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Managing Healthcare SEO in the Age of AI

Learn how artificial intelligence and search engine optimization can be used in tandem to reach your marketing goals — even in an industry as heavily regulated as healthcare.

Artificial intelligence. Whether you’re having an internal marketing discussion, attending a conference, or simply reading the news, AI is an inescapable topic.

We frequently discuss artificial intelligence with our clients as they ask how it can fit into their marketing efforts — if it even canlegally. In such a highly regulated industry as healthcare, is it possible to use AI without violating HIPAA guidelines or jeopardizing patient trust?

Let’s set the record straight: we’re big fans of these tools and how they can help streamline SEO and content marketing workflows. But since this technology is still in its early stages, we’re cautious about how we use AI tools, and ensure there are internal policies in place about what information we can provide to get the responses we’re looking for.

That being said, there are plenty of ways you can use AI at your organization to help boost your SEO efforts and take some of the more tedious content tasks off of your plate. Let’s take a look at how AI tools can play a role in your day-to-day content marketing and SEO tactics.

Topical & SEO research

One of our top pieces of advice for healthcare organizations looking to incorporate AI into their SEO and content activities is to treat AI like a research assistant or editorial sidekick as opposed to a tool to produce finished work such as a colleague or other trusted employee.

AI is fantastic for generating ideas or lists for things like campaign ideas, key phrases, ways to format certain pieces of content, or topics important to your target audiences. You can also use AI to identify common patient or audience questions, providing multiple perspectives on the messages you’re trying to send and the best ways to address them. For example, if you want to build a frequently asked question section about a particular service line, utilize AI to brainstorm a list of questions a patient may have vs. the questions a caregiver or family member would ask. 

SEO support

While we’re on the topic of SEO research, it’s important to note that the information your AI tool returns may not reflect real-time searches. While the keyphrases you get back from a brainstorming prompt may not be the right ones for your organization, AI is still a valuable tool for getting the ball rolling and thinking about the terms people are searching for related to your niche. 

Content ideas & outlines

Once you’ve built out your list of ideas and chosen the topic you want to write about, AI can also help you create an outline to guide you through the writing process.

If you’re drafting something like a location page or provider profiles, you can ask what information should be on each of the pages. By prompting the AI tool to think like a website visitor, you can determine what people are looking for when they visit a specific page or what kind of consumers are looking at the kind of content you’re writing. 

The resulting outline should give you a good idea of the content types you’ll want to include on each of these pages to make them as effective as possible for both search engines and human visitors.

Repackaging & restyling 

Let’s say you have a piece of content that was originally written with one audience in mind but now needs a bit of sprucing up in the voice and tone departments. Perhaps you’ve updated your editorial voice as part of a brand refresh, or you need a new version of the content that’s geared toward family members instead of the patient.

By inputting your content into your AI tool and asking it to rewrite it to your specifications, you can get a head start on drafting content that’s updated to match the style you’re looking for. Of course, we always suggest checking your AI tool’s work — this technology isn’t perfect, but it’s a time-effective way to get started.

AI is also handy for repackaging existing content for new channels. Have a longer article you need summed up in an Instagram caption? How about a blog post you want summarized for a more professional audience on LinkedIn? With AI, you can spend more time thinking up new content and less time optimizing what you already have for cross-channel promotion.

Proofreading & editing

If you’ve hit a bit of writer’s block or have some pre-written content that needs punching up, AI can assist there as well. Just input your content into the tool, and it can help you refine your word choices, tweak it to be more engaging, find spelling or grammar errors, suggest revisions so it’s more in line with your brand, and even identify issues with the overall flow. 

Visual suggestions

One of our favorite ways to use AI is to help produce ideas to visually represent complex or abstract topics

For example, if you explain the content you need an image for, AI can come up with an art direction for your stock photos, or suggestions on how to visualize the data in the form of an infographic. 

Analyzing data

Speaking of data, this is another arena where AI truly shines. If you have a boatload of data that needs sifting through (notes from 20 hours of user testing, thousands of patient survey responses, etc.), AI can help you identify patterns or pull out information like quotes that can be useful in your marketing program.

Your data would have to be anonymized to stay HIPAA compliant (more on that in a bit), but even without personally identifiable information, AI can help you make sense of your data in record time.    

Writing formulaic content

AI is also beneficial when it comes to writing the formulaic, essential content that your site needs to function and rank on search engines — especially if it’s repetitive content you don’t necessarily feel like writing over and over.

You can use AI to write or outline things like meta descriptions, provider bios, instructions or tool tips, page headlines, and other low-stakes copy that serves as signposts guiding visitors through the site vs. marketing-driven content. 

Proceed with caution 

As we’ve mentioned, this technology isn’t quite perfect. There are a few things to keep in mind as you begin incorporating it into your SEO and content workflows.

Identifiable data

If you don’t know the right kind of data to use in your prompts, your use of AI tools may end up being a liability for your organization instead of a benefit. 

One essential part of the “art” of using AI is understanding how to get the answers you’re looking for without using private information in your prompt. 

You can avoid this by anonymizing the data and information you’re feeding to your AI tools and taking extra precautions like removing your brand name and being wary of giving it too much information that can identify your organization, employees, or patients.

Standing apart from low-quality AI content

With the explosion of AI tools in content marketing, there’s suddenly a sea of bland, SEO-optimized, AI-generated healthcare content that makes it difficult for providers to break through the noise and impact their SEO ratings. 

The good news is that quality AI-generated content is achievable by creating original content tailored to a specific audience and following basic SEO principles. 

Remember, AI shouldn’t be creating your full drafts or long-form content — that’s what other organizations are doing to crank out piles of uninspiring, generic content. Use AI for the brainstorming, outlining, and proofreading steps of your content workflow, but keep the majority of the writing and editing tasks with you and your team.

Keep it human & authentic

That sea of bland, boring, and obviously AI-generated content that’s formed over the last few years solely exists for one thing: to get eyeballs on advertising content.  We frequently hear concerns from clients worried about how easy and fast it is for people to create content with AI, it doesn’t feel worth prioritizing content that stands out from the crowd.

Thankfully, Google still values useful, helpful, and authentic content designed by humans for humans — not search engines. While Google does not automatically detect and rank AI content lower than human-created content, its existing spam filters can detect when a website is simply churning out a stream of AI content automatically in an attempt to influence search engine rankings.

Keep this in mind if thoughts ever start to creep up that using AI for your SEO content is somehow “cheating.” If you were plugging in a generic prompt for an SEO blog post, copying what your AI tool gave you, and publishing it straight to your site, sure. But by taking precautions to make sure AI is just used as a tool to boost your content efforts and replace a human writer, you can keep your authentic brand voice front and center as you create SEO content to help reach your goals. 

What’s next?

For more guidance on how you can use artificial intelliengence in creating SEO website content, check out our blog post on the do’s and don’ts for AI in healthcare.

If you’re interested in incorporating artificial intelliengence into your SEO efforts but aren’t sure where to start, contact our team today to learn how we’re using AI to create engaging, effective, and authentic healthcare content. 

Managing Healthcare SEO in the Age of AI