The Coffey Blog

Click-worthy content: Top tips from Engage 2017

Posted on: Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Last week, two members of Coffey's digital team, Jean Dion and Jeremy Dietz, attended the Engage Conference in Portland, Oregon.

The one-day event featured digital marketing experts who spoke on a number of topics including search engine optimization (SEO), digital video, social media and online content.

Here's a look at some of the top tips we gleaned from this highly-informative day.

Optimize for the next step

"Give the user zero excuse to hit the back button."

That advice from Cyrus Shepherd in his "Perfect Pages" presentation underscores an important point made a number of times at Engage: In 2017, great SEO requires going beyond one search term or page.

For example, if you find that people in your community are searching for "weight loss surgeon" you can optimize your bariatric service page for that term. But it's also important to think about questions someone will have beyond that search phrase, such as: Who's a candidate for weight loss surgery? What types of surgery are there? What are the pros and cons of surgery?

Some of these questions can be answered on the page. Others can be answered with links to related content. This is something A.J. Kohn also covered in his presentation "Daft Punk SEO."

Though it's OK to link to other websites when appropriate, you'll definitely want to promote the related content you have on your own website—think related health content, events and providers.

Coffey's advice? Make website maintenance easier by choosing a content management system (CMS) that allows these links to be automatically created and maintained. (The bigger your website is, the more important this is.)

Talk (in real life!) with your tech team

In a fireside chat (no slides!) with Emily Grossman and Rob Ousbey, the topic of technology popped up again and again. As SEO becomes more and more technical, marketing teams are often required to ask for website updates from their IT departments. And sometimes, semantics gets in the way of productive work.

A good approach: Explain the high-level goal of your proposed change to your IT team in words you understand. Hoping to implement AMP? Name the pages that you'd like to experiment with and explain how you'll measure success. Feeling the need for speed on your service line pages? Show the results of the speed tests you've done, and explain why change is needed. When you explain the benefits, you help build up excitement (which might help you push a change through).

A good next step: Ask your IT team to send you links to articles they find interesting or intriguing. You might find your next big idea between the lines, and you might pick up a few tech terms you can use later. (And if you want to skip the tech talk altogether, remember that Coffey's digital team works hard to speak plain language—and we can also deal with your IT team directly as needed.)

Make a plan to get links

As best practices for SEO change—and they do change frequently—one question that keeps coming up is: "Do links still matter?"

Mark Traphagen outlined the findings of an in-depth study his team conducted about the value of inbound links on search rankings. You should definitely take a look at the study if you're interested in this topic, but the tl;dr version is: Yes, links still influence how well a page ranks.

A key point to remember when thinking about getting more links to your healthcare website: You want to get links that are from high quality websites and that are relevant to the content of your page. So, for a page about cancer, a link from an organization like the American Cancer Society would be great, while a link from an overseas pharmacy website would be much less desirable.

If you're hungry for more information about the value of links, check out our blog post about how links can help a healthcare website.

Check your knowledge panel regularly

Quick: Run a search for your hospital or health plan via Google. The little box that (should) pop up with your organization's vital details is a knowledge panel, and in Dana DiTomaso's presentation about future-proofing local search, it took center stage.

Checking that knowledge panel each month, with screenshot proof, will help you assess your brand's online performance. How much information shows up? How much of that information is accurate? Are reviews included? What about busy times?

Monitoring performance, and patching gaps when you can, will help you ensure your readers see just what you want them to see during an all-important first-impression search.