What Is An Algorithm?
If you’re aware of the basics of search engine optimization, you know that the gold standard for any given piece of content or website is ranking in the top spot in Google, the most-used search engine out there. However, getting to that high rank isn’t up to you; Google’s technology utilizes highly complicated algorithms to sort out content that should theoretically be the best results for you based on where you are, what you searched, and what other people have found helpful.
Ranking high in search results organically requires understanding how these algorithms parse your content, site, and other data and compare it to your competitors. First, however, you need to know exactly what we mean by an algorithm.
An algorithm in the most basic sense is a set of instructions that software tools used to accomplish tasks. In Google’s case, SEO algorithms attempt to serve users the most relevant results possible to an unlimited number of potential searches. Algorithms are rigid, but combining many different algorithms allows results to be more dynamic, where one algorithm might rank pages for how recently they were posted or updated, one ranks them based on how quickly the page loads (key for user experience), and another checks for the number of times the search term is used on the page.
The multiple algorithms weigh each other’s results against each other for relevance and then rank the pages that each one thinks are the “best” for the search term. Sometimes these are all distinct web pages, although recently the Google results page includes more user-friendly results based on the likely search intent behind the words and phrases used. This is why, for example, a search for “poppy” returns pictures of the flower whereas “poppyseed” might return recipes.
Algorithms rely on criteria and vast amounts of information to display helpful results. In this sense, although they are “cold” lines of computer code, SEO algorithms are shaped by previous searches and user experiences, which means they change over time.
In addition, SEO algorithms can be updated directly by software engineers at Google. Throughout the years, these discrete updates have created a major shift away from certain practices and have begun rewarding (in most cases) higher-quality content on better-performing websites, which means the competition has never been more fierce for that coveted first-page rank.
The medical marketing industry has had to deal with several major algorithm overhauls in the past decade or so, although, with marketing strategy experts like the ones at DLM on hand, many have benefited from these changes rather than being hurt.
Some of the major updates that have changed the best practices medical marketers have adapted to (not in chronological order) include:
- Hummingbird Update: Reinforced “semantic” search interpretation, meaning Google doesn’t just look at how many times a search term appears on a page to determine relevance, but also the meaning of a given search.
- HTTPS/SSL Update: Prioritized secure and/or encrypted websites in search results.
- Mobile-Friendly Update: Prioritized websites that provide web designs that are easy to use on mobile devices.
- Page Experience Update: Prioritized websites with quick loading times, responsive layouts, and multiple visual elements.
- Panda Update: Punished low-quality content, such as duplicate (plagiarized) content, keyword stuffing, and web pages with few words.
Google updates its algorithms at least once a year, which is why it’s essential to keep an eye on these more substantial updates, which are often announced years in advance to give medical practices and every other internet user time to adapt their strategy as needed. With DLM as your medical marketing partner, you never have to worry about what algorithm updates will mean for your website and rankings since our SEO experts keep tabs on even the slightest tweaks that could affect our clients.
The cosmetic medical industry is always changing and combined with the volatile marketing landscape that we all participate in online means that it’s nearly impossible to do well in both arenas without fully committing to one or the other. That’s why partnering with a team like DLM helps fuel growth for your practice: we handle our area of expertise while you focus on taking care of your clients to the best of your ability.