"Everything that is on the Internet and identifies you, your hospital, or your services should be considered an online marketing tool," she says. "Make sure search engines can find, crawl, and index your pages. Organizing your information can provide context for search engines and explain your site in a way that a bot can understand. Make sure that every page on your site has unique content and that URLs are search-friendly."
More metrics exist for SEO than almost any other method of marketing. This can be a blessing and a curse.
"Abundant data makes search more accountable than many ad formats," Scott says. "However, too much data tends to create an analysis paralysis. Walk away from the data and ask yourself what four to five metrics tell me whether my program is a success or if it needs improvement."
Nationwide Children's SEO efforts—regularly updating its keywords, investing in a full-time employee, writing web content for SEO, and evaluating its analytics—have resulted in a 25% increase in organic site traffic. And it has experienced an even higher traffic increase to key service line pages, which has led to patient appointment requests, Cannon says.
"SEO is an ongoing effort for Nationwide Children's Hospital—it takes discipline and someone who knows the ropes," she says. "If you partner with someone externally, you may benefit in the short term but having that person be in-house, to me, is key for long-term website success."