- 49% of digital marketers in the healthcare space have used black hat tactics, and 35% of them did not experience negative consequences
- Moz and Ahrefs rank as the leading SEO tools for healthcare digital marketing
- 1 in 5 digital marketers in the healthcare industry are concerned about job security due to the introduction of AI
- Over 60% of digital marketers believe ChatGPT will enhance SEO in healthcare
The shifting terrain of healthcare SEO trends
Search engine optimization (SEO) has become increasingly important in the ever-competitive digital marketing landscape, and trends are continually evolving as new technologies become readily available and old practices become obsolete. Staying up to date with the latest SEO practices in healthcare is essential for providers and organizations seeking to attract new patients while engaging and retaining existing ones.
To discover how current shifts in SEO impact the healthcare space, Tebra surveyed over 200 digital marketers working in the industry. Here are the current trends, expert predictions, and growing concerns driving the field for 2024.
The methods by which healthcare marketers get their message out depend greatly on search engine algorithms. But algorithms continue to shift and evolve, as do other key determinants that propel healthcare websites up the search engine rankings. Which search engines are marketers prioritizing, and what best practices shape their work?
According to our survey results, Google continues to reign supreme, with a staggering 90% of digital marketers prioritizing their optimization efforts for this search engine giant. Bing and Yahoo! followed at 72% and 56%, respectively, while privacy-focused DuckDuckGo only captured 15% of marketers’ attention.
Healthcare marketers also shared what significantly impacts how these search engines rank healthcare websites. According to our respondents, the top 5 factors used in search engine rankings are:
- Content relevance
- Content quality
- Time spent on site
- Page loading speed
- Website security
They also revealed the top 5 most important factors in healthcare SEO are:
- Mobile optimization
- Secure HTTP
- Updating old content
- AI optimization
- Structured data
Despite best efforts to stay ahead of search engine algorithms, 66% of digital healthcare marketers have experienced negative consequences on their pages during at least one algorithm change. This highlights the importance of understanding algorithm updates and the difficulty of constantly adjusting strategies to maintain search visibility and rankings.
Ethical website practices
In healthcare, integrity and ethical practices are crucial to gain and maintain patient trust. However, some marketers try to boost search engine rankings using black hat tactics — practices that violate search engine regulations. How often does this happen, and how does it impact healthcare marketing?
Unfortunately, nearly half of the digital marketers surveyed (49%) openly admitted to using black hat tactics, and 35% did not experience negative consequences from doing so. However, many others faced repercussions like loss of credibility (57%) and search engine penalties (43%).
Other consequences included negative impact on user experience (30%), decreased ROI (26%), damage to online reputation (26%), and loss of revenue (22%). And while paid links (47%) were the most used black hat tactic, marketers experienced more negative consequences as a result of article spinning, footer links, and keyword stuffing.
2024: AI and beyond
Rather than resorting to unethical tactics, leveraging new technologies could help more healthcare marketers succeed. For example, emerging AI technology could reshape the digital marketing model.
Many marketers recognize the growing importance of leveraging AI technologies to stay competitive in the digital landscape. Over 60% said the AI chatbot ChatGPT would improve healthcare SEO, while 26% said it would worsen it, and 11% said it would not change. And 72% of respondents were already optimizing content for AI-powered search engines.
Marketers most often used AI for keyword research (39%) and content creation (36%). They also used it for content optimization (26%), competitor analysis (16%), link building (15%), website analysis (10%), and technical SEO (8%). Marketers recommended Surfer SEO, Jasper, INK, Alli AI, and Originality.AI as the best AI tools for SEO.
“In preparation for the rise of AI, digital marketers are employing various strategies. ”
In preparation for the rise of AI, digital marketers are employing various strategies. The most common strategies used by respondents were improving content quality (60%) and using natural language models (58%). Further, over 40% said online courses helped them gain essential skills and knowledge, indicating a dedication to continuous learning and professional development.
Additionally, marketers identified optimizing for conversational searches (30%), creating video content (23%), and focusing on voice search (20%) as crucial tactics. By prioritizing user intent (18%) and implementing structured data (10%), healthcare marketers can ensure their content aligns with user expectations and search engine algorithms.
SEO on the daily
Changing algorithms, unethical tactics, new technology — many factors are causing shifts in digital marketing and healthcare SEO trends. How are marketers staying relevant so they can continue to succeed in 2024?
According to our survey, tracking algorithm updates was the top priority among 59% of healthcare digital marketers, followed closely by diversifying skills (56%) and online training (52%). Monitoring website performance (49%) and conducting regular keyword research (49%) were other key strategies to ensure success.
To complete these crucial SEO tasks, survey respondents named Moz the best SEO optimization tool, followed by Ahrefs, Ryte, Yoast SEO, and Semrush. Despite using AI tools and tech, 1 in 5 marketers were concerned about job stability because of AI. However, 56% said SEO would be even more important in healthcare marketing in the next 5 years due to the quickly changing digital landscape.
Like other industries, the landscape of SEO and digital marketing in healthcare is experiencing significant changes due to technological advancements. Continuous learning and adaptability can position SEO professionals for success. By leveraging the insights and trends discovered in this article, healthcare providers and organizations can strive to expand their reach in the ever-shifting digital landscape of 2024 and beyond.
Tebra surveyed 207 digital healthcare marketers who work in SEO to explore current trends, tools, and practices.
Tebra provides independent healthcare practices with digital tools and support to thrive in the new era of healthcare. Tebra’s platform helps practices attract new patients, deliver modern care, operate efficiently, and get paid quickly.
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