Team Evolve’s Thoughts on “Keyword (Not Provided)”

Earlier this week, it was revealed that Google will eventually start encrypting all referral search terms from analytics. In other words, we (and everyone else) won’t be able to tell which keywords visitors searched in order to find a particular page. SEOs across the world released their rage through fiery blog posts and tweets. Team Evolve, on the other hand, wasn’t so bent up about it.

The truth is, Google has been gradually hiding referral terms for nearly two years now. And while it’s important to know what specific terms are drawing traffic, not knowing is not the end of the world. Paid Search will still provide insight regarding which terms yielded clicks – so maybe this is Google’s way of acquiring more business. Here’s what the team had to say:

Jay: This will push most “free” organic users into paid search accounts to obtain the terms and keywords that are driving traffic to your site.
Locke: There is a two-fold reasoning for implementation. One, to prevent the NSA from using search data to spy and validate Google’s statement that they are not and do not aid the NSA in spying. Two, which we all know, money. Google effectively is saying you have to use AdWords to get this data.
Tabitha: In short, it is not the end of the world. I think that is a good position for us to show our value: we can show that maybe it isn’t easy, but we are here to guide you through this and we can assist in setting up ways to create and show online ROI.
Kai: Any good marketer worth his salt will have seen this and prepared for it. Primitive models of understanding the queries will no longer be viable. To have any meaningful outcome, the full picture must be seen and understood.
John: This is good for those who are focusing on things like consumer path and building out content to support that. Google’s algorithm has become more sophisticated every year to start incorporating these types of ideas (e.g., intent-based SERPs, device tailored SERPs, geo tailored SERPs).
Kristy: I think we should communicate to clients that this isn’t the big catastrophe that some sites make it appear to be. It’s part of a shift in the industry to focus more on providing valuable content to users and less on individual keyword rankings, which were never the end-all metric for success anyway.
Emily: We’ve actually been seeing this metric slip from our fingers for nearly two years, so SEOs already sought out other ways to deal with it. If you knowingly target keywords with each new piece of content you make, it will be fairly obvious what terms are drawing consumers in.
Laura: It’s possible Google will eventually reveal this data to those who subscribe to GA Premium. It makes sense get everyone hooked on the koolaid, then take away the sugar and make them pay for it.

Overall, the team is optimistic. We get that there’s way more to digital marketing than knowing which keywords are sending folks to your site. (For instance, generating content that contains value and provides solutions.)

Helpful links

Haven’t had time to read about this news? No sweat. Here’s a list of the team’s favorite articles about Google’s decision to encrypt all keywords.

 

Introducing the SEO Guide 2.0

As one of the main content contributors at Evolve, I learned pretty quickly that visitors to the site aren’t going to fill out a contact form just because Derek has created a cool company culture. The Evolve culture isn’t for our visitors; it’s for us. Visitors to the site care about the value we can give them, whether that’s a blog post about using Google+ or a detailed explanation of a website audit. Visitors want to know:

  • Why should I spend my valuable time on your site?
  • What can I get out of this relationship?

That’s really what it comes down to. No one cares if our only advantage over other search marketing companies is that we drink craft beer like water. Or even that we love what we do. They just want a fair exchange a whether a social share for new insight or a check for consultation.

SEO 101: Give ’em a reason to visit your site

Nearly two years ago we released the first edition of our SEO Guide for Beginners. Unlike other similar resources, it was written by someone who was new to the intimidating world of SEO a and that gave us an advantage because not everyone reaching our site is familiar with the phrase “anchor text” or the difference between organic and paid results. So earlier this year Derek gave me the go to revamp the guide. I wanted a more appealing presentation and an easier way to share specific chapters. And I wanted to explain SEO in a big-picture way a because thatas exactly how we see it, as just one piece of a deeper digital strategy. If you’re looking for an all-inclusive list of steps you can take to rank higher, you won’t find that here.

Old and New SEO Guide

Things Change. But we cope.

Search engine marketers tend to dwell on the perpetual fluctuation of SEO effectiveness a and we’ve been guilty of that, too. Just this week, we found out Google is going to start encrypting keyword information from website marketers. Weave known it was bound to happen eventually; Google has been hiding keyword data of users signed in to Google products (Gmail, Youtube) for nearly a couple years now. But over the next several months, anyone who reaches your site through organic search results will be “protected.” Weare not going to know which search queries were directing consumers to your website. Itas frustrating because Google is essentially forcing digital marketers to invest in Paid Search a which still provides lists of keywords that yielded clicks. But it’s okay. We will cope! The good folks at Moz have already released a video that shares some suggested ways we try to bridge the gaps by looking at other data.

Big Picture: It’s still about quality

Still, while specific tactics dwindle in effectiveness as Google tweaks its algorithm, we’ve noticed one overarching reality of digital marketing that doesn’t change: quality converts. Google has invested in developing technology that measures user behavior and draws conclusions from that data. Keywords and links arenat sole indications of why a website ranks favorably in search engine results pages. Do they reflect the quality of a website? Do they convey the subject matter of a web page? Absolutely. And of course we recommend completing technical SEO tasks:

  • Assigning a unique title tag to each page
  • Fixing duplicate content issues
  • Updating your sitemap
  • Improving URL structure

These Google-recommended tactics, explained in the SEO Basics chapter of our guide, help search bots understand what your site is about so search engines can more effectively provide solutions to queries. But you have to remember that Google is a business, too. And the only way it has accomplished such exceptional brand awareness (the company name is a verb, for crying out loud) is by consistently churning out valid recommendations for search queries. Google wants to only feature websites that 1) are paying for placement or 2) are providing consumers with a pleasant online experience.

Wrap-up

The keyword encryption news is disheartening for sure. We have processes in place that relied on keyword data to identify needs of consumers and improve on-site content. But you can’t expect to thrive in this industry if you’re not willing to adapt and understand how these changes can play a positive role in the bigger picture. Evolve’s story of adaptation started before I joined the team in 2011. And it continues to unfold as we find new ways to connect with consumers, ours and our clients’, and ultimately discover new ways to increase revenue through a website.

 

Check out the new SEO Guide!

Leased Content: A Fatal Flaw for Healthcare Marketing

Leased Content: A Fatal Flaw for Healthcare Marketing

When people are in need of medical treatment, whether urgent or future considerations, they seek information online regarding the options, outcomes, and quality of care. As a healthcare provider, it’s your responsibility to deliver resources that make that audience feel valued and confident in your services.

The Good News

Here’s the good news: There have never been more communication vehicles available to healthcare marketing professionals. Devising a strategy that puts the right information in front of the right people at the right time is, in theory, easier than ever. Unfortunately, theories don’t always lend themselves well to the day-to-day practice of marketing, especially in the realm of healthcare.The patientt census can change like the weather, budgets are tight, and there is one (or two, if you’re lucky) communications specialist responsible for a printed newsletter, brochures, media relations, internal communications, and somehow finding a way to manage electronic media.

The Not-So-Good News

With that in mind, here’s the not-so-good news for your healthcare marketing strategy: Every new vehicle, eNewsletters, blogs, and landing pages, requires content.The pressure of filling the plethora of “communications holes” created by the generation of electronic communications channels can be overwhelming. Even worse, it can lead marketing teams to do whatever it takes to get the messages out without considering the audience, objectives, and quality of the messaging. Repurposing existing, original content is a common response to this healthcare marketing challenge. It’s not a terrible solution, but still demands time and energy, plus the content often misses the mark because people read newsletters differently than they read websites, blogs and eNewsletters. Regurgitating copy without making sure it’s tailored to an audience and marketing channel often waters down the tactic and can make a healthcare marketing strategy anemic.

Leasing Content: An Easy Way Out

The least effective approach to filling in the holes of a marketing strategy is leasing content. Many communications professionals decide to invest in leased content as part of their healthcare marketing plan because they receive fresh content that was written on demand by professional writers. Healthcare brands appreciate the access to a variety of stories on a variety of topics. Team members simply log in to the portal, click, and download. The copy is clean and well-written. It’s turn-key. It’s easy to use. Yet it is completely lacking in branding and authenticity, which is why we consider it to be deadly to a healthcare marketing strategy.

People don’t read copy on your website, in your eNewsletter, and on your blog just because it’s there. They read it because it informs, educates, or inspires. It focuses on the actual treatment options available among your service lines. It provides insights that come from people they trust: your doctors, therapists, nurses and nutritionists. Just as important, custom content can illuminate what next steps are possible, telling the success stories of real patients. Hospitals will argue that there is no need for medical content to be specific to their brand a but we have to disagree. Sure, a knee replacement surgery may share the same preparation, procedure, and aftercare instructions as other hospitals. However, it’s critical to point out what separates you from other contenders. This includes introducing the doctors that would be performing the surgery, linking to or embedding videos of the procedure, sharing patient success stories, and mentioning relevant events. Visitors will read your content for the quality, targeted information. They read it for the confidence and comfort they feel after gaining knowledge from a credible source. And they read it for the stories, which communicate brand competence and commitment to patients.

Real Examples

Larger organizations are paving new standards of healthcare content, but it’s not always the Mayo Clinics of the world that should be held to this expectation. The Diabetes Center page on Carroll Hospital Center’s website provides exclusive content that was clearly written for the brand, with patients’ needs in mind.

In contrast, we found content on a brand’s site that many might consider sufficient. It explains the symptoms, risks, and services. But overall, the message is missing a branded voice, mention of physicians, downloadable resources, or patient stories. Factual information could be found anywhere online. It doesn’t set a brand apart.  Healthcare organizations can educate patients with the medical facts while simultaneously infusing information that is specific to their brand.

Conclusion

You performed market research. You understand your audience. You certainly know your goals. So why dilute your healthcare marketing strategy with leased content that is likely used by other healthcare systems across the country? Imagine how former, current, and prospective patients will feel when they read a generic, leased story that might also appear on other websites as duplicate content. Canned content is easily spotted, and it may come across as impersonal and careless. At that moment, the personal relationship you’re trying to build with your audience, the trust, the confidence, the belief that they have a deeply personal relationship with their hospital or clinic, is gone. And that’s deadly to a healthcare marketing strategy.