How to Recover from a Google Update: A Guide for Physicians

As a physician, your online presence needs to be considered prime real estate. Your website not only serves as a platform for sharing valuable health information but also helps attract new patients. However, changes in Google’s algorithm can impact your website’s search rankings, affecting your visibility and patient outreach.

Here’s a quick checklist to help you recover from a Google update and maintain your search rankings.

Understanding Google Updates

Core Updates Explained

Google core updates, such as this most recent one, involve significant changes to how content, links, and other inputs are processed and weighed. These updates, which occur multiple times a year, aim to improve search result quality. While not all updates are announced, core updates are usually notable and can impact your site’s performance.

Impact on Your Website

To determine if your website has been affected by an update, monitor your traffic and rankings. Significant changes can often be observed within the first 24-48 hours of a rollout. Remember, not all drops in traffic are due to updates; competitor improvements and other factors can also play a role.

Recovery Checklist for Physicians

Phase Zero: Initial Questions

Before diving into recovery strategies, answer these initial questions to pinpoint the source of traffic drops:

  • Traffic Analysis: Where are we seeing the traffic drop? Is it consistent with our proprietary data?
  • Tool Accuracy: Have third-party tools updated their data sets and traffic forecasts?
  • Tracking Verification: Are all tracking codes implemented and triggering correctly?

Phase One: Assess the Impact

Identify which pages have lost traffic. This helps narrow down the areas to focus on for diagnosing potential causes.

  • Data Collection: Gather data from Google Search Console, Google Analytics, and other platforms at the keyword and URL level.
  • Data Segmentation: Segment data by page cluster, keyword cluster, demographic, persona, device, or custom categorization.
  • Data Comparison: Compare current data against historical data to identify correlations with seasonality and past traffic behavior.

Phase Two: Review the SERPs

Evaluate changes in the search engine results pages (SERPs) for your primary search terms.

  • SERP Analysis: Assess how much Google has changed the SERPs. Has Google introduced new features or preferred different search intents?
  • Competitor Impact: Determine if your direct competitors have been positively or negatively affected.

Phase Three: Review Your Website

Conduct a thorough analysis of your website to identify gaps and areas for improvement.

  • Content Depth and Relevance: Ensure your content fully addresses the topics at hand and provides all necessary information.
  • Data Accuracy: Update content with the latest information, especially in health-related fields that rely on current data.
  • Keyword Intent Matching: Align your content with the search intent behind targeted keywords.
  • Beneficial Purpose Alignment: Ensure each piece of content serves a beneficial purpose that matches user expectations.

Phase Four: Develop and Implement Recovery Strategies

Devise a comprehensive strategy to address the identified differences between your content and what Google is rewarding.

  • Define the Strategy: Outline a broad framework to guide decision-making and align efforts with your practice’s objectives.
  • Communicate Expectations: Clearly communicate your recovery plan and expectations with stakeholders, focusing on business metrics like leads and revenue rather than just rankings.

Final Thoughts

Recovering from a Google update is challenging but achievable with a clear, objective assessment of your website. Ensure your content is valuable, up-to-date, and aligned with user intent. Regularly refine your website and SEO strategies to stay in line with Google’s evolving criteria. Patience and persistent effort are key to regaining and maintaining your online presence.

By following these steps, physicians can navigate the complexities of Google updates and continue to provide valuable health information to their patients while maintaining a strong online presence.

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