SEO for health and wellness professionals is more important than ever, because the majority of your patients will be doing their research before booking an appointment with you.
Let’s talk about how your acupuncture blog is actually critical for SEO.
Or more specifically.. Why your blog is such a valuable asset, how blogging actually works, and how it can actually save you time and yes, make you money. For more advanced and specific information on what’s happening in the world of SEO for wellness professionals, check out this blog.
Blogging is one of those tasks that business owners say they will “get around to” but seldom do, at least not on a regular basis.
Many don’t understand what blogging is about. They see it as “Something they should do because everyone else is doing it” (much like websites) but they don’t know the exact mechanisms behind a good blog and how it may be one of the best ways to leverage your marketing time or budget.
You can also check out my nifty infographic at the end of this blog for the “cliff notes” version.
Why is blogging so important?
Blogging plays an important role in today’s marketing. 68% of consumers spend time reading blog content from a brand they are interested in. For health care, this number is even higher, at 80%.
The assumption that “nobody has time to read blogs” isn’t true. In fact, your blog is the best place for visitors to get their questions answered when they type a question into a Google search query (or any other search engine)
Blogging isn’t just about getting more visitors to read your blog. It’s also one of the most powerful lead generation tools. Blogging consistently will help you generate 67% more leads and will give you a positive ROI for investment in content marketing (including blogging)
If you are a wellness practitioner, you are in luck, because it’s HIGHLY unlikely that you will ever run out of interesting things to talk about. You DO have an audience out there waiting to read your blog!
Still, even when you have the best blog on the planet, your blog will need a specific GOAL in order to be worth any kind of time or money investment.
Defining goals for your blog
Before a blog is written, there should be a clear purpose, or primary goal in mind. “Get more clients” or “make more money” are simply too vague.
Some primary goals include:
• Getting more traffic to your website by answering questions in a thorough manner
• Increased bookings and appointments
• Growing your email list
• More engagement with you brand
• Educating potential leads and the public in general about what you do. This is especially true in the wellnessindustry.
• Pre qualification. Blogging will help you get the clients and patients who are the right fit for you, and help you screen out those who are not a good fit. If you rely ONLY on local keywords like “acupuncturist in Golden, CO” you’ll be getting more random patients, some of who may be “less than ideal” and not really committed to your process or on board with the way you provide your services.
• Making it easier for you to stop trading time for money. Once you start moving away from the old paradigm of “helping everyone” and “acupuncture treats these 100 conditions” and into your unique area of expertise, (your niche) you’ll be delivering more than “an hour of acupuncture services” and providing solid strategies and transformation that nobody else can do as well as you.
For this, you will DEFINITELY want to have some kind of content marketing in place to show that you know your stuff. Blogging is one of the easiest ways to do this.
Once the goal is defined, you can use your blog along with other tools and techniques to accomplish the goal.
For example, if your goal is to start a community about balancing hormones during perimenopause, you can create a blog to introduce the topic and provide a link to a Facebook Group where women can take part and engage with you.
If the goal is to build your email list, you can include a link or button for new subscribers who want to learn more about the subject you just wrote about in your blog.
If the goal is getting more traffic to your site, you want to make sure that you carefully choose your keywords and target market, which are “baked into” the blog itself.
SEO and blogging: key concepts
Blogging, SEO, and social media all go together. Many think that they are separate actions.. you write blogs, and people will come. Or if you hire someone to “do” SEO, your website will rank higher.
SEO simply doesn’t work without content. Keywords and links depend on having actual content to attach them to. The more high quality content you have, the more Google will “See” that your website is a valuable source.
When you blog, you are creating more pages which Google can index, which has a significant positive impact. This is ONE reason why your acupuncture blog can help your SEO directly.
Another aspect of SEO is links. Links are what makes the internet function on a basic level. One of the most important factors for search engine rankings is backlinks, or more specifically inbound links. This means links on other people’s sites that point to your website. There’s a lot to this, but for now, know that:
Blogging generates 97% more inbound links.
What does a successful blog look like?
Blogging isn’t just about writing a blog, putting it on your site, and hoping that others will read it. Your blog needs to be found. The good news is, a blog itself, along with the right keywords, is the perfect vehicle for you to gain visibility.
A successful blog will:
• Contain high quality content. This means writing in a natural way and being your authentic self as well as providing accurate, interesting, relevant, useful, and engaging content.
• Answer the questions your ideal patient or client avatar will be typing into Google when they do their research. This will require some research to find out more about your avatar and the right keywords to use.
• Be consistent and frequent.
• Connect to other marketing channels, such as Facebook groups, pages, and posts, Instagram, Pinterest, Youtube, etc. Generally, you want to guide traffic from social media to your site, not the other way around, via posting the blog in your preferred SM channels along with the link back to your site.
• Invite the reader to take some sort of action. For example: “If you would like to explore this topic on a deeper level, I invite you to schedule a free consultation/discovery call” OR “Come to our free wine tasting every Friday at blah blah blah.
• Contain the right keywords, meta-descriptions, title tags, and on-page SEO. This will require practice and some research.
• Expand to include a wider audience via guest blogging.
• Be easy to read with excellent formatting, layout, and well-chosen photos or graphics. NO clichéd stock photos!
How often should I blog?
By consistent I mean often enough and regularly enough to keep your audience engaged.
When your blogs are sporadic, people tend to forget about them. I have a few favorite blogs I look forward to. I read them because I know there will always be something new and fresh to read. I look forward to a new post every Tuesday.
On the other hand, are other blogs I have enjoyed, but have dropped of my radar because I only see sporadic posts.
Ok, so seriously HOW often should one blog? Google this question and you will find a lot of different answers. Some say that 2x per month works, others favor a once or week or more model.
Update: Google wants to show its users fresh and relevant info in the search engine result pages (SERPS) Once you get momentum and start building a library of content, you can ease off on the new blogs and absolutely go back and update the old blogs. This is not cheating!
I advise starting out with 2x per month to get that momentum going. Start experimenting with more frequency AS you measure results via Google analytics or possibly some other SEO tools. Repeat again by REDUCING the frequency and monitoring results to see what your sweet spot is.
Keep in mind that other factors and variables will come into play, such as seasonal content or major shifts in the message of your business.
How long should a blog post be?
I’m sure by now you are not surprised to hear that there are a lot of opinions about the optimal length for a blog. It used to be that short, sweet blogs were king, back in the day when you could write what is known as “thin” content and throw in a bunch of keywords. Because of the Google Penguin algorithm, this is no longer a guarantee of effectiveness.
Studies have shown that the optimal length for SEO is 1500 -2000 words.
By now you might be thinking, “This all sounds SO time consuming!” This brings us to the next point:
How much time or money should I invest in a blog?
It depends. (of course)
Obviously, if you have a business, you will have to spend either time or money outside of just throwing up a website and a few blogs to make it “look professional.”
Much depends on how much you enjoy writing and how long it takes you to write a blog post.
I’ll be honest: You want to have at least a few longer, in-depth blogs which will require some thought and research, especially in the medical, science, and technical industries. I call these “epic” or “ultimate guide” blogs.
Since I want this blog to be helpful and answer a list of potential questions (and so I don’t have to do it again later!) it’s just over 2000 words.
There is also a time and a place for shorter, more frequent blogs, but the “Sweet spot” for SEO is 1500-2000 words.
The good news is that blogging will be one of your best time OR money investments.
Why? Because unlike many of the other “busy” tasks you do that never seem to go away, like laundering linens and admin activities, you only have to write a blog ONCE and aside for an occasional update or refresh, you are done. Either way, you are leveraging your resources in order to get you the most ROI.
This is why writing costs more per hour than say, a cleaning or bookkeeping service.
I also understand that many business owners don’t have time to spend on blogging and may be on a tight budget. I get it!
I’ve done some research. If you want high-quality blogs written for you, especially custom-content, it’s not going to be cheap. You can expect to pay a writer anywhere from $150 on the low end to $500 and up for an SEO-ready blog, if you want it done correctly.
Generally, my services in the lower to mid-range on the scale, depending on the blog.
The services I provide are custom-tailored to fit you. I don’t work with everyone, only those I know will benefit the most from my services, since I only have a limited number of hours in a day for this type of work.
How many hours do you spend on non-billable tasks that don’t really leverage you time, or that need to be constantly repeated?
How long would it take you to write an in-depth article, including research, formatting, AND optimize it for SEO?
These are things to take into consideration. (I’ve outlined the math below)
Other ways to make your blog work for you for the long haul
• Use it for guest blogging. Granted, you don’t want to use the exact same content, but it can be worth it to leverage other people’s networks and empires, not to mention getting a good backlink!
• Use it for your next live talk, whether at a BtoB networking group or BtoC event.
• Turn it into a webinar. This is one of the best ways to convert new clients, in my experience.
• Base your podcast on your blog topics.
• Post an excerpt of you blog on Facebook as a “teaser.” Each day, you could emphasize a different point in your blog.
• Write a book based on your blogs!
ROI of good blog
The old saying that “you get what you pay for” is true.
There is no definitive way to determine the exact ROI for your blog. There are too many variables involved. I’ve seen sites that put up numbers and stats that look impressive, but to me it looks like they just might be making it all up.
HOWEVER.. I feel confident that a good blog will bring you a good return on your investment.
I say this from personal experience. I had clients who told me that they chose me because of my website and blogs. These clients were not only regulars, but on a monthly membership program for 2 or years. (It likely would have been longer had I not moved to Europe this past year)
Knowing that such a large number of people doing research before booking the services of a health care provider, combined with the higher likelihood of attracting more high-quality (ideal) patients by having in-depth and comprehensive information at their fingertips, makes blogging a no-brainer way to get started in content marketing.
Let’s do the math, based on even only 3 of these patients. At $250 per month for a membership, for 2 years, that would be an income of $18,000. For six patients, that’s $36,000. For 10 blogs you could pay to have someone write them for you.. or do them yourself, at the expense of doing your billable work, and most likely lose much more than that, depending on your daily revenue.
Of course, if you LOVE writing and blogging as much as I do, and don’t mind doing it in your spare time, that’s another story, but you still need to be consistent.
When it comes to hiring a writer or blogger, there are 4 or 5 levels:
• Bargain basement or dollar store bloggers: My advice is to steer clear of the types of bloggers you will find on sites such as the one that begins with an F and ends with an rr.
If I had $5 for every time I’ve seen an acupuncturist recommend this site to peers, I would be able to retire. Those who understand their unique value and see the value in a blog.. or at least something you would actually want to attach your NAME to.. will be the ones who will likely succeed by aligning with high standards and avoiding mediocrity.
It should go without saying that if your content contains a lot of specialized and technical content, going the cheap route will probably do you more harm than good.
• “WalMart” level blogging services. There other other sites online which are the freelancer’s equivalent to Groupon for acupuncturists and Booking.com for the tourism industry.
You can also find “content mills” which tend to cost around $30 to $40 per blog. (a bit more for longer blogs) The likelihood that you will get a high quality blog is low. Most good writers stay away from these kinds of sites, as it’s not worth it to spend hours researching, writing, and optimizing a blog at these rates.
Update: With the Google updates that have taken place between 2018 and 2020, health and wellness websites that don’t focus on extremely high-quality writing authored by experts have likely taken big hits in their rankings and traffic.
• Nordstrom level bloggers: At this level, it could be a hit-or-miss depending on whether you find someone who is experienced in your industry. Expect to pay about 25 to 40 cents per word, or at LEAST $375 for a longer post.
• Boutique level bloggers: You will get a high-quality blog. At this level, it’s not so much about the time it took to research or optimize SEO, but the value of the blog.. which could generate thousands for some companies. The cost can exceed 10k in some cases.
My goal is to stay in the “sweet spot” for myself and for my clients. When you take into consideration what your time is worth, having someone do your writing for you makes a lot of sense.
Writing high quality blogs optimized for SEO, choosing images, researching keywords, and formatting each blog is a time-consuming process, and for this reason take on only a limited number of clients.
The bottom line: I love watching acupuncturists succeed. Blogging is an excellent and highly do-able way to help you succeed on many levels. Your acupuncture blog CAN help your SEO!
Got questions or need motivation? You can go to the free group: Building a Time and Location Independent Wellness Practice and hang out with like-minded business owners with questions, tips, and support.
Or you can contact me directly for a free 30 min. consultation by clicking on the burgundy button below!