Google “Penguin” Update

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Google “Penguin” update slams established practice websites. Here’s how to batten down the hatches before the next wave hits.

Two months have passed since Google announced and implemented its so-called “over-optimization penalty,” a.k.a the “Penguin” update. If your site or one of your competitors’ sites was hit by this late-April tempest, we encourage you to read on. The impact of the Penguin update has been devastating to a number of practice websites, some of which had ranked #1 in their markets for many years and have now been relegated to obscurity.

What to do if your site has disappeared from the search results? Fortunately, the past 60 days have offered experts in the field of search engine optimization (SEO) the opportunity to evaluate the types of sites that were affected and come up with a variety of steps that can be taken.

What is Google Looking At?

The key objective of this algorithm update relates to excessive use of the same key words, or similar content, on a given website or network of sites. If your website’s Meta data (page titles and descriptions), page headers or content include the same key words over and over, you are leaving your site exposed to the elements and therefore risking a catastrophic result when Google decides to unleash its next wave. If the links on your site include the same terms over and over, this, too, is putting you at serious risk. For example, let’s assume your practice would like to rank for “Atlanta liposuction.” If your website has this term repeatedly in the page title and more than a few times in the first paragraph — or if many pages in your site link to other pages using this term — Google will likely penalize your site’s rankings. Further, if your SEO company has purchased links from other websites where all links (or a high percentage) have the same text, i.e. Atlanta liposuction, you can be fairly confident that your Google rankings will fall.

Was Your Site Hit? Is it at Risk?

The first step is to determine if your site already has a problem. The easiest way to do this is to conduct a few searches on Google using terms that you ranked for a few months ago. If your rankings have fallen significantly — more than 3 or 4 positions — then your site has probably been penalized.

The next step is to attempt to determine if your site is vulnerable to Google’s latest storm. It is best to use an SEO expert to look for the telltale signs of “over-optimization,” but here are two you should be able to identify quickly.

  • The navigation on your site includes both the location and procedure. For example, instead of the navigation text saying “eyelid surgery” it says “eyelid surgery Chicago.”
  • Text at the bottom of each page that includes a laundry list of locations and procedures.

These are the most common over-optimization problems, but just because your site doesn’t have them doesn’t mean you’re protected from Google’s battering winds.

How to Fix It

In almost every case, a skilled SEO expert is needed to fix a site that has been over-optimized. As Google algorithms have become more sophisticated, the nuances between “good” optimization and “fatal” over-optimization have become increasingly blurred, and therefore professional-level skills are now required to achieve compliance. The stakes are high; this past year has shown that inexpert or outdated SEO can have a devastating effect on your website visibility. It is important that you understand the process so that you can determine if your SEO team is up to the task.

Go through your site page by page and eliminate the repetitive nature of the content, navigation, links, etc. Unfortunately, that’s the easy part. The hard part rests with links coming to your site from other sites. If your site has been ranking well, then you probably have a vast number of incoming links — and if they all contain the same text, i.e. “Plastic Surgeon New York,” then you have a BIG Problem. You or your SEO company will need to contact the multitude of sites where these links appear and ask for them to be removed. In fact, during the last few months, so many website owners have been asked to remove links that many have begun charging fees in order to take the links down. It’s a crazy Google world we live in. Three months ago, website owners were charging customers to put links up; now the same website owners are charging customers to take links down.

Stay Tuned

Google’s antics are likely to continue as they compete with other online players for advertising revenue. Look for Google to continue to make changes in its ranking algorithm to (supposedly) improve its search results, but don’t be surprised if these changes appear to do more harm than good. Elective healthcare practices that rely on Google to drive prospective patients to their practice websites need to be nimble to weather the storm.

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Read about our Case Study of the Month

Ask the experts

Q Google no longer displays our
Google Places page; it switched over to a
Google + Local page. How will that affect our practice?

A Google made the switch on May 31, so the full extent of the changes is unknown at this time. However, one effect is clear: since only Google + members can post reviews, you will now have to encourage your patients to develop a Google + profile if you want them to post reviews of your practice. This presents a more difficult task than before. Previously, Google email account holders who didn’t have Google + accounts were able to post reviews. This is no longer the case.

What Is Your Google Potential?

Come by the Ceatus booth for a FREE website evaluation!


San Diego 2012: Booth # 726
Dates: June 17-22, 2012

Join Ceatus Media Group at this year’s ASMBS meeting to find out if your website has “Google potential.” Experts in Internet marketing will be offering FREE website search engine optimization (SEO) evaluations on the exhibit floor of the 29th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery.

The meeting will be held at the San Diego Convention Center. Find out how to increase your patient volume in booth #726 on Tuesday and Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and on Thursday from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Breast Surgery and Body Contouring Symposium

Santa Fe, New Mexico
Dates: August 22-25, 2012

Don’t miss this year’s highly anticipated 27th Annual Breast Surgery and Body Symposium in downtown Santa Fe. Ceatus Media Group will be in attendance and exhibiting at the convention center August 22-25. This year’s symposium will provide an exciting opportunity for surgeons to keep up with the most current information on cosmetic and reconstructive breast surgery, body contouring, abdominoplasty, and much more!

Experts from Ceatus will be on hand to assess the effectiveness of your website’s call to action along with other important features that are critical to increasing your patient volume. Don’t miss your chance for a free evaluation of your website’s Google potential!

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CEATUS Case Study of the Month

Background: Dr. Thomas Umbach is a successful bariatric surgeon in Las Vegas.

Challenge: In 2009, shortly after opening his private practice, Dr. Umbach set out to compete with established clinics and attract patients from around North America. He felt that the Internet could play a vital role in attaining these goals and growing his practice, so he decided to join the Ceatus consumer education and patient referral portal Consumer Guide to Bariatric Surgery®. Thanks to the portal’s consistently high Google rankings, Dr. Umbach quickly experienced a significant increase in patient referrals through his profile page on Consumer Guide to Bariatric Surgery®.

Solution: In October 2009, Dr. Umbach decided to commission the same Ceatus SEO team that had obtained great rankings for the Consumer Guide to Bariatric Surgery to work on his own practice website. Ceatus SEO personnel took over the management of Dr. Umbach’s site, and within a few months, his rankings and traffic began to grow rapidly. His site achieved top 3 Google rankings for search terms important to his practice, including:

  • Bariatric Surgery Las Vegas
  • Lap Band Surgery Las Vegas
  • Gastric Bypass Surgery Las Vegas
  • Gastric Sleeve Surgery Las Vegas

This boost in Dr. Umbach’s Internet visibility helped to significantly increase his surgical volume for patients from the Las Vegas area. His site also now ranks #1 in Las Vegas for the term “weight loss surgery,” which helps to attract patients from both the U.S. and Canada who are able to travel to Las Vegas for surgery.

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Can’t Wait to Get on the Road Again?

5 Family-Friendly Summer Vacation Destinations

School has just ended and summer has arrived! Before committing to some spot you’ve already visited, check out these unique destinations that have activities to please everyone in the family. Whether your kids love exploring the city, getting lost in a historic museum or coming across a towering waterfall, this year’s summer vacation will be fun for all!

Grand Canyon, Arizona

One of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, the Grand Canyon is a truly remarkable place to visit. Anyone who’s seen photos of the canyon understands its breathtaking beauty, but it’s only when you venture off the beaten path that you realize just how rugged and wild a place it really is.

The force of nature credited with creating the Grand Canyon, the Colorado River, is a treasure trove of recreational activity located some 4,000 feet below the canyon’s rim. If you’re an adrenaline junky, white water rafting the Colorado River is a can’t-miss activity. Choose from different courses that can be tailor-fit to your ability, from mild, gentle bumps to jarring rapids. You can come alone, as a couple or in a large group to enjoy what is sure to be the experience of a lifetime!

On the same stretches of water, visitors to the Grand Canyon can choose from other, slightly more relaxing activities. So-called “Smoothwater” river cruises allow guests to explore the beauty of the river — sunsets are particularly popular — without the assumed danger of more high-speed trips. Perfect for couples or families, these cruises are a must for first-time visitors and regulars alike.

If fishing is your passion, the Grand Canyon provides one of the most stunning backdrops anywhere in the world to supplement the world-class fishing of the Colorado River. Unlimited trout, bass, and catfish fishing is allowed, with the best time of year being fall and winter. Braving the cold is said to be worth the rewards, as the fish are large and bite in droves. A one-day license costs around $20.

Williamsburg, Virginia

Founded in 1632 as a fortified settlement between the James and York rivers, Williamsburg served as the capital of the Colony of Virginia from 1699 to 1780. It is one of the oldest cities in America, with historic sites including houses, forts, and Civil War memorials making up much of the classic architecture. But Williamsburg is much more than just a quaint tribute town to times past; it’s also an exciting and vibrant city in an ever-growing state of over 8 million residents.

Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum displays one of the nation’s best collections of 19th Century household items, including children’s toys, furniture and paintings, providing a peek into what life was like 200 years ago. For the more adventurous, Busch Gardens theme park offers some of the most exciting thrill rides in the world. Just a few miles away from Busch Gardens is another theme park, Water Country USA. This modern water park entertains guests with some of the world’s largest, fastest, state-of-the-art water rides and attractions, spectacular entertainment, shopping and restaurants, all set to a swinging ’60s theme.

Whitefish, Montana

Perched at the northern limits of America’s mountain west is Montana, a state renowned for its untamed beauty, vast wilderness and natural wonders. Visitors have always been drawn to the splendor of Glacier National Park, and while this is a must-visit destination in its own right, there’s another place that offers a different, yet equally thrilling, experience.

Whitefish is a town set amidst unsurpassed scenery, surrounded by abundant flowers, diverse wildlife and towering waterfalls in the warmer months. Spring and summer activities are endless, and include mountain biking, hiking, fishing, and white water rafting. At the Whitefish Mountain Resort, a new zip line is proving a hit with kids and adults of all ages, and the new adventure park includes challenging and fun courses, with bridges, platforms and ladders suspended from the trees.

But it’s during the winter months that Whitefish becomes so unique. The snow falls consistently, ski runs are rarely closed, and the chairlifts are plentiful, run all day, and are rarely crowded. From atop the mountain, the views will make you question whether you want to ski down or spend some extra time taking in the magnificent scenery.

Where else can you find a place that’s this much fun no matter the season?

Charleston, South Carolina

With such a vibrant and diverse culture blending traditional southern roots with French, British, and West African influences, Charleston, South Carolina offers one of the most unique tourist experiences on the East Coast.

Famed for its Southern hospitality and laid-back vibe, Charleston is also known for its beautiful scenery, impeccable cuisine, pristine golf courses, and mile upon mile of immaculate, sand dune bordered beaches. There’s even more to this southern gem if you’re willing to explore a bit.

For the lighthearted adventurer there’s Charleston Pirate Tours, which showcases the talents of (almost) authentic pirate Eric Lavender as he leads you on an exploration of South Carolina’s plunderers’ past. Enthusiastic and artistic, Lavender’s stories are not to be missed. For those curious about the natural world surrounding Charleston — and the creatures that inhabit it — the South Carolina aquarium is sure to please. Guests can marvel at turtles, otters, alligators and even sharks — all of which can be found just off Charleston’s coast.

San Francisco, California

Beautiful, symbolic, trend setting and historic, the Golden Gate Bridge embodies the city it overlooks. San Francisco is one of America’s most famous and beloved cities. Its diverse, iconic culture makes it one of the greatest tourist destinations in the world. From Ghirardelli Square to Chinatown, Fisherman’s Wharf to Alcatraz, the city by the bay has enough attractions to fill a thousand itineraries. Take a cable car to Fisherman’s Wharf, where you can take in the fresh sea air as you watch street performers and sea lions on the west side of Pier 39. You can also make your way to Chinatown to enjoy authentic “dim sum,” buy ancient potions from herb shops, and explore this city within a city. For a truly unique view, visit Lombard Street and find out why it has been named “the crookedest street in the world.” Come to San Francisco to explore a world filled with unique neighborhoods, shops and restaurants that reflect the city’s great ethnic and social diversity.

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Product Highlight

Let’s Face it… First Impressions Are Everything

Website visitors decide within a few seconds whether to look any further

Making a good first impression is everything. It can mean the difference between someone contacting your practice or being just another Google statistic (read: “bounce rate”). Though it may be unfair, visitors to your website form lasting opinions about the quality of your services based on what they initially see. That’s why it is critical that your website be both aesthetically pleasing as well as functional. The goal? To usher potential patients from your website to your front door, of course!

Time for a New Website?

A new website design can have an immediate impact on your practice revenue. Many of our clients have quickly achieved a threefold increase in lead volume by replacing their outdated websites. That’s three times the leads with the same website traffic. Add higher traffic due to effective SEO efforts and search engine savvy programming, and now it’s a transforming event for your practice.

Why Choose a Ceatus Website?

We begin the process with an in-depth discussion of your vision, goals and objectives, and then translate your vision into reality. Our website design team starts with the fundamentals and then incorporates modern elements to ensure that your website stands the test of time. A website from Ceatus will set your practice apart from your competitors. Visitors will find sections that highlight your areas of expertise while presenting an inviting welcome to your office.

Beauty and Brains

At Ceatus, we understand the key elements of a successful practice website. While a stunning design is important, it is not enough to keep your website visitors engaged. Our award-winning design, SEO and programming team ensures that each Ceatus website is highly informational, easy to navigate, search engine friendly, and visually attractive with a clear marketing message. From beautiful design to state-of-the-art programming and unique, professionally written content, your customized website is designed to engage prospective patients and facilitate contact with your practice. The result? Increased patient volume.

Make a Lasting Impression

Your website should dazzle your target demographic and convey the unique advantages of choosing your practice. A Ceatus-designed website will do just that, placing the quality of your services center stage. Contact us today to learn how a custom-designed Ceatus website will capture prospective patients and deliver them straight to your door!