We’re told not to rely on Dr Google for medical advice but the reality is that we can’t help ourselves!
When people need information about health, wellness and fitness topics, they turn to search engines like Google for quick answers.
As a health copywriter, you know the importance of accurate health information and following industry regulations like the Australian Health Practitioners Guidelines as set out by AHPRA. But that doesn’t mean you can’t optimise your health client’s content for SEO.
If you’re wary of SEO for health websites after the August 2018 Google Medic Update, I bet you’re scratching your heading wondering how to win the SEO game. How do you know which keywords to use? How do you build your client’s website authority using the right strategies?
Are there any other SEO tips that you need to be thinking about when writing health and wellness content?
In this blog, I share some tips on keyword research for health businesses as well as other SEO tips covering Google’s EAT policy, local SEO and user experience.
SEO tips for health and wellness copywriters
SEO and User Experience
A website should be designed and created for the best user experience first and foremost, and then search engines.
When focusing on SEO, it’s easy to forget users and think about search engines first. The danger in doing this is that you may miss critical user experience elements, which can result in users quickly leaving the website without any interaction.
This impacts on SEO- a high bounce rate can lead to a decrease in keyword rankings in Google, which means a decline in traffic. It also means that potential patients and clients will go to a competitor’s website instead. Your client may miss out on potential business!
User experience in the health and wellness niche is also important because patients and clients may be experiencing physical or mental health issues and a poor website experience is the last thing they want to deal with!
Here are some tips for a better user experience on your health client’s website.
Your client’s website needs to be mobile responsive. Google now indexes the mobile version of a website instead of the desktop version.
Looking up health information online can be a very personal thing. People prefer to research medical and health issues using the privacy of their mobiles instead of on desktops. Mobiles are more discreet.
Make it easy for your client’s potential patients and clients to navigate their website and find what they need. Work with the client’s web developer for a well-structured website design with a great user experience.
A quick tip is to check your client’s website from your mobile device. Can you see any text that is too wide on the screen? Are any buttons not working? Are all the menu options available?
If you’re lucky enough to have a client with their Google Search Console account already set up, look at the Mobile Usability page and see if there are any mobile usability issues or errors.
Typical errors include:
The font on the website is too small to read;
Links or buttons are too close together or
The width of the text is too wide to view on a mobile device.
Most of your health and wellness clients will have a physical location and their patients and clients will be located nearby.
Get your client to claim their Google My Business and optimise it with all their contact details. They can even upload images and blogs or add events. Include your client’s physical address and contact phone number somewhere on their website, ideally in the footer and on the Contact page.
Keyword research for health, wellness and fitness websites
I always recommend starting keyword research with a solid brainstorming session involving a spreadsheet or list and writing down any keywords that come to mind. Don’t overthink it! Leave that for the actual keyword research stage.
To help you with this process, I’ve created a Keyword Research Brainstorming Planner that you can sign up for and download. This planner lists some great questions to get you thinking about some of the keywords you could research for your own website and/or your clients’ websites.
Here are some other handy brainstorming ideas:
What words would patients use?
Talk to your client about the language their patients and clients use- not just industry jargon but plain English language too. Most people don’t understand scientific medical terms and have their own words for illnesses.
Think of conversational questions patients and clients would use. These include who, what, where, when and why. For some inspiration, type your client’s main business/service/product into Answer the Public and see what question phrases it suggests.
What problems or solutions would patients search for?
What kinds of problems do potential patients and clients research? What solutions would they search for in Google?
Which keywords are competitors ranking for?
Using a paid SEO tool such as Serpstat, do an SEO audit on a competitors’ website that’s comparable to your client’s. Find out which keywords the competitor is ranking for and add any relevant ones to your brainstorming list.
If the thought of doing research and analysing data scares you, I offer a competitor’s website analysis service that help copywriters like you get all the intel without the confusion and time wasting!
Is your client’s business location-specific?
What locations does your client serve? Write down every suburb and/or town. Use this to help you with local SEO.
Using Google Trends
Google Trends is a free tool to search different keywords and topics and find out how the keyword is trending; how many people search the keyword on average and other related keyword queries people are searching.
This is great when you want some basic keyword ideas, or if you want to find related topics that are trending or find up and coming trends in your client’s industry.
Here are some Google Trends examples using businesses in the health and wellness industry:
SEO keywords for health and wellness businesses
There are many keyword opportunities for health and wellness businesses, but as this is a very competitive industry, I’d recommend looking for specific and long tail keyword opportunities that might be easier to rank for.
What does your client specifically do? Do they focus on one type of health topic or issue? Do they specialise in a certain service?
I could list about 10,000 health and wellness keywords here, but instead I’ll share some examples of both head keywords and long tail keywords:
“Health and wellness center”
“Wellness dog food”
“Wellness center near me”
“Current health issues in the news”
“Health insurance options for small business owners”
When doing keyword research for your client, focus on searching for keywords relating to the health services your client provides or the health products they sell rather than generic health keywords.
Download my keyword research brainstorming planner for more ideas on keyword modifiers so you can create a list of great keywords to research.
SEO keywords for dentists
If you’re writing optimised content for a dental client, you’ll find lots of keyword opportunities your client could rank for.
Most will be location-specific keywords as people search for a local dental service, but you’ll also find specific dental services people need such as paediatric dentists.
When I searched “dentist”, here are some related queries that came up:
“Biological dentist near me”
“Holistic dentist near me”
“Dentist open on weekends”
Do you notice how a few of the keywords feature the words “near me”? Therefore, it’s important for your dental client to claim their Google My Business listing and include their name, address and phone number on their website. This helps Google understand where the business is located, so that it can appear in the search results when a local resident searches for “dentist near me”.
If you’d rather outsource your client’s keyword research to save yourself time and reduce stress, I offer keyword research services that will make your life so much easier!
More SEO advice for health and wellness copywriters
Looking beyond keyword research and content optimisation, there are other SEO techniques and strategies you can help your health client with.
No, I’m not referring to a vegan diet or intermittent fasting. E.A.T. stands for “Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness” and is something that Google is pushing for with all websites.
It’s all about building a quality website that features content written by experts in the field, and with authority that’s backed by authority websites.
This is even more important for the medical, health, fitness industries, which fall under the category of “Your money, your life” (YMYL). This category of websites can have a direct impact on the quality of a person’s life.
Other YMYL websites include finance, political (especially election-related sites), international news, education and any other website that can have an impact on the general health and wellbeing of a person.
I think this is a great move by Google.
The internet (especially social media platforms) is a powerful tool, and when it’s in the hands of the wrong types of people, it can cause great harm.
To make website owners accountable for the content they share, Google has created a comprehensive quality guidelines document that its own quality checking teams use. These quality checking teams manually check websites to see that they follow the guidelines.
So, what’s in these guidelines?
You can check out the full document here. But to summarise, your content needs to be backed by credible sources and needs to show that the author is an expert and has authority.
Here’s how you can help your client prove their E.A.T.:
If your client is about-page-shy, let them know how important it is that they share their credentials, knowledge and experiences on their About page.
What formal education has your client undertaken?
What professional associations are they part of?
Have they published any research papers on other sites?
Have they won any industry awards?
Has your client participated in any research or studies?
Include your client’s full name and credentials throughout the website but especially on the About page. A professional photograph also helps put a face to the name and should be the same photo used on any other websites your client features on.
Google likes consistency but most importantly, Google likes humans.
Google wants to see that your client’s website articles and blogs have been written by a real health and fitness professional, someone who works in the business.
No, that doesn’t mean you should kiss your health copywriting projects goodbye!
It means making sure that the content is attributed to your client. You can do this by including the author’s name underneath the page title, along with their credentials.
You can create a hyperlink from the author’s name to the about page, so that readers can find out more about the author.
If your client uses guest bloggers or writers, then a short description of the guest author should appear at the end of the article. The description can include the guest author’s name and title and any credentials that appear after their name. Provide a link to the guest author’s website.
Terri Evans is a qualified nutritionist specialising in health and nutrition for gymnasts. She is the host of the podcast “Beaming with health” which features interviews with prominent sports nutritionists and professionals in the gymnastics industry. Connect with Terri here.
This illustrates Terri’s qualifications and expertise as per the requirements of E.A.T. It also shows that your client collaborates with trustworthy and expert businesses.
Building links and collaborations
The best way to increase a website’s authority is to get inbound links (also known as backlinks) from other relevant, authoritative websites.
This is where solid networking and collaboration really pays off for SEO.
SEO should only be one part of your client’s marketing strategy. What other marketing activities does your client have planned? See how they could use these activities to strategically gain more inbound links.
Some typical examples for health, wellness and fitness:
-Having your client feature in an online industry site as a “business of the month” profile, with links back to your client’s website.
-Listing your client’s details on a reputable industry directory. If you can find one that’s used by their patients and clients, then it’s a bonus because they could also get referral traffic.
-Does your client work with other relevant businesses? For example, nutritionists often work at a local gym. See if the other business can promote your client’s business with a link back to their website.
-Using sites such as HARO (Help A Reporter Out) and Sourcebottle to find PR opportunities for a client. Typical examples include call outs from journalists for interviews with health specialists and experts, or quotes to include in an article on a fitness topic. These always link back to the contributor’s website. HARO is excellent, but you need to check it every day consistently- you might go weeks or months without an opportunity but when you find one, it’s worth it!
-Creating excellent content for your client’s website and using some clever content marketing will help your client’s website be found. And if the content includes something that’s unique, focuses on a current trend or includes an infographic, you increase the chance of your client’s website being linked to naturally by other sites.
Website domain extensions
If your health client is building a brand new website, consider the domain extension (also known as the Top Level Domain or TLD). This is the last part of a domain: the .com or .net or .org.
In an article by Varn published in 2016 (and discussed in an article by SEMrush), a survey of 1000 people in the U.K. found that:
70% of people don’t trust newer website domains (such as .biz, .fashion, .london)
How can this help your client?
We’ve already learnt that trustworthiness is the “t” in E.A.T.
By choosing a trustworthy domain extension such as .com or .co.uk or .com.au, your client’s website appears more trustworthy to potential users and may lead to a better click through rate in Google. This can have a positive impact on keyword rankings, organic traffic and ultimately, conversions.
One final word
SEO for health and wellness businesses can seem daunting, especially with the Medic Update that penalised many health websites.
The reasons why these sites were penalised is they didn’t have the authority or expertise to be sharing health and wellness advice, and Google wasn’t confident in sharing these sites with users searching for health and wellness topics.
As a health copywriter, you already know the importance of writing excellent quality content for your client’s audience. Continue with this focus, but don’t be afraid of optimising with health-related keyword phrases.
Remember the E.A.T. guidelines and how important it is for your client’s website to follow these guidelines.
Follow SEO best practices and your client will be better positioned for search engine success!
Want to learn the basics of SEO so you can build your SEO knowledge and confidence? Join my upcoming free 5-day SEO Sleuth Challenge by signing up here.