The SEO Playbook for Healthcare Providers

SEOs have primarily been using the same steps to redirect their HTTP sites to their HTTPS sites.  Granted, these steps have had their drawbacks, but there aren’t that many options when it comes to redirecting.

57991bbd2fb3c8.82160568Three main issues stand out when when it comes to changing a URL:

  • Using a 301 to automatically and permanently redirect- this is guaranteed to lose the same amount of rankings as when using an actual link to redirect.
  • Using a 302 [temporary redirects] incurs penalties from search engines for not treating the site change properly.
  • Migrating in general just plain old loses rankings- mostly because of the first two issues.

These issues tend to keep a business from changing their URL at all.  Especially for healthcare providers, who want to maintain a steady growth in rankings so that their sites are easily found by potential patients, changing from HTTP to HTTPS seems like an unnecessary drop in rankings.

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Recently, Google released their decision to not sites for using 3XX redirection methods.  They have also provided the incentive of a small rankings boost if you make the switch.  It all seems too good to be true, and it basically is, but that doesn’t necessarily make it all bad.

Google has decided that it will be risk free for using 301s, but that winds up only being for the URL.  So one link escapes penalty, which is great, but the risk free doesn’t carry over to all of the other site redirects.

As far as 302s, Google may have decided to treat them like 301s, but that doesn’t mean other search engines and social platforms have.

579910e0898242.59136524Hands down, redirecting your site from HTTP to HTTPS is going to effect traffic.  With all of the moving pieces and parts that come from this site, the potential for something to get lost in translation or done incorrectly is pretty great.   It is always recommended to practice this process on a smaller site before trying on a larger site, which obviously has more moving pieces and parts to mess up.

There are a couple of tips that been found to be helpful when redirecting a site:

  • Risks are inevitable, so don’t freak out if you see a small drop in rankings
  • You can’t make everyone happen: most search engines still prefer 301 redirects
  • If you can keep all of the other elements the same, except for the URL, chances of making mistakes become much smaller
  • The benefits that will come from redirecting your URL (for SEO) are promising for future improvement of traffic and rankings. This should be encouraging for healthcare providers, when their sites are so specific and full of “surgeon” speak and technical terminology.
    • Redirecting allows an opportunity to improve the overall structure of a site
    • It allows the opportunity to include primary keywords in the URL, which is a big deal for SEO, not to mention that specifying your practice in the URL is great for increasing traffic
    • Here’s the chance to make to make your URL easier for the user to read