Google Symptom Checker Another “Clue” to Google’s Ultimate Goal

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Content Matters StampA few weeks ago, Google revealed it was revamping its mobile app to provide more accurate (and less scary) information to users
Googling their medical symptoms.  It’s an attempt to combat the unchecked hyperbole that might mislead searchers.

Ask yourself if this sounds familiar. You Google a few common symptoms to see if they’re anything to worry about. Then you fall down a rabbit hole. Two hours later, you’re convinced you have some obscure disease last diagnosed 10 years ago on a remote island halfway across the globe.

Here’s how Google puts it:

“After 20 minutes digging through health forums, chances are you’re overwhelmed by all the complicated medical terms and breaking out in a sweat—whether that’s related to the headache or the overdose of info is unclear!”

The new symptom checker will call upon the health conditions it finds in web results, and then check them against the information it collected from medical doctors for the Knowledge Graph.

Why should you care, even if you don’t own a medical website?

Google Isn’t a Campus Bulletin Board

It’s further evidence of Google’s end-all-be-all goal of providing users the best search experience. Google is an information machine. Like any company, it’s constantly searching for ways to improve its product (i.e., search results). It rewards good content, punishes bad content.

Do your goals mesh with Google’s? A lot of content creators lose sight of this. They singularly think of reaching their own goals, without regard to Google’s. They treat the internet — and by extension, Google — like a campus bulletin board, pinning up poorly-written flyers because there isn’t a gatekeeper monitoring quality.

Google isn’t a campus bulletin board. It thrives only if it returns relevant results and good content. Its search algorithm is the gatekeeper.

Quality Content, User Behavior, Website Performance, Google Rankings – It’s All Connected

How does Google’s algorithm work? A lot of people spend a lot of time and money trying to figure this out. I hate to oversimplify, but here’s a crude explanation:

Quality content leads to better user engagement, leads to better website performance, leads to better Google rankings, leads to even better website performance, leads to $$$ (if that’s your goal).

Is there more to it than that? Of course. A lot more? Yes. But this is a good place to start.

Don’t Skimp on Your Content Creation

A lot should go into producing written content, infographics, videos, web design, and any other content you create. Here are some key points to consider:

What are my competitors doing?

What else is out there? Figure out how you can do it better. Maybe there are information gaps in competitors’ content. Maybe it’s thin. Think about how your content can offer more value (e.g., better, more robust information; more entertaining; better organization; clearer communication; etc.).

Am I sharing accurate information?

If not, it’ll hurt you. And if not now, later. Google is working on improving the accuracy of its search results for medical queries. Bet that it is constantly working to improve the quality of search results for all subject areas.

We use LexisNexis and state or federal statutes to research legal topics. MedlinePlus, Mayo Clinic, and professional organizations (e.g., American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons) can provide great medical information.  Google Scholar and PubMed are great for academic studies. As you do your research, draw only from reliable sources and cite it where appropriate.

Are there grammatical or spelling errors?

Nothing stops readers in their tracks like poor grammar or spelling errors. Invest time in editing your content. Start by using your word processor’s spelling and grammar checker. You’d be surprised how many people don’t take this simple step.

Want to improve your writing? There are plenty of writing resources out there. My personal recommendations:

  • The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White. It’s a great pocket guide that provides confident answers to your grammar questions.
  • On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King. He recounts experiences that shaped him as a writer – and of course shares some great writing advice too.

I also highly recommend our own blog series, The Copy Corner. Our editor, Jenna Kefauver, breaks down some basic — and a few complicated — grammar rules and provides reflections on writing and editing each week.

Is the content robust and well-organized?

Are you producing thin content? It’s probably not helping you. In fact, it could be hurting you.

Identify relevant sub-topics. Produce content that fully satisfies the user’s search query. Anticipate the questions readers might have. Identify the information searchers need. Think about organization — in what order should you present the information? What order is most logical?

These are just a few things to consider as you create your content. If you need help — written on-page content, infographics, slide decks, eBooks, and more — call us (888-521-3880) or send us a message.