Study: Health Sites Fail on Natural Search Marketing

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A new study finds many healthcare Web sites are lacking basic natural search marketing techniques such as choosing the correct keywords.

The Fathom SEO study of 350 U.S. healthcare sites found that 72 percent of the sites do not use effective keywords in their homepage title tags. This influences how the site will rank on search engines.

"It doesn't make sense for the healthcare industry to skip SEO," said Michael Murray, vice president of the Cleveland, OH-based search engine optimization firm. "Healthcare companies should make a better effort to be found, so they can generate more leads and build their brands."

Not choosing the right keywords significantly impacts healthcare companies' rank on search engines. After looking closely at 10 of the sites that take part in natural search engine optimization, Fathom SEO found that 74 percent of the search terms they chose did not make the top 30 positions on Google, Yahoo and MSN.

The sites often choose keywords that are too broad, such as "hospital," instead of providing two- to four-word phrases that better describe their businesses and help users find them, Murray said.

For a consumer who is searching for a local hospital, the company could choose a phrase such as "Florida hospital," instead of "hospital," he added.

"It's better to go after search phrases that adequately describe a business and its products and services," Murray said.

Fathom SEO studied healthcare firms of various sizes and types, including medical equipment suppliers, pharmaceutical firms, hospitals and plastic surgeons.

Christine Blank covers online marketing and advertising, including e-mail marketing and paid search, for DM News and To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting

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