This week’s episode is the first in a 3-part “marketing refresher series” covering some of the foundational aspects of your digital marketing that may have been neglected because of the pandemic. As organizations begin to come out of survival mode, it can be easy to overlook the fundamentals. In this episode, Michael, Scott, and Jared look at 5 keys to search engine optimization (SEO) that are important to revisit on a regular basis.
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Announcer: It’s time to think differently about health care, but how do we keep up? The days of yesterday’s medicine are long gone, and we’re left trying to figure out where to go from here. With all the talk about politics and technology, it can be easy to forget that healthcare is still all about humans, and many of those humans have unbelievable stories to tell. Here, we leave the policy debates to the other guys and focus instead on the people and ideas that are changing the way we address our health. It’s time to navigate the new landscape of healthcare together and hear some amazing stories along the way. Ready for a breath of fresh air? It’s time for your “Paradigm Shift.”
Michael: Welcome to the “Paradigm Shift of Healthcare,” and thank you for listening. I’m Michael Roberts, here today with my co-hosts, Scott Zeitzer and Jared Johnson. Today’s episode is the first of a three-part series we’re doing, a marketing refresher series, where we’re going to be guiding you through parts of your digital marketing that tend to get neglected or forgotten, but they are vitally important to your online presence. Guys, are you ready to jump in?
Scott: Oh, yeah.
Michael: All-righty, here we go. That was very enthusiastic. I like it. Here we go. Actually, this whole series idea kinda came up from some conversations we’ve been having internally and conversations we’ve been having with clients. You know, there are different people, and companies, and hospital systems, and all these different types of organizations, they’ve gone into survival mode at some point during the pandemic. You know, 2020 was absolutely crazy. So we’re just going to put our heads down and just do the best we can to get through. And you know, maybe they’re at a point where they’re starting to come back out of it. We are starting to get some vaccines out there in the world. So, man, things are starting to look hopeful out there. But things have changed a lot within organizations. They’ve changed a lot online. So maybe people aren’t even aware that changes have happened. Maybe they aren’t even aware that some of their online properties are in the state that they’re in. So we’re going to take a look at five things, and we’re going to specifically look at search engine optimization for today’s episode.
You know, there are so many different parts to marketing that you can kind of very easily stay at a very high level, you know, and just stay in strategic mode all day long. But it’s really critical to actually start getting into some of the specifics because, man, this is where you can really lose, you know, you can really miss out on a lot of opportunities, which brings me to my first one. Make sure your website is visible from search engines, please. Like, you’d be surprised at how many organizations are just, like, missing this point. They forgot to turn that button off. When it launched, it didn’t have that Yoast SEO setting correct, or it didn’t have the robots.txt file correct. Please go back and check, or have somebody on your team who knows about this stuff go back and check, because this is one of those simple silly things that gets overlooked. But, guys, we’ve seen it happen with some fairly decent-sized organizations.
Scott: Yeah. You know, I was gonna jump in and say that, you know, I know that some people, when you’re listening to this one particular statement, they go, “No, couldn’t be me.” And we’re not gonna embarrass any of the organizations we spoke to, but two of the organizations we literally had to jump out and go, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, did you guys know?” And they were flabbergasted as to how it happened. Stuff happens, fellows, and it’s all automated. So really, take the time to just do a quick check on that one. Not a hard one to check but important. Right, Michael?
Michael: You know, we use different tools to measure how well a site’s ranking and how much traffic a site is getting, all of that fun stuff. And you likely have, you know, all these kinds of tools in your end as well. One of the things that we look for is how much search volume are you getting, how much attention are you getting. And when this change happened, when these blocks happened on the website, I mean, there are folks that are going from thousands and thousands of search, you know, opportunities, they’re ranking for this much for searches that would generate maybe this many searches, and it completely disappeared within the course of a month. In SEO words, terms, that’s like, that’s overnight, practically, to lose that much ranking value that quickly. So it’s totally preventable. Please go check. Please, please don’t end up in that scenario.
One of the other things that you should definitely be paying attention to when it comes to your search engine optimization, we’ve already kind of started talking about it, but let’s dig into it a little bit more, is this whole concept around search volume. This has to do with, and I kind of shudder to throw this word out here because people have a lot of assumptions when you say keywords, keywords. “Oh, that’s the thing you just have to put in your page a whole bunch of time, and that’s how you rank for stuff, right?” It’s like, “Oh, please, please.” That stopped working like 15, 20 years ago at this point, everybody. And I know that a lot of people are, like, at very different levels of sophistication. It’s not the only thing that you have to worry about in your marketing challenges from day to day. But again, this is stuff that we still run into where you have those kinds of conversations. But, okay, here are the different search terms that you’re trying to rank for, these words that are relevant to your business. If somebody’s asking for this question, man, it’d be great to have your company show up first, but you can’t get all of those terms. You can’t actually rank for all the things, so you have to make sure that you’re actually prioritizing here.
Jared: That leads to a lot of questions of how do you do that? And yeah, it’s very, very common to get that question of, “Okay, how do we get all of those?” And you know, you print out the keyword report, and you hand it to the client or to a stakeholder, and they’re like, “Yep, they all look good. Let’s do them all.” And that’s just the beginning of the conversation. And you’re right, like, there are…part of what we’re talking about is how have these basics changed? How have these building blocks of digital marketing changed? You know, we’re talking about paradigm shifts, right, not just of health care itself but how we approach it in our marketing. So yeah, you’re right, there’s been an evolution. It did use to be a lot simpler, at least, like fewer steps and fewer things to check on, on a regular basis, to rank in a certain way. But we think about how much volume there is on the internet now compared to when that used to be all you had to do. And so I think it is a good reminder of what you’re saying here of thinking about this. So, what’s a good approach here then to pick and choose which keywords or key phrases are, I mean, we call them, you know, target phrases, whatever we wanna do? Because I’m with you, Michael, using the word keyword just makes people think that it’s pretty automatic and it’s something you just have to put somewhere. So, where do you start in terms of picking and choosing? What do you usually recommend to clients?
Michael: One of the things I just had a conversation with somebody about recently was you can definitely go down this whole pathway of, like, looking for the ones that have the highest search volume, the highest number of opportunities, and all that sort of stuff. But like, it’s gotten a lot harder to rank for stuff. I mean, a lot of different terms, right. So I’m gonna be silly and just, you know, throw out a particular surgery, so rank for hip replacement, you know, or rank for hip replacement device or medical device company, you know. Some of these, like, super, super high-level words, it’s possible. But, man, there’s a lot of competition out there anymore. So if you completely ignore search volume data for a second, let’s put all of those nice, shiny, expensive tools to the side for a second, and just say, “What is it that makes you unique? What is it that people would want to hear about from you, in particular?”
One of the clients that we’re working with, they were talking about trying to get in front of a specific client group, and so they were talking about all these different questions that the client group would have. And if you’re trying to do that at sort of that macro level, you know, like, rank for hip replacement or rank for this, it’s like you’re going to have a long slog before you ever get to that, to any sort of, like, ranking impact. But you know, if you can talk about what does hip replacement look like for patients in this particular area and this particular scenario, it’s a much, much, much more specific kind of scenario, and your opportunities are much higher of actually getting somewhere in search. So you do have to balance that out with like, “Am I gonna have more than two people this year search for that?” But there really is, like, man, there’s too much stuff out there right now that’s very broad level. You have to get focused on what matters most for your business.
Scott: Yeah. Just to jump in on that, it’s at so many different levels. So when I talk to a practice, most orthopedic surgeons will want to be found for orthopedic surgery, you know. It’s like, “Yeah, really? Do you wanna be found for everything in orthopedics?” And of course, the answer is, “Sure.” And I go, “Colles’ fracture, you wanna be the number one provider of Colles’ fractures?” And for anyone who doesn’t know, that’s a wrist fracture, and practically any orthopod could take care of most common Colles’ fractures. And no, they don’t wanna be number one for that. Do them but it’s not exactly a profit center. And you move up the ladder, like when you’re working with larger companies. You don’t wanna be found for everything. It really is about this relevance. Like, where is the real win? It’s not being found for everything. You don’t wanna be found for everything. There’s specific things that you want to target. If you find that right balance between volume and relevancy, I think you’ll end up with a better successful plan.
Jared: Scott, you nailed it there in terms of one of those factors is how important it is to your business? What’s the contribution margin on any certain procedure when we’re talking about a surgical group? Being able to know those things, that is absolutely where these questions ought to start. And also the uniqueness, Michael, what you were speaking to, where you were going with it too, of, “Can you rank locally? Can you rank in your area highly, you know, position one, position two?” I mean, the thought was, I still remember these days when it was probably 9, 10, 11 years ago, where you’d hire an SEO company, and they would get you, if you were anywhere on page 1, 2, or 3, they were like, “Hey, this is a good result.” And then there were the days where even anywhere on page one was a good result. And now, the numbers are significant in terms of the drop-off of clicks you get after position, say, position three. You really gotta focus. It’s just another reason to really go through this effort, if you haven’t done it in a while, of narrowing down and focusing on the ones that you really can just be number one or two, you know, maybe number three. And you’re right, it’s not gonna be all of them, and you don’t want them all.
Scott: Yeah, it’s funny. And we are all wired like this, all of us are impatient. So when you’re doing those searches, unless you’re really into something, you know, just think of yourselves, you know, out there, listening when you’re doing a search. I mean, how many times do you go to page two or three? Not often, to put it mildly. You’re looking very quickly. You’re seeing if something matches. If not, you’re either trying to retype it or give it up, you know, etc. So I agree with that. That’s why, again, it goes back to, you know, when Michael got started with this thing. It really is, get more specific about what you wanna be found for, and you’ll have a lot better chance of being found. And yes, don’t type in hip surgery 14 times on your home page. It’s not gonna help anyway.
Michael: The white text on white background kind of thing. Those are some of my favorites, you know.
Scott: Yeah, those are.
Michael: Go retro black hat.
Scott: Ah, the ’90s. You’re right.
Michael: Everybody, I always appreciate that you tune in, that you’re listening to the show here. I wanted to let you know that we have set up a new newsletter that you can get to at paradigmshift.health. That’s paradigmshift.health. You can go there. And the reason that we’ve got this newsletter is that we like to send out a few extra pieces of information with the show. We also have the full transcript for every single episode that we do, and we can let you know that through email. We can let you know also if we have like a good quote card to be able to show for every episode. So check that out if you’d like, paradigmshift.health. Thanks so much.
Scott: I wanted to bring up something else, guys, quality score. It’s something that, frankly, Michael taught me. It’s more of a Google Ads term, but really this concept applies for search as well. What is your page load speed? How relevant is your landing page? You could get found for whatever, I’ll be silly, jumping jacks, but if there’s really no good quality information on there, what was the point? And if it took forever to download and nobody actually took the time to read it, again, what was the point?
Michael: Yeah, there’s so much that’s changing too around, you said it kinda quickly there, but the way that page speed is happening, there’s so many upcoming factors around how Google’s making some changes around this and things like how long does it take for your main content to show up, even on mobile devices, where you’re not just seeing the background, you’re not just seeing stuff just slowly coming on. When you’re loading up that page, does your content shift as, you know, additional images come in or those 15 banner ads, you know, pop in, to push all the content down? You know, annoying things like that, like, a lot of the things that annoy you as a visitor, like when you go on…I don’t think we ever have to worry about potentially losing the advertiser of “Forbes”, you know, on this particular podcast, but “Forbes” is like one of the worst. You go there and it’s like popup after popup, pushing things down, pushing things down.
Those kinds of sites that you go to all the time where it’s just so annoying, that’s now going to be a factor that ranks against you. Like, you have to fix that kind of stuff. You know, Google’s really pushing for that to happen in the summer, maybe it’ll be this fall before it actually lines up. But there’s a lot happening on the technical side that you have to be on top of.
Scott: Yeah. We do a lot of marketing acquisition audits. You know, for surgeons, they’re called patient acquisition audits. And part of it is just as simple as page load speed, both desktop platform and mobile. Because, guys, we’ve all been on the phone. If it’s taking too long to download, I don’t know about you guys, but I’m gone. I have no patience for it. I’m out. I think there’s always somebody’s trying to hack me or something, or I’m just too busy to deal with it, etc. And yeah, I don’t go to “Forbes” anymore because I had to fight too hard just to read the information.
Jared: Yeah. And I think, you know, another important component of this when we’re thinking about quality score is, hopefully, we don’t have to really mention, but hey, we’re talking about kinda dusting off all the things you don’t think about. Mobile optimized for mobile. So it should have been literally a box that was checked many, many years ago for any site out there, but there are still sites that aren’t. So having some type of responsive design that accounts for mobile devices of pretty much all screen dimensions, it was so easy comparatively 8 to 10 years ago. Like, there was the iPhone 3, and there was two Android phones on the market, where it was, okay, well, there’s just those couple of screen dimensions, and you could either create just a different version of the page at those dimensions, but you only had to account for like two or three. And it’s crazy to realize how many sizes you have to account for. You know, I’d give a shout-out to every web team out there who’s figuring out how to make any web page look good on all those different sizes. So it is. Just another factor of this is recognizing that that will rank against you if your site is not optimized for mobile.
Scott: Yeah, it’s a really valid point. You know, another really kind of building block kind of a thing is, basically, localized data, Google My Business, locations data. What I’m trying to say is where you appear when someone…like, what’s the address that appears, that comes up? Is that the appropriate address? And I was kidding around before the podcast for, Michael, when we talk about a practice’s office, that’s obviously extremely important. Number one, you’re just trying to get patients to the right place, and number two, it is a basic building block. It’s almost like, you know, priming the walls before you paint. It’s very, very important. But even for a larger company, a medical device company, etc., there are some other basic reasons why that’s important.
Michael: Yeah, there’s gonna be definitely like that proving to Google, proving to all the different, you know, systems that are out there that this is an actual business that has brick and mortar. And you know, there’s so much that kinda comes from that location data as a whole. But you know, I’d even kinda broaden that category to say, the signals that are sitting outside of your website, websites, you know, plural even, that are pointing back in, you know, are you in…it’s funny because this is something that, again, 20 years ago, kind of SEO kinds of tactics, but are you in relevant business directories? Are you there? Like, that’s kind of bare minimum where you should be thinking about.
But do you have, you know, kind of going up the ladder here, getting just more sophisticated, are you doing any kind of contributions to other websites to point back to yours, you know? So, are you featured content provider for anybody? Are you doing any kind of interviews, any kind of anything like that that you can use to kind of point back? And again, even if it’s not a do-follow link versus a no-follow link, think of it as more than just your search engine ranking, but think of it as your business needs overall. Are you getting opportunities out there for people to hear about who you are, what you do. You know, some of the more appropriate ones, I think, even for, like, medical device, health device kinds of companies, health tech kinds of companies, you know, are you going to conferences? Are you, you know, sponsoring any of these events? Are you getting any chance to, you know, kinda show real-world activity beyond just your blog posts, you know, things like that?
Scott: Yeah, absolutely.
Michael: Some of it’s almost like kinda common sense, like real-world activity. That’s going to be some of the things that you need to show off. And it helps your search engine optimization as well.
Jared: Really good point there. And I think, of all of these things, hopefully, that’s kind of the quickest thing that you can kinda check off the list. You know, if you’re, for instance, a small to mid-sized med tech company, you’re not spread across a lot of different locations. So you’re not trying to draw people into an office of sorts. So you know, a good example of, hopefully, one that’s relatively easy to kinda check off the list, a little bit of low hanging fruit there.
Scott: No doubt about that. No doubt about that. And it’s just, guys, if I can just throw in one thing, that we speak to so many people who will consistently search themselves online and then come back to us with, “Hey, I’m not being found for X,” or you know what I mean, like those kind of frustrating conversations. Like, how many times have you searched for yourself? And this probably isn’t a good idea, because Google’s gonna start changing how they’re gonna give you feedback for those searches. Right, Michael?
Michael: You know, Google is doing everything it can, and depending on your privacy stance and all that sort of stuff, it either makes you happy or doesn’t. But Google is doing everything it can to relate that set of results to your needs and to your preferences. So if you keep searching for yourself over and over and then don’t click on your own website, then what you’re telling Google is that, “This is the wrong result. I don’t want this one.” And especially if you’re going through and clicking on all your competitors and you’re doing all those kinds of things, they’re like, “Oh, they didn’t actually mean this person. They meant the people that are related to that person.” That’s one point out of…that’s one data point out of millions. So like, take that with a grain of salt for how much it’s going to affect Google results worldwide or anything.
But your personal history keeps on informing Google what you’re looking for and what you’re not. So that’s just something to keep in mind. You can do incognito searches, you can do all those other kinds of things to get around that sort of stuff. Get a tool, get SEMrush, get, you know, any one of those competitors, get Moz. There’s a lot of tools out there that will give you, as unbiased as you can get, a set of results so that you have some sort of standard to kind of compare it against. But yeah, it’s one of those things that just…it’s kind of like the equivalent of, “We’ll make the logo bigger on this design, you know.” It’s like, “Just calm down. It’s okay. There are objective ways to look at this and not just refreshing the browser over and over.”
Jared: Really good point there, Michael. And it happens all the time, we all do it. So really good thought there. I think maybe the last one that we talk about then today is, if that was, hopefully, the easiest one to check off the list, then this might be the most challenging one, which is accounting for zero-click searches. So zero-click, in a nutshell, are any searches that someone does that they end without you clicking on a result from the results page to a website. So as of, I can’t remember, it’s been a little more than a year now, I wanna say, year-and-a-half-ish, where we hit a tipping point with overall traffic, at least with Google searches, that more than 50% of those searches ended with zero clicks. And that’s why this is significant, is because it just keeps trickling up, because it’s in Google’s best interest to not have you leave the Google results page, because they want to show value to their advertisers.
So they’re going to continue doing that where, if they can get away without having somebody to click to your website…there’s all sorts of folks, you know, Rand Fishkin is one who always writes about this, and I love reading it because he’s always just pointing out those kinds of things that you wanna be aware of. But there’s a couple of ways to attack it. In a nutshell, it’s just something that you want to account for when you are looking at what keywords, kind of back to that thought, what do you wanna rank for?
One of the easiest ways to think about it are featured snippets. So anywhere on a Google search engine results page, so we like to call those in SEO terms a search engine result page, anywhere on there where there’s information without you having to leave that page to get the info. So for instance, like right now, I’m typing, “Where can I get a COVID vaccine?” And there’s a whole common questions area, there’s four questions underneath it, how much does a COVID vaccine cost, blah blah blah, and then you can click the little caret next to it, and it’ll give you the information right there. I don’t have to click anywhere. So perfect example of what zero-click search is like. What we want to account for are, which one of those makes sense for us to try to get featured in? And it’s just part of the strategy that we wanna look at. There might be some that just make a whole lot of sense for certain questions, but this is typically a place where you’re going to look at, at trying to answer a certain question.
I would still say, thinking about what questions you can answer most easily or you really can own that answer, you know, that you have good information, or good content, or good way to answer it, those are probably the best places to start. That’s what Google likes. It likes a question-and-answer format to pull that into a featured snippet. So that is usually just part of your checklist of like, “Hey, are there any questions that we can put in a question-and-answer format?” There’s a little bit of markup you can add to the code that just gives Google another signal of like, “Oh, hey, maybe that’s the information we ought to use to answer that question when somebody searches for it.” So yeah, just another part of it. It can be pretty time-consuming, but it’s a good one just to think of, of like, “Hey, why aren’t we listed in that area? Why aren’t those questions coming from our website?” Well, there’s a way to do that.
Michael: So we’ve got five things here that we talk through, just to recap, you know. Make sure that your site’s visible. Check out the way that you’re targeting your keywords. What’s your strategy there? How are you trying to get people to your site? What we’re calling quality score, so everything just from your coding, to the way that your site’s loading, all that fun stuff. External signals that may include a lot of things like Google My Business for you and that sort of thing. And then this zero-click thing that’s kind of really gotten more important. These may be strategies you already know. You may have already heard of these things. If you have several websites, you know, if you have more than one, especially, like, this is where it becomes really important, because you have to keep repeating this process. So again, a lot’s changed. We’ve had a pandemic. There’s a lot of things that have happened in the meantime. Take a look. Take a moment. And we’ll leave you with that, with just, you know, go take a look, go refresh yourself on how these things are doing. Thanks so much for listening.
Announcer: Thanks again for tuning in to the “Paradigm Shift of Healthcare.” This program is brought to you by Health Connective, custom marketing solutions for med tech and pharma. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, or anywhere you listen to podcasts.