11 Ways to Keep Your Wellness or Coaching Website Competitive in 2024

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57 min read

Update 2024: Is it even worth it to try to rank on Google?

This is one of my more “epic” blogs. It’s not super technical, but has a lot of info I think you will find useful, even if you are re-visiting an updated version.

I also added a table of contents! (click to find each topic)

Introduction: Is SEO dead?
SEO Ranking factors 2024
Why consumers use search engines
Social media and SEO
Why it’s harder and harder to rank in Google searches
A brief history of Google Core Updates
How the Pandemic affected search rankings for health professionals
AI: My prediction for wellness professionals and coaches in the next few years
Brand Positioning and SEO
AI: The final nail in the coffin for the “village healer” model
What you can learn from search intent and the evolution of search results (This is more interesting than it sounds!)
The BRIGHT side: What this means for smart entrepreneurs

The 11 ways to remain competitive:

#1: Embrace Science (This may not mean what most people think it does)
#2: Use keywords that reflect your process or modality and use long-tail keywords
#3: Focus on transformations in your content (not on transactions)
#4: Include social proof: Anecdotal statements and the “human factor” still count
#5: Optimize your local SEO
#6:  EAT and NAP
#7:  Make sure that your content matches your headline, that your headline delivers what it promises, and that your blog answers the questions your ideal client is looking for
#8 Always keep in mind the intent of your ideal client avatar, so that you can help them find you.
#9: Start using other search engines
Consider using YouTube and Pinterest to improve your SEO
#10: Author your own original content
#11: Don’t give up on content marketing and SEO
The TAKEAWAY message
There IS hope!

IS SEO dead?

Some experts are still claiming that it is. (It’s usually clickbait: The real discussion is about how search will change.. which is really no surprise)

The truth is that as long as people are searching for stuff online, SEO isn’t going anywhere.

It may be changing radically, but it’s certainly not dead.

The tips I have listed here are based on Google ranking factors that have been around for a while, and have made a HUGE impact on how our websites, as entrepreneurs get found.

First, the bad news.. It’s been predicted by many experts that most of us are going to see less traffic in the coming years. This isn’t just about AI. (More this later)

In a nutshell, it’s getting harder and harder to rank, unless you have a niche and a local practice. The global competition is fierce, the search real estate is scarce (it really is) and between Google and AI, many people are finding the answers to basic questions without ever leaving the Google platform.

I almost considered scrapping every SEO article I’ve ever written, because it’s so hard to keep up.

However, there’s a lot of info in this blog that is still relevant today.

You can call it a “best practices guide” for how to help your clients who need your services find you easily.

Also, because of AI, I think that more and more people will be looking for practitioners who occupy a specific niche and have unique personality.

Humanity will actually be the new online currency.

So let’s dive in.. this is one of my nerdier articles, for sure. (No fluff!)

Spoiler alert: This article is just as much about how to boost your credibility online as it is about SEO.

SEO may seem kind of boring, but this will all help you with both website traffic, and ultimately conversions (booking more clients or patients) because you will be a trusted expert in your niche.

There is a LOT to SEO, and it changes rapidly.

When entrepreneurs think of SEO, often they think of “technical” SEO, which covers ranking factors like site speed, loading time, and a lot more.. too many to list here.

Then there’s “on page” SEO, which helps Google understand what each piece of content on your website is about. The better Google understands your content, the better chances you have to rank in search, which means more organic traffic. This is about things like title tags, keywords, the structure of your pages and posts, and the navigation of your entire site.

And then there is something called “off page” SEO, which is all about external sites linking to yours.

Let’s look at last year’s ranking factors first: (infographic posted with permission.. they have great info on their site, too!)

Now here’s the ranking factors for 2024:


Not a whole lot has changed. Slowly, it appears that mobile-friendly design is more and more weighted as a ranking factor, while backlinks are headed in the other direction.

You may be thinking: What about AI? Isn’t THIS going to be a ranking factor? Honestly, nobody really knows at the time of this writing exactly what’s going to happen.

However, from my research, what will likely end up happening is that ALL results will get pushed even further down the page. 

At least for now, until everything “shakes out.” 

This is why generic content, in my opinion, is probably going to be a waste of time. Example: What is acupuncture and how does it work will probably not get you ranked and possibly not even indexed, not because you are being penalized, but because Google actually isn’t obligated to index every page of every site out there. 

Much like a grocery store isn’t obligated to devote shelf space to another cereal brand (if you live in the US) cheese (if you live in the NL) or smoked mystery meat (If you live in the Balkan region, where I have for 6 years now) Google also has limited space to show search results. 

It’s about supply and demand and limited shelf space. 

What matters is not just novelty, but quality.

Expertise is becoming more and more important, perhaps even more so than JUST consistency.

THIS means that content needs to come from REAL experts with real life experience.

So although things like loading speed are super important, and many SEO’s will have you think that technical SEO is THE thing to focus on,  the truth is that there’s a lot you can do that is already woven into how you are showing up in the world: Showcasing your expertise. 

Your services are not a commodity. 

Another point I want to bring up: Search isn’t even just about Google. Did you know that YouTube, Pinterest, and even TikTok are also search engines?

Did you also know that:

1. People research before they buy, via searches

2. People using search tools are generally more ready to make a purchase

There’s a lot to unpack on this topic. This article will focus on Google,  ethics, how it ties in with other aspects of digital marketing, and how to position yourself so that you will come out ahead despite the setbacks that may have affected your industry.   I’ll do my best to put this all in plain English,  and throw in a little bit of lightness and humor, because I know it’s not the most sexy topic. 

Grab some coffee..

SEO and Social Media

First of all, I want to say something very important,. I really want you to hear this and take it in.: You can’t rely ONLY on social media to grow your business.  Any honest and experienced digital marketer will tell you this. 

Social media still gets a lot of attention, although there are studies that show that people are spending less time on some platforms, like Facebook and Instagram, for both business and personal reasons.  I’m not going to get into that here in depth, but I want to mention it briefly because digital marketing is about all channels and how they interact. (Holistic)

People are generally posting less and sharing less. Social media, which is based on algorithms based less on search and more about other factors, is becoming a more passive experience.

On the other hand, platforms like YouTube and Pinterest are still growing, and there’s still a lot of opportunity here for introverted, service-based online entrepreneurs.

Remember, YouTube and Pinterest are search engines! So SEO isn’t just about Google anymore.

Why it’s harder than ever to rank in Google Searches

When I first started practicing acupuncture, I was easily able to rank on the first page, and often just a blog would bring me to the #1 position. 

And I barely knew what I was doing.

Today, it’s a lot harder, especially for those in a competitive global market. 

It’s very difficult to compete in a global market today with search intent based on generalized research, such as “Can acupuncture help with migraine headaches?” You’ll probably need to use geo-targeted keywords, such as “acupuncture clinic in Tucson specializing in migraine headaches.” 

Someone looking for an acupuncturist is probably doing some research online not just to find out where the closest clinic is, but to check out some websites to see who knows their stuff.  They also want to find practitioners they resonate with. That’s why establishing your niche, ideal client, mission, voice, and story is so important.

Now that more and more queries will be answered with AI, it’s even more important to stand out in a sea of generic and regurgitated search results.

Some history..

Even before AI generated search results started pushing down search results, paid ads and large corporate entities really started to take over the first few pages of most search results (SERPS)

For many, it felt a lot like this, almost overnight

The following example is still relevant today:

You’ve probably seen search results that show you a handful of those huge corporate health websites, even when your intention was to find solutions from “alternative” health sources.

Some well-known examples of “institutional” sites include:

WebMD (which openly partners with pharmaceutical companies)
Healthline (originally launched in 1999, it owns Drugs.com, Livestrong, Greatist, MedicalNewsToday)
VerywellHealth (partners with the Cleveland Clinic, started as an About.com company)
Many Hospital websites (such as UMMC, the Cleveland Clinic, the Mayo Clinic, Sloan-Kettering, NYU, etc.)
Governmental institutions (NIH/Pubmed, CDC, ODS, FDA, etc.)

This is because of several core updates released by Google a while back:

• MEDIC (August 1, 2018) This update negatively affected a lot of health websites, especially those in the natural or “alternative” realm.

• E.A.T. (Not a core update, but a theory that algorithms are based on) It stands for Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthyness.

• E.E.A.T. In December 2022, another E for Experience was added. The more indications that you know what you are talking about via personal experience as a health expert (in other words experience working directly with patients and clients) the more credibility you’ll have as far as Google is concerned. This is definitely a plus for those who feel as if they are competing with low-quality content.

Remember that this also means that AI will never have the level of experience a real human professional or expert or even passionate hobbyist has.

There’s some silver lining here, but at first glance it does seem kind of depressing.

• BERT. BERT is Google’s neural network-based technique for natural language processing (NLP) pre-training. BERT stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers. … In short, BERT can help computers understand language a bit more like humans do.

Generally, these changes resulted in some high-quality sites losing traffic overnight. Some sites also saw an INCREASE in traffic and rankings.

This created quite a stir. To this day, health and wellness website rankings and traffic can be volatile.

Here is a list of sites that have taken a big hit:

Dr. Mercola
Dr. Axe
Wellness Mama
SelfHacked
MindBodyGreen
Dr. Weil
Chris Kresser
Bulletproof
Mark’s Daily Apple
PaleoHacks

To make matters even more challenging for many business owners, especially wellness professionals, the pandemic and AI put many in a tough spot.

Here’s why:

The general trend seems to be heading in the direction of cracking down on fake news, hate speech, and false information.

This makes sense at times (and oh, that may have been child’s play compared to what we may be headed for)

Unfortunately, your business, your message, and the way you help your  clients (or patients) may have been lumped into this category, almost overnight, even if you fit the E.E.A.T. criteria.

Before, it was about whether it was intentional or the result of algorithms that aren’t yet sophisticated enough to detect the difference between “non mainstream” and fake news. It’s still not really clear.

There were, and still are, some industries that are taking a hit. (psychic readers and mediums come to mind)

To be fair, this was/is also happening with news and financial websites.

And as of this writing, Google still has a lot of catching up to do as far as striking a balance between keeping bad actors out of the scene while not infringing on free trade and entrepreneurship.

Regardless, these changes still can make it challenging for conscientious entrepreneurs, and even more so for wellness practitioners. Let me illustrate this for you:

Let’s say you are a doctor of oriental medicine with some functional medical training. You do your research and have published a number of articles, making you an authority. You are trusted and reviewed by your peers, and have a long list of happy patients that you’ve helped.

Let’s say that you’ve always focused on optimizing immunity each fall so that cold and flu season is less impactful on your patients. I’m also assuming that:

  • You genuinely have helped hundreds of patients get well and feel great. People actively seek you out. 
  • You aren’t selling snake oil or anything potentially dangerous. You stick to your ethical duty to “first, do no harm.” You sell herbal products and supplements that deliver good results for your patients.
  • You don’t have any conflicts of interest about the information you provide or the services or products you sell, nor do you make any claims that you can “cure” a serious illness

This may not be good enough in today’s climate.

It’s complicated, but stick with me, because this is important.

Because of all the changes in the world, the Google updates,  the pandemic, and the concerns about AI generating inaccurate content, there’s a  chance that:

1. Your intentions may be taken out of context, even though you never presented your protocols or methods or therapies as a “cure.”

You may not be “fact checked” or censored, but you will likely find that your rankings have fallen for broad keywords like “alternative treatments for migraines” or that your website is losing a lot of traffic if  you are relying on competitive keywords, which are very difficult to rank for regardless of the new changes.

And you wouldn’t be the first or the last website that has taken a serious hit this year.

2. Google is relying even more heavily on the same huge corporations as a result of concerns about the kind of content AI will be producing in the future.

My prediction came true:

 The “perfect storm” of Google algorithm changes, the pandemic, and the advent of AI have accelerated the obsolescence of the “village healer” and the “acupuncture treats these 80 conditions” concepts. (which were already on their way out) 

I am not the only one with an even more somber prognosis:

It’s very likely that many entrepreneurs, particularly service-based businesses like coaching, “healing,” and wellness will fold. They will likely be replaced by more centralized and organized businesses that know how to position their brand in today’s market.

Instead of a ton of “village healers” I think what will dominate are marketplaces and more “middlemen” that will take a percentage of earnings in exchange for taking care of the marketing piece.

I think the only ones that will survive, honestly, are the ones that stand out from the crowd and establish a solid niche.

Now, in order to succeed and gain the status of an expert,  it’s more important to have a solid niche. Being vague won’t help more people find you.. In fact, the opposite is true.(2)

This has to do with both positioning and SEO:

The local markets  are saturated with “village healers” who claim to heal every condition. If you are a consumer looking for someone to help with thyroid issues and weight gain, who would you pick:

Acupuncturist A: The village healer who can treat 80 conditions who loves to talk about acupuncture but only gives a few short blurbs with generic info that you could probably easily find from one of the big health websites..

…but doesn’t answer any of your burning questions about your condition, what you seek in an acupuncturist, the results you want to achieve, and WHY you want to achieve them… (and also doesn’t have much of an original personality)

OR

Acupuncturist  B: The go-to expert on thyroid health, who answers all your burning questions in detail, and makes the process enjoyable. You just resonate with them, and know that they are the ONE. At this point, you may not even care where they are located.

It’s no surprise that more and more people are going with acupuncturist B, because the shift  the need to address very specific problems, in new and innovative ways. The focus will be more on transformational care, rather than transactional care.  Location and convenience are far from the only factors taken into consideration when people choose a wellness practitioner (3)

As of this writing, it’s likely that location will become even less important of a deciding factor, especially since people have more options, such as telehealth, group programs, DIY courses, weekly-check ins, and more.  Although post-pandemic this isn’t such as huge thing as it once was, for sure, the event did change how care can be delivered. I think this is good, because it means more choices, more access, and more support.

Acupuncturist B is positioning himself or herself as an expert in a specific niche not just to compete in today’s changing market, but to build trust and establish authority. The E.A.T factor. Or rather, the E.E.A.T factor.

Because of this, wellness professionals  have to come up with content that positions them as experts, often to an audience that may extend beyond their local area. At the same time, as I mentioned, they are less likely to rank for those coveted, “non-local” keywords like “5 alternative treatments for migraines.”

It’s putting practitioners in a tough spot. Even before all these changes, it was still VERY hard to complete with the Wellness Mamas and the Dr. Mercolas out there, but now it’s almost impossible to compete for the keywords that have the most search volume.

Yikes!

There is another reason why the “village healer” model is on its way out: Search engines favor laser-focused, specific, thorough, and authoritative content. This is how wellness practitioners will need to show up online in order to compete not just with their peers, but with their websites in the SERPs. 

The final “nail in the coffin”  for many will probably be AI generated search results. 

Many businesses have had to change their content marketing and SEO strategy.  Please keep reading.. Because there IS Hope!

These changes have also affected your potential clients or patients. 

It isn’t just businesses that have been impacted.

Search engine result pages (SERPS) are becoming less and less diverse, and in my opinion, it doesn’t make it easier for the user to find exactly what they are looking for if the SERPS are dominated by the “big health institutions.”

I’m confident that many people are still interested in solutions that lie outside the mainstream.

I firmly believe that individuals can and should make up their own minds about what to do with this information. They can’t do this if they don’t have access to the information that they intend to find and are actively looking for.

One example would be “natural treatments for cancer.” This is getting into complex territory, so I’m going to use a less controversial and loaded example to illustrate my point:

Here are some words I typed into a Google search query  in 2020:

What is the best way to treat an ankle injury?

Intent: Your average person who recently sprained their ankle. They aren’t savvy about sports medicine or performance. They don’t know enough to know about the ice vs. no-ice controversy. Their search results looked something like this:

Here’s the results I got today from the same search query:

The first thing you may have noticed is that queries are often answered directly on the search engine results page (SERP) without ever having to leave it. These are called featured snippets/answer boxes.

This is one reason why it’s almost impossible to rank for content that answers the most basic questions.

The second thing that you may notice if you have a keen eye (or are tired of competing with the monolithic health companies) is that these are some pretty big names. Even the ones that are not still have some impressive DA (A score that reflects the authority of your domain on a contextual scale between 1 (a newbie) and 100 (Amazon or Facebook)

It’s gonna be hard for the little guys to rank, especially for some pretty dang generic (and boring, safe, traditional, dogmatic) advice on how to treat a sprained ankle. ICE? Really? You don’t say..

Note: This time I used Keywords Everywhere so that you can see the DA of some of these sites as well as the search volume.

Let’s look at another example. The exact words typed into a Google search query:

Does ice really work for treating an acute injury? 

The intent: An athlete heard from his acupuncturist and coach and from some other respected sources that ice isn’t the best option for healing an injury. He wants to find out as much as he can, and obviously has some previous knowledge. He’s a bit savvier than the person who would type in “What to do for an ankle injury.”

He wants to review the research and make his OWN decision about his health.

Let’s look at 2020 results first:

Wow.. look what came up! This is an even more controversial topic than I thought.

Here’s the thing.

If someone doesn’t know what they don’t know..  that they may have more choices than the typical R.I.C.E. protocol, they will never see these results.

As we can see from our first example above.. any dissenting perspectives that veer from the “scientific consensus” even though they may also solidly rooted in evidence-based research, will be pushed  far down in the search results. There is also the question of whether this consensus is based on science, or whether these sites are simply copying each other.

I respect evidence-based medicine. I also respect innovation, hard work, and continued testing and do NOT trust sources that lead with lazy thinking. The jury’s not in yet about this ethical dilemma, but it’s something we can’t just ignore.

Regardless of what your views are on this controversial topic, you will need to start paying more attention to how to get your message out there in a new climate that isn’t easy for those practicing healthcare outside the mainstream.

Remember, at least for now, Google’s algorithms favor WebMD, Healthline, the Mayo Clinic, and similar sites.

Edit: Cognitive bias also plays a role. Depending on how something is typed into a query: “Why Instagram rocks” vs. “Why Instagram sucks” you’ll find equal “evidence” that both are “true.” Who is right?

This applies not only to subjective ideas, but some objective concepts and truths as well: “Why the earth is flat” vs. “Why the earth is round.”

For fun, let’s take a look at the results I just got now:

You may start to notice some patterns:

  • Many of these sites still have high DA’s (Meaning they may be harder to compete with)

  • The niche that seems to have the most high-quality information is sports medicine
  • Even some of the most conservative and traditional organizations are questioning the established and die-hard belief that icing is always appropriate for treating injuries
  • There may be a place for the “little guy” especially if there is a solid niche and/or if they are focusing on geo-based SEO. (It’s much easier to rank for geo-based keywords)

Positioning your business is about establishing a niche and discovering how it fits in with what already exists in the market.

This is something I teach in depth in the Future Proof Academy.

I get it though.. I often ask myself if it’s even worth it. You may also be asking yourself the same question:

Should I even BOTHER with trying to rank in Google searches?

You are NOT Powerless, nor do I think we need to resign ourselves to a Matrix-like doom and gloom scenario.

Here’s what you CAN Do to make sure your website gets noticed and gets traffic

Update: Even with the advent of AI and all the crazy-fast changes in SEO, these are all still great tips and in fact, would even be considered “Best Practices” for being found online.

There’s not much we can do about Googles core updates or algorithms. They happen. Nor about the advancement of AI.

Here are the 11 ways to remain relevant as an expert in your niche in 2024

Note: When I first wrote this, it was geared exclusively towards health and wellness professionals. I think that many of these points can apply to any business, and most certainly for the kinds of clients I love serving: Thinking/Introverted entrepreneurs. 

1. Embrace science 

I’m leaving this section in because regardless of our niche and what happens in tech, it’s important to position ourselves and credible experts. We need to keep learning and growing.

We also need to be critical thinkers, now more than ever.

Science can work just as much in  your favor as for big health corporations and big Pharm.

More than ever, all of us, not just wellness professionals,  need to be meticulous about where they get our information, especially if it’s a YMOYL issue. (Your money or your life.. things that can affect our health, finances, and well-being) We must cite our sources, issue disclaimers, and play the game.. but in our own way.

Going back to the E.E.A.T. theory. As a professional, it is absolutely, positively essential for you to hold yourself to this standard, and more. You can acknowledge the mainstream but still offer a broader perspective and more choices for those who are serious about doing their research.

Do your research.  Don’t just cherry-pick your data. Do a deep-dive. Look for conflicting information, patterns, and possible biases or conflict of interest. Use the scientific method to ask questions, propose a hypothesis, conduct experiments, and test theories.

Be honest about your findings, the quality of the studies you cite, and the actual conclusions.

Many  professionals were trained how to find and interpret good studies that back up their claims. Many studies, including those for mainstream treatments and protocols, often conclude with “more studies need to be done” or “results are still inconclusive.”

Use clear language that shows you understand how science works, including qualifying phrases such as “may help in ________.” or “studies show that _________  is effective for_______.

Competent and informed  professionals  won’t speak in absolutes when talking about science by saying “The science” “proves” that ______ is more effective for say, treating injuries. Rather, a respectable scientist would say “More studies are showing that _______ is counterproductive for treating both acute and chronic injuries and that ______ is more effective”

Use the disclaimers appropriate to you industry. Example: “I’m not a lawyer, so please consult a copyright lawyer if you are wondering if you actually own that AI art you created” or “I’m a health care professional but I’m not YOUR healthcare professional. The info provided here is for educational purposes only…etc.”

Cite your sources

Present objective facts, and aim to be as unbiased as you can.

• Health care professionals: Don’t discredit mainstream or traditional medicine in general. You can state your case, but present all sides.

List the pros and cons of each choice you present to the reader. Let them decide from there.

Offer integrative solutions, and link to other professionals you are currently partnering with.

Keep looking for studies and put more of them on your website! It’s amazing how few professionals are actually do this. In the eyes of both Google and real humans, this will make you a real pro.. and a quotable, sharable, and “linkable” authority in your field and niche.

Show that you respect the current research, but have an open mind.

Remember this: It wasn’t long ago that patients were advised bed rest and immobilization after many types of orthopedic surgery, or that an ACL repair procedure that was considered fringe even 10 years ago is now common.

There has to be room for voices outside the conservative mainstream, or there’s no room for science, which is all about asking questions, forming hypotheses, testing them, and making new discoveries.

Some still insist on calling this type of information “dangerous” or “conspiracy.” I don’t think that blanket statements like this, applied to all theories and practices regarding alternative medicine, is appropriate.

• Be cautious and intentional about how you present your case based on observational studies.

Here’s the definition I found for empirical evidence:

Under this definition, we could include thousands of years of observation as empirical evidence of the efficacy of say, Chinese herbal medicine.

To me, this is valid. As you know, practicing medicine isn’t the same thing as conducting a study.. In particular, the “gold standard” of double-blind studies. Medicine is both a science and an art, with a big dose of ethics thrown into the mix.

But this doesn’t mean that we can, or should be, complacent.

Studies are a GOOD thing. I believe that TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) is a treasure trove of brilliant healing concepts and practices. Studies won’t necessarily make or break our careers as acupuncturists, but they play an important role in advancing the medicine and giving it context in the modern world.

Going back to the E.E.A.T. theory and SEO, it’s probably a good idea to present your case primarily  via published studies rather than data based purely on observation.

This does NOT mean that you can’t give your own professional opinion based on your own experience as a practitioner or even as a patient. Just be clear about what is objective fact and what is subjective.

(I did my best to do just that in this article)

What if my practice  is pretty much 100% “woo?”

I’m going to write another blog on this topic. Many of my clients are, in fact, on the “woo” end of the spectrum.  It’s a good question, because there is a very good market for “woo.”

2. Include your modality or process in your keywords and use long-tail keywords

Keywords are phrases that are included in your title, HTML title tags, or in the body of your web page or blog that reflect what you consider your ideal patient or client would be typing into a Google search query.

Some keywords are really, really hard to rank for, because they are so broad. There’s a lot of search volume for these keywords, but unless your website has been around for a long time and has the DA  of John Hopkins University and all the other big institutions, it’s going to be very difficult to be visible in a Google search.

Example: Acupuncture for headaches

However, there are some keywords that maybe not a lot of people are searching for (low search volume) but are a heck of a lot easier to rank for.

Example: Functional sports acupuncture for back and hip pain in Tucson

The downside of long-tail keywords is that the search volume is of course going to be much lower.

The goal is to heat that “sweet spot” between broad keywords/search terms and specialized, niche keywords.

Remember, your ideal patient or client avatar may not be satisfied with yet another mainstream health search result. They may keep scrolling, just so they can find what they are looking for, especially with search results that are getting more and more generic because of algorithms and the AI “blender” effect.

Note: I made up that term. It means that information will become less diverse and more homogenized. Much like a smoothie.

There are plenty of people out there (your ideal clients) who are looking specifically for information that conventional, generic, “safe,” and homogenized sites won’t be able to deliver.

The downside: You may not be able to attract those who haven’t the first clue that  what you offer (like acupuncture or chiropractic) could solve their problem. This means that you’ll be reaching more people that already understand the value of these modalities and less people that are less educated and will land on the more mainstream options.

This isn’t necessarily a BAD thing.. Especially if your ideal patients or clients (the people you work best with) happen to be more savvy.

How do we educate those who don’t know what they don’t know.. who are interested in viable and long-lasting health solutions, but don’t even know that your awesome services exist?

By using keywords/phrases that contain the words your ideal patient or client is looking for based on their intent and stage in the buying cycle or customer journey.  

If someone isn’t ready to buy yet but is exploring options, consider writing a blog just for people in this stage. I wouldn’t bother writing a blog for people who are not open to non-traditional options or what you offer.  Focus on phrases that will pique interest for those who are more open, curious, and looking for a different solution. 

Create more content using long-tail keywords.  “It’s worth noting that lots of relevant keywords with low volume scores can also add up to strong traffic when combined.” 

3. Focus on transformation, not transactions

Some of us may do well by shifting our message to empowerment and transformation, rather than a series of transactions that provide very little autonomy and a sense of agency.  This shift has the potential to reach a bigger audience. This is especially true on social media channels like Facebook, which won’t approve paid advertising unless the message is a positive one.

This is a win/win because it helps you set your clients (and patients) up for long-term success by showing them a clear path they can take to achieve transformation.

This shift will be reflected in your message, the language you use, in your branding, and your process. I go into depth on the concept of creating a proprietary process and how to package it in the Future Proof Academy.

It may also give you some more leeway when it comes to the criteria Google is now using to rank heath and wellness sites, and other service-based sites as well.

make your wellness website competitive in a changing market

4. Include social proof: anecdotal statements and the “human factor” still count

Update: Oh hell yes. Because of the extra “E” for experience and probably an unofficial “P” for personality as a result of the emergence of AI, this is likely going to be our ticket, if we can see it and leverage it.

Make sure to encourage happy clients to leave a review. Make sure to stay on top of your “reputation management” strategy by addressing any negative reviews quickly and professionally.

Testimonials still count. People still have a right to make healthcare decisions based not only on what Google thinks they need to know, but on all the criteria that is available to them.

Testimonials are not the ONLY way to to add the “human factor” into your message so that your ideal client or patient feels as though they’ve found “the one” who is a perfect fit.

Put yourself in their shoes. Let’s say you are a sports medicine acupuncturist. In scrolling this SERP,  what would your ideal client (or you) be most likely to click?

What would they scroll past?

How long would they scroll to find what they want?

What would the expect to see, or be delighted to see, upon landing on the website the chose out of all the other results?

This includes:

• Reviews and testimonials..

• Images

• Verbal communication: blogs, podcasts, how phone calls are answered, language, etc.

• Bedside manner (a “vibe” you get from their online presence or a review)

• Office decor and comfort

• Humor

• A general “vibe” or more intuitive ways to determine who is the “best fit.”

Especially when there is a large number of candidates to choose from with similar levels of expertise and authority.

I’ll give you a personal example. About 20 years ago, I had a choice between working with 2 orthopedic surgeons who were both likely equally capable, at least in the eyes of Google.

 I made my final decision based on the the fact that surgeon #1 was more on the leading edge of his profession. He worked with professional athletes and amateur athletes like me. He seemed to genuinely care about whether or not I could “get back into the game” or not. The clinic had a better vibe for me than surgeon #2’s clinic.

Surgeon #2:  The clinic  was conservative, dimly lit, filled with people twice my age, and didn’t serve my needs.

Their “bedside manner” wasn’t great either: The X-ray tech yanked on my arm to position me for an Xray to rule out a shoulder dislocation.. Ouch. Yeah.

You can still highlight these “human” factors into your messaging and even into your keywords:

“Get treated like the athlete you are and get back in your game fast.” Then make sure you deliver on that promise.

5. Optimize your local SEO

There are more options today than there were 10 years ago for our clients and patients.

For example, a perimenopausal woman may not need to visit a local clinic to get everything she needs. She will still benefit greatly from visits, but now she may also have access to group programs, educational resources, extra support, and physical products that can be delivered from anywhere in the world.

Disclaimer: The laws regarding your scope of practice and how you can promote your practice vary from region to region, and can be a bit gray. Of course, you’ll need to do your own investigation and/or get legal advice to find out what works for you.

Even if you expand your practice and become more location-independent, don’t neglect local SEO. If you have a brick-and-mortar practice, don’t stop focusing on local search terms like “chiropractor in Tucson.” Those keywords are still valuable, and you’ll want to aim for #1 for most of them.

Of course, you also want to optimize your Google My Business profile.

You may also want to do a site audit to determine the health of your local SEO. I recommend BrightLocal for this task.

This tool will help you with making sure that all your citations and directory listings are up to date.

(I also admit that this isn’t my area of expertise..)

6. EAT and NAP

No, I don’t mean eat and then take a nap.  Then again, the nature of this blog may require another cup of coffee before we go on.. I’ll wait! (and yes, I couldn’t resist sneaking in a pic of one of my favorite doggos, because after researching all of this SEO stuff.. I’m craving some time with them!)

I already introduced you to the concept of E.E.A.T.

In a nutshell, this means that websites that contain information that could be a matter of life or death.. (Or other consequences, such as financial gain or ruin) must be held up to a higher standard than other websites in other industries. (YMYL/Your money or your life)

Keep developing your Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness, and make connections to others who do the same.

You may want to avoid associating your website and brand with sites that look sketchy or that do not meet certain standards based on E.E.A.T.

NAP stands for Name, Address, and Phone number. When there is outdated or conflicting NAP information floating around on the internet, it will also undermine your website authority, and in turn, your rankings and traffic.

Make sure that your information is kept up to date. Again, BrightLocal is a good tool for this.

 7. Make sure that your content matches your headline, that your headline delivers what it promises, and that your blog answers the questions your ideal client is looking for.

First, don’t use clickbait.

I know that this probably isn’t your style or that of most wellness professionals, but don’t make fantastic claims like “Lose your bellyfat in a week” or _______can cure________.

This won’t make you look great in the eyes of Google, or likely your ideal patient or client.

Make sure that  your title and the first line of your blog are in alignment. (I’ll show you what this looks like in a moment)

Your title can still be intriguing without being clickbait or using any cutesy or clever titles:

.

When they do land on your page, make sure it is SUPER clear how their question will be answered or resolved, right away, without having to scan through a paragraph of text to find out if the page you are on is useful and relevant.

Tip: Since I first wrote this article, which is a beast, I’ve included a table of contents and a progress bar. 

Make sure the visitor isn’t inundated by ads or irrelevant information.

Be sure that you blog isn’t just a philosophical rambling or  a long talk about how great you are. Put yourself in the head of your ideal patient avatar (You must do this exercise!) and answer their questions as thoroughly as you can. Google favors these types of blogs over “shallow content.”

8. Always keep in mind the intent of your ideal patient or client avatar, so that you can help them find you. 

If you’ve been following me long enough, or any other digital marketer for that matter, you already know how important it is to take the time to create a DETAILED ideal patient or client avatar. 

Do NOT skip this step. When you have your avatar, use it to inform EVERY piece of content you write or produce, and for keyword research.

Remember, you aren’t writing for yourself. That’s what your personal journal is for. You are writing for THEM.  You may think you know what motivates them, but if you keep talking about how great acupuncture or chiropractic or your coaching method is, you are missing the mark. People don’t care about these things. They want to know how these things can help them solve a problem or fulfill a desire.

This is a continual process.. I’m also still working on refining my message!

8. Start using other search engines

I’m a forward-thinking kind of person. I’m all for exploring other options besides Google, which in my opinion, is teetering on the verge of having too much power. (arguably, this has already happened)

It may be worth it to check out other search engines like Bing or Brave or DuckDuckGo and see what kinds of search results you come up with. Go ahead and check them out, and compare your results to Google.

• Do you see more diversity in the results?

• Was it easier or harder to find what you are looking for?

• Do you think that potential visitors may have an easier time finding you on other search engines?

• Might you possibly want to optimize for other search engines? (That’s another blog for another day)

• Could it be that giving other search engines a chance is a way to vote against a monopoly?

Your choice.

This includes Youtube and Pinterest!

This is where I see a BIG ray of hope.

How Youtube and Pinterest can help with your SEO:

As it becomes harder to be found in Google searches, many are doing well on YouTube.

  • The algorithms make more sense for a more diverse range of content
  • People spend more time on YouTube than any other “social media” channel
  • You can “double dip:” As you start to get more subscribers and are seen more in YouTube, this also helps your Google rankings

Pinterest is also a great way to get more traffic on your website, which in turn will help with Google rankings. Pinterest, for me, has helped me get far more traffic to my site than organic search alone.

10. Author your own original content 

Remember, Google wants to know that the content on your site is coming from a qualified professional and not some underpaid employee who writes low-quality or syndicated, regurgitated blogs.

Or directly “puked out” from ChatGPT.

If your primary method of delivering your content is via your blog, either take the time to write your own content or pay someone who is a qualified expert to write your content and then review it.

For more about how to leverage AI to create your own content (Nope, I’m not against this at ALL.. it’s a great tool when used correctly) I wrote a blog specifically about AI and SEO.

Here’s another way to look at it:

Maybe you spent a lot of time doing research and writing papers while you were in school. In my opinion, this is part of the job of a professional, especially a medical or  health professional.

To keep learning, researching, and documenting cases. This can be carried over into your marketing efforts in some ways, but you’ll still want to write in a way that makes the patient or client the center of the story, not the medicine, not the prevailing dogma in your industry, and not you.

With practice, you’ll be a pro and knock out a blog in a few hours at your favorite coffee shop (or cafe, as we call them here in Europe) You’ll learn a lot too, and this will help you help your patients even more.

I don’t think that you need to do this every week, especially if you have a library of articles that you keep refreshed and updated consistently. (Good news, right?)

11. Don’t give up on content marketing and SEO

Content marketing is still the price of admission in today’s modern marketing world. If you don’t have published work, a blog, a video channel, or a podcast, it’s going to be very hard to establish yourself as an expert in your field and get found online.

Like it or not, your online presence is more important than ever, and the bar for service-based professionals has been set higher than ever.

This means that those who have been relying on syndicated blogs written by an underpaid content writing team likely took a bit hit in their rankings in the past.

And those who are relying solely on AI to generate content are probably in for a rude awakening as well.

SEO, although many still perceive it as a “technical thing,”  is also closely connected to content.

SEO, when you get down to it, is mostly about the written or spoken word and providing high quality information for people at all stages in the customer journey.

The content itself should be informative, relevant, and even entertaining to your audience. Most importantly, it should answer their questions about what you do in a thorough manner.

Don’t listen to the old advice about “keeping it short and sweet” because of short attention spans. What people DON’T have patience for is having to go to multiple sites with skimpy content in order to get the complete information they are seeking in order to solve their problem.

The days of the 400 word blog stuffed with keywords are over, although I still find some websites that write “for the machine” rather than for the humans the serve. (I still see a LOT of chiropractors that do this)

SEO is also about “teaching the machine” (AI) what your blog is about, using keywords, title tags, H1 tags,  (as I showed you in the example above) and organizing your information so that Google can provide the most accurate and relevant results to the person typing in the query.

I go into more depth about on-page SEO and AI in another blog.

 My personal thoughts as a  former wellness professional, introverted entrepreneur and marketing strategist:

I never imagined that I would be writing an SEO article that touches on ethics, the politics of the medical industry, pandemics, artificial intelligence, and the future of alternative medicine and service-based entrepreneurship.

I’m not trying to convince anyone of anything, but I DO think that it is important to take some of the issues I brought up into consideration when you position and promote your business, and especially if you rely on organic traffic and SEO to attract new clients or patients as opposed to paid traffic.

There’s so many rapid changes and I get it.. it may feel like you don’t have time to play this game or try to guess what’s going to happen next.

Here’s a simpler way to look at the “game:”

The main objective should be about matching the intent of the searcher with the information that is best able to satisfy their search intent, so that the consumer is free to make their own informed choices.

Whatever your opinion is about Google or AI or speculations about what “could” happen, I want you to know that the world still needs people just like you, not just the big corporate websites that are dominating the SERPS.

I want to end this blog on a note of optimism. There are a lot of changes taking place, but with that, also a lot of opportunity. It may sound dramatic, but these past few years have been a HUGE turning point for many of us introverted entrepreneurs. We have a unique opportunity to step up, armed with knowledge, and really make a difference.

Or we can sit back, because getting our wisdom out in the world was too overwhelming, scary, boring, or whatever other reasons or excuses we come up with to avoid taking positive action.

I firmly believe that YOU can be the one that people find when they are searching for the perfect expert for them who can solve their unique problem.

The bigger sites can’t possibly be the ONLY solution for EVERYONE.

Even though such matches made in heaven may seem difficult.. When that perfect patient or client DOES find you.. The odds that you’ll have a loyal, 100% on board patient or client ready to work with you NOW is pretty damn good.

If you made it this far in this blog, I believe that you will be one of the leaders in the health and wellness field. I salute you!

Need help with your SEO strategy?

SEO isn’t about applying random tactics now and then. It’s about your overall strategy.  Without this, you’ll be frustrated.

You’ll be wasting your time AND losing out on opportunities to attract more of your ideal patients and clients, make a bigger impact, and create more income.

Let me help you!  I love creating StoryBrand based websites for wellness practitioners, but even more, I would love to show you how to make it a true marketing machine.  SEO and content that supports search are ABSOLUTE ESSENTIALS.

To  work with me, start with a simple application. No discovery calls, no pitch.

Hi! I’m Julie. 

I’m a self-described nerd when it comes to branding, marketing, and websites. I’m an INTJ/P who loves working with “thinking” introvert entrepreneurs who are also passionate about their ideas and serious about their business.  Feel free to explore a topic or search for something specific. 

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