1. SEJ
  2.  ⋅ 
  3. SEO

SEO Epic Fail: Why Sutter Health Needs Proper SEO

I got a call today from a close friend that one of our other friends had a stroke earlier today and was in the hospital. As soon as I heard, I jumped online to get the phone number for the ICU unit of the hospital where he’s at so I could coordinate visiting him.

I did this because I’ve had a lot of experience visiting friends and family members in ICU units. They have strict visiting hours and visitation rules. It’s at this point I discovered a MASSIVE FAIL on the part of Sutter Health when it comes to both SEO and Telephone Support…


The first person in our close-knit group of friends to find out about the stroke happens to have lived in San Francisco for many years. When she started the phone notifcation process, she said to let everyone know he’s in the ICU unit at Davies Medical Center in the city. Not being a native of or truly knowledgeable about that particular hospital, I naturally went to the web for contact information.


My initial search for Davies Medical Center San Francisco got me the following results:


Because I hadn’t been aware that “Davies” is not a medical center, but instead, a CAMPUS that’s part of the Sutter Health California Pacific Medical Center complex of campuses, the only match that made sense was the last entry above, part of the Standford University site. But that LINK is just for an Environmental Impact report on a parking structure! Worthless.

So I clicked on the YELP entry. And got This:


So I called. And got the main Sutter Health call center. When I asked for the ICU unit, the operator said “Which one”? Uh, there’s more than one? okay – the Davies Medical Center ICU, please.

That operator put me through, and when I explained why I was calling, the nurse said – there’s nobody here by that name…


OMG – is he like DEAD? I thought? The nurse said – let me look him up… Okay – So she looked him up and of course said, Oh – he’s in the Davies Campus ICU…

WAIT – THIS isn’t the Davies Campus?

No – this is the California Campus…

Okay – could you transfer me please?

Hold on..

Yeah Sure. Let’s play THIS game…


At this point I jumped back to Google, because I knew I couldn’t rely on another phone transfer. Why should I? I mean, this is only 2009 right? And after DECADES of being shuffled by underpaid, unhappy, under-trained, unsympathetic phone reps, I knew better than to expect that the SECOND transfer would go any better than the FIRST one….

So I clicked this time on the main CPMC link shown for the local listings. Which brought me to the main Sutter Health CPMC web site.

Note how the top navigation on that site has NOTHING even close to a “CONTACT US” link. Or a “LOCATIONS” link. Or a “CAMPUSES” link.


But just below that, on the right side, they DO have this:

California Pacific Medical Center_CampusLinksNow, even though it says “View Map”, and not “Visit Campus Page” or something, I took a wild guess and when I went to that page, it was, in fact, a more complete page than just a map. It included the actual address of the campus, a campus schematic showing where buildings are, and written directions from various points. As well as a Google Map.

The problem with that page though, is there’s NO phone number anywhere on the page. NONE. Except in the Google Map Bubble, it shows the MAIN NUMBER for CPMC again.

You know – the one I called first, which only got me transferred to the WRONG campus…

By now, I had been transferred a second time. But guess where to?



Fortunately, the woman who answered THAT phone, was kind enough to dig. At first she said “I’m sorry – there’s no number for…”

“Excuse me? My friend just had a STROKE and he’s in the ICU, and you’re telling…”

“Wait – let me check… Okay – here’s the number to the Davies Campus – but it’s the main number, we can’t give out the ICU number. 415-600-5274″… (side note – the reason hospitals don’t give out the number to an Intensive Care Unit, is they don’t want just anyone calling, intentionally or not, directly into the unit. The need for quiet, and to allow ICU staff to provide the most important care to critically ill patients is far greater than allowing a direct number out. But of course, that’s no excuse for not publishing the main number to the correct campus!)

Well it turns out that was in fact, the right number. And when I called, I learned that my friend is doing okay for now, and resting. The nurse explained their strict visiting hours policies, and said at this point today, it would be best to allow him to just rest, but to check in tomorrow and come after calling…


So – Back to SEO, Epic Fails and the Human Factor

First, I don’t know who at Sutter Health, or the California Pacific Medical Center is in charge of their web presence. Whoever that person or committee or group is, THEY SHOULD BE FIRED. Right after the person or people or department or group in charge of Telephone Customer Support.

Why, when I did my first search, didn’t the right listing come up? Well, for this article, I went back to get some screen caps of all this mess. And here’s where GOOGLE’s team should be FIRED.


Because THIS TIME, here’s what I got:


Holy Cannoli! Google pulled a “We know what you really want now that you’ve done this search before” move on me!

Well, STUPID ME – I actually clicked on the DAVIES MEDICAL CENTER entry,




I’m NOT putting a link to that horror of a site. Feel free to go there if you dare. It’s the ORIGINAL DAVIES Medical Center site from NINETEEN NINETY SIX. Yes, it’s right there in the center of the home page: Wednesday, December 18, 1996. But still there, and WITH Google AdSense Ads!

There’s even a “GUESTBOOK” link 🙂

Except the phone number under the “General Information” link? An OLD phone number, no longer used!


The SEO Nightmare

All of this, of course, is attributable to several factors, all related to Internet Marketing, and Public Interaction. And there’s several obvious points of failure throughout. But from an SEO perspective, the whole thing began because the way I went about searching for the proper phone number was based on how someone NATIVE to San Francisco knows the hospital – as it’s OLD, now PHASED OUT name. Davies Medical Center.

Except THAT site was last updated in 1997


And somebody forgot to tell the CPMC Web team about that site, let alone the importance of 301 Redirects…

And THAT is further complicated by the concept that the people who maintain their current site have no clue how to optimize a web site based on multiple critical keyword phrases.


If you go to their “DAVIES CAMPUS” map page, you’ll see NOTHING is optimized. Not the Page Title, not the OVERSTUFFED Meta Keywords tag, not the GENERIC Meta Description, not the URL… And the header text isn’t wrapped in an H1, or ANYTHING but a DIV that’s styled to look big. And none of the text refers to the campus by it’s old name.

So anyone who’s lived in San Francisco or anyone who is informed about it by someone who’s lived in San Francisco, unless they’re EXTREMELY lucky, will, as I did, run into a chaotic mess of confusion.

At a time when all we can think about is someone we love, care for with all our heart and soul, and just want to find out more information about how they’re doing, and when we can come up and see them.


Let’s Speak up

Now that we’re in the Social Media era, I figured at this point, go to Twitter and tweet a “HEY FIX THIS” tweet to the Sutter Health people. But of course, it seems there is NO Sutter Health Twitter account to be found. What a perfect way to wrap up this mess.


If you or someone you know doesn’t truly take the time to comprehend the seriously painful implications of failing to think through a proper SEO strategy, just pause a moment and think about what it would be like for YOU if it was YOUR friend or loved one lying in that hospital room.


Alan Bleiweiss has been an Internet professional since 1995. Just a few of his earliest clients included, and Follow him on Twitter @AlanBleiweiss , read his blog at Search Marketing Wisdom.

Category SEO
Alan Bleiweiss Forensic SEO Consultant at Alan Bleiweiss Consulting

Alan Bleiweiss is a Forensic SEO audit consultant with audit client sites from medium scale to world class enterprise. He ...

SEO Epic Fail: Why Sutter Health Needs Proper SEO

Subscribe To Our Newsletter.

Conquer your day with daily search marketing news.