Know your algorithms to develop a successful website - Veterinary Practice
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InFocus

Know your algorithms to develop a successful website

PENGUINS and pandas may not
appear regularly in a typical
veterinary practice waiting room but
they can still make an important
contribution to its turnover,
delegates attending the London Vet
Show were told.

That is because they are the names
chosen by Google for the algorithms it
has developed for its search engine to
analyse and rank the content of a
website. They are intended to ensure
that those using the company’s service
find the information they want as
quickly as possible, explained US
internet guru, Kelly Baltzell.

Ms Baltzell is chief executive of
Beyond Indigo Pets, a company based
in Hanover, Minnesota, that provides
website consultancy services for the
veterinary profession.

She said practices
should know what
these two creatures do
to direct a web search
or they will find that
their own site will be
invisible to potential
new clients looking for
a veterinary practice in
their area.

Panda was unveiled
by Google in February
2011 and is intended to
punish those whose
websites are judged to have low-quality
content by ensuring that they appear at
the back of any list of businesses found
in a search. She pointed out that few
people go beyond the results on the first
page of a search and so practices
appearing on the second or subsequent
pages might as well not exist.

By low-quality content, Google
means repetitive material such as that
often produced by external webmasters
using a standard template that uses the
same material for a range of businesses serving different markets. To avoid the
dangers of being downgraded in a
search, the practice must produce
customised content that is regarded by
the Panda algorithm as unique.

Penguin, the second animal in the
Google zoo, appeared in April 2012 and
is an algorithm designed to root out
practices that the company disapproves
of, intended to raise the website higher
up in the search results.

These practices include “keyword
stuffing” (repeated use of a particular
word like veterinary intended to attract
the search engine’s attention) or
“cloaking” (a search engine optimisation
technique in which the content
presented to the search engine is
different from that presented to the
user’s browser).

She pointed out that it is important
to play by Google’s rules as any company that tries to
unfairly raise its own
profile is likely to be
punished, no matter how
big or small. The large US
online clothing outlet, J C
Penney, was found to have
rigged the search
mechanism to ensure its
own clothes appeared at
the top of a search result.

But no longer:
“Google smacked them pretty hard,” she said.

If practices use an outside agent to build and maintain their websites, Ms
Baltzell warned that it is important that
they are aware of the changes that
Google has introduced into its search
software. External advisers must also be
aware that the Penguin and Panda
systems are subject to regular updates.

“If you ask them about this and
they don’t know about it, then you
should be treating that as a red flag
warning,” she said.

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