SEO Strategy for the Healthcare Industry

What is SEO and how does it affect the healthcare industry?

SEO (acronym for Search Engine Optimization) is the process of optimizing a website to drive traffic organically, i.e., through unsponsored results from Google and the other search engines. Although Google does not share exact data, it is estimated that about 6 billion searches are performed every day, and about 7% of those searches are related to health, according to David Feinberg, vice president of Google Health.

This means that worldwide (and in all languages), there are more than 400 million searches on Google every day that are directly or indirectly related to health and healthcare in general. This is undoubtedly a huge traffic potential, even if it is limited to the Spanish language and the geographical area of Spain, since this figure translates into approximately 2.6 million daily searches in Spain. It is clear, then, that for companies in the medical sector, pharmaceuticals, veterinarians and, in general, all health professionals, SEO is a fundamental channel within the digital acquisition strategy. This virtually inexhaustible traffic potential and brand visibility is the key to generating sales, leads or reaching a wide and diverse audience that would be very difficult (or at least more expensive) to reach with other channels.

For many healthcare companies, attracting new users (e.g., unfamiliar with the brand) is more difficult than ever, as there are now many players competing for the same keywords, including scientific publications, generalist blogs, forums, and of course other competitors in the same industry. For this reason, it is essential for healthcare professionals and companies to provide a compelling digital experience for their users. The first step in achieving this is to invest in SEO in order to reach those users (or potential patients) who use search to clarify their doubts, get information, or look for products and services. A solid SEO strategy that generates organic traffic in the long term requires an investment of time and money (which can vary greatly depending on the complexity of the keywords, the search environment and the behavior of competitors) to get a website on the first page of Google. SEO requires a constant effort, both in the optimization of the site at the technical and semantic level, as well as in the generation of new content and the acquisition of links from other domains, in addition to a quick reaction to the algorithm changes that may occur (Google alone has stated that between 500 and 600 minor changes are made to its algorithm every year).

Let’s see below what the best SEO strategies for the healthcare industry are.

Publish quality content

One of the most popular SEO aphorisms is “content is king”. This statement has been circulating in the digital marketing industry for years and is as true today as it was years ago. The algorithm of Google and other search engines is based on natural language and semantic understanding of queries, so it is normal that the content of a website is one of the most important elements in the totality of positioning factors (which, remember, are more than 200).

It could be said that high quality content is the most important factor in an SEO strategy. For a website to appear in search results, it must have content, it’s as simple as that. It is therefore important to ensure that the content is comprehensive, high quality and accurate (very important in the healthcare sector to avoid penalties). Depending on the complexity of the keywords we are targeting, our site could be competing with other domains with higher authority, seniority, or relevance (other factors that determine positioning), so it will be important to include the so-called “long tail keywords” in our content strategy. Long-tail keywords are usually variations or synonyms of the main keyword, which usually have a lower monthly search volume, but also less competition. In addition, this type of keyword is much more likely to define the user’s search intent, so it usually has a better CTR (click-through rate) and generates more interactions. Tools such as Google Keyword Planner, Ahrefs or SEMrush can help find the best keywords to optimize existing content on a website or generate new content.

Crawling, Indexing and Technical SEO

Having unique (original) and high-quality content is of little use if Google is not able to find it and therefore add it to its index to return it as a result of one or more queries. Having the correct indexing and crawling instructions in the source code of our website, with a robots.txt file and an XML Sitemap, are the basic requirements to facilitate indexing by search engines. A good SEO practice is also to submit our Sitemap to the Google Console

(Search Console) so that we can also monitor the indexing rate and possible crawling problems on our site.

A hierarchical URL structure that facilitates crawling will also have a positive effect on indexing and therefore positioning.

Core Vitals

A website’s loading speed, security (https protocol) and compatibility with mobile devices (mobile first indexing) are also important positioning factors. For Google and the other search engines, the user experience is an increasingly important element, so over the years they have put a lot of emphasis on this aspect and have provided webmasters with several tools to meet the requirements, summarized in what are now called “Core Web Vitals”. Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool is an excellent resource to check the loading speed of a website and provides a lot of information and suggestions to improve the overall score. Another important SEO factor is the security of a website. The SSL certificate (which allows you to switch to the https protocol in a browser) allows you to encrypt a domain, ensuring that your visitors’ information is always protected.

Last but not least is the compatibility of a website with mobile devices. Most searches are done on mobile devices, and if a site is not optimized for them, users are likely to leave quickly (increasing the bounce rate) and go to a competitor’s site instead.

Off-Page SEO

Another of the most important elements to consider in an SEO strategy for healthcare websites are the so-called “off-page” signals, which are usually not under the direct control of the webmaster. The two most important elements of off-page SEO are inbound links (links from other domains to ours) and social signals (likes and shares of our content from social networks).

External links pointing to our domain help increase its authority. Search engines view links as a vote of confidence in a site, but not all links are created equal. It is important to get high quality links from semantically relevant and authoritative domains, possibly finding a natural balance between the attributes of the attributes, the anchor text (the text used to generate the link) and the other elements that define the link profile, in order to avoid penalties. Above all, it will be necessary to avoid spam links, link farms, low-relevance sites or links obtained in a massive and automated way. Social networks, although not a direct positioning factor, can have a significant impact on user behavior and indirectly on positioning, since they can improve visit quality metrics, brand awareness, and other factors that together have a weight within the positioning factors.

As we anticipated above, there are more than 200 positioning factors (at least the ones we know, possibly even more), but these are of course the main ones that should be taken into account when defining and implementing an SEO strategy for websites in the healthcare sector (and any other niche). Defining and implementing a successful strategy takes knowledge, time, and dedication.

At Global, we can help you do just that, and we want to be your partner in this adventure. We are a healthcare-focused digital marketing agency with a long history of success in SEO, having helped dozens of brands achieve their traffic and acquisition goals through our organic acquisition strategy.