As an independent healthcare professional there’s a new Google update that you should be aware of that has been nicknamed “Possum” for the way that it’s affecting local search results.
The name, coined by Phil Rozek, refers to Google My Business listings not showing up when in reality they’re still there, they’re just being filtered by Google or, in other words, they’re playing possum.
Google My Business profiles power the results for local healthcare searches so, keeping your profile optimized and up-to-date when changes occur is key.
What the Google Possum Update Changed
Like many updates, this change made by Google is meant to improve the user experience. Better search results = happy users.
But some business owners are angry or confused thinking that their Google My Business profile has vanished. What Google is trying to do is remove what appear to be duplicate listings.
Google is filtering out what looks like spam. Nobody likes spam.
Your listing is still there however, it’s just not going to show up in that critical real estate; Page 1, top 3 results.
How, Why Is This Happening?
If you’re a healthcare practitioner with several locations around town (Northtowns, Southtowns, East Side, West Side) and you have a website and Google My Business profile for each location that lists the same exact information, then Google will only pick the main location and show that result.
Duplicate information looks like spam so, if all of your locations website have the same phone number and same content then, to Google, that looks like a result that shouldn’t be shared with patients searching for doctors.
How Can I Fix It?
The biggest thing that you can do is differentiate the content on all of your websites. Make them more unique and stand apart from each other. Use specific neighborhood names if you have an office in a recognizable district, for example.
Unique content goes a long way in avoiding the appearance of spam. Maybe you handle certain cases more often at a location or, you have a specialist there that you direct all of your patients to – Include that on that location’s website.
If you have a lot of informational content on your websites e.g. “How Long Does a Broken Bone Take to Heal?”, then sure, you might be reusing that type of content across all of your sites.
Think about what makes each location unique and use that personalize the content:
- Neighborhood names and community block club information
- Doctors or specialists on staff at specific locations
- Most treated conditions at that location
- Nearby schools or universities whose athletes you’ve treated
In short, don’t panic.
Even a “duplicate listing” penalty from Google can be fixed. Sometimes Google penalties are mistakenly or wrongly attributed to sites that don’t deserve them – which is to say, it’s an algorithm, it’s not perfect.
Google is constantly making changes to improve the results for users. In this case they’re looking at the location of the searcher a lot more than they used to.
About the Author
Nathan Miloszewski is the Content Marketing Specialist at InboundMD (www.InboundMD.com), a digital marketing service for healthcare practices that allows them to acquire patients, protect the practice’s professional reputation and engage patients with social content campaigns without having to be a marketing expert. Nathan and the team at InboundMD have helped independent health practices, hospitals and pharmaceutical companies across the US increase new patients, bolster their reputation and establish themselves as leaders in their field using modern marketing methods. Follow him on Twitter @nate_m_ski and @inboundmd.