Ranking content in the health niche is not easy – especially with Google cracking down on non-genuine health sites and the release of the YMYL update in 2018 – here’s how I ranked an online pharmacy and got it to position one, 10xing their traffic.
Start with The Basics
An effective SEO campaign must have a bottom-up approach. This means getting the structure of your content right from the word go. From titles to keyword selection, relevance to formatting, all these are tried and tested on-page SEO tactics that you cannot afford to ignore.
Titles– Correctly formatted titles that are compelling and SERP optimized. Good titles don’t have to be ‘spammy’ or ‘clickbait’ to attract visitors. This is especially important in the health niche as users and search engines hate ‘spammy’ titles.
Formatting- Not many people appreciate the importance of having well-formatted, easy to read content on their website. Poorly formatted text (huge blocks of text, bad font, illegible font sizes, etc.) do affect something called dwell time. Users leave as soon as they see your content, and search engine bots interpret it as a sign of lousy content.
Page speed– Page speed became such an important part of SEO that even Google took time to make a page speeds insights tool for website owners. In this regard, optimizing the loading speeds and overall UX of individual pages within your site will definitely boost your site’s rankings.
Responsive design– Having a responsive site is no longer an option but a requirement. Recent web usage statistics show that over 52% of online traffic comes from mobile devices. Google’s mobile-friendly update made it clear that responsive websites will get the top spot on all mobile searches. Having a non-responsive website, therefore, means missing out on the over 52% mobile searches on Google.
Image & Alt Tags– Your health website should have original images that have properly formatted alt-tags. Part of Google’s YMYL update saw health websites that used stock images taking a dive in organic SERP rankings. Authentic photos show that you are a genuine entity that can be recommended to those searching for information on their health.
Google loves authenticity. So being the best in your area of specialization, a thought leader, and a well-experienced health practitioner or company is enough from an on-page SEO perspective. Utilise these certifications by having health content with a genuine health advice angle and profile. You can begin by adding these into your health site:
- A meet the team section with certified staff
- Genuine Company Photos
- Accurate health advice and content
- Company Certifications with links going to them
- An about page with a company story
- Company Location
- Domain registration isn’t private
- Having a target health keyword in your domain
These were some of the on-page factors that I looked at when ranking a health site.
Keyword Targeting for The Health Niche
How do you select and target keywords that convert in the health niche? You target those keywords that have an element of intent. Intent means that the person searching is looking to buy a service or an item. As an example, a keyword that has the word buy or purchase in it is a good candidate for conversion purposes.
Most of the keywords in this niche can be competitive but equally rewarding should you manage to rank for them. There are many strategies you can use to rank for these high-volumes, high-competition keywords. You can start by ensuring your site has authority through link building and on-page SEO.
The last tip for ranking organic keywords, try and have as many pages as possible.
If you have many products, try to expand and have info/blogs about those products and internally link them. This will increase the number of keywords you’ll rank for – having more buyers for those products (medications in my case).
Work on Your Organic CTR
Click through rates (CTR) are as important as content in terms of SERP rankings. A page or post’s ranking is directly proportional to its CTR; the more clicks it gets, the higher it climbs on the SERP’s. Naturally, higher CTR and better rankings also lead to increased organic traffic.
To improve your CTR, you must have SERP-friendly titles and meta descriptions. Your titles should be of the appropriate length, be compelling, and include your target keywords. Meta descriptions should be catchy and crafted to attract click-through.
What empowers CTR is a low bounce rate, so also keep that in mind when getting traffic.
Authentic Content Equals Trust in The Health Niche
You’ve probably heard about Google’s search quality evaluator guidelines (EAT& YMYL) and the subsequent algorithm updates that had far-reaching effects on this niche. Dubbed the “Medic update,” this change was deciphered by many SEO experts to be targeting fake medical websites and sending them to nowhere-land.
Of course, this means that sites containing genuine health-related content no longer have to compete with the millions of fake ones for traffic. It would help if you crafted your content to reflect this aspect as a genuine health-related website. The website should have relevant information about the facility, its expertise, areas of specialization, authentic products, blog posts, videos, etc.
Any informational articles on your website should be supported by credible sources such as clinical studies and peer-reviewed journals. Proper referencing using any of the popular formats must be used when publishing an article in the health niche. This will help build your site’s credibility and shield you from potential plagiarism or DMCA takedowns in the future.
Some of the websites whose rankings fell as a result of the Medic Update were masquerading as health sites but had too much marketing/e-commerce material and loosely researched articles. Your focus should first be about positioning your website as a genuine entity in the health niche before you think about sales.
Link Building for The Health Niche- Not What You Would Expect
Everybody knows what link building is, and naturally, they are all using it in different ways. It is the underlying link building strategy that differentiates those who get results and those who don’t
Link building principles dictate that you should target domain authority websites for backlinks. However, that does not apply to the health niche. As a result of the medic update (YMYL), you are better off linking to other industries where most of your target customers are domiciled anyway (unless you are in the B2B sector). For instance, you should aim to have backlinks from travel/lifestyle related blogs and websites.
To create content, try and combine travel with health. For example, if you’re selling travel medication, your article can be:
- ‘What to pack when travelling to Asia’
- ‘Checklist of what medication to bring when travelling to a hot country’
- ‘Ways to keep fit when going on Holiday’
These are the types of topics travel/lifestyle sites love and that’s what worked for me.
Use Blogger Outreach
The old-fashioned cold outreach email comes in handy when you don’t have a relationship with the other party. Reaching out to bloggers in the lifestyle/ travel niche will help in fashioning a mutually exclusive relationship with them for link building purposes. Remember, these bloggers also present the best value when it comes to referrals in addition to boosting your rankings.
You can either contract them to post articles that are relevant to your target niche or come up with guest posts that will have an outbound do-follow link to your website. Targeting non-health related blogs is a smart move as it shields you from Google’s YMYL update while showing the bots that you provide value to real people.
Pro tip; use an SEO called Majestic and check the Topic Trust Flow of the site. Make sure to aim away from sites that have this:
And instead, focus on sites that have this:
Recreation in the topic trust flow is a great sign that this site is the one to get a link from – niche wise.
Few other link building methods that you should try:
Get yourself on the major news websites with targeted press releases. There are free and paid distribution services you can use to spread your press release far and wide. Some of the paid services can get you on the top news websites and 10 times your site’s authority within a short period.
Are you an expert in your niche? You can get valuable links to your websites by offering to be interviewed on online journals, podcasts, news websites among others. It would help if you also considered setting up your media assets, such as podcasts and videos. Media assets tend to perform better when it comes to organic backlinks.
Google and other search engines’ aim is to understand the web and give their customers the most relevant results. Updates like YMYL are made to profile your site in a way that helps the bots know what value it contains for their search clients. Therefore, those in the medical niche should take it upon themselves to show that they are rank-worthy through SEO.