Two primary responsibilities of every healthcare marketer as they work to achieve organization key performance indicators are generating brand authority and generating new patient revenue. A strong foundational understanding of health SEO best practices is a critical asset for today’s modern marketing team. .
Here are a few tips to improve your healthcare organization’s SEO through content strategy, specifically.
Think 'Consumers' not 'Patients'
Crag Kartcher, AVP of Marketing and Customer Experience at HonorHealth relates "Anyone who works in customer experience in healthcare has caught flack from clinicians for using the term customer, but the great thing about referring to our customers as customers is it implies competition."
Consumers today lack the physician or hospital brand loyalty that was once commonplace. Hospitals and health systems must consider both their business objectives and their community motivations for seeking care.
Healthcare SEO strategies need to span top-, middle- and bottom-of-the-funnel search intent to ensure you’re effectively meeting information demands and driving consumers from awareness to action.
Understand Consumer Needs Through SEO Research and Tune Content Production Accordingly
Focusing on the strategic service lines your hospital has defined - like primary care, women’s health, cardiology or other specialty care lines - is critical, but then consider what your target consumers need from you. Hospitals serve a diverse set of audiences that all have unique needs. To move the needle, focus your SEO efforts where they will make the most impact, both for your organization and the audiences who rely on you for healthcare needs.
Consider your audiences when guiding your content planning:
- Who is the target audience for this service line?
- What are people searching for as it relates to this service line?
- Why are users drawn to our services?
- How does the referring provider fit into the journey for this service?
- What are the different stages in the journey of this particular service line?
Tools like SEMrush and Google Keyword Planner, among others, help to demystify the question of which keywords and key phrases to target. This will enable you to more effectively align ad copy and your overall paid media strategy to be more focused on the keywords and phrases people are searching for. Other useful SEO tools include:
Blogs and Websites are Different
Should new content live on the blog or on the website? It’s a more critical answer than you may think.
At True North, we believe your blog is top of the funnel, while your website and paid campaigns are the middle and bottom of the funnel.
Your website should be centered around content that directly defines and explains conditions and services as a way to address consumer questions, and clearly provides an appropriate next step. Throughout your website content, it’s certainly appropriate to “sell” your brand and organization as the best choice for care.
Your blog, on the other hand, should be designed to engage and educate at the very top of the funnel, and not always with revenue-generating calls to action in mind.
One example of how to address a similar topic on the website and your blog is Osteoporosis. On your website, you’ll have a page that defines the condition—symptoms, causes, diagnosis and treatment—very clearly and provides a next step. On the blog, you might have content on topics like:
- "When do I need to worry about bone density?”
- “Benefits of calcium for bone health in women”
- “Osteoporosis friendly exercises”
Start With Primary Content Pages
Whether it’s creating pillar pages to help centralize your messaging and hone in on your service offerings, or developing a content calendar informed by long-tail keywords relevant to your brand, framing your content strategy around SEO is critical.
Pillar pages for a healthcare marketer should be focused on website pages that cover common conditions and services and serve as a landing page for a variety of related blog posts and pages across your domains.
Consumers are looking for healthcare content to help them make an informed decision about their medical care.
Healthcare web pages are scrutinized and held to a higher standard by Google than other verticals, such as entertainment or lifestyle. Hospital content should be authoritative and compassionate and offer solutions through targeted calls to action (CTA) and other actionable items to get them from healthcare related search to revenue generating conversion.
Don’t Forget Metadata
There are many aspects to healthcare SEO metadata to consider when building pages and content on your website. Many of these areas comprise technical SEO, which covers the background data that Google needs to properly scan and rank web pages.
Here’s a short checklist to keep in mind when ensuring your on-page content is optimized for search engines:
- Metadata—Elements like title tags, meta descriptions, alt text on images, focus keyphrases and more will all enable Google to crawl your page and file it accordingly.
- Formatting—Subheadings (H1, H2, etc.), bolding/italicized copy, internal and external links, and length of your copy can all impact how your page ranks.
- Content and website optimizations—Site speed delays, image issues, mobile compatibility and outdated content can all slow your site down. Continuously look for ways to improve on-page metrics, like a user’s time on page and click-through conversions.
When you combine strategy and content best practices with technical SEO details, you’ll find an edge over your competition and boost new patient volumes.