Seeing a 582% increase in page views; an ophthalmology case study.

  • December 10, 2021
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Whether you’re writing a new ophthalmology page to attract new patients, or trying to improve an existing one, taking a deep dive into the data can help you really answer what your future patients are asking. Here’s how the SEO Physician helped a Colorado hospital system optimize an eye-care content cluster for a 500% increase in page views

Traditional market research is no longer enough

In 2018, our client decided to redo the entire eye-care section of their website. They pulled out all the stops: they brought on a digital strategist, conducted market research, created a messaging strategy. They even conducted physician interviews and patient focus groups to figure out what information was the most relevant to each page.

The newly developed content was launched at the end of November, 2018. By December, the trend was overwhelmingly clear:

Pageviews went from 1,750 to 1,035 a month, a 40.86% drop.  And, for the rest of year and into the next they stayed there.

What went wrong?

When the SEO Physician started working on this hospitals website in 2020, that’s exactly what we asked ourselves.

We quickly realized that there had been a fundamental flaw in the way they initially approached content creation.

The beauty of focus groups and interviews is that you have a real-life individual’s input about a topic. The problem, however, is just that: it’s individual.

What one person searches for =/= what everyone searches for.

In other words, if you want to optimize a page to truly meet your patients’ questions and needs, you can’t just ask your patient. You need to ask everyone, and that requires doing a deep dive into big data.

Going from raw data to optimize a content cluster in 5 steps

1. Understand search intent of your PILLAR PAGE

Whenever you’re optimizing a content cluster, the first step is to understand the search intent of your keywords. There are many tools out there that can help you do that, but a good place to start is Google.

When the SEO physician started working on this eye care section, that’s the first thing we did. We googled eye care, the name of their pillar page. And like that, we ran into our first problem:

To UCHealth, ‘eye care’ referred to glaucomas and cataracts and the like. But that didn’t actually match users’ search intent. When people looked up ‘eye care,’ they were thinking glasses and eye exams, not eye diseases and treatments.

Once we realized that, our team went about finding the right keyword, one that has a high search volume but that is specific to the services UCHealth provides.

A few quick glances at Wikipedia and competitor pages (like Mayo Clinic) was enough to find what we were looking for: ‘ophthalmology.’ This word refers to the branch of medicine that deals with eye diseases. And despite being hard to say and spell, ‘ophthalmology’ has a monthly search volume of over 450,000.

2. Conduct Topic research for SUPPORT PAGES

Once you have the right keyword for your pillar page, you can move on to conduct topic research. Topic research is just what it sounds like – researching all the topics and keywords that relate to that main keyword. There are a variety of SEO platforms that can help you do this.

Start by researching topics related to your pillar page. You’ll want to pick related topics that you can write strongly about; it’s better to have a few very solid pages than a hundred mediocre ones. These related topics will become the support pages of your content cluster.

Once you have your support pages, you’ll want to do some topic research for each page separately. And then simply rinse and repeat until you have a comprehensive list of every topic you need to cover and keywords that relate to that topic.

glaucoma keyword research heatmap of top 10 organic results

In the case the pillar keyword is ‘ophthalmology.’ Based on that, the SEO Physician pulled all the data we could find on related topics. ‘Glaucoma’ was one of the first things that pulled up, and we proceeded to pull all the data we could find related keywords. This left us with a data table looking a like this:

3. Figure out what your patients want to know

Once you know what topics you should cover, you need to figure out what your patients want to know about that topic. You could, conduct surveys and focus groups with patients and doctors to figure out what to write. You could rely on your own knowledge. However, taking this approach means you’re only hearing from a few voices. You’re not necessarily hitting on all the points future patients want you too. And that means you’re not meeting their needs.

Remember, the vast majority of people start their healthcare journey on Google. They might look up a condition or ask a specific question about symptoms theyŕe experiencing. This means data from search engines is the best survey or focus group data you could ever ask for because it’s millions of people’s real experiences. All you need to do is pull the data!

There are probably thousands of different applications and SEO tools that allow you to gather these questions and their search volumes. Most of them will work just fine. It’s often good to use multiple different streams of data, like combining Google search console and SEMrush, to maximize your results.

Pulling the data might leave you feeling overwhelmed. There may be hundreds of user questions to go through. You may worry that you’ll have to spend days writing a 4000 word page just to answer them all. That’s where the second – and most important – part of the process comes in: grouping questions by topics.

A lot of future patients’ questions will be variations of the same thing. For instance, with glaucoma, you may get “will glaucoma cause blindness” and “will glaucoma make you blind” and “glaucoma blindness reversal.” These are all different questions, but they connect two related topics: glaucoma and blindness. So, make ‘glaucoma and blindness’ a subsection of your page. That way, you can answer all of these questions and all of their variants in a single paragraph or two.

When we grouped questions for glaucoma, we went from 537 search queries down to 37, and we grouped those into 6 topic categories. It looked like this:

4. Optimize content based on the gaps

Once you’ve gone through the above steps, you’re pretty much ready to go. Whether you’re optimizing existing content or creating a new page, you can use your question and topic chart (see above) as a guide on format. The topics act as your headings, and by answering the search queries for each topic, you’ve answered your future patient’s most pressing questions.

Try to compare the topic headings to your competitors to see what they’re answering, and more importantly, what they’re missing. If you see that most of your competitors aren’t talking about something important, like prevention or how a condition or procedure might change a patient’s lifestyle, focus hard on that. By using your competitors’ content gaps as footholes, you can quickly climb to the top of search results.

As an added bonus, answering future patients’ questions usually means you end up including all the right keywords by default. Of course, it’s always good to double check, so feel free to ctrl+F your keywords in your content draft and make sure they’re all these.

For UCHealth, we were working with existing content. This means that we were filling in the gaps of what was already there using insights gathered about the keywords and important search queries. We created a targeted, easily-implementable recommendation document that looked like this:

These kinds of tweaks may be small, but they provide future patients with the answers that they’re looking for. And that means they’ll stay on your page and, if you do step 5 right, find their way to your other pages.

5. Build authority with internal and external links

The final phase of optimization, link-building, is used to build trust and authority for each new page. Google still uses external links as a ranking factor. The more quality link a page has the more likely Google is to see the page as an authority on the topic, and as a trustworthy source of medical information that patients can trust.

Both internal and external links are used to improve the page’s organic visibility and ultimately to appear on the first page of Google results where you’ll get the most site visits from patients looking for treatment options.


Recap and final notes

When the SEO physician came on to help this hospital’s rebuild their ophthalmology program section and start attracting potential new patients their ‘eye care’ site visits was down over 40%. Today, the glaucoma page, which you saw above, had pageviews up by 933.55%.  After following the above 5 steps and optimizing their pillar and support pages, the overall content cluster pageviews have increased by 582% and they rank for 10x as many keywords as before.

These increases may seem unattainable, but they’re not. Just pull the data and let it guide you to your future patients’ questions. Optimize your page based on what your future patients’ want to know, and you’ll make sure more people are finding, reading, and staying on your page.

The SEO Physician is here to help you find the right treatment for your website.
Click here for a free consultation.

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