How we grew Health Affairs’ organic traffic by over 55%

The Brief

Or brief was to:

  • Grow Health Affairs’ audience
  • Increase reception of the trusted research they publish
  • Help their readers to better understand the complexities of the unfolding COVID-19 crisis

How we did it

We polarized COVID-19 content from regular Health Affairs publications by:

  • Adding ‘COVID-19’ to the top navigation to increase Health Affairs’ prominence in search engines
  • Creating all COVID-19 content with a cohesive design, making it easier for readers to share it, and for PR to pitch it
  • Creating tailored COVID-19 category pages for timely topics; these were chosen and organized based on keyword research and search trends

We incorporated SEO best practises into our strategy to enable Health Affairs to reach peak SEO visibility during the campaign by:

  • Using semantic search to inform keywords used in page titles and H1s
  • Updating subsequent meta data and URL structure to align with actual keyword usage across a broader audience (targeting both COVID-19 as well as related categories)
  • Improving internal linking to increase the flow of equity to COVID-19 content, linking to it in every blog post

This was helped further due to Health Affairs owning the top spots for broad COVID-related terms such as ‘covid vaccine side effects’ and ‘covid infection rates’ which were both in Position 1

We supported Health Affairs in the launch of topical research at key points in the national COVID-19 journey. Examples include:

  • New York Health & Hospitals
  • Vaccines and Treatments in the lead up to US approval of the drug use

We improved the user experience across all devices by accelerating page speed and optimizing mobile layout

We enabled Health Affairs to release articles on legislation within 24 hours of it being passed by creating page templates

With the support from our agency partner, RocketMill, we were implementing a fairly robust 5-year strategy that includes core elements of digital transformation, many of which apply to search. We serve as a valuable, nonpartisan resource, and we are honored to know that the technical and content-focused changes we made – in the midst of a pandemic – meant more people were able to find our authoritative content.

Patti Sweet Director of Digital Strategy

The Results

The following key figures demonstrate the extent to which we grew Health Affairs’ audience over the course of the campaign:

  • +2 million new users from organic search 
  • +52,000 new email lists from the blog
  • +156% increase in traffic from Facebook
  • +55% increase in organic traffic

Beyond this, our work with Health Affairs further solidified their position as a trusted, reliable and highly rated medical publication across the globe:

  • Media citations in publications such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, TIME, CNN and The Guardian
  • Policy citations from WHO, CDC, the UK and Scottish Government, and The World Bank 
  • 21 articles in the top 1% of all content that Altmetric monitors 
  • And we were awarded Best Use of Search – Third Sector / Not for Profit by the US Search Awards in 2021
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