Remember our “Ask the Expert” Office Hours with Ahrefs’ Patrick Stox? Did you submit a question? Yes? Great! Because today is the day and we’re excited to share her answers to all YOUR most pressing questions about healthcare SEO.
Meet Patrick Stox and Ahrefs!
Patrick Stox is Product Advisor, Technical SEO, and Brand Ambassador at Ahrefs. Before that he was a Technical SEO at IBM for many years, worked at an agency, had his own consultancy, and was in-house at a B2B company. A long time ago he started his career as a developer. Patrick was the lead author for the SEO chapter of the 2021 Web Almanac. He helped define the role of Search Marketing Strategist for the US Department of Labor. To date he has spoken at 75+ industry events including Pubcon, SMX, Tech SEO Boost, Ad World, Digital Summit, and many more. He’s written 50+ articles for industry sites like Search Engine Land, Search Engine Journal, MarTech, and of course Ahrefs.
Ahrefs itself is a software company that develops online SEO tools and free educational materials for marketing professionals. Ahrefs values making meaningful and easy-to-use products. Ahrefs shift things fast to give customers what matters most to them, and to keep them ahead of the game. Their motto: “First do it, then do it right, then do it better.”
Your Healthcare SEO Questions. Answered.
Over the past weeks we asked you to share your SEO-related questions for Patrick, and today we get to share his answers!
1. Do I need to use WordPress? If not, what are some other options?
No, you don’t have to use WordPress. People build sites with all kinds of technologies. If you want something easy that just kind of works without setup then look at any of the website builders like Wix. Or if you’re in ecommerce then Shopify. There are a lot of options that make it easy. I would recommend registering a domain you control though, not just using a subdomain like mysite.wix.com, but having mysite.com itself so that you can use a different system later if you want to without losing any value you’ve built up.
2. What can I do to build reputation as a site, if I am looking to rank medical content?
Build the reputation of your authors and your company and make great content. The actual guide that Google uses for their Quality raters are public and health content falls into Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) queries which can be harder to rank for. They have a concept of Experience-Expertise-Authoritativeness-Trustworthiness (E-E-A-T). The raters look for things that align to these concepts by checking the content and things like the author profiles, but Google has to rely on other signals. Google uses some signals like the internal and external links to your pages, mentions across the web, and for people searching for your site along with different topics. These are all things that happen naturally when you’re more well known, your content is well liked, and you’ve built up your influence.
3. How will AI change search in the short term and long term? It’s been Google all the way. With the ChatGPT / Microsoft deal, do we need to pay more attention to Bing now? What’s your advice for navigating the search landscape with so many moving pieces at the moment? Should we still invest in SEO-optimized content?
Short term, we’re going to see a lot more spam and misinformation. Long term, we’ll probably have something similar to the Star Trek computer that’s a repository for known knowledge that people keep adding to. We probably need to pay a bit more attention to Bing, but too early to really say how user adoption will go. As for navigating the landscape, I wouldn’t be making too many changes just yet. Yes, you need to be investing in content. There’s always room for content that adds value.
4. In the fertility space, what are some of the key things to consider when creating educational content? Is there a specific length, style, language, etc. we should be using? I feel like many of us are writing about the same topics, so how can I rank above my competition? What does Google “look for”?
For length, long enough to convey the information you need to, but overall keep it simple. There’s no specific target lengths. For style, whatever works best for you. Some people have their own style and I would imagine in this space a more friendly, supportive, and helpful writing style would go over well with users. For the ranking part, I’d say add knowledge to the conversation where you can, any experience or expertise you can share, or just take what’s out there and simplify it, make it easier to read and digest. Whatever you can do to make your content better than what exists. Search is simple, just talk about the things people want to know.
5. We’re thinking about changing out company name and domain. What do we need to consider from an SEO perspective when making that move? Is it enough to make sure everything redirects correctly? Any other advice?
For SEO, redirects are the main thing and I’d also recommend using the change of address tool in Google Search Console. If you’re not changing the content or anything, you’ll probably be down for a few weeks before you fully recover. This is normal. Google has a guide on migrations btw https://developers.google.com/search/docs/crawling-indexing/site-move-with-url-changes
6. Queries with volume are often symptomatic and product related. Is a blog content and a good blog template with product presentation important?
Blogs are just pages like any other. It’s good if the template and content is optimized. Presentation is probably more important for your users than it is search engines.
7. Can you rank an healthcare brand’s website without building authority (link acquisition, branding, etc.). If not what level of authority should an healthcare brand try to aim for?
You can probably rank for your brand, but if you’re competing for health queries then there’s a pretty high bar you have to pass. These are treated as Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) queries for Google. They don’t want to show just anyone for these queries since it could cause harm to people. There’s not a specific number I can give you, but I’d say aim to be as reputable as possible.
8. Last year my business partner and I founded selfstudies.com, an online shop for offline pleasure. We’ve had an amazing first year. Mainly focused on brand awareness, collaborations and growing our customer database. We both come from retail and have experience in sales and marketing. However we do no have any experience with SEO.. The biggest question for us is where to start? Who should we work with and who do we trust? (We get a lot of emails from companies telling us they can help us and make a success of our SEO)
Thank you for taking the time to ask a question! You’re in an interesting niche that can sometimes run into safesearch filters. I actually did some work in this space years ago for Adam & Eve. Their HQ is about 30 minutes from me. I think a lot of people in the Raleigh area have done work for them at one point or another. Anyone reaching out to you is not someone I’d go with. I’m not sure who to recommend, but someone with experience in the space would be helpful here. You may want to ask around or search on LinkedIn for freelancers who have done work for companies like yours. Even if they haven’t worked in your specific niche, there’s nothing overly complicated besides some potential safe search issues, so a trusted and recommended company should be fine. The good companies aren’t reaching out to people for work. You can check things like some of the search awards (i.e. US Search Awards) to find companies who are doing good work.
9. There are HealthTech companies, but then there are companies that HealthTech companies partner with for specific services to deliver the top product. Outsourcing and/or offshoring. What would be your advice for these HealthTech service-specific companies and their SEO strategy? Should they focus on key phrases related to the service (for example, “rapid prototyping”)? Or should they prioritize key phrases focused on the final product (for example, “bioengineered wearable edgeless skin”), which by design is ultimately not theirs? Do you see a middle ground on what words to focus on for a B2B HealthTech company?
I’m going to be honest here, I’m not even sure what it is you do or who your competitors are. I tried Googling for something like this and let’s just say I’m lost. I feel like rapid prototyping is too broad. Maybe the bioengineered term works, but I’m not sure. The basics are really the same for everyone. Look at your competitors and what they’re targeting. Think about what terms people would be searching to find a company like yours. Target those things. All the best!
Did your questions remain unanswered this time? If you’re new to SEO, the best way to get started is to check out Ahrefs’ SEO Beginner’s Guide or explore the video courses available in the Ahrefs Academy, once you’re ready to take your SEO strategy and skills to the next level.