Whether you run a healthcare website, a blog, or anything else related to medicine, you are likely under extensive Google scrutiny. Especially, since the infamous Medic core algorithm update in 2018. This monumental update was accompanied with the E-A-T guidelines, or Expertise, Authority & Trustworthiness. It was for sites in the YMYL, or Your Money, Your Life niches, which includes healthcare.
Given the level of impact misinformation, and false claims can have on individuals within this niche, Google takes extensive measures. It focuses on the qualifications of the writer, authoritativeness of the site, along with sources and citations among others. This incessant gate-keeping, and censorship. However, it works in favor of qualified professionals who genuinely add value to readers.
If you are a doctor, a registered nurse, or even a website owner with medical professionals as writers, there are plenty of ways to gain traction in search results ever since these updates.
However, websites in this niche always remain on thin ice. There are regular manual checks performed by Google. With these comes the possibilities of a penalty, or a drop in authority, even for minor slip-ups.
When it comes to earning the trust of readers, first impressions matter more than anything. The branding, design, and overall aesthetics of the site immediately convey a feeling of reliability. This is all the more essential when dealing with topics related to health. Given Google’s heavy reliance on metrics such as scroll depth, and time on site. Focusing on such aspects is pertinent within the healthcare niche.
Websites in this niche receive a greater share of scrutiny from Google’s dedicated manual review team, and while there are extensive standards of quality that are often checked for during these reviews, a responsive site, with strong design, and brand messaging should showcase authority, and help gain a significant upper hand against competing sites.
The core essence behind the E-A-T guidelines is promoting expertise and authority in critical niches, and the way to do that is by showcasing the credentials, qualifications, and experiences of your professional authors.
Google, the all-knowing oracle of our age, is known to consider and value entities such as education, awards, books authored, and papers published. Having a writer with well-cited papers in Google Scholar, or a book included in Google Book Search, is a great way to showcase authority.
Ever since the core update in 2018, credentials and accreditations have become a part and parcel of digital healthcare marketing.
When it comes to driving traffic to a healthcare website, it is worth considering avenues beyond just search engines.
Sites such as Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook are great sources of traffic. While not that targeted, or consistent, they have lower instances of gatekeeping, and are more accommodating of new, and low-authority sites.
Building an audience, and establishing a stable base on these networks is still time-consuming. In fact, it is similar to gaining traction on search engines. However, a strong social presence can further help signal authority. Thus, resulting in better performance in SERPs in the long run.
For targeted, high-intent leads, nothing performs for local medical practices and businesses quite like a Google My Business Places listing. Just imagine a simple Google search for a term like "dentist near me Kelowna" can potentially expose your practice to millions of possible clients.
Even though 93% of the engagement is reserved for the 3-pack listing at the very top, it’s not that hard to make it to the ‘Top 3’ for searches within your surrounding area and directly related to your targeted keywords and services.
There are a number of factors that determine listings in Google Local search. From, reviews, citations, and mentions, to behavioral factors coming into consideration. For medical practices, it is best to engage the services of a healthcare SEO expert to help with this.
While the recent changes to healthcare websites in the YMYL niches have proven to be controversial, it was necessary to help maintain the trust of users in online search results.
In any case, for websites and blogs that genuinely add value to readers, these changes have been a net positive. The algorithmic, and manual reviews almost always fall in their favor.