Creating a Cohesive Healthcare Strategy with SEO, Social, and Paid Search

For a while now, the steady digital marketing mantra has been “Content is king.” This holds true for healthcare marketing and is unlikely to change anytime soon. However, to abide by this mantra, it takes more than just a continuous, “healthy dose” of new content – it must be meaningful to patients, given a proper purpose and evaluated in order to gauge its effectiveness.

And above all, a content strategy should not be created in silos.

Too often, content efforts operate individually by marketing channel. However, true progress is achieved when these channels work together. The problem that many large hospitals and healthcare systems run into is not knowing what information to pull or how to combine it across different channels, people, and/or departments. To help your healthcare marketing team collaborate successfully, here are 4 key steps to achieving a more cohesive content strategy.

1. Dig for Data-Driven Content Ideas

By comparing content-related data across multiple channels, digital marketers can zero in on the topics that are most likely to pique the interests of their prospective patients. Consider answering each of these channel-specific questions to help glean insights.

  • SEO/Content: What are some of the top search terms being plugged into your internal site search? Which blog posts are bringing in the most organic traffic?
  • PPC: Which keywords and ad groups have the highest click-through rates? Which ones are leading to the most conversions?
  • Social: Which posts are gaining the most shares? Which ones are prompting the most conversation?

Once these and any additional insights have been pulled, schedule time to look at them all together to see if any patterns emerge. Related keywords/ad groups/posts that perform well across multiple platforms are likely to indicate topics of high interest and can be used to plan out high-value content for patients to engage with.

For example, several internal site searches for “zika,” high click-through rates for paid gynecologist-related terms and a blog post on “traveling while pregnant” with tons of shares may point toward a strong desire for content that addresses Zika virus and its effect on pregnancies. This could result in a new piece such as a blog post that shares “10 Questions to Ask Your Gynecologist about Zika Before Getting Pregnant,” or a video that provides tips on avoiding mosquito bites if you cannot postpone travel.

2. Explore Conversation-Driven Content Ideas

Comparable to the concept above, online conversations from multiple channels can also be evaluated to shed light on common questions or concerns related to your hospital, or popular healthcare topics in general. For example, analyze whether there any recurring themes hiding within:

  • Reviews that appear within results from a branded keyword search?
  • Comments on blog content that has been posted to your site?
  • Messages submitted from a PPC landing page lead form?
  • Comments that have been made in response to a social post?

By using a process similar to the one outlined by Marketing Land, free tools like word cloud generators can then help extract commonly used terms throughout these gathered conversations.  In turn, these words can be used to determine what is most meaningful to your current and prospective patients, and turned into topics addressed through content on and off-site.

3. Decide the Proper Purpose and Placement of Your Contenterica-erwine_graphic-2

While using cross-channel collaboration to determine meaningful content topics is key, so too is promoting it properly across each channel. Using Google Analytics to show top conversion paths across organic search (SEO), paid search (PPC) and social networks can give you a solid starting point for doing so.

Looking at the sample conversion path graph to the right, you can see that the majority of this site’s conversions came from organic search and/or PPC, with significantly fewer singular or collaborative goal completions stemming from social networks. Through further exploration, you can determine which channels served as initial vs. last touchpoints before a conversion occurred. For example, if it was discovered that paid search ads were repeatedly supporting more assisted rather than direct conversions, your marketing strategy could be altered to share an ungated and highly engaging form of content (such as a video or infographic) via PPC ads rather than limited copy followed by a lead form.

Similarly, if organic searches were proving to serve as initial touchpoints, high-interest content could be used to draw in and educate patients, who could then be funneled to other informational pages and primed for a conversion later on by way of a paid ad.


Using the specific conversion path above as an example, let’s say that through previous content topic research for a hospital, it was determined that audience members were particularly interested in learning about diabetes risk factors. The content flow could look something like this:

  • Search #1, “diabetes risk factors” leads to an organic page that educates the prospective patient on several general risk factors for diabetes
  • Search #2, “what is my risk for diabetes” leads to a second organic page that encourages the same prospective patient to take a basic risk level assessment
  • Search #3 “find a diabetes doctor” leads to a paid ad that prompts the patient to contact the hospital in order to discuss his/her diabetes risk level

Post-goal completion, you can continue engagement, for example, by including a link to the hospital’s Pinterest board focused on healthy recipes for diabetes prevention or management within the contact form’s “Thank You” page.

4. Examine How Your Channels Are Performing

Because the process of content research, creation and promotion is on-going, it is especially important to evaluate how content across each channel is performing (based on its purpose), so that strategy tactics can be duplicated, repurposed or adjusted. For example:

  • If an engaging page on-site is showing minimal amounts of organic traffic, a paid promotion strategy may be needed to help overcome a highly competitive set of healthcare keywords.
  • Correspondingly, if certain paid search terms are leading to above-average click-through-rates, this could be cause to try and create a similar yet un-duplicated page optimized for organic search and repurposed content for social
  • At the end of a calendar year, the ten blog posts with the most social shares could be repurposed or used as inspiration for a comprehensive health-related e-book or guide accessible via a paid search lead generation form.

The possibilities are endless!

All-in-all, the bottom line is this: a content strategy is most effective when channels like SEO, paid search and social work together instead of in isolation, similar to the way physicians across different specialties collaborate to diagnose and treat their patients.

Deciding what types of data and information to gather is half of the battle, while the other half includes sharing information with other channel leaders to identify patterns. And while this may take a bit of extra planning, communication, and analysis, the results are likely to lead to “healthier” content – adjustments to your overall healthcare marketing strategy that are well worth the effort.


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Did you like this post? Let us know why (or why not) in the comments. In the meantime, check out our blog and infographic Digital Marketing Leaders in the Healthcare Industry: How Do You Compare? to discover this year’s findings when it comes to how health systems are approaching social media, what they spend in social advertising and how they respond to patient reviews online.

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