If there is one thing we know about Google, it’s that they are ALWAYS trying to improve the search experience of its users. Well, they’ve done it again. Their latest attempt at returning the best answers to its user’s search queries is called the Hummingbird Update and it started affecting Google search results about a month ago. That’s the other thing about Google; they can be pretty secretive about what they do.
Google hasn’t made such a huge change to their search algorithm (ie – the technical term for how Google sorts through and chooses web pages to answer the questions people ask it), since the “Caffeine” update in 2010. Before that, it hadn’t been updated so dramatically since 2001. In a nutshell, Wired.com says that Hummingbird will “put less emphasis on matching keywords and more emphasis on understanding what a user is most likely hoping to obtain in their search results.” Our online marketing team thinks this update is pretty important for dentists who want to gain more patients searching online for dentistry services. Here are two of the biggest ways:
More and more, Google users are typing in conversational-style questions when they are looking for answers. For example, if a potential patient is doing some research on choosing dentures or dental implants for a teeth replacement solution, they most likely will type it in as a question, like “What is the difference between dental implants and dentures?” as opposed to the more simple search “dental implants and dentures.” In the past, a search like the one above would yield results that contained a few of the keywords and would probably bring up home pages that were optimized with the keywords: dental implants and dentures.
With the improved Hummingbird algorithm, Google says that it will focus on every single word in the search query to provide users with more finely-tuned results. And as Wired.com said, it will also place importance on the meaning behind the words in the search. So for the above question, “What is the difference between dental implants and dentures?” – a Google search will now pull up results that specifically compare the two procedures. From now on, Google will aim to bring the searcher (and your potential patient) exactly what they are searching for. In our example question above, a simple webpage explaining dental implants or dentures just won’t cut it.
So, what does this mean for dentists and their dental websites? We will likely begin to see blog articles begin to rank in Google searches. Dental blog articles are almost perfectly made to answer conversational-style searches, so Google will catch that and pull them up. Blog articles with question-based titles like “How long do dental implants last?” or “What’s the difference between in-office and at-home teeth whitening?” will now be more likely begin to show up in the search results for those types of searches as opposed to the home page of a dentist’s website.
Internal Web Pages
Since the new Google algorithm aims to more precisely answer user search queries, dental website home pages will probably start to show up less in search results pages. So what will show up? Your internal webpages that focus on the procedures/services your practice offers For example, an organic Google search for “dental implants San Diego” will bring up webpages that are procedure specific as opposed to home pages (which Google brought up prior to Hummingbird.) Here’s a sample of that search:
So, what does this mean for you? It means it’s crucial to include call-to-actions statements and specific instructions on how to make an appointment on not only your home page, but also your internal procedure-specific service pages.
Stay tuned for future blog articles with specific recommendations for dentists and dental specialists about what you should do to make sure your website stays on top of the latest Google algorithm update. Contact our experienced online dental marketing team today for more information.