In our recent survey of 883 HCPs, we gained insight into how HCPs use and interact with patient resources. 71% of HCPs find patient resources an important asset in their treatment practice, but how has the pandemic changed the way they access them?
Our findings revealed that 30% of HCPs use Google search to find patient resources, which means we must prioritise SEO optimisation to get them in to the virtual hands of HCPs. Optimizing websites and resources has never been more crucial.
Below, we look at why Google Search is so important for connecting patients with materials that support them and create better health outcomes.
With statistics showing that 30% of HCPS use Google Search to find patient materials, there is a growing need to generate authoritative spaces for reliable patient resources.
Understanding Google E-A-T
E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authority, Trustworthiness, and was part of a 2018 update to Google’s algorithms that focused heavily on the quality of content and websites. It affected health content to such a degree that it was called the 'medic update' by acclaimed search engine marketing journalist Barry Schwartz.
With statistics showing that 30% of HCPS use Google Search to find patient materials (which doesn't account for independent searches done by patients), there is a growing need to generate authoritative spaces for reliable patient resources.
The new algorithm more effectively measures the Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness of websites with an aim to improve the quality of search results. Google did this by tweaking the algorithm for searches relating to the industry in an effort to eradicate low authority sites.
It’s not surprising that this update significantly impacted the organic search rankings of many healthcare, medical, and wellness websites. Google’s message is clear: high-quality, regularly updated content is important if you want to rank well, which aligns with the desire of many healthcare companies to provide patients with quality content.
For healthcare websites to meet this objective, three key elements must be satisfied. The three pillars, as they’re known, are research, content promotion, and user experience.
Understanding your competitors and your audience features high on the list of factors to consider when creating accomplished, authoritative content. From white papers to videos, your content must be relevant and impactful.
By employing keyword research and social listening when planning content, you can better respond to the needs of your audience. It’s also important to optimize metadata with the most searched and relevant terms to promote visibility. Bear in mind that the language people use to find content and answer questions evolves, so monitor and update accordingly.
Google’s message is clear: high-quality, regularly updated content is important if you want to rank well, which aligns with the desire of many healthcare companies to provide patients with quality content.
Page Speed and User Experience (UX)
Mobile behaviors are also changing – we’re using our phones more than ever before. Research shows that adding just one second to a webpage’s loading time can cause conversions to drop by as much as 32%. With Google having unveiled a further update in 2021, re-evaluating a website’s UX metrics will ensure a better user experience and improve your site’s speed. A technical audit of your site will help you stay ahead.
Sites optimized for SEO are more likely to be found in organic searches. Taking time to promote your content is just as important as getting it on your website. If you want your patient resources to score well, social channels can provide authority through peer recommendation and social proof.
Compliance is central to this process. Content must be considered on a case-by-case basis to understand the viability of content amplification through social channels and the resulting links that may be generated.
While promoting your content on social channels won’t directly impact your SEO, likes, shares, and comments will boost credibility and build awareness – plus, you’ll see the added benefits of social promotion, such as inbound links, which ultimately generate more traffic for the site.
Link building continues to be an effective way for a site to organically increase authority, particularly in the healthcare industry. Building trust and relationships between healthcare sites on topics like disease management or treatment options is becoming more common. You might partner with another trusted site to offer a quality resource in exchange for a link back to your site. Given Google uses backlinks (among other factors) to assess the quality of a site, it makes sense to focus on this core SEO area to maximize your rankings.
Link building continues to be an effective way for a site to organically increase authority, particularly in the healthcare industry.
The Crucial Details
In addition to the above, there are a few critical elements to E-A-T that websites need to pay attention to. These quick fixes can have a big impact on Google search rankings.
Make sure your website includes the following:
- Information on content author: name, credentials (PhD? MD? Employed by a well-known organisation?), location, and profession (medical job title). The better known an author is online, the better the results for E-A-T.
- Article dates.
- Quality backlinks. A core SEO element, backlinks are essentially ‘referrals’ – and the more unique referrals to your site from other reputable sites, the more Google will believe your site to be a quality source.
- Reviews on third party sites. Reviews (ideally good ones) show a website to be trustworthy. Keep in mind that reviews from third party sites (such as Trustpilot) are the most valuable to Google in determining the reliability of your site.
- An ‘About’ page (or similar) that tells users what the site is and/or about the company.
- Contact information – at least one of the following: email address, telephone number, physical address, or online chat function.
Our research shows that while optimizing your website and patient materials is critical, word of mouth is equally important. 35% of HCPs learn about patient materials through colleagues. By reaching HCPs with high quality content, you can benefit from them amplifying your resources through word of mouth.
To find out more about the importance of patient materials and how they relate to HCPs, download our free report here.