April 2, 2020
Essential Website Maintenance
Your healthcare website doesn’t care about our earth-bound problems. It’s still getting traffic, and “Page Not Found” errors are pushing up their ugly heads. Content is aging. And Google isn’t taking a break from deciding which sites will garner traffic, and which will not. So, let’s start with some sleuthing, and your to-do list will flow out of that.
To start with, pick ten essential pages in your site that represent keywords that you want on page one of Google’s search results (SERPs). The homepage should be one of them, along with flagship product pages, or services for a hospital. Then check to see where they rank on Google. Start with your brand name plus a descriptor, like St. Elizabeth oncology.
For medical devices, you check the brand name of the device, say Cardiagrapher®, the name of the category, virtual mapping cardiology, and the keyword or keyword phrase, “portable cardiac monitor.” Hospitals need to check relevant locations against Google. Use the names of cities (New York), communities (Bronx), and parts of a township or neighborhood (East Bronx). If a clinic, hospital, practice, or in some instances, the medical manufacturer doesn’t rank on a specific locale, it doesn’t exist for most of the world.
Know your hospital’s SEO’s Bar Call
Just like “Gimme a Bud” is synonymous with Budweiser beer made by Anheuser Busch, there’s usually a shorthand way of referring to medical devices and hospitals. Above, for example, we used St. Elizabeth as an example of a search, locals all call it St. E’s, and civilians will use the word cancer instead of oncology. Bottom line: make sure you optimize for the bar call. For more in-depth, please see our post on Optimizing for Brand Names
Give your content a thorough checkup
Google evaluates your content in several ways. They include its freshness, relevance, readability, depth, backlinks, internal links, and even grammar. Consider that Google’s job is to give the top rankings to the most relevant site for any given search. There’s a geeky part of this called technical SEO, which you can find out about here.
In this project, you’ll review the basics of your most important pages and blogs. Start with the date first published. The type of information we use in healthcare and medical technology doesn't age well. Examine the following:
- Check all links on the page. More on that below.
- Compare this page to your competitor’s information. Is yours the best? If not, make it so.
- Does it need updating, revision, rewrite, or does it fall into the pail?
- Scrutinize any post or page that's two years or older, check the accuracy, and buff it up a bit. Even if search engines aren’t tired of it, your visitors are.
- Are there supporting pages or posts that link back to this page? That's a sign that the content is important to the site.
- Are your pages focused on a single theme, or do they ramble? Does your first paragraph give a quick summary of what we can learn on the page? Does the headline contain a keyword, and does it tell the reader what to expect from the article? All of these are good reasons for a revision.
- Grammar – are you the resident grammarian in your company? If not paste, copy into an AI-powered style guide and proofreader, like Grammarly.
404 Errors – The bane of a Website’s existence
A 404 Error occurs when you have a link on a webpage that doesn’t connect to anything. The message a 404 sends to the world and search engines is that the site isn’t maintained, and the user might have had an unsatisfying experience clicking on a link. It might be a navigation item, like About, or links deep in the page that shuttles you to an internal or external resource. Sometimes the cause is a coding slip up, the page changed its name or moved to a new location, or something you linked to no longer exists.
Prescription: use a tool, like the aptly named Dead Link Checker, to scan your site for irksome links. Note, some websites and SEO platforms have a 404-checker built-in. Finding errant links is easy. Fixing them requires some familiarity with URLs and the redirect function in your site’s control panel. Know when to ask for help!
Maintain your website and content, and you'll be far ahead of the game when things turn brighter. Do you have questions, or need some advice? Send your request using our contact form.
Handle Isolation Like an Astronaut
Who knows more about being isolated than Astronauts? Looking at you, Major Tom. Astronaut and the year-long International Space Station inhabitant, Scott Kelly has a few tips for those of us currently residing in Space Station Housebound due to COVID-19.
- Get yourself a schedule and try to stick to it. Having a routine can be the tether that keeps us from feeling unmoored.
- Remember to lift your nose off the grindstone. Take breaks and build in time for fun activities.
- Get outside. It’s not like you need a spacesuit.
- Get a hobby. You’ve probably got some extra time on your hands now. Time to start building that ship in a bottle. A hobby can be a form of self-expression that can serve as an excellent coping mechanism.
- Keep a journal. This time is unprecedented, and you and your progeny might enjoy looking back on your thoughts during this period. Who knows, you might even turn it into a best-selling book!
- Take time to connect. Science says that isolation has negative effects on not just our mental well-being but our physical health as well. Check-in with family and friends daily, even if it’s just by phone or Facetime.
And if you’re looking for other pearls of wisdom from the (pseudo) spacefaring, check out the former Captain James T. Kirk’s twitter feed. (You may currently know him as William Shatner.) He serves up the occasional captain’s log update with gems like: “Stardate 14 of self-imposed isolation…working on finishing my draft of Ode to Isolation today to share. Use of rhyming couplets and emojis can be difficult when trying to compose to your struggles and issues.”
Live long and prosper—just do it 6 feet apart.
Apps to Fight Off Cabin Fever
If being confined to your home base is starting to take its toll on your mental and physical well-being, your smartphone may contain a remedy (or remedies.) Here are a few apps that will help you outlast the Covid-19 quarantine, and maybe even come out on the other side more mentally and physically fit.
Meditation apps like Headspace, Stop, Breathe, Think or Calm can help you get centered, improve your focus, and help you maintain a sense of well-being.
Library app. Libby hooks you up with eBooks and audiobooks as well as helps you manage your library loans.
If you don’t like the quiet, check out Noisli for endless streams of sounds from babbling brooks to coffee shops. Just the ticket when your house feels too quiet.
Brain.FM. Algorithmically (and, hey, who doesn’t love a good algorithm?) generates playlists to boost productivity, chill you out, or help you sleep.
Sure, there’s all that streaming content on Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, etc. but which shows are on what platform. JustWatch helps you figure that out.
Google Duo. Video chat with up to eight folks and it works on Apple, Android and the web. Plus, it has filters and effects to delight (and by delight, we mean annoy) your friends.
House Party. Like a real house party but without all the sharing of viruses! This video chat app includes games and such.
Peloton. For those who like to be berated while they exercise.
Minecraft. A game world that’s usually a bit easier than the real world.
Nuzzel. When you want your social media and news in digest form. Available from Google Play and Apple's app store
Words that Make SPAM filters Grouchy
Have you noticed that we’re writing about email marketing lately? That’s because it’s one of the least expensive mediums at less than 2 cents each, it’s highly targeted, and you’ll know immediately what’s working and what’s not. Awesome, right? But your email has to be received first. That means it needs to plow through a SPAM filter on the receiving side first. The cause of SPAM-outs ranges from a suspiciously large load of code to a blacklisted server that sends the email.
The one that will blindside you, though, is the use of specific words in the text. It may be a perfectly fine word, but in some contexts, it might be evidence of a scam. Here are a few in the medical category:
- Valium, Xanax, Viagra, Vicodin
- Life insurance
They seem innocent enough, but they may also be part of a come-on.
- Not spam, this isn’t junk, this isn’t SPAM
- Undisclosed recipient
- Click here, click below, click to remove
- One-time mailing
- You will not believe your eyes
These general terms may also have double meanings in the SPAM world. Here are a few phrases related to marketing
- ACCEPTANCE, ACCORDINGLY, AVOID (the words themselves, and all caps, in general, aren't recommended)
You might think that “Medium” means the middle size of the product we offer, not the crank using a Ouija board. Keep in mind that it’s all about context. One word may not get your email chucked, but several of them may if it’s perceived to be in a spammy piece of copy.
A good time to check is after you get a flurry of rejections. Give your copy the Eagle eye and make a list of suspects to review with your vendor.
Axe These Pubic Speaking Peccadilloes
You hear them all the time. Those words and phrases that sneak into so many speeches and public addresses that make you cringe when you hear them. Sometimes it’s because they’ve become so overused. And sometimes it’s just because they start out cringeworthy.
Here’s a few of the ones we could do without:
- “Our hearts go out” Ouch, that’s gotta hurt.
- “Thoughts and prayers.” This nugget gets waaaay overused in attempt to express empathy.
- “Abundance of caution”…and for super achievers there’s “an OVER abundance of caution.” They want to make sure you know they were being super cautious!
- Beginning every statement or answer to a question with “Look.” Even if it buys you a second to think, don’t do it. It makes you sound like a jerk.
- “At the end of the day.” At the end of the day, can’t we all just go home?
- “Let me be clear.” Yes, please. You don’t have to tell me you’re going to do it. Just do it.
- “That’s a good question.” As an interviewer, you might appreciate the compliment, but chances are, you knew it was a good question or you wouldn’t have asked it. Another tactic to by time to think. How about just pausing thoughtfully and, you know, think!
Ditch these from your speechifying and your performance will be cleaner, clearer and more succinct. Everyone wins.
Is your favorite on the list? Which ones did we miss?
Is Your Beard a Face Mask Killer?
As you know, there’s a serious shortage of protective masks and respirators for doctors, healthcare workers, first responders, and patients. So, don’t spoil a perfectly fine mask with your facial hair. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has warned that facial hair may interfere with the effectiveness of face masks and respirators used to combat the spread of diseases such as coronavirus. Why? Your beard-do makes them leak.
And, they’ve made a fantastic respirator infographic (suitable for framing) with 36 illustrations of beards and mustaches. And they've given them each a handy moniker for reference. If you’re sporting a Circle Beard, Lampshade, or a Van Dyke, get outta here. But Balboes, Zappas, and Walruses are welcomed with open arms. The stockpile of masks is so low that some doctors and nurses are making their own. This has pushed production to go rogue. A student in Florida uses a 3-D printer to make his. And, in Cincinnati, there’s a group of more than 6,000, including Biotica’s Susan Abramovitz, who sews them at home. They’re free to the users, too.
The CDC advises that the masks do not prevent COVID-19, but they do tamp down the spread of the virus with people already infected with the virus, says the CDC.
Would you like to make masks?
The New York Times has step-by-step instructions for mask assembly. Most hospitals and healthcare organizations accept mask donations. Just google “donate facemasks (your city), and you’ll get an organization near you.
Stay safe and healthy.
Note: respirators need to fit more tightly than masks thus the beard prohibition.