Studies show an indirect but powerful relationship between social media and SEO. Here’s what medical marketers need to know about boosting their search rankings.
Savvy medical marketers are well-versed in the benefits of SEO, or search engine optimization. Search engines scan websites to see what they’re about, pick up certain phrases and keywords, and rank websites according to relevance. The highest-ranking pages appear first on search engine results pages (SERPs), and therefore receive more traffic.
SEO efforts involve adjusting your website to make it more attractive to search engines. This organic traffic is particularly effective because it’s generated by people already interested in your medical practice or healthcare services. These motivated patients are more likely to take the plunge and book an appointment. SEO also builds trust and credibility for hospitals, practices, and providers, as people are more inclined to trust websites that appear at the front of a Google or Bing search.
How Are SEO and Social Media Connected?
Social media doesn’t directly affect SEO rankings, but there is a strong correlation between social media shares and better rankings. Content that gets shared often gets seen by more users, and is therefore more likely to get links from other websites. These backlinks — the sources that direct users to other sites — are key to better SEO rankings, which in turn increase social media activity.
To think about it another way, a robust social media presence primes a site to be picked up by search engines, like an alley-oop shot in basketball. Social signals do a lot of the work behind the scenes, then SEO swoops in and finishes the job.
An experiment conducted by Hootsuite, dubbed “Project Elephant,” takes a closer look at this interesting relationship. Researchers wanted to know if social media could improve search rankings and created a study involving Twitter and three test blogs with 30 articles each. The control group received no organic publishing and no paid promotion on any site. Group A got organic publishing to Twitter only. In Group B, the articles were published organically to Twitter at first and then boosted for two days with a $100 budget for paid promotion. Then two posts from Groups A and B were promoted over a two week period, with results tallied up the next week.
Hootsuite saw a strong correlation between social media and SEO. Group A — the group that used Twitter organically — received a 12 percent bump and Group B — the group that used both organic and paid promotion — received almost twice that at 22 percent. Therefore, experts have found that social media maximizes SEO efforts in four key ways:
- Increasing visibility and boosting traffic
- Increasing authority and brand recognition
- Broadening content distribution and extending content’s lifespan
- Improving local SEO
How Can a Social Media Boost SEO for Medical Marketers?
Harnessing the power of social media and SEO can help medical practices and healthcare providers stand out in a crowded market. High rankings establish a sense of legitimacy for websites, and users are more likely to value those businesses.
In addition, a strong social media presence can help medical practices connect with all segments of the market. Facebook is extremely popular with boomers aged 55 and up, the majority of Instagram’s one billion users are under the age of 30, and with the growing presence of messaging apps nobody is out of reach. As the healthcare industry becomes more and more digital, developing a robust social media strategy helps secure a loyal patient base for years to come.