RealSelf.com Case Study: Should My Medical Practice Associate?

Ever since the Medic Update, we have had a lot of medical practices ask us about RealSelf.com.

Why?

Because over the past year, they’ve lost a lot of organic website traffic from at least two of Google’s Core Algorithm Updates.

When we start talking about SEO and backlinks with our clients and prospects, we find a lot of the time, that a large majority of their backlink profiles are associated with RealSelf.

We’re talking sometimes almost 20%+ of all backlinks are coming from or they have a lot of links pointing to RealSelf.com

Does being associated with them have any sort of negative impact on your domain? My answer is both “yes” and “no”

RealSelf.com Organic Keyword Drop

realself SEO v1

Recently, John Mueller mentioned on Twitter that Google will just ignore bad links and for SEO practitioners to just not worry about them.

However, in my opinion, he’s referring to single links coming from a variety of sources.

We aren’t talking about a majority of a URL’s backlink profile coming from a single source that received an automatic penalty here.

We should also remember that the Medic Update was skewed towards medical websites and one of the largest online directories for informative based healthcare / medical websites is RealSelf.com

The Data

We took a look at 40 randomized websites that were LINKED TO from RealSelf.com MORE THAN 500 times & 40 websites that were linked to from RealSelf.com LESS THAN 500 times. We found some interesting correlations. Many had been affected negatively around the time of Medic or right after a small update in September or the Halloween Update around the end of October. Here’s a small sampling of that data.

(Note: All of the data gathered was randomized DA,  random # of indexed pages and random backlink profile size outside of the specific number of links from RS. The only tool used was SEMrush.com. 70% of the sites analyzed were plastic or cosmetic surgeons in the United States.)

Site #1: Cosmetic Surgeon in Richmond, VA

  • Keyword Rankings Lost Around the Medic Update or Later: 78%
  • # of Links Pointing to URL from RealSelf: 524
  • # of Links Pointing to RS from Surgeon’s Site: 4500+
  • % that RS Represents of Sample Site’s Entire Link Profile: 25%

cosmetic surgeon in Richmond VA

Site #2: Plastic Surgeon in New York City, NY

  • Keyword Rankings Lost Around the Medic Update or Later: 37%
  • # of Links Pointing to URL from RealSelf: 723
  • # of Links Pointing to RS from Surgeon’s Site: 301
  • % that RS Represents of Sample Site’s Entire Link Profile: 59%

plastic surgeon in NYC

Site #3: Plastic Surgeon in NY

  • Keyword Rankings Lost Around the Medic Update or Later: 58%
  • # of Links Pointing to URL from RealSelf: 182
  • # of Links Pointing to RS from Surgeon’s Site: 8800
  • % that RS Represents of Sample Site’s Entire Link Profile: 4%

neurological disease center florida

Site #3: Plastic Surgeon in California

  • Keyword Rankings Lost Around the Medic Update or Later: 58%
  • # of Links Pointing to URL from RealSelf: 154
  • # of Links Pointing to RS from Surgeon’s Site: 31
  • % that RS Represents of Sample Site’s Entire Link Profile: 11%

plastic surgeon in California

To Summarize: 

The most intriguing piece to this research was that 100% of the websites we looked in the sample group that had >500 backlinks from RealSelf had been affected negatively over the past year in some shape or form. Only 60% of the sample group that had <500 backlinks from RealSelf were affected negatively over time. Also, the websites with more than 500 backlinks from RealSelf had a higher likelihood of pointing more links from their site to RealSelf.

Now, you can make the argument that there were an abnormal amount of cosmetic / plastic surgeons and the fact that Medic did hit a huge majority of these guys as well.

However, I do feel that there is some correlation between both having a lot of backlinks from RealSelf.com in CONJUNCTION with linking to RealSelf and the negative affects from the past several algorithm updates.

Is it because Google knows your associated with one of the largest directories for cosmetic / plastic surgery?

Is it because you aren’t diverse enough in your backlink profile?

In my opinion, I would be very careful about giving any ONE website a majority of your both outgoing and incoming links. You could easily be too closely associated with that one site if they do anything negative on the SEO front or are automatically / manually hit by a Google Penalty or Algo update. 

Definitely worth taking a look at this in some time to see how these 40 websites fared over time.

Dustin

By |2019-01-18T13:18:23+00:00December 20th, 2018|Categories: Google Medic Update, Medical SEO|0 Comments

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