Don’t Trust the CDC for Healthcare Marketing Advice

Are you familiar with the idiom, “stay in your lane”? If so, you know that we use it to encourage people not to delve into areas in which they have no knowledge or experience. It is an idiom that could easily be applied to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and their Health Marketing Basics web page.

Yes, this is absolutely real. The CDC devotes an entire module of its website to healthcare marketing. What’s wrong with this picture? The CDC is not a digital marketing firm. They do not know the first thing about SEO, content creation, conversion optimization, etc. The CDC is a bureaucratic agency whose mission is to develop public health policy.

Why the CDC feels qualified to offer healthcare marketing advice is a mystery. Even more mysterious is the apparent belief that they are qualified to dispense such information. If you are involved in healthcare marketing in any way, do not trust the CDC to be your guiding light.

Basics Don’t Cut It

It is hard to imagine a healthcare marketing pro gleaning anything of real value from the CDC marketing site. Most of the information on the site is rather generic. It might be helpful for someone who has never heard of marketing before and is curious about its more basic principles, but basics do not cut it in the real, cutthroat world of online marketing.

WebTek is a Salt Lake City firm specializing in SEO and digital marketing. They offer a comprehensive set of services to organizations in the healthcare sector. They say that a comprehensive healthcare marketing strategy is so complex that describing it in the simple terms used by the CDC would be impossible.

A comprehensive strategy would include, at the very least:

  • a complete website audit
  • an audit of social media channels
  • initial and ongoing keyword research
  • keyword and performance analytics
  • regular content creation
  • regular website updates
  • regular social media interaction
  • regular link building activities
  • blog and guest posting
  • paid advertising campaigns.

As you can see, this is a pretty extensive list. And still, it doesn’t cover everything a typical SEO agency would do for a healthcare client. There are so many white hat practices available to SEO marketers that quantifying them all in a single blog post is not doable.

SEO Is a Specialization

Perhaps the best way to drive home the point of this post is to liken the art and science of SEO to a medical specialty. Every licensed doctor goes to medical school to learn the basics. Each one graduates with enough knowledge to be an internist. But most doctors do not stop there. They go on to specialize in something else.

Medical specialties include everything from cardiology to oncology and pediatrics to obstetrics. Each specialty has its own unique characteristics and traits. Each specialty requires a particular body of knowledge along with additional experience unobtainable by practicing only as an internist.

Likewise, SEO is a specialty within the larger web development space. But even within SEO, there are additional specialties. Healthcare SEO is just one example. Healthcare, as an industry, is so unique in some respects that it requires a very specific kind of marketing. It is not a given that every SEO professional is capable of doing it.

Leave It to the Experts

Imagine you were in need of open-heart surgery to save your life. Would you ask your GP to perform the surgery, even though your GP is not a cardiologist and has no surgical experience? Of course not. You would leave heart surgery to an experienced heart surgeon.

Likewise, digital marketing and SEO should be left to the experts. Relying on the CDC website for information on how to market healthcare organizations is no different than relying on this post to glean information about conducting heart surgery. It just doesn’t make sense.

Healthcare marketers, take notice. The CDC website is a plethora of valuable information. Their healthcare marketing information doesn’t qualify. If you want to learn how to successfully market healthcare organizations, look for resources developed by real marketers. The CDC’s mission is public health policy; it is not marketing healthcare products and services.