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Issue: 67 - Jul 15, 2014
Google SEO Update: What's Working Now For Veterinarians?
By: Joe Dysart
Joe Dysart

Given that Google regularly updates the algorithm that determines how close your Web site gets to the top if its search engine returns, it's critical that you stay current about what the search goliath is currently rewarding - and adjust the design and content of your Web site accordingly.

These days, that means ensuring your veterinarian Web site offers longer articles and text, which reflect quality writing about a specific topic, according to SEO experts.

And it means the person generating the articles and text for your Web site ideally needs to be a recognizable, respected and prolific author on the Web.

Getting from here to there, the experts say, involves following these best practices:

  • Go with a frequently updated blog, offering truly useful content: Google has gotten much better at sniffing out Web sites that post reams of robotic-like text, which are artificially stuffed with scores of keywords - and is punishing Web sites who engage in the practice accordingly, experts say. Instead, "Look for subject matter that is going to be engaging to your targeted demographic, but that will also establish your business as leading authority in your industry," says Toby Gonzales, revenue manager for FBiFrames.com (http://www.fbiframes.com/), a firm specializing in Facebook marketing. Gonzales says that by making changes to his own blog - which now includes daily posts with what he says are valuable insights, coupled with gripping images -- he has seen a 51% spike in visits from people using Google's search engine.
  • Help Google track you as an author: Google is giving preferential treatment to posts from authors it knows, tracks and monitors.  Get on the goliath's good side in this regard by creating a Google+ page for yourself (https://plus.google.com/getstarted/getstarted?fww=1).  Then stop by Google's authorship page (https://plus.google.com/authorship) to establish your author credentials. Once you've got an authorship page, be sure to offer a link from this page to every article you ever write.  This ongoing self-cataloguing enables Google to easily track what you're doing, verify that you're a legitimate generator of valuable online content, and consequently ensure that your Web site achieves higher rankings in search engine returns. As a bonus, your Google+ author photo will appear in the Google search engine returns that Google delivers to people searching for the topics you write about. (For the complete techie guide to Google authorship, check out:  http://searchengineland.com/the-definitive-guide-to-google-authorship-markup-123218
  • Use Keywords Judiciously, But Use Them: While Google is punishing Web sites that engage in obvious keywords stuffing (repeating the same word or phrase over and over again ad nauseum throughout an article or post), it does still rely on keywords to identify content. Essentially, that means you should plug a keyword or phrase into your headline, subhead, opening sentence of your text, and in the captions for your multimedia. "Put the most important keyword phrase as close to the beginning of the headline and repeat it somewhere toward the top," of the piece says Sarah Skerik, vice president, social media for PR Newswire (http://www.prnewswire.com). "Search engines to place more weight on words and phrases found at the top of the page."
  • Go Deep With Content: Google currently frowns on Web sites that post short, mindless pieces of throwaway text with no real value - and rewards sites posting content of real depth and insight, says Courtney Dale, communications director at Wisdek (www.wisdek.ca), an online marketing agency. Essentially, aim for articles on your vet Web site that are 1,000 words minimum. And ensure that your text is not blatantly generic or easily found on any number of other sites.  Moreover, if you're looking to rank high on Google's special 'In-Depth Search" tool, go for an article that is 1,500 words minimum. "High quality content is still king," Dale says. PR Newswire's Skerik agrees.  She says she's seen a shift away from Google's previous laser-like focus on keywords, and a shift towards Web pages that focus on a specific, overall topic or theme. “Focus your messages, and have a specific audience in mind,” she says.

Adds Matt Lacuesta, an SEO account manager at Location3 Media (http://www.location3.com/), a digital marketing agency: "Your content does not need to have repetitious keywords or every conceivable variation of a keyword phrase to be relevant for whatever you are optimizing for. As search queries get longer and become more long-tail, the relevance of your page to a theme or category becomes just as important as it does to a specific keyword."

The practice is not simply good for SEO: it also makes common sense. Articles that are truly useful tend to attract inbound links from other Web sites, which in turn bump-up the 'share-worthiness' of the content on your Web site -- yet another metric Google uses when deciding how far up your Web site should appear in its search engine returns.

Practice good Web site address/tag hygiene: In the end, much about working with Google's algorithm means getting your machine to make nice with its machines.  That means getting the technical side right in these ways:

  • Get a good Web address: Web site URLs should be 100 characters or less and include no more than three subdirectories. If possible, include a prime keyword for your Web site in your Web address.  And try to avoid the use of numbers in a Web site address, if possible.
  • Choose title tags carefully: The title tag -- or the word or phrase that describes your page to the search engine - is one of the most important choices you can make to attract Web traffic. Essentially, your title tag is going to be the text that people click on when Google returns the search engine results for your page. Generally speaking, keep title tags to about 60 characters, and include an appropriate keyword or two if possible.
  • Be equally choosey with header tags: Header tags - or the H1 tags that are included behind all the pretty colors and images on your Web page - are also major guides Google and other search engines use to find and categorize your page and Web site. Generally, your H1 tag and your title tag should be the same keyword or phrase.
  • Don't forget image tags: Too many Web sites are littered with cryptic image tags that completely frustrate the search engines, and offer no clue as to what the image is actually about. Don't let this happen to you. Use your title tags to finely describe what your image is about - and reap the reward of overall higher ranking in the search engines.

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Joe Dysart is an Internet speaker and business consultant based in Manhattan. 

Voice: (646) 233-4089

Email: joe@joedysart.com

Web: www.joedysart.com

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1.  Google's Netherlands facility is one of many that helps implement the ever-secret algorithm by which Google ranks search engine returns.