At one point or another, chances are you’ve turned to “Dr. Google” to shed some light around a health concern. Whether you’re trying to self-diagnose a medical condition or are just curious about a particular disease you heard on a show, we rely on Google to provide us with answers to our many health-related questions. In fact, 1 in 20 Google searches are health-related, and Google knows it has a responsibility to serve the most accurate medical information for these 170 million-plus daily searches.
I’ve always been passionate about healthcare, probably due to the fact that I’ve lived among nurses my entire life (my mother, sister and wife are all nurses). For the past 10 years, all of my marketing experience has been within the healthcare industry. Every day I’m searching for something health-related on Google. I was very excited when I discovered this latest enhancement as I believe it will benefit patients the most. In reality, most patients don’t know what type of doctor they should seek for certain medical conditions. This update to Google’s health condition cards will help provide that direction and will essentially close the loop on the digital patient journey.
Google Health Knowledge team’s mission
Similar to Google’s mission statement, the goal of the team behind their Health Knowledge Graph is to “Make health information universally accessible and useful. Allow anyone in the world to receive key, top quality health info in a fluid and intuitive fashion.”
It’s so important now, more than ever, for these results to be of the highest quality. After all, the wrong medical advice could potentially result in a perilous outcome. This is why Google has invested so much time into tailoring these health knowledge results over the years, to give users only the best information, displayed for easy consumption.
History of Google Healthcare Knowledge graph and its new update
This has been an ongoing effort with Google, and like everything else they do, it appears in iterations and small tweaks until they get it right.
February 2015: Google launched the healthcare condition cards, appearing in search results when users search for a common medical issue with a short summary of the condition and few facts as to how it comes about, symptoms, treatability, and more.
December 2015: Google added a new segment to their condition cards, a “Treatments” tab where users could find a list of remedies for their specific ailment.
June 2016: Adding a “Symptoms” tab to their healthcare condition cards, Google provided users with increased autonomy by allowing them to search their specific symptoms and receive a list of possible illnesses they may have.
Most Recently: Google began rolling out a “Specialists” tab on their health conditions cards on mobile search results only, which provides users with an easy path to finding the right doctors who specialize in the condition they’ve searched for.
With this new updated feature, users are also offered the option for these results to be local to them, so long as you grant Google permission to access your location.
Opportunity for healthcare marketers
The addition of a “specialists” tab could increase the frequency of healthcare providers appearing in local search results. Here are five high-level SEO tips to help you capitalize on this opportunity:
- Make sure your doctor or healthcare facility web pages follow best practices for local optimization.
- Add as much content to your physician or healthcare facility Google My Business profile.
- Build out online profiles across the top healthcare directory sites (Healthgrades, Vitals, WebMD, etc.) and make sure the information is consistent across all profiles.
- Incorporate Schema on your doctor and healthcare facility pages, specifically the Schema markup for Physician and LocalBusiness properties.
- With all of the YMYL algorithm updates over the past few years, it’ll be especially important for doctors to ensure they have a strong online reputation and demonstrate expertise in their medical area via citations from reputable health care authorities and sites (E-A-T).
With this feature only appearing on mobile search results thus far, it will be important to keep an eye on these condition cards as this could just be something Google is testing. Personally, I believe this new addition is here to stay. Down the road, perhaps they’ll even incorporate a mechanism for scheduling appointments directly within these cards. Only time will tell, so we shall see.
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