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Looking Forward with Google: Mobile-Centric is Now

February 12th, 2016 No comments

cross platform search trendsIn 2015, the stats showed that 54% of all Web searches are done on a mobile device. This means that building a search engine strategy solely focused on your primary Website traffic is not relevant to most of your online traffic!

At Greystone, we see that the healthcare digital space has caught onto the importance of Website SEO and the necessity of mobile responsive design, but we are not seeing many hospitals and health systems that recognize the quickly-approaching need for a mobile SEO strategy. If you are planning on attending HMPSS in May, find out more about the Mobile Only Customer, presented by Kathy Divis from Greystone and Neal Linkon from Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.

Google has been preparing for the mobile-centric world for a few years now. Last April, a new search algorithm that factors mobile into SEO patterns was launched. Lannie Byrd at Team SI confirmed to us the importance of staying ahead of the next SEO trends and the necessity to conform to Googles algorithm, saying, “If you can accurately predict where the changes are coming next in Google’s algorithm and make the changes ahead of Google, you can jump over your competition in the rankings when Google makes a change.”

The Neilson Norman Group tells us that Google is currently monitoring factors such as mobile page load times and indexing apps. It is clear that Google is focused on mobile, and given that they are in charge of the SEO algorithms that we rely on, we should focus on mobile as well.

The fact is that the time has come to build your SEO strategy around mobile and adapt the plan for your Website as well. So next time you revisit your SEO be sure that you are approaching the strategy mobile-first.

Marketing in the New Year: Looking Ahead to 2016

December 18th, 2015 No comments

2015-2016As we glide through the final days of 2015 (we hope you are gliding rather than stumbling), it’s not too late to think about what’s on tap for 2016 as we plan for the soon-to-arrive new year.

For the past few months, many articles have been written with predictions of the hottest marketing trends for 2016. Here are a few to consider.

Search/SEO:

The number of people who use online search to find health or medical information continues to increase. And the majority of health information searches start with a search engine, such as Google, Bing or Yahoo. Thus, SEO continues to be an important component of digital strategy. However, some recent changes related to search engines can impact your SEO strategy moving forward:

• Yahoo has begun to partner with both Bing and Google. This means that Yahoo searches can show Google search results – including organic listings and paid ads – which can increase your exposure in searches. It also means that Bing’s ads will appear in 51% of desktop searches delivered by Yahoo.
• With the release of Windows 10 earlier this year, Bing ads are getting a lot more exposure because Bing is the default search engine in Microsoft’s new OS. Search has been made a more integral feature in Windows 10 by having a search box appear at all times in an onscreen task bar.
• Microsoft’s new Edge browser (the replacement for IE) helps to facilitate searches by allowing the user to highlight text in the browser and right click, after which Cortana can bring up the search results in a sidebar.
• Bing Native Ads was recently launched with ads appearing across MSN.com (the default start page for Windows 10). These ads can be managed via the Bing Ads interface.
• Social media, specifically Facebook, are working on strengthening their search functions. This should lead to greater brand exposure. In addition, advanced social media searches can include functions such as making purchases and engagement about what was purchased and opinions about products and services.

Emerging Social Platforms:

• Everybody is on Facebook and Twitter, and many organizations also utilize LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest and YouTube. However, a somewhat surprising player is quickly rising in the social media universe: Snapchat. In fact, social media expert Gary Vaynerchuk predicts that Snapchat will be one of the top three social media platforms for the 13-50 year old demographic in 2016. Over the past couple of years, Snapchat has become very popular with young people, in large part due to the fact that Snapchat posts disappear shortly after they are viewed. Longer posts where several individual Snaps are combined, called Snapchat Stories, disappear after 24 hours and can be viewed multiple times by followers during the 24-hour period.

As with Vine and Instagram, spontaneity is the key to using Snapchat. So Snapchat can be useful for real-time engagement over a short period, like a flash sale, a limited-time coupon or other offer, a giveaway, or even to build up anticipation for an upcoming event.
• Snapchat Ads are still in limited use, but show promise for mobile ads in particular, because the video ads take up the full screen of the mobile device, thus better capturing the user’s attention.
• Facebook has a local services listing page in development. Similar to Yelp or Angie’s List, this feature will allow Facebook users to connect with local service providers. For organizations already active on Facebook, this feature looks to provide an additional means of connecting with customers.

Virtual Reality (VR):

VR is getting a boost in 2016 with the introduction of Oculus Rift. As this device – and the others that will surely follow it – becomes ingrained into common use, its potential marketing uses will be revealed. One marketing aspect for which VR shows promise is personalization. With the ability to tell stories from a 360-degree perspective, the promise for consumers to become immersed in marketing campaigns is ripe for development.

Internet of Things (IoT):

IoT has been on the horizon for a while now, as items such as wearables and connected devices have become more common. It is predicted that wearables will achieve a 28% adoption rate in 2016. Wearables and connected devices generate data, which can be mined for detailed information about the users and lead to more personalized engagement. It’s possible that we may see the first wearable native ads in 2016. The future of the IoT is certainly promising for marketers.

Mobile:

Mobile technology has become a core component of digital marketing. But advances continue. In 2016, you’ll need to consider:

• Google’s “mobilegeddon.” Back in April, Google updated its search algorithm to promote mobile, responsive-friendly Websites. If your organization’s site(s) is not optimized for mobile, Google will penalize your site in search results. In addition, people don’t want to use a site that’s not easily viewed or used on their mobile devices. With 80% of local searches performed on a mobile device and 91% of Americans keeping their mobile devices within reach 24/7, your organization must consider mobile as the center of its marketing strategy.
• Will Facebook become completely mobile in 2016? In the 3rd quarter of 2015, the equivalent of 47% of Facebook monthly active users were mobile-only users, an increase from 34% during the same period in 2014.
• Mobile wallets will be a standard feature on new Smartphones and more retailers will accept payments from proximity payment platforms such as Apple Pay, Android Pay and others. Mobile wallets provide an opportunity to connect with customers with coupons, rewards/loyalty programs and other options as they pay with their phones.

2016 promises to be an exciting year for marketers. We look forward to the opportunities and challenges, and we’re sure you do as well.

Merry Christmas, happy holidays and a Happy New Year to all!

Thank You to the Attendees at Greystone’s OpenSpace in Denver

Two days just wasn’t enough time to cover the number of compelling and thought provoking topics the OpenSpace group brought to the table. One big take away for me was recognizing the pace at which our industry is maturing. Whether you support a stand-alone hospital, health system or academic medical center, there is no shortage of Web initiatives.

Sure, we had the standard topics we all can’t live without:  CMS, Mobile, Social, Analytics and Search. Those always make for great conversation and there is always room to learn, but this year’s group was also committed to a level of conversation beyond the day-to-day Web stuff.

This year the focus of conversation and commitment to topics such as, Organizational Development, Mentoring, Professional Education and Web Maturity Models, were on the top of nearly everyone’s list. Questions such as, “how do we integrate our teams throughout the organization,” “where do we find and how do we keep the best talent,” “how can we build true ROI models to secure future budgets and deliver positive impact for our organizations,” were common themes throughout. To see the participants intrigue and hear this dialogue made for a great couple days for me and I hope all the others too!

The industry is growing up in front of us and the work you do is being recognized every day. All of you who are playing such key roles in this industry’s maturity and who have worked so hard, should be very proud. The group suggested that we keep the OpenSpace conversations rolling online, so we can build collaborative answers to so many important questions. Therefore, much more to come from OpenSpace. Keep up the great work and thank you!

Another Google Change

April 7th, 2012 No comments

Once you begin to think you have gotten a handle on your search engine optimization, Google up and changes the game again, which means the others are sure to follow!

This past March at SXSW, Google’s Matt Cutts, announced that Google has been tweaking their algorithm to penalize sites that are “over-optimized “. Matt said that the updated algorithm will penalize sites that “throw too many keywords on the page, exchange way too many links, whatever they’re doing to go beyond what a normal person would expect.” Many organizations dedicate multiple FTEs and dollars for website optimization. The new update will help level the playing field for other sites that do not have the same resources as larger organizations have, but whose content is just as relevant as the organization’s who can afford to “over-optimize”.

The new changes will not being punishing sites that have done what experts have suggested in the past, however, the search engine will now take an even closer look at the way the content is being written. If a site’s content is topic driven, meaning the content is focused on what its visitors want and deem important and not what the search engines want, the site should not be penalized by the new update. However, if the content is heavily keyword driven the site could potentially be penalized more severely than in the past.

The same rules still apply for content, create great content focused on what your visitors want and not keyword driven simply to get the search engines to your site. Also make sure that the site is crawlable so the search engines can index the content easily.

How will this new update affect you? Has your strategy been driven towards what your visitors are asking for or keyword driven to get the search engines? If you always keep your visitors in mind, with relevant and up-to-date content you should always be one step of ahead of those who are trying to cut corners.

Are You Watching Your Keywords?

June 8th, 2010 No comments

“I don’t really pay attention to our top search terms,” says one of my customers, a marketing analyst at a prestigious academic medical center. “They are mostly just a variation of our hospital’s name.” For a lot of analysts at hospitals and health systems, especially those cursed with having an easily misspelled name, I can understand why they feel this way. Top keywords are frequently filled with various versions (both correct and misspelled)  of the organization’s names and hometowns. Our research shows that across all hospitals, the average is about one in four visitors who arrive at a hospital or health system’s Web site from a search engine use some version of the organization’s name as a keyword.

 I truly feel sorry for any organization that has an apostrophe in its name, or is located in a town that is hard to spell. Your top 10 non-paid keywords probably look something like this:

1. St. Luke’s hospital
2. St. Lukes hospital
3. St. Luke’s hospital chattanooga
4. St. Luke’s 
5. St. Lukes
6. St. Luke’s hospital jobs
7. www.stlukestn.com
8. St. Luke’s hospital tn
9. St. Luke’s hospital chatanooga
10. St. Lukes hospital  tn

Lists like the one above can be extremely frustrating, to say the least. Chances are that overworked Web analysts feel that they have far more productive things to do with their time than mining this data for useful nuggets. (Side note:  please don’t get me started on the people who type the URL in as a search term instead of putting it in the address line. I’ll save my ranting about these folks for a future blog post) 

However, organizations that fail to leverage their top organic keywords could be missing out on opportunities to make their Web site better. Several top hospital/health system Web sites – particularly those with licensed health content – consistently have clinical terms or interactive tools at the top of their keywords. Clinical terms are major sources of traffic for these organizations, and serve as an entryway to licensed health content and beyond. The most successful marketers create layers of useful content and links around these keywords, ultimately attempting to shepherd these new visitors towards value-added actions such as making an appointment with one of their physicians. Another bonus: those who arrive this way tend to be net new visitors to the site.

“We noticed that people were searching for information about a specific condition that we specialize in treating, and we built an entire flow on our Web site around this,“ says one marketing director whose top search term is in fact a clinical condition. “Online search (with this keyword) has become one of our best pipelines for new customers in a key service line.” Obviously, many visitors are not local and conversion rates can be low. But without savvy marketers leveraging keywords, most of this traffic would have gone somewhere else.

If you have licensed health content on your Web site and are not paying attention to your top keywords, you may want to reconsider. There can be rewards if you are patient enough to cut through the noise.

Categories: Analytics, Search Engines Tags: