Adding Keyword Research to your Healthcare Marketing Plan

Health care marketers have a strong history of resorting to traditional advertising to build brand awareness and reach a wide audience. From billboards to TV spots, organizations are emptying significant portions of their budgets on mass marketing channels. But are these advertisements increasing the number of surgeries performed each year? Can healthcare organizations validate spending without lead acquisition metrics? When talking about traditional marketing (or even poorly executed online marketing), the answer is often “no.”

This post will explain how healthcare marketers can use keyword research for healthcare to better inform their digital marketing campaigns.


Keywords explained

The most paramount advantage of online advertising is the ability to narrow the audience to a pool of people who are actively searching for a solution you can provide. Rather than paying tens of thousands of dollars for traditional ad impressions that may or may not even resonate with a sliver of the audience, you have control of who sees your ad messaging. Keywords, keyword phrases or queries, are representative of people who are in need of a solution. In fact, these people are interested enough to take time to search online. That makes the audience we associate with keywords a much more qualified group of prospects than a general audience of mass marketing. In order to successfully convert patients and customers online, it is essential to know what terms they are searching to find a solution. This is why Keyword Research needs to be a core part of a marketing plan.

So what is Keyword Research?

Keyword Research is the key to implementing successful paid search campaigns and fortifying your website with content that will drive revenue. Along with terms provided, clients are able to understand the search volume associated with each keyword. Essentially, Keyword Research illuminates the online market opportunity for brands.

Components of Keyword Research

The information provided in Keyword Research outlines the framework for a digital marketing plan. To ensure the validity and quality of the product, Evolve Digital Labs follows a process that analyzes the following:

  • Search volume by keyword
  • Organic difficulty
  • Clienta’s customers
  • Client’s products/services
  • Clienta’s consumer path

Implementing the keywords in future paid search campaigns, content creation, optimization of existing site content, and additional applications recommended for the targeted market will provide the greatest opportunity for successful lead acquisition.


Keyword Research and Search

By segmenting a client’s Keyword Research into campaigns, we can organize the terms according to the estimated search volume and organic difficulty. This data is essential for market segmentation, dictating the path to customer acquisition.

Search Volume: This depicts the number of national searches performed each month for that term. Broad, high-level terms or outcomes typically have much higher search volume than more specific solutions, brands, or products. However, they are also harder to rank for.

Organic difficulty: Based upon a zero to 100 scale, with 100 being the most difficult, Organic Difficulty is calculated based upon the cumulative efforts of competition in the search engines. Because the scale is incremental, ranking organically for high difficulty terms should shift to long-term goals. Paid search, then, is harnessed to capture traffic on those terms. This is explained more in the section below. As depicted below, there is direct correlation with search position and the ability to capture search traffic.


Two-tier applications for keyword research

Once a brand has structured lists of keywords or keyword ideas to target, it’s important to understand how to apply them to a digital marketing plan. We actually recommend implementing keyword research into both organic (SEO) and Paid Search strategies.

Paid Search Application

For most healthcare organizations, there will inevitably be keywords that are challenging to rank for organically. Building a website’s authority to be capable of securing organic positions for recommended healthcare content terms requires a strategic, often time-consuming plan. Paid Search allows for short-term exposure to the targeted audience while organic efforts are set in place. Even when pages can rank organically, Paid Search may target branded traffic to prevent competitors from stealing prospects.

Organic Search Application

Organic strategy should begin by selecting terms from keyword lists that contain moderate search volume and moderate-to-low organic difficulty. These keywords will allow for “quick-wins” in organic search engine results pages (SERPs). Ongoing site improvements and content expansion will help reach long-terms goals of ranking for significant, high-difficulty terms. As you can see in the chart below (which, for the purpose of this post, is merely an estimate of search volume and organic difficulty), the Paid Search terms have a much higher organic difficulty score. While a brand pays for traffic to the difficult terms, it can simultaneously work on ranking organically for less difficult terms.

Organic Terms
Keyword Search Volume Organic Difficulty
weight loss facilities 19,885 42
bariatrics surgery 25,210 46
cardiac physicians 1,575 43
foot therapy physicians 6,510 36


PPC Keywords
Keyword Search Volume Organic Difficulty
obesity assistance 9,820 72
gastric bypass consultation 1,240 78
heart specialist 5,760 77
knee replacement 6,510 70


A final word on keywords

Many health care organizations are starting to allocate parts of their marketing budgets to online marketing efforts. Without correctly executing a campaign and measuring the progress, however, the causes of success or failure are as elusive as in traditional marketing. Keyword research may seem to be only a component of paid search, but in reality, it should be in the forefront of all aspects of a healthcare marketing plan.

Download our FREE online market audit checklist to see how we use online data to turn your healthcare brand into an online acquisition machine.