Podcast #94

Unlocking SEO Success: How’s Google’s Evolving SERP is Impacting Healthcare

Explore the transformation of Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) and its impact on healthcare marketing with SEO expert, Jacquelyn Green, and CEO Alex Membrillo. In this episode of the Ignite, the two discuss Google's response to changing knowledge acquisition trends and increasing competition from platforms like ChatGPT, TikTok, and Reddit. So tune in to learn how the SEO landscape is evolving and the importance of adapting to it.

Episode Highlights:

Jacquelyn Green: “With the ascent of AI, content quantity is not a factor. That cannot be your selling point anymore when trying to make your website work. There’s an abundance of content. You could go out and pump out 900 pieces of somewhat accurate factual medical blogs in a day and get those live. That’s not what is going to move the needle anymore because every website can do that. If you want to differentiate, you have to think about what is still to be a unique value that you can add.”

Episode Overview

On this episode of Ignite, our host Alex Membrillo is joined by SEO expert Jacquelyn Green. Their conversation dives into the recent shifts in search engine rankings. Google faces stiff competition from platforms like ChatGPT, TikTok, and Reddit, and it’s experimenting with novel ways to present information and cater to a broader audience.

Some of Google’s notable new features include: “Perspectives,” a feature reminiscent of a TikTok feed. It aims to display real people’s opinions and answers on various topics, proving especially valuable for “how to” and comparison searches and “MedPal,” a substantial AI model tailored for addressing medical queries.Google is also giving priority to healthcare-related queries by offering Medicare and Medicaid highlights. Users can now filter their search results to find healthcare providers who accept these insurance plans. 

As an SEO professional, it’s imperative to remember that achieving a high ranking on Google is just one aspect of the job. Elements such as content quality, value propositions, effective communication of insurance information across the web, and optimizing location-specific pages play a crucial role in a successful SEO strategy. A holistic SEO approach extends beyond mere ranking, focusing on enhancing your business’s visibility and attracting more prospective clients.

Related Resources

Announcer: Welcome to the Ignite Podcast, the only healthcare marketing podcast that digs into the digital strategies and tactics that help you accelerate growth. Each week, Cardinal’s experts explore innovative ways to build your digital presence and attract more patients. Buckle up for another episode of Ignite.

Alex Membrillo: Hello, everybody. On today’s fireside chat, we’re going to be discussing something very cool and different and unique and it’s happening right now. We’ve got Jay Green. This is Jacquelyn Green, the best SEO person on the planet. We’re going to be talking about the latest SERP changes. If you don’t know what SERP is, hop on to the next podcast. This is going to be really fun. There’s been some updates that have come on. What’s up, Jay Green?

Jacquelyn Green: Hey, how’s it going?

Alex: I’m actually not caffeinated. I bet you’d be surprised to hear that. I think I’m so sleepy that I’m hallucinating.

Jacquelyn: Overly tired.

Alex: Overtired. I’m like the baby that needs to be put in his cribby.

Jacquelyn: It’s fussy.

Alex: [unintelligible 00:00:54]. Tell us, what is the latest thing? We’ve got a lot of SERP changes, having a healthcare and paid media. Because I see the LSAs are rolling out the nice picture ads at the top, but things are changing for SEO as well. What’s up?

Jacquelyn: There’s a lot going on. Yes. Right now I think Google, I feel like it’s in a free fall where Google is trying to figure out who they are and having a little bit of an identity crisis because there are so many other means of people acquiring knowledge now. Instead of just going to Google, which has always been the default, people are going to ChatGPT. People are going to TikTok. People have always been going to YouTube, but now that TikTok is here, it’s way easier. People are going to Reddit. Google is just suddenly thinking who is coming to us and why, and how do we take all of the good parts of those competitors and display them here?

Google is trying a lot of new different things to take the focus away from just typical search results with blogs and articles and pages showing up. Instead, they want to put everything right there, make it super easy, make it super bite-sized and appeal to the largest audience possible.

Alex: What’s one of those things?

Jacquelyn: Perspectives is the newest thing. It’s basically a new feature in Search, which is primarily on mobile. I don’t know if it’s really on desktop fully yet, but it’s definitely happening on mobile. Basically like a TikTok feed, the goal of it is to show users perspectives from real people. Instead of showing the very SEO-ified branded results that you would normally see in the SERPs, you’re seeing little videos, links to Reddit posts, some links to Twitter, basically showing, here’s what people think about this topic, here are how other people answer this question. It’s coming up a lot for how-tos, and should I do this, or comparisons.

It’s not quite as applicable for healthcare right now, but I definitely think it’s going to be because it’s reflective of how people are searching.

Alex: Healthcare is usually just last because Google has to play it safe, right?

Jacquelyn: That too, yes.

Alex: Except with their pixels. I’ve seen TikTok little videos also and Twitter/X now. It’s like, what do people think? Google’s getting comfortable linking people out. I guess they always did, but you could tell over the last few years they were trying to keep more people on the SERP through the snippets and everything else, right?

Jacquelyn: Yes.

Alex: How does AI play into this? Because AI is answering questions, but this is very much what other people are thinking in different channels and then you’re linking out. This is different than that. This is not the Bard thing.

Jacquelyn: Yes, it is different. I think, honestly, Google is starting to see a little bit of why Bard is not maybe going to work or maybe not work so easily, but they are trying Bard. It is still working. They’re having some copyright issues, same as ChatGPT. They’re having some issues with creators saying, “This is exactly my content. Why are you taking this?” Which is what SEOs feared in the first place. They are seeing some of that pushback. I think because of that, they’re now trying to offer a very different but equally attractive result, which is, “Well, here’s what actual real people are saying.” If you think about it, it’s still taking people’s content.

Alex: Yes, just not crediting them.

Jacquelyn: Yes, and putting it in the SERPs. It’s sort of the other side of AI where it’s still trying to answer questions like a human. It’s just now taking literal humans instead of a robot acting as a human. They’re doing the same thing, which is attempting to give a more robust, real answer to a question instead of just showing you SERP results.

Alex: I think Google’s ubiquitous. If I had ChatGPT here, there’s just still so many limitations to it because it’s just going on like what everybody already knows. It’s fine for answering, where’s the urgent care near me? As long as that urgent care hasn’t popped up in the last year or so, it actually can’t even do that. All right, good. We chatted about that. What is this MedPAL or MedMAL? This sounds like medical malpractice. What is this?

Jacquelyn: Med-PaLM, I think is how you say it.

Alex: Oh, PaLM 2.

Jacquelyn: It’s a large learning model. It’s Google’s approach to AI for medical queries specifically, which Google has been very vigilant, I guess, about trying to appeal to healthcare searches specifically over the past few years. This has been something that they’ve been moving toward over a longer period of time. The newest feature is they are attempting to roll out a generative AI model that is specific to medical queries. What we’re seeing is Google is putting their AI tools through basically licensing exams to become a physician and making sure that their AI can answer those questions as a way to provide legitimate medically-backed answers to real users’ queries.

So that if you search, “I have these symptoms, do I have depression, or my heart is racing, should I go to the emergency room?” Google can answer that in real-time and you can trust that answer because it’s–

Alex: Where’s it coming from?

Jacquelyn: It’s a large learning model. They’re taking all of the medical information that they can find. Again, they’re literally going through the USMLE exams and making sure these tools can literally act as a physician in every way except for holding a scalpel. It’s pretty crazy.

Alex: If you take that a step further, you got to think that in the next 10 years, you’re going to a provider’s office and you’re probably being seen by a robot that is asking you these questions and just spitting this stuff back out. Then they’ll do some tests. If it comes back one way or the other, you’ll see an actual human doctor.

Jacquelyn: I think some doctors are probably already doing some version of that because if you go into a doctor’s office, they’re at their computer. If you say something they’re not familiar with, they’re searching it. They’re just searching it in there.

Alex: Son of a gun. That’s what he was doing.

Jacquelyn: I feel like I’ve seen that. It’s mostly anecdotal, but I do feel like that’s it.

Alex: [laughs]

Jacquelyn: Basically, it’s the same thing, though, but I feel like obviously we’re going to run into challenges pretty quickly of if you Google something and Google is very wrong, that is bound to happen and there’s going to be issues with that. I don’t think it’s going to be quite as intrusive as Google probably wants it to be.

Alex: This is interesting. It makes us wonder as creators of content, what’s our role going to be? I still think it’s going to be specific medical grade and probably video. That’s like what it can’t do yet, right?

Jacquelyn: Yes.

Alex: MD input, and it can’t do video, unique perspectives. If your angle is just like standard blog content, service content that everybody else has, it’s not going to work for them.

Jacquelyn: With the ascent of AI, content quantity is not, can’t be a factor. That cannot be your selling point anymore as someone trying to make your website work. It’s just, there’s an abundance of content. You could go out and pump out 900 pieces of probably somewhat accurate factual medical blogs in a day and get those live. That’s not what is going to move the needle anymore because every website can do that. If you want to differentiate, you have to think about what is still going to be a unique value that you can add, which I think to your point, video is a great example.

Clearly, that’s what Google is trying to prioritize with perspectives. In a weird way, it’s just trying to bring it back to humanity, which is going to be the most important thing if we’re fighting with non-humans.

Alex: One more thing, I forgot. Medicaid and Medicare highlights. Tell me about that. What is that? I’m reading it here, and it’s the first I’ve heard of this.

Jacquelyn: This is not super new, but it’s something [chuckles] that has definitely been more prevalent lately. Again, Google has been trying to prioritize health queries for quite some time. They have a whole healthcare sector at Google that is prioritizing these things. The Medicare-Medicaid, basically it’s just a way that if you search “doctor near me”, you can filter by providers who offer Medicaid-Medicare. Google is prioritizing those types of insurances first, obviously, because it wants to make sure that those users can find things that are going to be something they can actually go and get.

I definitely think, longer term, you’re going to see this across the board with more insurance, which is so tricky for multi-local healthcare providers. It’s a huge potential roadblock that we can see that we see a lot with providers because they are hesitant to give us insurance information because it varies so much and that’s fair. I think that’s going to become something more and more users are wanting is how they figure out who they can see quickly, cheaply for a specific condition they have. They want to do it right in the SERP and then they want to make an appointment to the SERP as quickly as they can.

Alex: Look how Jay Green’s advising you guys. When you’re thinking about your SEO program, everyone goes to like, I’m going to rank on Google, but she thinks about so many more things, like how you’re going to construct your content, your value props like insurance, how you’re going to communicate that across the web and on your location pages. Guys, a good SEO person or program is not just ranking on Google. A good program is looking at your business and doing the things that help yield more patients. Jay Green, this has been fun. Any final words for our homies?

Jacquelyn: No, stay clear of robots.

Alex: Stay clear of robots unless they do your laundry. Thank you, everybody. Hope you enjoyed this last 10 minutes.


Announcer: Thanks for listening to this episode of Ignite. Interested in keeping up with the latest trends in healthcare marketing? Subscribe to our podcast and leave a rating and review. For more healthcare marketing tips, visit our blog at cardinaldigitalmarketing.com.

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