Search engine optimization has continued to evolve over the years. Search engines are frequently updated to be more intuitive to people’s needs, and your SEO strategy needs to evolve along with that. What your practice was doing 10 years ago is not going to get you the same results today. Even if your practice is showing up well in search results now, failing to keep up with the latest best practices could result in your practice falling behind with the next update.
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Announcer: It’s time to think differently about healthcare, but how do we keep up? The days of yesterday’s medicine are long gone and we’re left trying to figure out where to go from here, With all the talk about politics and technology, it can be easy to forget that healthcare is still all about humans. Many of those humans have unbelievable stories to tell. Here we leave the policy debates to the other guys and focus instead on the people and ideas that are changing the way we address our health, it’s time to navigate the new landscape of healthcare together. Here are some amazing stories along the way, ready for a breath of fresh air it’s time for your Paradigm Shift.
Michael: Welcome to the Paradigm Shift of Healthcare. Thank you for listening. Search engine optimization has continued to evolve over the years. Search engines are frequently updated to be more intuitive to people’s needs. This means that your SEO strategy has to keep evolving. What you were doing for your practice 10 years ago is not going to work today. Even if your practice is showing up well in search results now, failing to keep up with a latest, best practices could result in your practice, falling behind with the next update. So today Scott and I are joined by a very special guest. This is Ashley Hohensee. She is the marketing coordinator for P3. We’ve worked together for pretty much the same amount of time that I’ve been with the company of nearly that same amount of time. Ashley, I know you’ve done a ton of writing for us. My first question is how many articles, if you had to guess, do you think that you’ve written for the company and that would be blog posts that would be content you’ve written for customers? What’s your wild guess on that?
Ashley: Hundreds? I’m sure it–
Michael: Has to be hundreds at least.
Ashley: I mean, put it this way. If I were to come across some of my older content, sometimes I don’t remember that I wrote it, it’s been that much.
Michael: If we were taking like Scott’s estimate, that means somewhere in the million range, like [crosstalk 00:01:56] millions of articles that you’ve written.
Scott: Just pumped it up just by a little bit. [crosstalk 00:02:02] So I thought guys that it would be fun for me just to kind of ask a lot of the questions that I get from my current end perspective customers when it comes to search engine optimization. We answer a lot of very similar questions in this vein. So I think it’ll be helpful for everybody I’ll get it started with what does content marketing mean for a medical practice and why is it so important for search engine optimization?
Ashley: So it’s important to kind of define what content marketing means for a medical practice, because content marketing means different things for different industries. What works for one type of business doesn’t necessarily work for another. For a medical practice, when we talk about content marketing, what we’re meaning is you want to let patients know who you are and what you do. What is your expertise? What conditions do you treat basically, how can you help? Why that’s important for SEO is search engines are built now, they’re pretty smart. But if you want to show up in search results or a particular procedure or service, you really have to put that out there. You have to, if you don’t say that you do a procedure, how is anyone going to know that you do it, basically?
Scott: Yeah. We’ve had this happen a lot where I’ve been with, on the phone with a practice or visited with a practice in pre COVID days. They’ll say like, well, I talk about doing a particular procedure, there’s a bullet point. We write much more in depth articles about that. I really do think, and there are some people who just, they write the content. Isn’t very specific to them. They’ll say something like, I always take an anterior approach to total hip. I use an anterior approach for my total hips and I think that’s very good because, and then they basically, they do essentially a copy and paste from something, which is everywhere or they include a link that’s everywhere.
So I kind of wanted to talk to you a little bit about if you want to be found for doing jumping jacks online, so that’s my pat joke. Then you have to write about doing jumping jacks, but I do follow up with this conversation. This one key point, hey, but you got to have good quality content. So I’d like you guys to talk a little bit about that. It’s not enough to just say I do X. Right? What are we talking about here? What is good quality content? When you’re talking about a medical practices, search engine optimization and best methods.
Ashley: So when we’re saying good quality content, of course, the number one thing is you want it to be unique to your practice, to your point. You don’t want to just have a copy and paste of something that you can find anywhere. They could go on WebMD and find, that’s not what you’re trying to do here. You’re not trying to be WebMD for the patient. But if I come to you looking for a hip replacement, there’s a good chance I already know what that is. So if you’re starting off like, “well, a hip is a ball and socket joint and we do…” I already know that. What I want to know is how you’re going to help me, why do I pick you?
Scott: That’s a really important point, Ashley, and trying to get away with like a simplistic approach of this is what a hip is, and I’m going to make a small incision, that kind of thing. It’s like, if you’re really trying to attract a patient to come see you and they go to your website, try to be in their shoes. Right. So the patient more of likely has already gone to WebMD. The patient already knows what a hip joint is. So just trying to be so simplistic and frankly focusing too much on the perioperative, the surgery itself, that’s probably not what’s highest on their mind. I mean, they’re in pain and they want to know why should I go see you? What is it about you that’s so special and what can I expect afterwards?
Michael: If you think about some of the recent conversations we’ve had Scott, or just in the show in general, we’ve talked a lot about what is the customer experience, what is the patient experience like and all of this. So much of what today is quality content is all about, how you would take care of that customer, how you would take care of that patient, those basic prerequisites that you have to have, yes, you need a certain amount of words in your content. You need to have, stay away from these, but it’s probably 15 and 20 years outdated now in terms of keyword stuffing and some of those old kinds of approach, that you still see. That people come back in and maybe they’ve not really thought about this space for a good 10 years or so.
They go, “Oh, it’s cool. All you got to do is have keywords,” and it’s like, oh my gosh. But so much of what we’ve been talking about in terms of how you take care of your patients, what are the things that really are going to help you stand out? What are the points of differentiation around the way that you take care of your patient, the way that you complete that particular procedure? That’s the stuff that leads to good quality content, good search engine optimized content, because as Ashley was saying, these systems have gotten smarter. So as long as you’re talking about it, and you’re giving a clear enough distinction, just even the concept of keyword stuffing, right? Since, keyword stuffing was a thing I would say a decade ago was when I was getting into this industry, really focusing on search engine optimization, this was already starting to fade pretty strongly at that point.
Right. So since that 10 years ago, the things that have come in terms of the different ways that search engines can understand closely related phrases, instead of having to say direct interior hip replacement, 15 times in Omaha, Nebraska. It’s so funny [crosstalk 00:07:56] so I did some work for a lawyer and for a group that worked with legal firms all the time, this is a decade ago. So you had to always, there was a specific search phrase that I had to go through. First of all, like make sure was in a lot of places. Then later on go through and make sure it wasn’t and too many places. Cause it was just that link spamming of, “best drunk driving defense in Portland, Maine,” that’s where it was Portland. I remember having to search for that phrase so many times.
Scott: Well a couple points I want to make for the person who’s trying to help the practice. If they’re thinking about search engine optimization, remember that Google’s actually good at what they do and they want to get better at it. That’s how they make a living, right? In the old days, maybe they needed some help by saying stuff like, “best hip surgeon in Omaha,” 14 times. Then all of a sudden they’re like, “Wow, this isn’t working. By the way, I’m not going to sell as many ads.” So having good deep content about specifically what you do does make sense.
I know from a length of content, I want to get to that and come back to that because length of content and how technical, I’m going to put that aside for just a second and kind of come back to, I get this question a lot of, well, how many articles a month are you going to write for me? This blog versus one really good deep content. I kind of wanted to ask about that guys. I get that asked a lot. So talk to me a little bit about the pros and cons of the blog, so to speak. Cause that was a big thing again, five, 10 years.
Ashley: Yeah. I think that kind goes back to, like I said, kind of at the beginning, certain types of content marketing work better for certain industries. Consulting a blog doesn’t necessarily, it’s not really an easy thing. If I’m trying to find a doctor that wants, that does hip replacement, do I have to search through your blog to find that out? I want to be able to find that really easily on your website. And blog content also tends to be kind of dated in a sense, it’s kind of more like news content, there’s a date on it and it’s meant to be just this kind of quick thing where you put out kind of quick information, right?
Scott: You consume it on a regular basis, et cetera. Whereas a patient is basically saying, wow, I’m in a lot of pain. I need to be taken care of. I always talk about this. There’s a lot of different pathways. I think the old school, that would be me, used to call them funnels. Now it’s pathways, but there are a lot of different pathways that you can get to the website. So it could be that a family member, a friend was seen by Dr. X and they go online and they’ve got this terrible hip pain. They know they need a total hip replacement.
I don’t think they want to read 14 blog articles. They just want know, what do you do? What can, you know what I mean? That reaffirmation. Right. That can also occur when it’s the primary care physician or the rheumatologist saying, “Look, I’ve given you all I got, there’s no more corticosteroids for you, sir. You need to see the orthopedic surgeon for this particular case.” Again, I don’t think reading 14 blog posts is very helpful. Right. It’s, let’s read that. But Michael, is there any more that you want to add to that in terms of that conversation?
Michael: The pathway that you’re talking about, that patient intent or the physician’s intent is drastically different than, and Ashley you’re more in tune with pop culture than I am. I’m now like the one going, “I don’t know, what are the blogs that kids read this days?” But what’s a site that people are always turning to like Rolling Stone or whatever you just hop on?
Ashley: Yeah, like your Buzzfeed.
Michael: There you go. Buzzfeed. That’s the thing that people under 40 read. You’ve got a site like Buzzfeed. It’s just entertainment, right? Like you don’t necessarily know what you’re going there for. It’s just killing time. But hey, if I’m in pain and I’m specifically trying to solve a problem, I’m not interested in reading 14 blog posts. I want to solve my problem. So that very specific intent difference of killing time versus getting my needs met. Huge, huge difference. The approaches are very different for those two.
Scott: Also if you’re a practice, I would assume that you would really want to try to get that patient that has that intent. So in other words, “Hey man, I got some hip pain and in 20 years I’ve been told I may need to get surgery.” Hey, that’s cool. We always provide that kind of basic patient education so that anybody can read it. But if you really do have an intent of getting surgery sooner, rather than later, that kind of generic content isn’t helpful. As a matter of fact, it’s something that’s important for people to know: duplicative content. So in other words, the type of content that we put on, we’ve got a database full of a lot of patient education for our platform, but we actually block robots from reading that. Walk us through that, because I’ve had to walk a lot of prospective clients and current clients through that as well. What’s the issue with duplicative content?
Ashley: Right. So I guess going back to that uniqueness discussion is that if it’s there on everybody’s website, you’re not talking about what makes you unique. The search engine can also, is smart enough to understand, hey, this same content is on a hundred different sites. So then it becomes a question of, especially if you’re in the same market, well, which one ranks if they’re exactly the same? Then what may end up happening is just, neither of you do. So, that’s really the biggest thing. It used to be, if you got caught with duplicate content that you could just be taken out of the search results, and it’s not really as bad anymore with that. But yeah, it’s not going to really help you rank either. Usually.
Michael: Yeah. You’ve got all these spammy tactics that jump in and that start happening and then Google is like, “Okay, we’re not playing that game anymore.”
Scott: I think that’s a really good thing before we get to this next topic. I do want to remind everybody, Google’s very good at what it does. They’re smart. So any type of spammy tactic, infusing the page with lots of keywords. I remember when I first got started. Now this is late ‘90s, early 2000s, because I’m old. Do you remember they used to put the white text on the white background? Just so only Google can see it. Look, man, Google doesn’t want that and they’re not going to give you credit for it. They may push you down for it. So any type of that spammy, gray tactic, I’m telling you Google’s smarter than you and they spend a lot more money than you do and a lot more time than you do. So if you want, I go back to it, if you want to be found for doing jumping jacks in Omaha, write about doing jumping jacks in Omaha, write about what it is that makes you unique.
P3 Pro Tip
Hey, it’s Michael here with your P3 pro tip for the week.
Is your practice introducing a new procedure or service and trying to figure out how to attract patients online? A common problem that practices run into is that they lead SEO efforts with the name of the procedure or service. However, that strategy doesn’t tend to work well with new treatment options. If patients don’t know the name of your new offering, they won’t think to search for it. So while you may end up ranking number one in Google for the treatment you aren’t likely to bring in new patients for that because they aren’t searching for it. Instead, focus your SEO efforts on the problem that the new treatment solves. For example, if your practice is offering a new type of technology for knee replacements, focus on ranking for knee replacements, not for the name of the new technology. Once you’ve got patients attention for the thing they know they need, then you can introduce your new treatment option and explain why you recommend it.
Michael: This is Paradigm Shift of Healthcare, today we’re talking about what kind of content practices need. We’re joined by our content specialist, our marketing coordinator, Ashley Hohensee. Who’s helping us walk through what it looks like today because it really has shifted since the two of us have joined the company. So a lot of things have moved kind of in that space. Scott’s grilling us with questions as we’re going here.
Scott: I am having fun with this because honestly I am the face of the company, so to speak. A practice comes, they’ve got an issue, and a lot of these quite come out, and this is one that really comes out a lot. It’s about how long should a content be, content piece be, excuse me. When you’re developing for content, we deal with this a lot. The surgeon will want to have a very technical article and they kind of forget that they’re not talking to a primary care provider or another surgeon, they’re talking to a patient. So length, let’s start with just for a particular procedure. How many words do you think is, is an appropriate length?
Ashley: So we normally go for about 800 to 1,000 words. So you want to provide enough depth that you’re going to answer the patient’s questions thoroughly, but you don’t want a novel either because you have to consider the fact that good bit of people are going to be looking on their phones, et cetera. Do you want them to just be scrolling and scrolling and scrolling forever? So you want to kind of strike that right balance where you’re providing enough information and enough depth, but without really just tipping it too far in the other direction.
Scott: I kind of want to make that point very clear about, you mentioned a lot of people are on their phones. We do a lot of work here where we try to take a look at how many people are coming on a, to a particular customer’s website. That number is like 40-50% and it’s going up every year. So don’t think that people aren’t on a phone, everybody’s on a phone. My mom who is in her eighties is on her phone and reading websites on her phone. So don’t think, “Oh, not in my demographic.” It’s like, nope, you’re wrong because we’ve got so many websites and we have so many people on this platform. We know there are a lot of people on a mobile. And your other point is people just want to know, just give me the basics here about what to expect. One thing people forget, they’re in pain. That’s why they’re on the site.
Ashley: Yeah, no, it’s such a frustrating process. When you’re trying to look for a doctor, I’ve done this recently, having moved, and you’ll call the practice. It’s a group and they’re like, “Well, you’re a new patient. Okay. What doctor do you want?” I don’t know because your website didn’t tell me. “This is what I need. You tell me,” kind of thing. A lot of the practices just don’t do it well.
Scott: Ashley, haven’t been on listening to all of these podcasts. I’m sure you do, religiously. But that being said, we do always say, I repeat this all the time. Please, please, please train your front office staff because they’re the face of your, the first date it’s people answering the phone. So, okay. We get back to like, hey, the content is written for patients, but not your peers. Right? You don’t want a lot of technical terminology because again, man, that inferred knowledge thing that’ll kill you.
I’ll never forget. I had an orthopedic surgeon, this had nothing to do with content. He just wanted a picture of these great cuts that he made for a total knee. It’s beautiful. I mean, it was a great job, but it was bloody. I was like, no patient wants to see that. He was so mad at me and I knew him really well. I’ve known him for a long time. So we were able to have some fun. He goes, “What do you mean? These are great cuts.” I’m like, “Yeah it doesn’t matter. They don’t want to see that.” So when we talk about writing to the patient instead of to appear what reading, grade level are we talking about here?
Ashley: So, we’re normally aiming for a fourth or fifth grade reading level. It’s not to say, you’re being patronizing. You think your patients are at a fourth grade level of knowledge. But it’s also just, one, if they’re on a mobile device consuming content on the internet, to make it just easier to read because people are going to scan and go to the part that’s relevant to them or what they think is relevant to them. So you want to make it easy just to be able to read quickly. If you’re using a lot of complex language and things like that, you don’t want your patient to have to leave and go Google, “What does this even mean?” Because you haven’t defined it because you’re not talking to your peers. Also, if you don’t kind of at least define that terminology, if you’re going to include it or if you just include it with no explanation, you might rank for that technical term, you’re not going to rank for the… [Crosstalk 00:20:25]
Scott: No one’s looking for it. “I do great chamfer cuts on my total knees.” Nobody knows what a chamfer cut is unless they’re in the medical device business or they’re working in an OR for an orthopod or an orthopod. I do think you’re absolutely right. No one’s going to look for that. You’re going to confuse people. Again, I go back to like you said, I’m in pain, on a phone and I just want to get some good basic information so that I can make the decision about whether I’m going to pick up the phone and call you guys or make an appointment request.
Michael: Yeah. So let me throw in one other kind of curve ball in this is that we’re defining a particular procedure, right? Here’s the hip replacement, here’s the whatever procedure, but what if I’ve got questions beyond that? I think that thinking through that kind of network of information that people might want, we’re talking about, I don’t want blog posts. I don’t want all the exercise tips necessarily because I’m looking for this particular thing. But what you were talking about Scott with before and after the surgery, when can I do this again? When can I do that again? You may not get to all of that information in that first post that you write, just talking about what you do with the procedure. You want to be able to kind of guide the patient through all of that sort of information. So again like this process of thinking through the customer’s perspective, thinking through the patient perspective, so much of the content that you write for that will cause positive ranking will cause things like that to start working together.
Scott: Yeah. That goes through this win-win process that I always talk to everyone about, not only are you accomplishing the goal of being found, online, the essence of search engine optimization, but you’re setting good expectations for your patients and your patients feel more comfortable. By the way, a lot of your patients are trying to relay what is going to happen to their loved ones. They’re freaked out. Something I always try to gently remind surgeons about if you’re a total knee surgeon doing a total knees, it’s a pretty common place. You have a cup of coffee even before you go in like da, da, and you do your work. Hey man, and that’s the way it’s supposed to be. Whenever I talk to any of my friends about, well, who should I go see, I always say, just go to the person who does a lot of these, who has good reviews online.
It’s that type of thing, because it should be common place for them. They practice it a lot, et cetera, et cetera. But the patient’s freaking out and they’re trying to get down whatever details they can to go tell anybody, themselves as well. I do think Michael, along those lines, here’s this information from what to expect from a big picture for a particular procedure. But I say this to all the surgeons, I say, you have had, you or your staff have had a conversation with all these patients a million times over, oh, you’re about to do a total knee. Oh you’re about to have a total hip done here. They give you stuff. This is what’s going to happen. This is where it’s going to be and all that. I’m like a frequently ask questions page, after we write this basic content is a great place. Right, Michael to go to?
Michael: Yeah. It’s a funny story, because I think that first of all, as we’re kind of talking through here, we’re not going to get to everything that we had even set out to cover today, because I think there’s just so much that where we have so much more to say about these kinds of things and where we have so much to say, because this is the conversations again we have with practices all the time. These are the things that people need to understand about it.
But talking about an FAQ page, we had a physician up in Manhattan, does a lot of hip replacements, all of that kind of stuff. For a while one of the most popular pages on the site were, “What happens after my surgery?” People from all over the country were looking at that page, knowing that they’re not all going to that particular physician. We weren’t coming in there saying, “Look, see we made you win because you got your, what happens after my surgery page.” But so many people weren’t doing a good job of that. So it was like, if I can just understand how somebody, somewhere handles this process after I’m done with my procedure, I’ll feel somewhat better about all of this.
Scott: Yeah, and those guys who are really good and do a lot of surgeries, they are answering those questions a lot. What I always advise them to do is just get it down on a piece of paper, man. You know what I mean? Or record your conversation with a patient or I don’t know, buy some donuts or lunch for the team and say, guys, we say the same stuff over and over for these five procedures. Why don’t we get it down on paper and get it up on the website? All of our websites are built with a content management system. It’s pretty easy to add that. Obviously you can come and talk to us about it too. We’ll be happy to do it, but it is a great next step.
Cause Michael, you have a very valid point. After you write that, it’s like, all right, what’s next? What do we do? It’s like, I think we actually have to have a separate show about like, okay, we’ve written good content. Right. I do want these takeaways guys. So tell me if I’m missing anything. Hey, write about the particular procedure you want to be found for, have good information about what to expect and what you do that makes you a little different.
Ashley, I know that you’ve interviewed quite a few people over the years about this. Right? We’re not going to write it so that it’s written for another surgeon. We’re going to write it for a patient. We’re going to try to write it. So it’s easy to understand, easy to scan. So, that’s that fourth grade reading level. I think these are critical things for everyone to understand whether you use us, whether you use anybody. It’s not about soothing your ego to write a really complex article. Excuse me, that’s going to end up appearing in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, it really is about trying to help your patient and help them understand.
Michael: Absolutely. All right. Let’s wrap here. I think we’ve got so much more we can say. We’ll save that for another conversation.
Scott: We’re going to have an SEO part two, everybody.
Michael: I’m sorry. You’ve got to come back and hang out with us.
Scott: Yeah, Ashley, I’m Sorry. We [crosstalk 00:26:26] already you back on.
Michael: Excellent. So, thanks everybody for listening. Obviously check us out. We’re at P3practicemarketing.com. You will find us with a podcast show link there. Thanks always for listening. Have a great week.
Announcer: Thanks again for tuning in to the Paradigm Shift of Healthcare. This program is brought to you by Health Connective, custom marketing solutions for med tech and pharma subscribe on Apple podcasts, Google play, or anywhere you listen to podcasts.
P3 Practice Marketing has helped orthopedic, spine, and neurosurgery practices market themselves online since 1998. Our focus is on helping practices expand their reach through increased patient recommendations and provider referrals.