How to make your health & wellness brand stand out online: Search engine optimisation

Digital marketing tips to boost the profile of your health & wellness businesspart two

Yesterday we looked at setting up your website and making it work hard for you in attracting new clients. But once you have your site, you need people to find it.

Social media and email marketing will bring you some visitors, but the most efficient way of driving traffic to your site is still via organic searches, which means you are going to need to consider search engine optimisation (SEO) if you are at all serious about marketing your wellness brand online.

What is SEO? Basically, it is about getting your website further up the search results pages (SERPs) so that clients actually find you. When searching, people rarely go past the first two pages of results so if you want your health business to do well online, you need to make sure your website appears when potential clients type a relevant search term.

I’m going to talk about Google mainly here – obviously there are other search engines and those matter too. But we all know Google is king, so I won’t try to pretend otherwise. Fortunately, these tips should get your site ranking on other search engines too.

To get your site showing up on Google, you need to think about optimising your site and content to boost your ranking.

SEO is another big topic, so I’m just going to begin with an outline of the basics in this post to get you started. I’m planning a second digital marketing series in the future that will look at some of these tactics in more detail.

1. Keywords

Remember that work you did back at the beginning on understanding your audience? That is going to come in handy here. Because ultimately search engines exist to get people the answers they want.

So what are your clients going to be searching for online that might bring them to your health and wellness site? If you can answer that question, you’ve started to define the keywords that your site needs to rank for to drive traffic.

What is a keyword? Basically, a search phrase. There are short-tail and long-tail keywords. Long-tail keywords are longer (no way!), more specific and get fewer searches, but are easier to rank well for.

When you put together your site’s content, you want to think about the search phrases your clients will be using and then integrate them into the copy in a natural way. Don’t pack your copy so full of keywords that it becomes unreadable though – keyword stuffing hasn’t been a viable SEO tactic since about 2012. Google’s algorithm got wise to that trick long ago.

One factor that determines whether your site will rank for a particular keyword is the competition. If you are trying to rank for yoga, then I am very sorry, but you are wasting your time. Way too many well-established sites with a much bigger digital marketing budget have got that keyword well-sewn up.

But if you are trying to rank for “vinyasa pregnancy yoga classes in East Ham” then you might well be in with a shot (this is just an example by the way, I haven’t researched it specifically).

The danger is though that if you get too specific, you might find no one is searching for your particular keywords.

The sweet spot with keywords is to find something that gets a good level of searches every month (volume) but isn’t already occupied with well-established sites (competition). That takes a bit of research.

There are tools available to help with keyword research, but they do come with a hefty price tag – market leaders SEMrush, Ahref, and Moz are all $99 a month at time of writing. Out of reach for most small wellness brands, although most offer a free trial to get you started.

Your alternative options are to hire a professional to take care of keyword research for you or use free tools like Google Keyword Planner and Moz’s Google Toolbar.

It’s a lot more manual, but you can get an idea of which keywords you might have a chance of ranking for. Again, keyword research is a whole topic of its own, so I’ll go into this – including using free tools – in greater detail in a later post.

Finally, when choosing keywords, consider the intent behind them. Will the person searching with these keywords be looking for information or to buy something? Match your content to the intent of the searcher to increase your chances of ranking, as well as your chances of converting a website visitor to a client.

For example, if I search for ‘herbal supplements’, my search intention is unclear. I could be looking to buy supplements, or I could be wanting to find out information about them.

But if I search ‘do herbal supplements work for depression?’ then you know I’m after information. That doesn’t mean I can’t be persuaded to buy, but I clearly want to do some reading first. So you would want to use this as a keyword on a blog post on using herbal supplements to treat depression, rather than taking me straight to a product page.

On the other hand, if I search ‘buy herbal supplements for depression online’, I clearly want to buy something. So you’d want to use this as a keyword on your product pages rather than risking losing me by distracting me with a blog post.

Does this sound way too technical? If the whole idea of SEO puts you off doing any digital marketing at all, take it one step at a time. Build a great site and it is likely the keywords you need will be appearing in your copy naturally.

As time goes on and you learn more, you can start to be more intentional with your keywords – a blog can be a really good way to increase your site’s SEO without too much headache. Search engines like sites that consistently provide good quality new content.

2. Backlinks

Along with quality content that incorporates your chosen keywords in a natural way, Google uses backlinks to determine your site’s relevance and authority, affecting how your health and wellness business will rank in searches.

What is a backlink? It’s when another site links to yours.

Say for example that you have a blog post about the benefits of yoga for treating backpain, or the importance of sleep for mental wellbeing. Another company or blogger is researching the same issue, and links to your post as part of their own post on the topic. Your site now has a backlink from their site.

Google sees another website linking to yours as a vote of confidence for the quality of your site, so backlinks are an integral part of SEO. But before you get tempted to sign up for one of these services that allow you to buy backlinks, beware – the authority of the site that links to yours matters here.

Trusted sites will boost your ranking, while Google treats a sudden influx of backlinks from low quality sites with suspicion.

The best way to get backlinks is organically – provide consistent, high-quality content that is relevant to your health and wellness brand and people will naturally begin to find and link to your content. Again, a regularly updated blog is a great way to build content that other sites will link to.

If you are impatient, there are a few options you could try. One is to call in some favours – if you know of other wellbeing businesses working in a similar niche, you could agree to link to their site in exchange for a link back to yours. Again, be a bit wary as the links that go out from your site also affect how Google views the quality of your website. Make sure they are from reputable sites that are genuinely relevant to your services.

You can use this same tactic with people you don’t know too.

Do some research to find sites relevant to your health and wellness brand, write great content (or do great things) and then ping them an email asking if they would mention you on their site. Make sure your emails are personalised and expect a lot of rejections before you get successful.

Another option is to consider guest posting on other people’s blogs. Most blog owners will then let you include a link to your own site in the bio.

This is good publicity, but it takes time to find, pitch, and then write good blog posts, which may distract you from your core wellbeing services. It depends how comfortable you are in writing content and how much time you can spare to create content for other sites, as well as your own.

Finally, you could indulge in a little broken link building. This is when you find links on other people’s sites that are no longer working and then ask them to link to your content instead. There are a variety of tools available that can help by scanning a site to uncover broken links, so you don’t need to go through clicking on each one yourself.

The key to link building is great content. No one will want to link to your site if your content is poorly written, dull, or lacks research. But as a health and wellness professional, you have a lot of expertise you can leverage to create this content.

Don’t be shy about sharing your knowledge – it’s the best way to bring in new clients.

3. Optimise your site

Google’s aim is to help people find what they are looking for quickly. So relevance is a big factor, which is where keywords and backlinks come in. You can also help Google determine the relevance of your site by:

  • Writing short meta descriptions for each page – this is that short description that shows when you look at search results. Google won’t always show exactly what you set, but using your keywords in your meta description helps it to judge relevance, as well as getting people to click through
  • Use headers and sub-headings wisely to help search engines tell what each page is about. They also make content more engaging for human readers
  • Adding alt text to your images to help search engines determine what is in the picture. These also help people with visual impairments access your site since they can be understood by screen-readers

Relevance is important to search engines. But speed is a factor too. People are impatient online, especially when searching. Your site needs to load quickly, or they’ll be hitting the back button and going onto the next search result.

Google knows this, so sites that load quickly get ranked higher. With the increase in people accessing the web via their mobile, Google also likes sites that are optimised for mobile – check that yours works well on different size screens.

4. Boost your local profile

So this one will only be relevant if you have a physical presence in some way. But a lot of small health and wellness businesses do – even if it is just your own house and you see clients in your living room, or pack orders in a shed in your garden.

Google prioritises local services – it’s why you’ll often see a map appear at the top of your search results showing where to find relevant businesses in the area you are interested in.

To make sure your business shows up when someone Googles ‘personal trainer in York’ or ‘zero-waste shop in Leighton Buzzard’, make sure you are listed in directories. First and foremost, in Google’s own business listings, but also on sites like Thomson Local and Yell.

I know that all of this information can sound daunting, especially when you are first getting started with digital marketing. But once you get used to the jargon, SEO is a lot more straightforward than it seems.

As I said earlier, begin by concentrating on great content and the rest will follow. Get in touch if you would like some help getting started.

Tomorrow, we’ll look at something that may be slightly more in your comfort zone – using social media to promote your health and wellness business.

Don’t forget to catch up with the previous two posts in this series on digital marketing tips for wellbeing brands if you haven’t already:

Understanding the target audience for your health and wellness brand

Building a fantastic website to boost the online profile of your health and wellness services

Published by Lucy | freelance writer

I am a freelance writer specialising in creating compelling content for ethical businesses and health & wellness brands. I've worked for years in the non-profit sector and now use my experience as a professional fundraiser to help brands build their online presence and attract new clients.

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