SEO for sites in the medical industry has some unique challenges.
As a key YMYL niche, many of the SERPs you’d want to target here have additional layers of manual review by the search quality raters.
As well as all of the usual SEO factors, you’re also up against heavy competition from some hugely authoritative sites, and demonstrating killer E-E-A-T (yes, there’s another E now ) is absolutely essential if you want to grow your rankings.
There’s a lot to unpack here. So let’s get into it…
Here are our experts’ top tips for improving E-E-A-T for medical and healthcare SEO success.
1. Author Expertise
Consider adding “medically reviewed by…” or expert author bios to your content.
A common theme you’re going to read a lot throughout this article is the concept of E-E-A-T. Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness.
To compete in YMYL searches, and particularly medical searches, E-E-A-T is critical.
Different entities can hold and build E-E-A-T.
Your company, and by extension your website, can have its own E-E-A-T.
And individuals within your organization can also have their own levels of E-E-A-T.
In many industries, individuals publish content across a variety of online platforms.
So over time, that author develops their own reputation and their own E-E-A-T score that follows them across the web, in all of the content they produce and put their name to.
For them to display that information so prominently, and put such a focus on it, should show you how important they think it is that there’s transparency behind the information and recommendations returned in these types of searches.
And if it’s important to Bing, you can be sure it’s likely to be important to Google too.
If you want to learn more about author E-A-T, Marie Haynes did a great webinar series that we’d highly recommend checking out.
2. Check and refine your keyword targeting
Don’t go after keywords you’ve got no chance of ranking for.
Earlier this year, the SEO industry saw the release of a data dump that contained some of the biggest insights into search and ranking factors ever.
Russian search giant Yandex had a list of 1,922 of its current and past ranking factors leaked.
Obviously, SEO’s went into overdrive.
In the flurry of analysis that followed in the days and weeks after the leak, one ranking factor in particular was especially interesting was this one:
FI_BEAST_HOST_MEAN_POS: – Your average ranking position across your whole domain, was/is a ranking factor.
If you want to go deeper into some of the other key takeaways from the leak, Michael King over at iPullRank did a great summary in this long twitter thread that’s well worth taking the time to read. You can also still view the full list of all factors here.
Now obviously Yandex isn’t Google. But they’re both modern search engines whos engineers share ideas and as such, this leak is something all SEOs should pay attention to.
But getting back to the point here…
Manually reviewing the SERPs to qualify your target keyword opportunities is important in setting up a successful keyword research strategy.
Start small, with keywords you can win on, and build up to the more competitive keywords as you assemble more and more E-E-A-T throughout your site.
Don’t go for the big competition keywords right out of the gate – it’ll only drag you down.
3. Check your sites Accessibility
Make sure your site conforms to all accessibility standards and guidelines.
Depending on what area of medical content you’re covering, there’s a good chance that a larger portion of your audience will fall into the category of users who rely on key accessibility features to use and interact with the web.
If they can’t use your website, they can’t interact with and benefit from your content.
And that sends horrible user satisfaction data back to Google via all kinds of known ranking metrics like time on site, bounce rate, dwell time etc.
4. Content can be your most important asset, or your Achilles heel
Top things to watch out for with this point in mind are…
- Don’t make claims that aren’t cited and backed up by trusted medical resources
- Take the time to check on the tone of your content and ensure it’s consistent with the tone of what’s ranking for the queries you’re targeting
The quality, reliability and trustworthiness of the content you produce and publish, is everything.
Especially in a YMYL niche like medical or healthcare.
We can see how good the large language models are becoming recently and this level of language processing and understanding is undoubtedly in use in the algorithms too. Layer on top of that the heavy manual search quality review layer that happens in the medical space, and the accuracy and reliability of your content is under the microscope in a real way.
Safeguard your current rankings and future proof your SEO results by taking the time to cite your sources, ensure that your content accurately covers the issue or topic it talks about, and make sure your content is helpful.
5. Fully understand what you’re up against. Or work with someone who does.
To really succeed in medical SEO, you need to fully understand all of the challenges you’re up against – both the ones that are unique to healthcare SEO and those that are enhanced by occupying such a high stakes YMYL industry.
Things like the Medic Update, the manual quality raters guidelines … knowing how to navigate all of these challenges is vitally important, and understanding them fully is the key to really future proofing your SEO efforts.
6. Have a solid About page and Contact page
Make sure your About page and Contact page are:
- Clearly visible
- Easily accessible
- Fully up to date
- Contain as much information as possible about your company, who you are and how to reach you
These two pages are key components of the T in E-E-A-T, as well as being great places to double down on your Experience and Expertise too.
When it comes to Trustworthiness, transparency is the key.
Google – and, more importantly, users – want to know that there’s a real, actual company behind the website and the content it houses.
They want to know who you are, what your background is, what qualifies you to talk about this stuff, and how they can contact you if they need to.
7. If you’re a local business, verify your GMB listing
If you have a physical location where you service patients from, getting your business verified in Google My Business is a must.
This step will help you be listed in Google Maps, allowing you to specifically target local communities and also helping patients to find you more easily.
A verified Google My Business listing helps you on a few different fronts.
Firstly it’s another important signal to Google that you are a real company. In order to verify your listing, you’ll need an address that you can verify, which most “less-trustworthy” sources won’t easily be able to do.
Secondly, it gives you a chance to compete in local SEO.
When someone does a search for a service or product within a specific location, this triggers a different type of search result that is more tailored around surfacing local businesses. If you’re one of those local business with a physical location that you service customers from, you really should be competing in local SEO.
Once you’ve verified your GMB listing, you can also check out these great tips to help you improve your local SEO rankings too.
8. Clearly display any awards, recognitions, qualifications or press coverage
If you’re a part of any industry professional bodies, if you’re won any awards or recognitions for either your business or in your own individual capacity as a practitioner, or even if you’ve been mentioned in an authoritative media or industry relevant site – display these things clearly on your website.
Placing the logos of your industry governing bodies in your website footer, with links to your registration page can be a great example of this in action.
A banner of news or press logos on your home page with links to places where you’ve been mentioned.
Or adding your previous awards to your about page.
These are all things that help to display your Authoritativeness clearly and prominently.
All of these things are great signals of your authority in your space, and that authority entitles you to speak on the subjects you speak on.
Displaying them clearly on your website helps both users and search engines to understand your authority and expertise better, and also to link together the various different places where your company is mentioned online.
That last bit is really important.
If a really authoritative SEO website mentions “Marwick Marketing” somewhere in an article, that’s potentially a great signal to Google that Marwick Marketing know about SEO. So we’d want to make sure that our users and the search engines both know about that mention, and that they’re able to make the link and associate the mention and our site as being the same entity.
9. Reviews and testimonials
Focus on building up more reviews on major 3rd party or industry specific sites.
Solicit testimonials from current or past clients and display them on your website, somewhere prominent.
First and foremost, most users read reviews of a company before deciding whether to reach out and make a contact or make a purchase.
Having real people speak to their positive experiences with your company will help reassure those users that they should reach out to you and that they can trust you.
The testimonials are also a great source of user generated content, that can help your site rank for keywords and variations that you might not have thought of.
And having other people’s experiences of working with you displayed on your site, gives further depth to the content on the page.
10. Read the Search Quality Rater Guidelines
Take the time to read (and then re-read, and re-re-read) the Search Quality Raters Guidelines.
This is the actual document of guidelines that Google’s entire search quality rater team are trained on and given as a reference point to use when they are rating sites.
It tells you exactly what the human quality raters are looking for.
And it’s also important to understand because this is the direction that Google will always try to move the algorithm in.
Literally everything you need to know to rank now, and into the future, is in this document.
So take the time to read and understand it, so you know exactly where to focus your time and efforts for long term medical SEO success.
Matt is Marwick Marketing's Division Leader for SEO & Web Development and has over a decade of digital marketing experience in everything from local to national and international campaigns. He's led high impact strategies for major brands and currently oversees Marwick's global SEO and Web services.