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Google Health Search and Medical SEO

by | Feb 23, 2015 | Blog, Medical/ Healthcare Search Engine Optimization

SEO is important for physician practices, hospitals and other healthcare facilities. Healthcare practices may be in the business of imparting health, but they face stiff competition as in any other field. They need medical search engine optimization services to get favorably placed in search results. Now, with Google launching its new online medical information initiative in the US, people are surely going to be using the search engine more and more to look for health-related info. Medical practices must capitalize on this new development.

Why Medical SEO is Relevant

Google has introduced health information along with the regular search results in the United States. When the user enters a related search query, Google will provide information about the condition including illustrations, treatment options, and other data which will appear ahead of the traditional listings.

Google claims to have developed the service in collaboration with doctors, particularly those of Mayo Clinic. However, it also states that the information cannot replace the visits to a physician. More and more conditions will be added and the service gradually extended worldwide with necessary changes to make the results more compatible with the health systems of other countries. Doctors in UK have insisted on this.

Increasing Health Search Queries

The incentive to develop this new health feature was Google’s discovery that one of every 20 search queries is related to health. But this isn’t the first of the search engine giant’s health projects. In 2014, Google had announced its funding of research to develop a heart-attack and cancer detector involving the placing of nano particles in the bloodstream. There have been other medical initiatives as well.

This medical search results feature includes symptoms of the condition, the criticality or seriousness of the condition, susceptible age, treatment options, etc.,  which can help users make further decisions about their treatment. Illustrations by licensed medical illustrators also accompany some of the health results.

Increased Scope of the Knowledge Graph  

The health results service is the result of expanding the scope of Google’s Knowledge Graph, a key part of semantic search by which the search engine can connect various objects, concepts and phenomena so that users get the most appropriate results. This medical service is proof of the immense capabilities of the Knowledge Graph. As SEO professionals would know, the Knowledge Graph provided summaries along with the search results. However, since much of that data comes from Wikipedia, Google got its medical information database cross-checked by Mayo Clinic doctors.

Everyone Wants Dr. Google

With Google already being used by people to find out what’s wrong with them, experts are accepting the inevitability of solutions such as these to help people understand more about their disease and also select the treatment option. Its database contains 400 medical conditions that are commonly searched. Google has placed medical data at the top of the search results when users type in a related query.

Apple and HealthTap

Health initiatives are not the turf of Google alone since Apple is also going to bring in online medical data with its HealthKit initiative. Companies such as HealthTap also have an online doctor network on call to answer any health questions. But what gives Google an advantage is that it has a tremendous reach in the minds of users globally. A Google search happens every now and then, so more people are likely to be aware of Google’s initiative than the Apple or HealthTap services, particularly since the information comes from real doctors.

When it does go global, this online medical information facility could significantly benefit people in remote areas with no access to proper healthcare. Currently, this initiative is aimed at providing more valid medical information and enhancing the health search experience on Google, especially on mobile. This will definitely have implications for mobile medical website design.

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