Is Your Organic Traffic Declining? You May Need to Adapt Your Healthcare SEO Strategy

We’ve noticed traffic and impressions declining in all industries — and especially healthcare — for almost a year. Here's what we think.

Carrie Liken

By Carrie Liken

Apr 12, 2024

4 min
Healthcare Marketers: Is Your Organic Traffic Declining? Here Are Some Ideas Why.

Update: As of May 2024, SGE is now AI Overviews. Here's what marketers need to know about AI Overviews.

When you want to decrease your reliance on paid search, you optimize your site to drive more organic traffic. This has been a tried-and-true approach for maximizing discoverability for many years now.

But this year, the results might be unexpected: you've set goals for growing your organic traffic year-over-year and month-over-month, but you're seeing declines — not increases — in your organic traffic.

Does this sound familiar? If so, you may be looking at your healthcare SEO strategy, and wondering whether you need to make changes… and you're not alone.

At Yext, we've noticed organic website traffic declining in all industries — and especially healthcare — for almost a year. We've been looking for the cause, and we have a few hypotheses and recommendations.

Here's why your organic traffic may have declined (and it’s not your SEO strategy’s fault)

1. Google launched its experimental "Search Generative Experience" (SGE) in May 2023. The Search Generative Experience integrates Google Gemini into the search results via an AI-generated, chat-like response. This new feature has led to a change in how people are finding information about brands via the search engine results page, and studies have shown that when it shows on the SERP, brands are losing up to 75% of their organic traffic.

We've seen almost the exact same trend in Google Search Impressions for every one of our clients, regardless of size and industry, beginning early 2023. Google has not made a statement, but we believe this may be due to the beta releases of the SGE.

2. Clicks can fluctuate wildly because of differences in reporting — or differences in algorithms, or differences in user interface changes. That said, clicks are more "real." While Google and other publishers can change the way you show up, or how they count that, every time a customer "clicks," you gain a more real representation of growing (or falling) intent.

We anticipate that traffic will continue to decline. And with the growth of additional devices and technologies to find information, these are changes that may continue to impact your organization's visibility well beyond 2024.

How to rethink your healthcare org’s SEO strategy amid declines in organic traffic

1. Focus on meaningful interactions, like Health Risk Assessments (HRAs) interactions on your site. Interactions tell you more about customer intent, engagement, and conversions than traffic numbers. You can still monitor your organic traffic, but this information can help you understand how you're engaging consumers, too.

2. Include listings management in your healthcare organization's local SEO strategy. New research from Yext* reveals that brands limiting their information management to only a few major publishers see lower overall web performance from Google. The data, based on 620K+ locations managed within the Yext platform, shows that brands who appear across >75% of publishers in the Yext network measure a +186% increase in clicks to their websites from Google compared to those appearing on fewer publishers.

The data holds up within the healthcare industry, too. In healthcare, enterprise organizations who are synchronized across more than 75% of the Yext publisher network see an average 50% increase in Google website clicks. By managing your listings across as many publishers as possible, you might be able to recover more of your traffic.

Maximize your SEO efforts and your local marketing strategy by managing your listings for your organization as well as for your providers and facilities — across as many publishers as possible.

3. Start to look at your website pages as individual conversion opportunities. Each page should promote an opportunity to convert so as not to lose a patient. When someone does reach your site through organic search, this is a signal that they have high intent — and they're more likely to convert. Remember, in healthcare, the most expensive click is actually the 'back' button.

Make sure you have conversion opportunities on every page of your site, and have easy search and discovery tools for a higher engagement rate.

It can be frightening for any marketer to see traffic decline. But don't despair: there are still ways to rank well in SGE and AI Search. And once you understand why your traffic is declining, you'll realize that everyone is in the same boat. By continuing best practices for optimizing your digital presence, you'll be able to measure traffic accurately and make the most of the evolving search landscape.

*As the largest listings vendor, Yext helps thousands of multi-location brands manage their digital presence. This offers Yext the unique ability to conduct a study of this caliber using such a large, diverse data set. To ensure we took an unbiased approach, Yext analyzed more than 620k locations – across all geographies and brand types – that have been live on Listings for at least one year. Reference the full study for more details.

Read next: How Diverse Publisher Coverage Impacts Brand Discoverability

New research from Yext shows brands can see +186% more clicks from Google when they manage their information across an extended publisher network.

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