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  • Writer's pictureChris Brosnahan

Hot topics from BrightonSEO for the health and pharma industry

Updated: May 15, 2023

BrightonSEO in the UK is Europe’s largest SEO and content marketing conference. It covers a wide range of topics – from technical SEO to sustainability, from diversity to content strategy – and is an opportunity to see what the future holds in digital marketing for our sector.

Here, we share the 6 key themes for 2023

If you’d like to deep-dive into any of these topics with us, don’t hesitate to reach out and contact us.

Appeal to users, not search engines

The days of ‘gaming Google’ are gone. While multiple factors are still taken into account when it comes to page rankings, old and inferior tactics, like keyword-stuffing and writing for search engines and not users, are no more. Instead, the fundamentals of well-crafted, user-focused content, a high-performing website and following linking best practice is the way forward.

This is because search engine AI and algorithms look for expert, helpful content that puts users and their experience on your website first. When sorting rankings, algorithms can now more accurately predict what the user is looking for and aim to give the best answer and best experience.

In essence Google is prioritising the content that users actually want, and it’s increasingly difficult to get ahead if you’re not doing this too.

That means providing better content, better user journeys and better experiences than your competitors.

Diversity is at the heart of localisation

The health and pharma industry is well used to adjusting for local regulation and healthcare systems. But it’s increasingly important that content fully reflects diversity. In healthcare, local understanding and cultural stigmas around different health conditions adds an extra layer of complexity. Current hot topics in health include:

  • Representing gender identity when discussing biological sex-specific health conditions

  • Biased content that reflects the preferential treatment of one patient group in society, for example, white males

  • Descriptions of dermatological conditions that fail to reflect how symptoms appear on a variety of skin tones, particularly black and brown skin

Great healthcare content must navigate all of these to be truly relatable and address the needs of every individual. A quick audit of your own content will tell you if you need to set this as a priority.

Data driven content is the way forward, but don’t forget users

Actionable data is the secret to the most effective content campaigns and there are a myriad of tools and techniques for generating this. There are data available to identify intent, track user journeys, monitor performance and build impactful data dashboards.

For content marketers under pressure to deliver value, these data are reassuring. But a warning – don’t lose sight of your actual users.

The only way to find out what your audience needs, what they’re looking for on your website and that the content you’re creating resonates with them is to ask them. Only then can you truly see if your content is hitting the mark – and very often this will include insights that the quantitative data has missed.

Too many content strategies start with interesting user insights, but never check back in. Entire projects are completed without speaking to their target audience about what they need or want.

Particularly in healthcare, where each therapy area is so nuanced and specialised, it can be misleading to rely on experience or data from other markets which lack relevant, unique context. You need the qualitative as well as the quantitative data to constantly refine what you’re doing.

Even on a limited budget, you’ll find more data than you expected. This can be as few as 10 people, but the insights you get back will prove invaluable.

Don’t silo – build strong relationships

Content projects are less likely succeed it they don’t have the right stakeholder engagement and buy-in from either the wider marketing team or the business as a whole.

Without this collaboration, content projects will compete with other priorities, particularly when it comes to tech and development time. This is why it’s vital to build relationships and find your advocates in other teams. The more each team understands shared objectives, practices and long-term goals, the more likely it is that SEO and content will be prioritised.

Working with the right stakeholders – e.g., your patient experience team, your sales team, developers, agencies and higher ups – can help you support each other in individual and common goals.

Most importantly, silos also block creativity, insight and value. This is the next point.

Content isn’t just about marketing.

A common misconception is that content is advertising. Its role is much broader, for example, to entertain, inform and educate. Patient experience, sales, developers, other agency teams also have content needs and can benefit from a shared approach to content.

The right content can have multiple uses and solve issues other teams may have, like supporting your sales team to know more about prospective customers or helping your patient administration team answer queries.

According to Veeva, more than 70% of content created by health and pharma clients is never used. That’s a lot of untapped value.

Don’t just think about maximising your marketing content, but what content you can create to support other teams too.

AI – it isn’t quite there… yet

Finally of course, AI was the hot topic of BrightonSEO this year. Speed of evolution was a key theme, with most experts agreeing, “By the time you read this, this presentation is probably already out of date”.

In the end the consensus from BrightonSEO is that AI tools - like ChatGPT and Google’s Bard - are incredibly useful for SEO and marketing experts, but not the answer to everything. This is especially the case for Your Money, Your Life (YMYL) content topics like health and medicine.

There are huge questions about AI and the quality and source of the information that’s fuelling it. For health in particular, the potential for baked-in bias and misinformation is a concern. It’s very capable of making mistakes (and confidently too!) and anyone using it still needs to do the work of validating claims and correcting tone of voice.

So for now at least, when it comes marketing, AI tools are a human assistant, not a human replacement. This means while you can use it for idea research and inspiration - the basics of SEO and marketing will remain consistent.

Exactly what the future holds for AI will be widely debated at every level of society. But within health content marketing, it’s something to be cautiously enthusiastic about and here at Wallace we’re constantly assessing ways to integrate AI.

So there’s our round-up of what we felt were some key themes from BrightonSEO. We hope that’s provided some actionable ideas to excel, maximise and champion your content. We’re discussing more topics over the coming weeks.

Follow us on LinkedIn for updates, or sign up to our newsletter below if you’d like to hear from us first.

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