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Accepting Google’s Panda Challenge

Posted: September 7, 2015   |   Revised: September 11, 2018

Hummingbird, Penguin and Panda are words that most people wouldn’t think have much to do with a medical practice. Interestingly enough, all three of these animals may already be negatively affecting your internet marketing performance and here’s why.

For the past three years, Google has used the names of Hummingbird, Penguin and now Panda to name its major search algorithm changes. And the most recent update, Panda 4.0+ is focused squarely on the quality of the content on your website.

Google’s Panda Challenge

Through the Panda update, Google is rewarding sites that share and generate unique content. Similarly, the search engine giant is penalizing sites with mostly aggregated or copied content. By rewarding and penalizing, we are referring to how high your website ranks when someone searches for your practice or the keywords that pertain to it.

As an example: an online medical dictionary, appears to have lost 40% of its Search Engine Visibility after the Panda rollout. Presumably, the site’s content is not actually original, in that the 16,000 medical terms it has aggregated are already widely available at other online locations.

To underscore the issue, see what Google states in the Help section of its Webmaster Tools on the topic of “Little or no original content”:

“One of the most important steps in improving your site’s ranking in Google search results is to ensure that it contains plenty of rich information that includes relevant keywords, used appropriately, that indicate the subject matter of your content.”

And “Google will take action against domains that try to rank more highly by just showing scraped or other cookie-cutter pages that don’t add substantial value to users.”

So the key to accepting Google’s Panda Challenge is two-fold. Initially, find and reduce the amount of duplicated content on your website, and secondarily start generating original content that is both rich and relevant to your medical practice.

Shifting the Focus from Quantity to Quality

Creating original content that is both rich and relevant to your audience is not easy, and no matter what goal you set, remember that the effort needs to be sustainable. Be careful not to set your staff up for disappointment or overload by setting an unachievable content creation goal.

Not sure you or your staff have the time to do the writing? Don’t let that stop you. Work with a marketing team to brainstorm topics, and have them write the first draft. That way you spend your time providing insights and minor corrections, and the end result is an article that meets your high standards.

Consistency is Important

Think about nearly any successful publication you personally pay attention to. Each has a publishing cadence; a consistent publishing drum beat that you know, expect and anticipate. Your blog is no different. Publishing quantity is inconsequential as compared to the consistency of a predictable schedule your audience knows and expects.

What is the ideal Word Count?

Longer blog posts get linked to more often than shorter ones on the same topic. And it’s generally easier for Google to determine if an article is an original work the longer it is. Google is, in essence, a research tool, so posts with more words are easier to determine relevance. For a rich blog post, a good rule of thumb is 1,500 words or more.

Know Your Audience

The essence of content marketing (using content to establish trust between you and your potential patients) is helping your audience to solve problems. If you understand the questions they have, you will know what answers to provide them with your content.

If you are solving problems, your content is more likely to get shared, and the more your content gets shared the more Google will pay attention to it.

Reuse and Repurpose

Take a look at your old blog posts or past marketing articles. Odds are you have valuable content that can be reused and or repurposed. Here are three ways you can recycle old content.

  1. Transform old content into new formats: Most people think of text as the primary content format. Consider making a video, audio or infographic version that will engage your audience in a new way.
  2. Speak to a new audience: Consider changing the target audience. Keep in mind that each group of people you are talking to will have a different set of questions and issues that might be specifically important to them.
  3. Combine content into a downloadable eBook or whitepaper: By combining several articles or older blog posts into a free and downloadable whitepaper you can create something of value. And when you have something of value, you can ask for people to take the desired action in order to obtain it. Like signing up for your newsletter or providing you with their email address.

Mobile Content

Most all predictions are for mobile traffic to surpass desktop traffic in 2015. So sometime next year your website’s mobile performance will (for the first time since the dawn of the internet) be more important than any other device/delivery medium.

What is interesting, is how many websites are not even responsive. That is, they do not adjust automatically to reformat the content so that it is optimized to display correctly based on the device a user is using. If you want to test a site, to see if it is responsive, just shrink or expand the size of your browser on your desktop and see what happens. If the width of the content changes automatically, it’s responsive. If you only see part of the site (need to scroll left and right) it’s not.

Beyond just making your site mobile responsive, optimizing your content to mobile is the process of distillation. Removing any fluff, and getting down to the essence of what needs to be said.

Be a Thought Leader

Above all, if you want to win at the original and rich content game, you will need to deliver information to your audiences that is innovative and thought-provoking. So much so that people are willing to share and link to your content as something they think their friends will find interesting.

How to be a thought leader? Remember that to be an expert you just need to know more about a topic that your target audience. It’s not necessary to be winning any Nobel prizes for research. You just need to be staying current with your industry, engaged in the conversation, and then share the most important information with the people you are working to influence.

Developing original content is not a quick marketing fix. It’s a long-term play, which is designed to provide value to, and build trust with, your potential patients. And if you can do that effectively, not only will you grow your practice, but you have Accepted Google’s Panda Challenge.