If you have an online medical practice you could be losing out on potential Google search traffic if your website hasn’t been properly set up or updated to show expertise, authority, and trustworthiness (E-A-T). In August 2018, Google announced that in the coming years it was going to be paying closer attention when evaluating the expertise, authority and trustworthiness of websites in the medical industry.
Google uses a particular set of criteria when evaluating the E-A-T of medical practices. This means that your telehealth practice’s website could be deemed as lacking in authority if it is missing a few key features. If this is the case, then your practice could lose search engine visibility as a result.
With the increasing demand for telehealth due to the COVID-19 pandemic, competition for organic visibility is fiercer than ever for practices that have implemented this technology.
To help with your marketing efforts for your practice, here is what Google is looking for when measuring E-A-T and how to optimize a telehealth practice website for it.
Make your practitioner’s qualifications and credentials as clear as possible
Google evaluates the “expertise” component of E-A-T by looking at the people whom a website represents and seeing what evidence exists of their expertise.
While some larger practices prefer to hide their practitioners on their website, perhaps to protect the privacy of their team, this is a mistake. Rather a website should make it as easy as possible for search engines and patients to find information about a practice’s personnel.
The easiest way to make this information available is to have a dedicated “About Us” or “Meet the Team” page on your website. This page should contain profiles of each of your practitioners, along with details of their qualifications, professional experience, and Continuing Professional Development.
While an “About Us” page can demonstrate the expertise of the people within your practice as a whole, Google ranks websites on a page by page basis. Therefore each page should have evidence of the expertise of the person who wrote it.
You can achieve this by having each page on your website that contains medical information also have an author byline of a practitioner who is best placed to be dispensing that information. This byline should link back to the relevant practitioner’s profile on your “About Us” page.
Ensure that all content on your website is congruent with current medical best practices
Google’s semantic processing has become so sophisticated in recent years that it can, to some degree at least, “understand” some of the claims that you make on your website.
Furthermore, the search engine “tags” certain websites as key authorities in particular industries. What these exact authoritative sources are is unknown, but it is likely that government websites and websites of academic institutions are seen as some of the biggest authority medical websites by Google.
The upshot of this is that if you have medical claims and information on your website that are not in line with current medical best practices, or at least with what is written in medical journals and in government guidelines, your website could lose search engine visibility due to being deemed as an untrustworthy source of information.
The main area of vulnerability to having incorrect medical information on a medical practice’s website is in their older blog posts. We all know that medical science evolves quickly, and if your older posts are not updated to reflect these changes then they could lead to your website as a whole being penalized.
The best way to combat this is to update your older blog posts regularly. Google tends to prefer long-form content, so if you can consolidate older, partially dated posts into newer ones then this is always a good idea.
If you choose to have your blog posts handles by a copywriting company, then make sure that they are being written by a specialist medical writer and that you have all articles reviewed by someone in-house before you publish on your website.
Get your practice, practitioners, and website mentioned on authoritative health sites
Google does not just look at your practice’s website when evaluating it for E-A-T. Rather, the search engine looks at your company’s digital footprint as a whole when measuring this. This is particularly true when it comes to the perceived authority of your website.
One of the best ways to increase your website’s authority is to have your practice and its staff mentioned on other sites that are considered authorities in the medical industries.
Such authorities can include academic publications and institutions, professional organisations, popular health magazines as well as the science and technology sections of newspapers.
For practices that are implementing telemedicine, there is a huge opportunity to build out case studies about how you implement technology to improve health outcomes for your patients. Given that many health professionals are yet to embrace telemedicine, having a proven track record of successfully implementing this technology could be crafted into a newsworthy piece for health and science publications.
If creating these case studies seems like a step too far, then there are some easier ways of getting mentioned in high authority medical websites and publications. If you or any of your practitioners are members of professional bodies, have spoken at a professional event, or contributed to a research paper, then often these websites have pages dedicated to contributors and members.
Simply get in contact with whoever manages their website and ask if you or your team member can be included. If you can, try and get these sites to credit your team with a link back to your website so search engines know that it is definitely your practice that is being credited.
Have a listed premise even if you are a fully remote practice
Due to the prevalence of health blogs that are authored by laypeople, Google has been favoring content on websites in the health industry that have listed locations and premises over ones that do not.
If a website has an attached premise, this makes it far more likely to be representing a real medical business rather than just a “health blogger”. Again, this makes the site appear to be more trustworthy in the eyes of Google.
Even if you are a completely remote practice that only does virtual consultations, it is still well worth having one central location listed on your website. You should try to claim a Google My Business listing at that location just to confirm to Google where you are. This location should be easy to find on your website, ideally on a dedicated “Contact Us” page.
Google also looks for other “signals” of being a brick and mortar practice when measuring the E-A-T of medical websites. These include:
- Having a Linkedin page that corresponds to your “About Us” page
- Having reviews on patients
- Having a presence and engagement on social media
- Having a presence in local press
Most of these are quite easy to achieve, and although they might not make a huge difference in themselves, taken together they can improve your online practice’s visibility in organic search.
About Our Guest Author
Oli Graham is the Marketing Manager of digital copywriting agency RightlyWritten