jobs. At CRI we customize training for each department within an organization so people understand where they fit within the overall strategy.
When training is tailored to the audience’s interests and skill sets, it’s much easier to keep employees engaged. As consultants, it’s our goal to help everyone we work with do their jobs better. Specialized training is far more effective and valuable than just covering the basics with some “one-size-fits-all” approach.
2. Build Organizational Transparency Through Working on SEO
Too often, SEO-responsibilities get thrown on one person or department within an organization. For SEO strategies to be successful in enterprise organizations, several different areas of your company need to work together. Web development, PR, sales, branding, customer service, marketing, product and service management – with some clients we work with, many of these departments act almost as companies within the company. Ensuring a website relaunch goes smoothly or outranking competitors on important keyphrases requires several of these “moving parts” working together effectively.
It’s not uncommon for us to hear from clients that they’ve gotten to work with many people within their own company that they otherwise would have never met before. When your company has a gargantuan org chart, transparency can be incredibly difficult to maintain within the organization. Ongoing SEO initiatives are an easy way to keep different departments aware of each other’s work.
3. Celebrate Your Search Wins!
In the ever changing world of search marketing, it’s incredibly easy to forget to take notice of your successes. When you’re constantly thinking about the next thing that needs to be done, it’s tricky to keep track of what your previous hard work has accomplished.
Did your new product page get five times as many organic search entry visits than the previous month? Did your blog post from last month get linked to from a major news outlet? Are your search visitors converting better than last year because of a new check out experience? Ranking number one for your top non-branded keyphrase?
Take some time to congratulate each other! All of these things have a positive impact on the bottom line, and that news should be widely circulated and celebrated. No, you don’t have to roll out a ticker tape parade, but a nice email, lunch outing, or after work drink for a job well done keeps everyone happy working together.