How To Conduct a Health System Website Audit (and Why It Matters)

When you create content and post it to your health system’s website, it’s tempting to think that nothing else needs to be done. The truth is that no matter how perfect a piece is when it’s posted, it still needs regular attention, which comes in the form of website audits. Web content audits are a key part of a robust and effective content marketing strategy.

Content becomes outdated faster than you might think. This is especially true in healthcare marketing, as medical technology constantly advances and your healthcare organization makes regular changes in its business. Website audits allow you to ensure all information is accurate and boost your website’s ranking. Audits also provide a sense of your overall content quality, highlighting areas that need improvement and allowing you to focus your content marketing strategy.

How Website Audits Are Beneficial

Yearly website audits are an essential part of healthcare marketing. SEO best practices change at least once a year, if not more often, and many medical advances or organizational changes could happen within a year, too. Regular audits help you stay on top of your content and website performance, minimizing the work involved in future audits. Auditing also helps you analyze the success of your marketing strategy. Additional benefits of audits include:

  • Aligning content with current SEO best practices
  • Identifying outdated medical information
  • Discovering outdated or missing organization-specific information (such as changes in providers, services, health centers or clinics, procedures offered, policies, and insurance)
  • Pinpointing content that can be repurposed for other channels, campaigns, or formats to broaden your reach

Audits also enable you to gauge the range of content topics and types on your health system’s website, identifying gaps that could boost the website’s ranking if filled. You’ll also be able to determine which content gets the most traffic or interactions, guiding future marketing decisions. Auditing the entire site allows you to revisit its layout and organization, so you can improve the user experience if needed, making it easier for people to find and access content.

Overall, audits aid in focusing your marketing strategy and resources on content that yields the best results.

What To Consider When Auditing

When preparing for an audit, the first step is to define its purpose. Content audits should be action-driven, which means you need to clearly outline your organization’s goals and users’ needs. These goals and needs will help guide the audit and what you do with audited content. Goal examples include:

  • Improving Accessibility: All websites should be as accessible as possible, but this is even more critical for a healthcare website, which draws users with medical concerns or limitations. Check the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) for the current Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.
  • Boosting Conversions: When a user completes a desired action on your site – like scheduling an appointment – it’s a conversion. Conversions lead to more patients or consumers, so boosting conversions is a common audit goal for many businesses. Steps like incorporating more social proof like patient testimonials, shortening forms, and linking to dedicated contact pages can boost conversions.
  • Updating SEO Content: Search engine optimization (SEO) strategies help your content rank higher in search results, which directly impacts user traffic and interactions. If your content isn’t optimized, it will reach fewer users. Google updates its ranking algorithm frequently, with major updates that affect SEO practices happening at least once a year. To help website developers and authors keep up with changes, Google offers in-depth documents on SEO best practices for a variety of content and website types, which are updated regularly.

Match each of your organization’s goals to its relevant metrics – such as website ranking, organic traffic, interactions, and shares – so you have a way to evaluate how content aligns with the goals. Once you’ve outlined the goals and metrics, you can begin the audit.

There are two main types of audits: quantitative and qualitative.

  • Quantitative audits provide a comprehensive overview of all of a website’s content, offering insight into aspects like page features, accessibility, and popularity.
  • Qualitative audits compare specific pieces of content against the goals you’ve established. If you’re auditing for SEO, for instance, your audit will check for aspects like broken links, keywords, and header tags.

It’s possible to run audits focused on both types of data, but if an audit hasn’t been conducted in over a year, a comprehensive quantitative audit is a good place to start.

As you move through the website’s URLs for the audit, you should aim to divide pages into one of four categories: remove, keep, consolidate, and improve.

  • Remove: Delete content that gets little to no traffic or has minimal value to your organization. An example would be a blog over two years old that’s gotten no views in the past three months. Once you delete content, use 301 redirects to avoid errors when users try to access old content.
  • Keep: Don’t change content that is performing well, up to date, and SEO compliant. Examples include recent content that’s gotten more than 100 views in the past month.
  • Consolidate or Reuse: Consider combining subpar or poorly performing pieces to create something new and optimized. You can also analyze pieces to determine if they can be repurposed into other formats or if they would perform well in other channels.
  • Improve: Improve underperforming content that’s valuable, well-written, or needs minor tweaks. You can boost a page’s ranking by adding images, videos, or links and updating keywords, metadata, header tags, and calls to action (language that prompts readers to complete a task, such as scheduling an appointment). To increase engagement, consider adding practical tips, useful details, and clear examples to content, enhancing its value to users. Some content just needs to be updated, such as to reflect medical advances, new research stats, or changes within your organization.

How To Create an Action Plan

Once you’ve analyzed your content, make an action plan. Start by creating a spreadsheet that lists details for each URL, like the content type, funnel or user journey stage, and current performance metrics. Then, outline how each page can be improved and what the anticipated metrics will be afterward.

Use this to prioritize pieces of content, weighing the benefits against the time and resources needed to achieve them. Valuable content that will have a high payoff and aligns with your organization’s goals should be a high priority.

Comparing expected investment versus expected return can also influence how you categorize content, as you may find that some pages require a bigger investment than they’re worth. For instance, optimizing one short webpage for SEO likely won’t take long and could lead to significant traffic and conversion increases, making it a high priority. On the other hand, rewriting a multipage guide that gets no traffic will take longer and may not benefit your organization as much. Content like that may better serve your health system when repurposed, combined, or even deleted.

Use tags or color-coding on your spreadsheet to easily distinguish between high- and low-priority tasks. Start enhancing content that offers the most benefit, then work down the list. Once you’ve completed content updates, use Google Search Console’s URL Inspection Tool to submit the updated URLs to Google’s index.

If you want your healthcare marketing strategy to stay focused and efficient, you should conduct yearly website audits and adjust your content approaches accordingly. To start crafting a comprehensive and effective marketing strategy, contact LIGHTSTREAM today.