- Posted by Nigel Edelshain
- On February 26, 2016
SEO is a complicated beast. You have to worry about where your hospital ranks in organic results as well as where physical locations and even individual doctors rank in local results.
To make matters worse, the game keeps changing every time Google updates its algorithm. In 2015, we saw the mobile-friendly update, a Panda quality filter update, the RankBrain machine learning update and two more unnamed major updates in addition to hundreds of smaller updates. In 2016, we’ve already seen major changes to AdWords that push organic results down even further.
But most hospital marketers wear many hats. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day to become an SEO expert on top of everything else. Fortunately, there are many tools out there to help you evaluate and monitor the essentials. Here are some of the best.
How’s the weather?
It’s always a good idea to check the weather forecast before stepping outside. The MozCast from Moz is a forecast for Google so you know when you need your SEO umbrella.
The MozCast monitors daily ranking changes to a set of 1,000 keywords. The more fluctuation in those results, the “hotter” the forecast. In addition to mozcast.com, there’s also a Twitter account and a Chrome extension.
Get it on good authority
Also from the good folks at Moz is the MozBar for Chrome and Firefox. There are other SEO toolbars, but the MozBar is unmatched at being simple yet useful. It shows you the authority of the page you’re on as well as the authority of the entire domain, plus a spam analysis score and the number of Facebook and Google+ shares.
The MozBar also powers up your organic search results with page and domain authority scores and a link to see inbound link analysis and more in Moz’s Open Site Explorer. It’s great for seeing how your hospital’s pages and content compare to your competitors’ without having to run reports for each result.
If you don’t need all that on every page, you can click the toolbar button to disable the extension except for the domain authority shown in the icon, or again to disable it entirely.
Look under the hood
Is that a heading or just bolded paragraph text? If you use Chrome, don’t waste time opening the HTML source and finding the line of code. Just right click anywhere in the browser and click Inspect to open up Chrome’s developer tools, then click the icon and hover over the text you’re looking at to jump straight to the relevant code.
Want to see what a new heading would look like before you update a landing page? Or try multiple headings and see exactly how they’d look live? Right click the heading in the developer tools panel and click Edit Text to change the copy. If you want to switch from an H2 to an H1 or vice versa, click Edit as HTML and make your change. None of the changes will affect your website, but they’ll appear in your browser as if they were live.
You can even see how your changes will look on mobile devices. Click the phone icon and you’ll be able to select from more than 20 devices to emulate.
For Firefox users, the Firebug extension has much of the same functionality.
Making the grade
There’s no shortage of freemium website analyzers out there, but HubSpot’s Website Grader covers key on-page SEO elements including page titles, meta descriptions and headings as well as website details that affect search rankings like page speed, redirects, responsiveness, render blocking and security certificates.
In addition to showing an overall grade, the tool breaks your website down by performance, mobile, SEO and security so you can properly focus your optimization efforts. A “What should I do next?” section at the end of the report gives you actionable recommendations to improve your grade.
Up to speed
Google doesn’t reveal many of its ranking factors, but the page speed rules it considers are quite transparent. That’s why PageSpeed Insights, another tool originally designed for developers, is a crucial one for SEOs as well.
The tool analyzes your website against each of the page speed rules and grades it on both speed and user experience. The recommendations are points you should “consider fixing” or “should fix” to optimize load times on both desktop and mobile.
Making a list
SEO is about a lot more than just your website. Local, regional and national business directories influence when your hospital appears in local search results—those three packs that appear above the organic results. You’re unlikely to rank in this premium location unless your listings in those directories are complete and consistent.
Moz has a tool to check listings on 15 of the biggest directories. If a high percentage of those listings are consistent, you may be in good shape—but not necessarily. There are literally hundreds of directories like these, and even though there’s some data sharing between them, it takes time for that data to aggregate. Moreover, the aggregators could be pushing out incorrect information and making things even messier.
At a hospital or health system, you may be responsible for maintaining these directories for hundreds of locations. Running the Moz report for a few locations can hint at the big picture, but more powerful audit software will show you exactly how much work needs to be done.