Top SEO trends for healthcare marketers

In this episode of our popular Tips in Ten(ish) minutes video series, Kirsten Lecky, EVP insights and growth at WG Content, sits down with Curt Graman, sales director for Helium SEO.

Watch this 14-minute video and learn:  

  • The number one SEO tip for marketers 
  • What you should know about mobile-first indexing
  • Two important metrics: first input delay and cumulative layout shift
  • The largest content pain point — and how to overcome it

This video was recorded on June 14, 2021, before WriterGirl became WG Content.

Watch the video

0:00:04.6 Kirsten Lecky: Hey everyone, Kirsten Lecky here from WriterGirl. So my friend Curt and I were just having a conversation about SEO. And as always, I was taking notes, very intrigued, feel like I’m always learning something because as it relates to SEO, I feel like I’m always catching up and there’s always something new to learn. So I figured that I wasn’t alone and that maybe some of you feel that same way that you’re catching up and trying to learn. And so I thought, let’s stop the conversation, let’s hit the record button. That way we can share his answers with the rest of you. And that hopefully you’ll learn something too. The intent here is really just to keep this super short. We’re going to maybe get to two to three questions, keep it under 10 minutes. So I’ll start by sharing Curt’s… Introducing Curt. He is a Sales Director at Helium SEO. Helium SEO is here in Cincinnati where WriterGirl is headquartered. We have collaborated on some projects together. So we’re really proud of the work that they do and have really enjoyed that partnership. So we’ll go ahead and get started. So the first question we were talking about is what’s the number one thing that healthcare marketers should know about SEO that maybe they don’t realize? 

0:01:17.2 Curt Graman: Thank you Kirsten for the introduction and the opportunity. I know this is, it’s supposed to be something short and to the point. So with that, we’ll keep it short. And then again, if anything comes up, please have anybody reach out to yourself or myself. We’d be happy to share additional information with them. So, your question of what should healthcare marketers be on the lookout regarding SEO. And one of that is that we run into a lot with healthcare professionals is doctors claiming their Google my business account. And with that, a lot of them don’t know that that’s a really good opportunity for them to connect with their patients. And it may sound a little odd, but when people are searching for doctors or really anything in Google, they’re putting very generic terms in there. And also you have to think about why it’s important to claim that Google my business listing for a doctor is that when you’re in need for medical assistance, most often than not, when you go to your family practitioner and they refer you to go to a specialist, they’re saying a doctor specifically. 

0:02:11.1 Curt Graman: And with that you go home and you searching that doctor. But with that, somebody is going to search that Dr. Smith and then orthopedics. So you want to claim that as Dr. Smith orthopedics, something very specific to that doctor’s name. Same thing with Dennis office as well. 

0:02:26.6 Kirsten Lecky: How does that compete with location pages? So is it a complimentary exercise? Do they compete? So yeah, talk to us about that. 

0:02:34.2 Curt Graman: With the location or locations of a hospital versus doctors, we recommend that doctors claim it individually first, because again, like I alluded to just a second ago was when you’re referring to somebody or you’re looking for a specific practice or somebody who does orthopedics, you’re going to search for orthopedics or that doctor that you were referenced to, it’s better suited to have Dr. Smith orthopedics rather than Mercy Health, Dr. Smith orthopedics, because again, the doctor is going to get the individual business benefits there. 

0:03:00.9 Curt Graman: You’re also going to have times they may also practice at other hospitals, outpatient there’s two, which is something. So, we always recommend that doctors have their own individual my Google business accounts for business reasons, as well as patient hours that they’re visiting virtual Teladoc meetings as well. Also pictures of the types of services they provide, whether it’s orthopedics or the dentist’s office. So the patients can understand where their specialty is in versus the hospital is going to be more just general Mercy Health, Christ Hospital, be it orthopedics, etcetera, but more general hospital listings, which again, will show their overarching hospital hours where this doctor can say, I specifically work these days of the week, etcetera. 

0:03:44.7 Kirsten Lecky: Okay. No, that makes sense, ’cause you’re right. I think if you’re getting a referral to a provider, most likely you’ll search that provider name. 

0:03:53.2 Curt Graman: Correct. 

0:03:53.6 Kirsten Lecky: Less so that maybe where they practice or what specialty they’re in or maybe your neighbor gave you a referral, you’re going to Google their names, so that makes sense. 

0:04:01.1 Curt Graman: Exactly. 

0:04:01.9 Kirsten Lecky: So let’s talk about mobile first indexing. What should healthcare marketers know about mobile first indexing and how can they be best prepared for the new algorithm? 

0:04:13.1 Curt Graman: Yeah, that’s a great question. Day and age, everybody’s using tablets, iPhones, a lot of searches being done now with COVID too remotely. So maybe not somebody has a work computer at home, they’ll be using a tablet or smart device. With that, mobile first is now the way that Google’s been switching towards, trending with their algorithm. So it’s best to be mobile friendly first, but again, they’ve been dabbling with this since like 2016, in 2019 they really made a bigger push to do mobile first. 

0:04:25.3 Curt Graman: The big things that you should keep in mind is anything that you have done correctly or on your site now will still be searched correctly in regards to showing up in a user’s queue. But with that, you want to make sure that you have the same information on your mobile friendly site, as well as your desktop site. I know that may sound a little bit weird as like, why would I have different ones? But there’s times where people think, oh, mobile friendly, keep it more condensed. That’s not what the case is in this scenario, you want it to be the same. So if you have long form content on your site, you also want that on your mobile and vice versa. So it’s the same when Google spots are crawling that, there’s no differences, whether it’s a desktop or mobile site search. 

0:05:24.5 Kirsten Lecky: Okay, so it’s really more of the user interface of how they’re accessing information. 

0:05:32.7 Curt Graman: Yes. 

0:05:33.0 Kirsten Lecky: So like, with that in mind then, what could negatively impact or affect SEO on a mobile site? 

0:05:37.5 Curt Graman: Yeah, if you had like different robot tags from a mobile to desktop site, don’t use the lazy load primary content upon users’ interactions where the content is all loading at the same time, let Google crawl your resources, don’t have anything blocked just because it’s on mobile or desktop. And also make sure the content like we talked about a second ago is the same, whether it’s on your desktop or mobile, it really needs to contain that same amount of content, no matter which site is being searched on your mobile site or your desktop version site. 

0:06:11.3 Kirsten Lecky: So are we penalized if there’s discrepancies there? If someone’s searching and there’s different kind, like if it’s being searched up differently? 

0:06:20.0 Curt Graman: Usually not. I mean, you’re not gonna be like, I don’t think manually penalized is that hard for it. It’s more just the, what’s most relevant and what we’ve come to find out at Helium is the two most important things is authority and relevance. And if you have the really good relevancy, which is the same title tags or headers across your mobile site and your desktop site, that’s beneficial. Again, the content, it’s not really one thing that Google’s gonna reach out and say like, hey, this is not matching up, we’re gonna penalize you, it’s just optimizing. So there’s no potential errors for Google to hold you back, if that makes sense. It has more questions… 

0:06:54.8 Kirsten Lecky: So would you say then the most important thing is to have the same content? Would you say that’s kind of the… 

0:07:07.1 Curt Graman: Yeah, same content, same meaningful headers. So when Google’s bots are crawling your mobile site versus your desktop, there’s no dissimilarities in there. And again, if they have that same information, Google’s bots are going to put the most relevant search queues at the user’s feed. So again, having those where there’s no potential errors, having the same content, same meaningful headers where they can see the relevance factor is gonna be the most important thing. 

0:07:27.8 Kirsten Lecky: Okay, okay. Alright, so let’s wrap this up with the real big doozy of a question, and that is, if you had a crystal ball, what’s coming up next in SEO best practices? [chuckle] 

0:07:36.8 Curt Graman: Yes, if we had that, we’d… 

0:07:39.1 Kirsten Lecky: Everyone wants that crystal ball, not just us. 

0:07:42.4 Curt Graman: No, if we would as well as any other SEO agency out there, I think they would charge a lot more for having to say, hey, we know exactly. And that’s Helium’s approach is to try to better understand Google’s ranking algorithm. And with that, there’s over 600 algorithm changes a year that Google implements. And again, a lot of those are very small, most people see no impact, the couple of industries that get impacted the most are the legal, finance and healthcare. So it’s great that we partner together to help make sure that we hit on all these SEO factors. The largest algorithm update that we have seen in the last six months has been the core web vitals update, was supposed to launch this month, May of 2021, it has been a little bit delayed, so we expect it to be within the next two to three months that it gets pushed out there. The core web vitals, again, this is another like loaded question that I could go into a lot, ’cause I’m trying to figure out how I can clearly communicate all this to the users at a very high level standpoint is largest content paint, first input, delay and cumulative layout shift, so largest… 

0:08:44.5 Kirsten Lecky: That is very, a very big, you’ve gotta break that down into more simple terms. 


0:08:49.5 Curt Graman: Yes, I will, I will. I’ll go briefly into each one of those. So largest content paint is going to be, it aims to measure the page’s main content on the page and that has finished loading. So with that, when the page loads, they wanna see that main relevant information on the page, what that is most relevant for, load very quickly. 

0:09:07.3 Kirsten Lecky: Did you say load very quick? Like speed? 

0:09:09.5 Curt Graman: Load, yes, load. 

0:09:13.5 Kirsten Lecky: Okay. 

0:09:15.1 Curt Graman: So this is more like, so we talked about like Google’s ranking algorithm. The two most important things they look at is authority and relevance. So other sites linking to your site, and then content, which you guys are very good at producing, with that, the third most important thing is user experience. And in that user experience bucket is site speed. And again, in the next kind of next phase of that first input delay, I’ll talk about it is just like in life, first impressions are huge. And if you land on the site, same thing with Google’s bots is, the design can be very nice, the visual appeal of the site can be very nice, it’s very hard for Google’s bots to track that or put numbers behind it. So what they’re going to do is then how quickly does the site load, how quickly can you interact with it? 

0:09:51.8 Curt Graman: And that’s where the largest content paint comes into play. So the large, most relevant piece of content loading on your site where the user can now read that, more importantly, you have to think of SEO as two audiences. You’re trying to appease Google’s bots in one hand, at the same time, you’re also trying to appease the user. So with that large content paint, you need that to load quickly so Google’s bots can crawl. So large content paint, the acronym is LCPs, the good site speed is less than 2.5 seconds. The needs improvement is between 2.5 and four seconds, and poor, where again, you’d have to make some kind of adjustment is above four seconds. So that’s the one bucket, so I’ll take a breath here and then we’ll go into first input delay. 

0:10:32.3 Kirsten Lecky: To summarize that first bucket, it’s speed, it’s about how quickly the page loads and the… 

0:10:39.1 Curt Graman: The main piece of content on that page. 

0:10:40.3 Kirsten Lecky: The main piece of content. Okay, got it. 

0:10:42.3 Curt Graman: Yes. Second one is first input delay. And this measures the time from when the user first interacts with the page, so whether it’s a click to a link, a tap on the button, or a custom JavaScript powered control. And that time the browser takes to actually load and allow that user to begin processing or it’s enough user, the backend, Google bots to allow processing what they’re clicking on. So that action laid out there. Again, like I said, this is that first impression is Google can’t determine how visually appealing your site is, they really don’t care in a way, they wanna make sure… And where the visual design points come into play and this is vitally important to website success is conversions where the site looks updated, looks fresh, but really where the meat of the opportunity is, is how quickly does that load and how quickly can you interact with that page. The score range for this is as good as less than 100 milliseconds, needs improvement is between 100 and 300 milliseconds, and poor is above 300 milliseconds. Again, I should have prefaced that, the last one is, there’s all tools out there to track these. We have access to these tools as well, there’s some free, I’m trying to hold myself back from going further. 


0:11:54.8 Kirsten Lecky: We know how passionate you are about it. 

0:11:56.5 Curt Graman: Yeah, I know. So cumulative layout shift is the measure that the visible content shifts, which again, the easiest way I can describe this, I think is when you’re on a site, and that’s a little bit poorly optimized, I need to say, is when you’re scrolling and there’s an image, and as you’re scrolling down, all of a sudden all the content shifts, there’s an image there that Google’s bots haven’t had the time to load yet. And as you’re scrolling down, you’re reading the content, all of a sudden that picture loads and it causes that content to shift, so you’re likely to lose your place. Again, Google bots do not like that, the users don’t like that. So again, that hurts your performance score. So what you want to make sure is there’s code that you would put in, or again, working with an agency like Helium would go in and make sure that you have these in place. And what that does is when Google’s bots are loading or when your page is loading and Google’s bots are crawling it, what they’ll see and as well as a user on your page is they’ll see just a blank, a box, again, just white space or whatever it is. But that’s where that picture won’t load once it gets to that point. But when you’re reading it, the content will not move on you or Google’s bots. Again, it makes for a better user experience. 

0:13:01.8 Curt Graman: And over time, that picture should load relatively quickly. So again, the scoring range for that is less than 0.1 seconds and needs improvement is between 0.1 and 0.25 seconds. And poor is above 2.5 seconds. So again, these are all in seconds, millisecond, very short timeframes, but again, can cause a huge negative impact on your Google’s bots ranking your site as well as the user having a good interaction with your site. 

0:13:27.1 Kirsten Lecky: Appreciate you agreeing to this and I believe it will be helpful to more than just myself, but also other people out there, so thank you so much. 

0:13:37.5 Curt Graman: No, I appreciate you. Thanks for putting me on the spot and… 


0:13:39.1 Curt Graman: Please, please ask me more questions out. I think this was a great opportunity for us to help share some SEO knowledge and help people, whether it’s healthcare or not, we’re able to help. 

0:13:49.5 Kirsten Lecky: Yeah, absolutely. Thanks Curt. 

0:13:50.4 Curt Graman: Thanks. Bye. 

0:13:52.0 Kirsten Lecky: Bye.