Post by Erik Bergstrom, SEO Analyst
On February 10th, Google announced that health-related questions will be answered directly on the search engine results page (SERP). This is an extension of Google’s Knowledge Graph, which was added in 2012 and provides searchers with quick summaries of information around certain topics. The knowledge base works to connect facts surrounding people, places and things to understand the connections that exist between them. Google’s Knowledge Graph is displayed in the top right corner of the SERP and is meant to provide reliable information, quickly, as uses don’t need to click-through results to get info.
In a recent blog post, Google noted that it will start showing basic health information using the Knowledge Graph. This information will include typical symptoms as well as treatment options, the common condition, whether it’s critical or contagious and what age group it is most likely to affect. Additionally, certain ailments will contain illustrations from licensed medical illustrators. Google states that this basic health information is supposed to act as a springboard to propel users into more informed and directed research. By no means should this answer all of your questions about measles or pink eye, but it should act as a great place to start to get the basics surrounding numerous common health ailments.
WHERE GOOGLE IS GETTING ITS INFO
Google touts a team of medical doctors who will be reviewing the information placed in the Knowledge Graph for up-to-date accuracy. Along with Google’s doctors, the information will be cross-checked by doctors at the Mayo Clinic to encourage users to trust data that isn’t attached to a specific SERP link. This data will be rolled out slowly and will first appear in the U.S., and is already underway.
WHAT THIS MEANS FOR BRANDS
From an organic search perspective, we’re interested to see how this will impact keyword research. If a common treatment option is worded a certain way, it may be beneficial for websites that provide information on that ailment to optimize their META data with similar language. A dip in click-through rates (CTR) should be monitored; however, the intent of this update is to provide users with introductory information to provoke further research, which shouldn’t stop searchers from clicking through on a search result.
PREDICTIONS & LOOKING FORWARD
Most likely, SERP links will still reign supreme, but the Knowledge Graph will be a useful tool for a quick glance. One area that may see impact across the Web is an increase in quality medical information. Certain websites will now have to compete against Google’s Knowledge Graph in order to get ahead and keep their site desirable, which should motivate brands to improve their website content to remain visible.
Google’s Knowledge Graph typically serves content from various sources across the web; however, for health information, it will all stem from Google’s own group of doctors. Whether or not this will impact user trust is yet to be seen, but having the Mayo Clinic review each article should silence critics. Google’s long-term plan for becoming a provider of medical information is unknown, and it may bully other informative medical sites out of the space, or, it may be a helpful tool to improve medical content across the web.
For more information on Google’s Medical Graph, please contact your Performics Account Team today.