Google’s latest ranking updates – what it means for dental websites

The latest Google ‘Panda’ and ‘Penguin’ updates hit dental website ranking

During the last few weeks, Google has made further changes to the algorithm it uses to determine where websites rank within its search index. In particular, Google has made significant changes aimed at demoting over-optimised sites. The effect of this has been quite dramatic across the dental sector with numerous sites being hit and sinking away in the rankings.

What did Google change and why?

Google is checking to see if websites are following its publishing guidelines and penalising those that don’t. Key areas for inspection are:

  • numerous back-links from poor quality sources
  • many back-links to one target page from one linking domain
  • “exact-match” anchor text used too frequently
  • duplicate content
  • keyword stuffing
  • “spammy” content below the the website footer
  • generally unnatural content written for SEO rather than humans

Google is now much better at spotting these issues and penalising them accordingly. Many websites have been hit, with significant business implications as new patient enquiries dry up.

How do I avoid a Google over-optimisation penalty?

The first priority is to ensure your dental SEO team are up-to-speed and have shifted their practice in line with Google’s strict new policies. If they don’t, then you run the risk of being penalised, particularly if your site needs aggressive SEO for promotion in a competitive environment. Second, check against the above list and also look for any signs that your website may contravene any element of Google’s publishing guidelines.

What if I’ve already been hit and my rankings have slipped?

First off, don’t panic. Even though the situation is far from ideal, it is recoverable. Google will re-instate your previous ranking as long as you identify what has caused the issue and rectify it. This may involve cleaning up the back-link profile to you website, identifying and ceasing any practice that contravenes Google’s guidelines and checking your on-site content to improve the quality. Once all of this is done, then Google may lift the penalty automatically. However, in some case a “re-inclusion request” may be necessary, for example if you are unable to clean-up some of your back-links because you didn’t place them in the first place.

A professional SEO campaign is then recommended to recover the lost ground and to ensure no future damage.

If you need free guidance on this or any aspect of search engine optimisation for dental websites, please call our expert SEO team on 01332 672548 and we will be pleased to assist.