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    Google's AI Shift is Threatening Your Practice's Growth

    Posted by Olivia Campbell on Feb 15, 2024 9:52:10 AM
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    Table of Contents:

    Understanding the 2023 Helpful Content Update
    The Impact on Healthcare Websites
    The Future of AI-Generated Content
    Your Practice Needs An Optimized Website to Grow
    How PracticeBeat Can Help
    Frequently Asked Questions

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    In August 2022, Google announced its new Helpful Content System with the stated goal of making it easier for users to find helpful content "made by, and for, people." More specifically, this update to the search engine aimed to penalize websites that were taking advantage of SEO strategies, ensuring websites that prioritize genuine, informative content would rank higher on search engine result pages (SERPs). 

    Just over a year later, in September 2023, Google rolled out a Helpful Content Update. This time, not only did Google continue to prioritize high-quality, informative content, but it also opened the floodgates to AI-assisted content.

    This shift raises significant questions for all sectors, but for healthcare practices, it poses a unique threat to growth and success. With AI-assisted content potentially taking over search engine rankings, can your practice ensure that your website and content remain relevant and visible to potential patients?

    Understanding The 2023 Helpful Content Update

    The 2023 Helpful Content Update introduced three primary changes that significantly impact how content is ranked on their SERPs.

    Changes to Third-Party Content Policies

    Google stated that they would be cracking down on third-party content hosted on subdomains or the central part of a website. In other words, a website hosting content from third-party sources, such as guest posts or user-generated content, will likely see its position on SERPs fall.

    This change won’t affect most medical practices, as they generally only publish original content on their websites.

    “Freshness” Warning

    The update also introduced new warnings against attempts to fake how “fresh,” or new, a website or page is. It's not uncommon for a website to add a lot of new content while removing older content, changing the publication date of a page, or adding irrelevant updates to older content to make it seem more recent. This update will penalize these tactics, reducing the chances of low-quality or misleading content appearing higher on SERPs.

    New AI Guidelines

    Finally, and most importantly for healthcare practices, the 2023 Helpful Content Update loosened its guidance on AI-generated content. Google's original Helpful Content System guidance read:

    Google Search’s helpful content system generates a signal used by our automated ranking systems to better ensure people see original, helpful content written by people, for people, in search results.

    In contrast, following the 2023 update, Google's guidance on AI-generated content reads:

    Google Search’s helpful content system generates a signal used by our automated ranking systems to better ensure people see original, helpful content created for people in search results.

    Google replaced the phrase "written by people" with "created for people,” creating a new landscape where AI-written web pages, blog posts, and other forms of content can now rank in search results, provided they are deemed to be "for people."

    As Google continues to develop several AI initiatives, including its Search Generative Experience and Bard, their chat-based AI tool, it was only a matter of time before Google opened the doors for AI-assisted content to rank in their search results pages. However, this advancement may come at a cost to healthcare practices that are not able to keep up with the AI-generated content race.

    The Threat To Healthcare Websites

    In an effort to rank helpful content higher on SERPs, this latest Helpful Content Update was primarily designed to target websites engineered solely to rank well in search engines. The impact was felt most by websites engaging in shady SEO practices, but there was still collateral damage.

    Your medical practice's website might have been caught in the crossfire if it was created by or optimized for search engines by a company that prioritized numbers over all else. While SEO is an important aspect of content creation, an overemphasis on SEO can lead to content stuffed with keywords and lacking substance. This kind of content might appeal to search engine algorithms but does little to engage or inform readers.

    Some web design companies, blinded by the allure of high traffic, prioritized SEO at the expense of meaningful content. A website meant to be a crucial tool for patient education and engagement could have been reduced to a vessel for hollow SEO tactics. In the wake of the Helpful Content Update, this strategic oversight could have caused a drop in your website's credibility, visibility on search engines, and, ultimately, your patient base.

    If your web design company's narrow approach has left your website vulnerable to the impacts of this and future Helpful Content Updates, it's time to reevaluate the company you're working with.  With the rise of AI-assisted content, partnering with a team that understands and values a balanced approach to creating high-quality content is essential.

    This is especially worth noting because, as we move forward, AI-created content may fall into the same trap that human-created, SEO-first content has. Though these tools allow content to be created automatically and at a fraction of the time it would take for a human, they are prone to poor SEO practices.

    AI algorithms are designed to prioritize keywords and improve search engine rankings above all else. As a result, healthcare websites that choose to rely on poorly written AI materials will still be penalized.

    In addition, websites that do not regularly update their content, let alone with high-quality, relevant information, will also be penalized. Static content, regardless of its initial quality, is no longer sufficient in today's fast-paced digital environment. Regular updates keep your content fresh and relevant and signal to search engines that your site provides value, improving your visibility and rankings.

    At PracticeBeat, our team of experienced writers, web designers, and SEO strategists understands the complexities of creating quality, helpful content that resonates with both patients and search engines. We stay up-to-date on all changes in Google's algorithms to ensure our clients' websites are continually optimized for maximum visibility and credibility.

    As a healthcare practice, your website serves not only as a marketing tool but also as an essential platform for educating and engaging with patients. To stay ahead of the competition and provide the best possible patient experience, having the right team by your side is crucial.

    The Future Of AI-Generated Content

    While Google may no longer be penalizing well-written, high-quality AI-assisted content, relying solely on it is not a viable strategy. After all, this content must still adhere to the strict guidelines and criteria of being original, informative, and beneficial to the reader—in other words, "created for people."

    AI tools, while increasingly sophisticated, are ultimately only tools. They are not replacements for the human mind’s capacity to research deeply, analyze critically, and create content with a unique perspective and expertise. Human writers can understand context and nuance, and perhaps most importantly, they don't "hallucinate."

    Healthcare is a field that requires a high level of accuracy and a deep understanding of complex and sometimes sensitive topics. While AI tools can generate content at an impressive speed, they cannot guarantee the credibility, accuracy, and understanding a human expert provides. A human hand is particularly crucial when the content involves making health recommendations or explaining medical procedures and treatments.

    AI can be a valuable tool for assisting with content creation, but it is not an infallible solution or a substitute for human expertise. It should be used as a complement to human expertise to enhance the quality and efficiency of content production, never as a replacement for it.

    Your Practice Needs An Optimized Website to Grow

    Having an optimized, continuously managed website for your healthcare practice is not a luxury; it's a necessity. Your website serves as your digital front door, the first point of contact for potential patients seeking information about your services. It is crucial to ensure this "door" is not only visible and easily accessible, but also inviting and informative.

    An optimized website with high-quality, helpful content is paramount for a robust online presence. It allows your practice to effectively communicate your brand message, exhibit your expertise, and provide vital information to your current and prospective patients. It can also help answer their queries, guide their decisions, and ultimately influence their choice of healthcare provider.

    In addition, proper optimization also improves your website's rankings on SERPs, making your practice more visible to those searching for the services you offer. This increased visibility can lead to more website traffic, potential patients, and growth for your practice.

    Investing in an optimized website with high-quality, helpful content is about more than just meeting Google's guidelines or staying competitive. It's about providing value to your audience, building a strong online presence, and ensuring your digital front door is as impressive as your services.

    How PracticeBeat Can Help

    While AI has come a long way in a short time, relying solely on this new technology for managing your healthcare practice's website is risky. And when it comes to your online presence and visibility, risk is not something you can afford.

    But how can you ensure your healthcare website remains up-to-date and optimized for search engines, especially when Google's algorithms are continually changing? The answer lies in outsourcing to a team of experts who understand the latest updates and best practices for healthcare websites—a team like PracticeBeat.

    We work closely with healthcare practices to develop and manage an optimized website that prioritizes user experience, search engine visibility, and credibility. We understand the nuances of healthcare content creation and stay up-to-date on all changes in Google's algorithms to ensure maximum effectiveness.

    Don't risk your practice's online presence and credibility by relying on AI-generated content. Choose PracticeBeat and let us help you showcase your expertise, attract more patients, and grow your practice.

    Your digital front door is waiting to welcome new patients—make sure it's as impressive as your practice.

    Don't let the competition leave you behind. Let PracticeBeat begin by preparing a detailed assessment of the top performers in your market and specialty. We will show how you perform, share insights into your performance, and tell you how to outperform your competitors. Sign up for a free assessment and demo today, or visit our website to learn more.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Can I use AI-generated content to improve my website's ranking on Google now?

    While Google has lifted its previous penalty on AI-generated content, it is still subject to the same rules as any other content. It must be original, informative, and beneficial to the reader. Though it's much faster to ask an AI tool to write web content than a human writer, AI tools cannot guarantee the credibility, accuracy, and understanding provided by a human expert. Plus, these tools are known to create content that does not follow SEO best practices.

    Ultimately, relying solely on AI-generated content is not a viable strategy for improving your website's ranking on Google.

    Can AI-generated content accurately represent my healthcare practice?

    AI-generated content may be able to produce a large volume of content quickly, but it can’t replicate the expertise and understanding that comes from human-written content. Healthcare is a field that requires accuracy and sensitivity in communication, and only a human expert can ensure those aspects are accurately represented.

    How can I ensure my healthcare website remains up-to-date and optimized for search engines?

    Outsourcing to a team of experts who specialize in managing healthcare websites is the best way to ensure your website remains optimized for search engines. A team like PracticeBeat stays up-to-date on all changes in Google's algorithms and understands the nuances of healthcare content creation, providing maximum effectiveness for your website. 

    How can an optimized website help my practice grow?

    An optimized website with high-quality, helpful content can improve your online visibility, attract more website traffic, and ultimately lead to more potential patients for your practice. By providing valuable information, showcasing your expertise, and effectively communicating your brand message, an optimized website can influence a patient's decision to choose a healthcare provider.


    Topics: Practice Growth, Expert Insights, Best Practices