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Healthcare SEO Fundamentals To Grow Your Medical Practice

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Healthcare SEO Fundamentals To Grow Your Medical Practice

On the one hand, working on healthcare SEO for your medical practice website is no different from optimizing any other kind of site.

You do your keyword and competitor research, write your metadata and produce high-quality content to draw in clients at every stage of the sales funnel.

So those rules still apply here, but a catch applies specifically to websites relating to health (and finances): YMYL rules, also called Your Money or Your Life.

We’ll discuss this more below, but it suffices to say that Google takes a much more careful eye to money and healthcare content, so content creators for your healthcare site must be especially conscientious.

If you’re looking for some SEO fundamentals overall for optimizing your medical practice’s website for organic search, check out the top tips below!

Quality Control

Many medical professionals think pay-per-click, or PPC, ads are enough to get them the visitors they are looking for.

However, starting with PPC is like putting an adhesive bandage on your problem. It will only be good for the short term.

As a medical or healthcare business, you must incorporate SEO into your digital marketing to bring potential patients to your website.

Consistently. And in the long term.

If your website and its content are not considered quality in Google’s eyes, your search presence will suffer.

Regarding quality, two extremely important concepts for healthcare are E-A-T and YMYL.

E-A-T stands for expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.

The concept was created to help third-party raters score Google’s search results.

Although E-A-T is not a direct ranking factor, E-A-T reveals much about what Google considers important – essentially, what types of websites Google wants to reward with greater search visibility.

E-A-T is of huge importance for any webpages containing medical information.

The information and stats you provide on medicine and health could directly impact the potential patients who are reading them.

People visit and read your webpages because they want reasons to entrust their health to your practice.

Your information must be top-notch, filled with expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.

Only then do you stand a chance of ranking well in the healthcare industry.

This leads us right into the concept of YMYL, which is short for Your Money or Your Life.

YMYL, as a concept, basically means any content that can directly affect a reader’s health, finances, or safety. That’s why Google really, really wants experts and experienced professionals to write content like that.

Obviously, this concept is important to understand in the competitive healthcare space.

If your content doesn’t meet those standards (e.g., it has inaccuracies or is thin on information), it will have an even harder time ranking in the search results.

YMYL pages need to have high E-A-T.

Period.

The Most Important Healthcare SEO Strategies

You may never outrank a site like WebMD.

However, by focusing on more long-tail keywords and location-based content, it’s possible to perform moderately well here.

By implementing the right kind of SEO to get your medical practice in front of the right users’ eyes, you will put your website in a better position to outrank your competitors.

The following six strategies are the most important regarding healthcare SEO.

1. Use Appropriate Medical Keywords

When optimizing your content, you want to target the right keywords for your industry.

Your starting point should be the medical services you offer, as that’s what most searchers will be looking for.

Tools such as Google’s Keyword Planner can help you find the best keywords for your industry, comparing what is and isn’t being searched for.

As in all cases, avoid “stuffing” keywords into the content.

Google quickly catches on to this spammy tactic and will penalize your website. Instead, place specific, long-tail keywords into your content in a relevant, readable, and natural way.

Not only will this separate you from the WebMDs, but you’ll also begin to attract the patients you want – those who live in your geographic area and are looking for the specialized expertise you offer.

2. Add Many Content Pages

Your content pages should be full of high-quality information that is optimized with your keywords.

For the medical industry, you want your content to help make your audience’s lives better or easier.

Whether it’s a detailed description of your services or blog posts targeting their specific search query, high-quality content is king for healthcare businesses.

Google places a much higher standard on medical webpages than other industries.

That’s because these pages have the potential to impact the future health, happiness, or financial stability of searchers.

Low-quality content on these pages could result in dangerous or unintended medical consequences.

Always think of your target audience when creating content for your website.

What are they searching for?

What information will help them the most in that search?

By writing long-form educational content, Google will recognize you as an authoritative figure within the industry, thus increasing your rank.

3. Optimize Visual Elements

Video is one of the most popular ways people consume content.

Webpages with videos can get more organic traffic.

And people spend more time on those pages because they watch the video.

This increases a user’s time on the page and indicates to the search engines that something valuable is on the page for users.

When optimizing your website for SEO, be sure to include relevant, high-quality videos alongside your content where you can.

Whether it’s a virtual tour of the facility or an informative video on a medical condition, many users will be drawn to that content of over 600 words of plain text.

You should also include a variety of images and infographics on your website. The more interactive and engaging your site is, the more visitors you’ll be able to draw in.

Ensure any images on your site also include appropriate alt text. Image alt text helps visually impaired users and Google crawlers better understand what is displayed on the page.

This can be an excellent opportunity to incorporate some of your keywords. (But, as with everything SEO, don’t overdo it!)

4. Optimize For Website Speed, Security & Mobile Use

Your site speed, security, and mobile friendliness are all ranking factors.

If your website takes longer than three seconds to load, many people may return to a competitor that provides a speedier experience.

Now, having said that, it’s important to mention that slow sites can rank highly for certain queries. Google doesn’t penalize an otherwise perfect site just because it’s a bit slower.

But optimizing your speed certainly can’t hurt the overall user experience.

At most, your website should take about two seconds to load, but you should ideally aim for under half a second.

Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool is a great place to check your current site speed. It also provides insight into potential fixes to help improve your speed score.

Another important SEO factor is your website’s security. An SSL certificate helps encrypt your website, ensuring its and your visitors’ data is protected from hackers.

If your healthcare company’s site doesn’t utilize SSL security, Google will penalize your rankings. This certificate is a must when accepting sensitive patient information, so there’s no excuse for a website not to have it implemented.

Most importantly, your website should be mobile-friendly.

Most searches are now conducted on mobile devices, and if your website is not optimized for them, users will choose your competitor’s websites instead.

The best way to ensure your site is optimized for mobile is by having a responsive design.

This means that your site changes automatically to fit the screen it’s being viewed on, reducing the risk of poor user experiences from device to device.

5. Offsite Factors

Offsite indicators (e.g., links to your site and social media traffic) are just two areas that can help influence your search rankings.

Social media, while not a direct ranking factor, should be one of your main priorities regarding offsite SEO.

The content found on a social media page can significantly influence a patient’s choice of hospital or treatment center.

Many users also take social media reviews into account before scheduling an appointment.

You want to ensure your social profile is up to date and relevant to your business so users can find and interact with you in various ways.

As for links, you also want to make sure that spammy links aren’t potentially hurting your SEO performance.

Use your favorite link-building tool to check your existing link profile and analyze the links that pop up.

Are they all from quality, relevant sources? Or do many of them appear to be spam?

Disavow any unwanted links to help clean up your link profile and improve your rank. (Just read this first.)

6. Local SEO

You also need to keep your Google Business Profile optimized and up to date.

Patients want local services, and for them to find you, your business needs to show up in Google’s local pack.

This grouping of four to five businesses appears above organic search results.

On mobile, they’re the only thing people see before scrolling.

The information contained in these listings comes primarily from your GBP, so you should ensure the following information is accurate and available:

  • The business categories.
  • Your primary phone number.
  • The business description.
  • Your hours of operation (and any seasonal hours).
  • Your address or service area.
  • Google reviews of your business.

Another critical factor for local SEO is local citations.

These are online mentions of your business that display your essential NAP (name, address, phone) information.

Local citations can be from business directories, social profiles, blog posts, newspaper websites, and other sources.

These all help your SEO efforts.

Conclusion

As I said at the beginning, optimizing your medical practice website for search isn’t that different from doing it for any other type of site.

But getting those prospective patients to trust you over someone else will come down to the authority and trustworthiness of your website, so that’s where E-A-T comes in around your YMYL content.

If you keep the above tips in mind as you go, you will be on the right path. I’m not saying it will be easy, but this is truly the way forward.

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Wayback Machine: 5 Alternatives To Try

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Wayback Machine: 5 Alternatives To Try

Much of the web is ephemeral.

Web pages exist until they don’t. The content on them exists until it’s updated – and then it’s gone.

Unless you go digging in an archive.

Archiving the web is important for cultural and anthropological research. It’s also helpful for business reasons, like competitive analysis. It can even help document or monitor political processes.

Your particular reason for seeking archived content might determine which service works best.

The Wayback Machine is the most commonly known archive.

Screenshot, https://archive.org/web/, January 2023.

The Internet Archive is a nonprofit organization, and the Wayback Machine is the web version of its archive, containing an absolutely massive amount of data.

You can request that it save a webpage in its current state, as well as make use of tools, like an API.

As huge as the Wayback Machine archive is, it’s likely not 100% complete. If you’re having trouble finding something specific or wondering if there are alternatives with more features, these alternatives might help.

I won’t be going over paid SaaS subscriptions, as I don’t consider a paid service a true alternative to a free one provided by a nonprofit.

Let’s go!

1. The Memento Project

Memento is an exceptional alternative to the Wayback Machine because it aggregates several different sources, including the Wayback Machine itself.

On the website, you can access archives from several sources by using the Time Travel tool.

Wayback Machine: 5 Alternatives To TryScreenshot, http://timetravel.mementoweb.org/, January 2023.

This is the first distinction that makes Memento so cool, and it includes some of the other archives on this list, too. That means it’s a customizable experience and likely one of the most complete.

Memento’s other distinct feature is the Chrome extension that allows you to select the date on which you’d like to view your current page. This brings the tool to where you’re browsing instead of making you put a URL into a form.

You can also create a snapshot of a page and generate a link to it that won’t break. This is particularly useful for citation.

If you’re concerned a page might disappear, or the content might get updated, but you want to use the information, creating one of these links ensures that people will be able to see your original source.

2. Archive.today

Archive.today is another “snapshot” tool. It allows you to save a link to a page as it currently exists.

Following the link will send users to an unalterable version of the page.

Wayback Machine: 5 Alternatives To TryScreenshot, https://archive.ph/, January 2023.

It also features some relatively advanced search queries you can perform on domains and URLs to find snapshots that have been saved with the tool.

This tool also features a Chrome extension as well as an Android app.

Searches on Memento can include results from Archive.today.

3. WebCite

WebCite has powerful applications for authors, journalists, academics, and publishers.

It offers a variety of ways to build and present the archived pages and the URLs.

Wayback Machine: 5 Alternatives To TryScreenshot, rhttps://webcitation.org/, January 2023.

Unfortunately, at the time of publishing, it doesn’t appear to be taking new requests. But you can still access already archived pages. When and if it starts accepting requests again, it’s a very useful tool for that.

Its most powerful feature for authors and publishers is the ability to upload a manuscript directly to the website.

The tool will scan every link in an uploaded manuscript and automatically create archives of each of the pages linked to as they currently exist. This saves a lot of time if you’ve used a lot of website citations.

If you’ve created content that you want people to be able to create snapshots of, then you can add a specific WebCite link to your page that users can click on. This embeds archive functionality into your page, saving users time if they decide to use your work as a citation.

4. GitHub

GitHub is a development and collaboration platform that also prioritizes public projects and open-source code.

It documents and archives open-source code and programs, and is searchable by other archives such as the Wayback Machine.

Wayback Machine: 5 Alternatives To TryScreenshot, https://github.com/explore, January 2023.

But, if you’re looking for something related to code or software development, it might be easier to go straight to GitHub instead of using another archive service.

While it does have paid business plans, GitHub is free for the average user. It even offers 15GB of storage and some computing power in its cloud developer environment for free for your personal use.

5. Country-Specific Web Archives

Several countries run their own web archives.

These can be particularly helpful alternatives to the Wayback Machine if you’re looking for a website highly relevant to a specific location, or the culture of a country.

More focused archives might have more complete information if you’re having trouble finding it elsewhere, although again, I want to mention that the first alternative in this list, Memento, pulls from several different country-specific archives.

I should also note that many archives specific to a country, region, educational institution, or individual library are partnered with Archive-it, a service provider built by The Internet Archive (makers of the Wayback Machine).

They curate specific collections based on relevance, but all Archive-it partners leverage the same source: The Internet Archive.

These are a few of the country-specific web archives:

Conclusion

When you’re looking for alternatives to the Wayback Machine, you might not realize that a great many of them, in part or in whole, are powered by the same archive.

But there are other services out there you can use. Some have more helpful features, depending on what your goals are.

This isn’t an exhaustive list of alternative tools, but it’s most of the easily accessible tools for the average user.

Others require monthly payments, and some are free to academic and legal institutions, but not to individual users.

I chose to focus on the best of the tools that you could go and use right now with no fuss.

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Indirect Marketing: Definition, Types, & Examples

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Indirect Marketing: Definition, Types, & Examples

Indirect marketing is marketing where you’re not trying to explicitly sell a product or service.

Instead, it focuses on activities that generate brand awareness, build relationships with potential customers, and nurture them to eventually buy from you.

Indirect marketing relies on the assumption that potential customers will not purchase your product or service immediately, but over time. 

And if we look at our buying behavior, that’s probably true. For example, if we need a new pair of headphones, we’ll probably first do some online research, browse forums, ask our friends, and get familiar with available brands and models—all before buying.

In contrast, direct marketing is marketing where you’re explicitly trying to get potential customers to buy right now. Channels include cold email, direct mail, and ads.

Types of indirect marketing

Here are some types of indirect marketing:

1. Public relations (PR)

PR is the practice of positively influencing a brand’s perception by managing communications with the media and the general public.

Common tactics include being newsworthy, responding to media inquiries (e.g., HARO), creating press releases, building relationships with journalists, and creating PR stunts. 

For example, Ahrefs was featured on TechCrunch in 2022.

Ahrefs is featured in a TechCrunch article

This was possible because we had:

  1. A newsworthy event (“we’re making a search engine”).
  2. Relationships with the right people (all thanks to the hard work of my colleague, Daria Samokish).

2. Search engine optimization (SEO)

SEO is the practice of optimizing your website and its pages to rank higher in search engines like Google. You’d want to make sure your important pages appear on Google for relevant keywords. For example, if someone is searching for your brand, your website should appear:

Google search results for keyword "ahrefs"

But nobody will search for your brand if they do not know it exists. So beyond optimizing your homepage, you should also target keywords your customers are searching for.

At Ahrefs, we create content targeting problems our potential customers have. For example, 14,000 people per month search for “link building” in the U.S.  

14,000 people per month search for “link building” in the U.S.

This is a problem our toolset helps with, so we created a piece of content targeting that topic.

Ahrefs' link building guide

Whenever someone is searching for that keyword on Google, they’ll discover our content and, in the process, our product and brand. 

Repeat this ad infinitum and you’ll expose hundreds, if not thousands, of people to your brand (in our case, an estimated 3.4 million).

Estimated amount of search traffic Ahrefs receives every month, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

Recommended reading: SEO: The Complete Guide for Beginners 

3. Social media

Creating valuable content that persuades people to follow you on social media platforms like Twitter and TikTok is a great way to generate brand awareness and build relationships with your audience.

For example, our Twitter account has 128,000 followers, and we regularly share SEO and marketing tips with our audience:

Indirect marketing: pros and cons

Should you invest in indirect marketing? Let’s look at the pros and cons.

Pros

Here are the advantages of indirect marketing.

1. Indirect marketing builds demand and awareness

Why is it important to build brand awareness and demand? 

Simple: There are only so many people who are ready to buy right now. Most of your potential customers are still unaware they have a problem, unaware of solutions, or unaware of your particular product or service. 

So if you’re using direct marketing, you’re only focusing on a small pool of people. Not only that, but you could actually just be reaching out to people who are already primed to buy in the first place.

Eventually, you’ll still need a way to open up a pool of potential customers. And you can do that with indirect marketing tactics. 

2. Indirect marketing is less intrusive and non-pushy

Prospects purposely seek out content that helps them solve problems. Not only that, but indirect marketing tactics also rarely involve reaching out to people. 

Cons

Here are some downsides to indirect marketing.

1. Indirect marketing takes time

You can’t build a brand overnight. Neither can you amass 100,000 followers in one day. Relationships with journalists take time to build. And ranking on Google takes time too.

Results for a poll on how long SEO takes

Recognizing that customers need time to buy also means recognizing that nurturing the relationship takes time.

2. Indirect marketing is less trackable

Life gets in everyone’s way. You must have had the experience of researching for something to buy, only for you to give it up for a few years before suddenly returning to purchase it. Your customers are the same too. 

As a result, it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly which indirect marketing tactic contributed to the success. But it doesn’t mean that indirect marketing doesn’t work, just that it’s not attributable. 

Direct marketing: pros and cons

Should you invest in direct marketing? Here are the pros and cons.

Pros

What are some advantages of direct marketing?

1. Direct marketing is measurable

Direct marketing tactics are usually trackable—how many opens, how many clicks, how many conversions, and so on. You can see these metrics on ad platforms and email marketing software.

2. Direct marketing is fast

Since it’s intended to elicit a response or purchase, direct marketing tactics can have an immediate impact on a business’s bottom line. 

Cons

Direct marketing is not all sunshine and roses. There are some downsides.

1. Direct marketing is intrusive

Direct marketing tactics like cold email and ads are generally seen as interruptive. That is because the prospect did not request them and yet is still served a sales message.

An unwanted ad from Emirates on the Twitter timeline

2. Direct marketing has a smaller reach

As mentioned earlier, there are only so many people who are ready and willing to buy. Direct marketing merely converts these people, but it cannot generate purchases among people who don’t even know you exist. 

3. Direct marketing can be blocked

CAN-SPAM, GDPR, ad-blockers—they exist to prevent unwanted sales messages from reaching consumers.

Examples of successful indirect marketing

Looking for successful examples of how companies have used indirect marketing? Here are three to be inspired by.

1. Ahrefs – Blog

The main marketing type we use is SEO-driven content marketing. It can be summarized into one sentence:

We create and maintain high-quality, search-focused content about topics with business potential, search traffic potential, and ranking potential.

To break it down:

  1. We research topics our customers are searching for on Google.
  2. We filter them by checking their business potential—how easy it will be to pitch our product while tackling these keywords.
  3. We prioritize by analyzing their ranking potential—how viable it is for us to rank in the top three with our available resources.
  4. We create content targeting those topics.
  5. We update or rewrite them if they don’t rank or are out of date.

This strategy means customers are always discovering us whenever they’re searching for solutions to their problems on Google. 

Ahrefs customers mentioning that they found out about our product from Google

Our strategy is simple. No fancy tactics or the latest hot trend. But this deliberate simplicity makes the strategy easy to follow and is the driving force behind our eight-figure annual recurring revenue (ARR).

Learn how to replicate our strategy in the guide below.

Recommended reading: How to Create an SEO Content Strategy (Follow the Ahrefs’ Framework) 

2. Wendy’s – Twitter

Wendy’s is a fast-food restaurant chain. Yet, you might not be able to tell from its tweets:

If you’re out of the loop, Wendy’s basically revolutionized how brands can use social media and communicate with their customers. Rather than post boring bureaucratic tweets in “corporatese,” it decided to do a 180° by sharing memes, roasting rival companies, and posting in a sassy tone. And it rarely has a call to action to visit a Wendy’s restaurant.

But this indirect marketing works for it. In a highly competitive fast-food scene, this social media strategy puts its brand top of mind. 

Not only do its tweets gain attention on the network itself, but it also spreads virally across other channels. Memes, anime parodies, and YouTube videos—the list goes on. 

Since 2012, Wendy’s has overtaken Burger King to become the #3 U.S. fast-food chain.

3. Slidebean – YouTube

Slidebean is a pitch deck design platform for startups and small businesses. It has >400,000 subscribers on YouTube. Many of its videos aren’t about pitch decks or pitch deck design; instead, they’re about startups, marketing, and business.

This is deliberate. It initially started out with topics related to its product. But it found that it exhausted those topics in a short amount of time. So it decided to move up the marketing funnel into broader topics.

Since we had found a “YouTube formula,” we decided to apply it to other kinds of content, and one of them was this idea of exploring failed companies. The first one was WeWork, which was just the right bridge between a startup-focused company and a widely known brand. At this stage, the series was called “Startup Forensics.”

However, there were only so many tech startups to explore, so we quickly opened that up to “Company Forensics” to broaden our horizons.

Jose Cayasso

This allowed Slidebean to get as many eyeballs as possible on YouTube, which puts its brand top of mind. The company hit $1.5 million in revenue with 3,000 customers in 2022. 

Final thoughts

The best companies use both indirect and direct marketing. They don’t discriminate between strategies. If you want to improve your business, you should use both. 

Any questions? Hit me up on Twitter



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What Businesses Need To Know

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What Businesses Need To Know

Google has announced that Google Optimize and Optimize 360 will no longer be available after September 30. All experiments will continue to run until that date.

Google launched Optimize over five years ago to help businesses test and improve their user experiences.

Many companies have widely used the tool to optimize their website, landing pages, and other online properties.

While the discontinuation of Google Optimize and Optimize 360 may disappoint, Google says it’s committed to providing a new solution in GA4.

Users are encouraged to download their data before it becomes unavailable at the end of September.

Google Optimize will go down in marketing history as a short-lived but beloved tool. Businesses that rely on it for their experimentation needs will have to find a new solution.

The History Of Google Optimize

Avid users of Google Optimize may be interested in this story from Krista Seiden, a former employee on the team since its early days.

In a 20-part Twitter thread, Seiden recounts her time on the Google Optimize team and describes how the tool came to be.

She says the idea for Google Optimize came after finding that content experiments in Google Analytics couldn’t scale to her team’s needs.

That’s when they decided to build their own server-side A/B testing solution, which eventually became Google Optimize.

Seiden stayed on the Optimize core team until she left Google in early 2019.

During her time on the team, she made dozens of educational videos and how-to’s for Google Optimize and consulted on many of its features.

Seiden’s story, worth reading in full, shows that Google Optimize was not only a valuable tool but also had a passionate team behind it.

When Google Optimize ends its service on September 30, it will leave a significant gap in the market for affordable and beginner-friendly A/B testing options.

According to Seiden, Google plans to expand A/B testing capabilities in GA4. However, it’s unlikely that the features will be available by September 30.

Lastly, she adds that Google is working on integrating with other A/B testing partners, which means that businesses who are using a third-party tool may be able to transfer their testing data to GA4.

Comment From Search Engine Journal’s Director Of Marketing

Heather Campbell, Search Engine Journal’s Director of Marketing, gives her take on the sunsetting of Google Optimize and what it means for others in the field:

I’m not surprised this day has come. It was only a matter of time before Optimize / 360 would no longer function since Google is sunsetting Universal Analytics in July.

Google is investing in GA4 and wants you to do the same.

It’s still frustrating when Google moves our marketing cheese, but don’t lose hope. This could be your opportunity to find a platform better suited to your needs.

What does this mean for now?

It would be best if you started researching alternatives. And there’s plenty out there. The first place to start, though, is with GA4.

Hopefully, you’ve already started implementing GA4, as that’s where the next iteration of Optimize will live. And if you haven’t, you should probably stop reading this and get started.

Make sure you pull down any data from past campaigns. You can still run campaigns thru September 30, but if you rely on testing and personalization (like any good marketer does), you may need a backup.


Source: Google

Featured Image: Aa Amie/Shutterstock



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