Podcast #67

ChatGPT and Bard: The Impact of AI Technology on Healthcare SEO

The popularity of ChatGPT has been widely recognized, leading Google to create Bard, their own version of the chatbot. Bard hasn't officially launched yet, but the new AI is expected to have a huge impact on the healthcare industry and search engine optimization. It's important to note that while AI technology is a helpful marketing tool, to provide the most valuable content to patients, human strategy should remain at the forefront.

Episode Highlights:

Amber Ritchie: “Honestly, I think ChatGPT right now is more of a tool. It’s not an end-all solution to anything that any marketer needs because at the end of the day, you still have to have the brains behind a strategy in order to even make ChatGPT work. You’re going to need to have like keywords if you want to use it to write something or if you want to do keyword research in there, you got to actually know what you’re looking for because it’s not going to be the brains behind it.”

Jacquelyn Green: “We’re doing more than revising [the content written by AI]. We’re outlining it. We’re determining what keywords are in it. We’re determining what headings are in it. We’re doing the strategy and we’re using the tool to then create the answers to some of the questions.”

Related Resources

Announcer: Welcome to the Ignite Podcast, the only healthcare marketing podcast that digs into the digital strategies and tactics that help you accelerate growth. Each week, Cardinal’s experts explore innovative ways to build your digital presence and attract more patients. Buckle up for another episode of Ignite.

Alex Membrillo: What’s going on, everybody? This is going to be fun. I always say this is going to be fun, but I really, really mean it this time because we’re going to talk about future stuff. How all of this AI you’ve been reading about, and I’m sure you’re tired of hearing about ChatGPT and Bard, but it will affect you. Does it replace jobs? No, not yet. Do the design AI tools replace jobs? No, not yet. Do they change your marketing holistically? No, not yet, but I think we’re on the way. We’ve got Jacquelyn Green and Amber Ritchie.

They run our SEO team here. As you guys know, I started this company as an SEO company, so it’s near and dear to my heart. Jacquelyn, Amber, welcome to Ignite.

Jacquelyn: Thanks.

Amber: Hi, happy to be here.

Alex: Good. Thank you for– Fake till you make it, Amber. Thank you for saying that. I’m also happy to be here this morning. I mean, afternoon depends on when you’re listening. Let’s get into it. ChatGPT, we’ve been hearing about, it’s Microsoft’s OpenAI thing that they invested in. I guess they’re going to roll it out on– I’m more concerned with what’s going on with Google. What is their thing called and what can it currently do?

Jacquelyn: Bard is the AI that Google is introducing as a competitor to the ChatGPT and Bing which is already rolled out. Bard is not live yet. Everything we know about it up to this point is from either beta testing or just speculation, but they did announce it about a month ago at this point, early February. Like I said, it’ll basically be their answer to ChatGPT. It’ll be their competing AI tool that eventually the goal I think is for them to roll it into search results. It’ll be a chat box that you can use that will augment the search experience.

That’s the direction they appear to be going in.

Alex: Amber, what’s that going to mean for organic search?

Amber: It’s definitely going to change the way that we think about organic search and how things will rank on Google. A lot of people, for those easy questions, they might go to the chatbot rather than typing it into Google and trying to figure out what exactly they’re looking for. We definitely need to start thinking about what type of content people should produce to make sure that the content that actually gets seen is going to be valuable for users.

Alex: Getting even more specific, if I type in, “How do I know if I tore my ACL?” Am I going to get listings of all the orthopedic surgeons in Orlando or am I just going to get an answer?

Amber: You’re just going to get an answer. [crosstalk] from what we can see about Bard as of right now, it’s just going to give you an explanation of, “Here’s how to know if you tore it. Here’s something that you can do. Go see a doctor.” It’s not going to give you orthopedics in your area to go to.

Alex: That’s so interesting. I don’t know if people fully trust it yet. If I’m Google, I’m nervous to just give the answer in no listings, no WebMD, nothing below it. I’d probably do both because it’ll take a few years for people to feel comfortable with AI in dictating everything we do with the care that we’re seeking. I wonder if they do both for a while, but I agree. They’re just going to give the answer. Jacquelyn, what are we telling our clients now? Do they still need to be creating the upper funnel content blogs and long-form?

Anything on service, diagnosis, condition, symptoms pages, or that’s going to go the way of the AI, let’s focus on location pages. How do you think about it?

Jacquelyn: I think you have to still think about it holistically. I don’t think we can really freak out yet. First thing is AI is very exciting right now, but at this point, it’s still not the most trustworthy thing. Even during Google’s announcement, their tool gave a wrong answer. We don’t know if this is going to be accurate. A lot of people are saying, ChatGPT is passing Harvard business school tests, it’s graduating with diplomas. That’s great, but ultimately it’s drawing off of information that it’s scraping from the internet.

It would be foolish to trust AI fully at this point. Now, it’s going to get better. As far as what we’re telling our clients of how to react to this, I think step one is don’t get too far ahead of yourself. SEO is still in its current state, a very useful channel. There’s nothing wrong with continuing to have an organic search strategy that spans the entire funnel, but we do need to think about what this is going to mean later this year, next year, and in the future. We should be thinking about that anyway. The answer is not changing all that much.

Alex: Don’t freak out.

Jacquelyn: Try not to freak out. [laughs] Some people are chilled, but I don’t know, it depends on how much you’re reading the news if you’re freaking out or not. If you’re excited by every new thing, you might be freaking out.

Alex: This is a marketing AI thing and I’m not freaking out and I’ve got quite a bit invested in this not taking our jobs. I think it’s a tool, Amber. What do you think?

Amber: Yes.

Alex: It’s a tool right now. It can’t do everything yet. It’s a tool. It doesn’t become more than that. What do you see it as?

Amber: Honestly, I think ChatGPT right now is more of a tool. It’s not an end-all solution to anything that any marketer needs because at the end of the day, you still have to have the brains behind a strategy in order to even make ChatGPT work. You’re going to need to have like keywords if you want to use it to write something or if you want to do keyword research in there, you got to actually know what you’re looking for because it’s not going to be the brains behind it.

Alex: Like OA, currently it is not the strategy. It is the muscle. It’s just the tactical stuff that has to be fed. Now, Arnold was right, I think one day they become self-aware and they don’t need us anymore, but that day, not yet today. What about– Jacquelyn, I’m thinking about some of our more nuanced clients like TMS for our behavioral groups, transcranial magnetic stimulation. I think that’s what it stands for you. Is the AI good at writing content for that or because it’s scraping and there’s not a lot out there, it is still really bad at?

Jacquelyn: First of all, it depends on what you consider good. There is that. Some people are satisfied with what they’re getting from ChatGPT and that’s valid if that works for you. What I’m finding is it’s still very shallow. I’ve been using a lot of different AI tools. The whole SEO team has been using a lot of different AI tools, seeing what they are able to produce for us, seeing what are we able to automate without having to do the in-depth writing or researching. It’s able to give you a definition of TMS.

It’s able to tell you, “This is what TMS treats.” It’s answering that question based on what it can get from WebMD, Healthline, from every other source on the internet. It’s going to spit back out some variation of what is already available and it’s going to be a shallow version of that. The more you’ve got information available for something that’s very well known, like just general depression or therapy, it’s going to be able to give you a more robust answer.

If the answers that exist on the internet are not enough for it to really reproduce great comprehensive answers and information, it’s going to be very shallow. Ultimately, we still need to rely on actual experts to help us create these strategies because AI in general is just reproducing what’s out there. It doesn’t know. It does not have actual thoughts. It’s not sentient. It’s not a doctor. It’s just reproducing.

Alex: Probably, is the best way, Amber, to utilize this thing right now is to get it to write outline to 50% of the article, revised with a sentient being. Then get a clinician to add a little spice in there for how the medical group actually rolls that service out. Is it like a combination of robots and humans?

Amber: Yes, it definitely still has to be a combination. When I think about autism and that area specifically, there’s just still not a lot on the internet about it. There’s nothing more discrete. We really do have to rely on the clinical directors and the owners of these businesses to really tell us a lot about what they do. Also, AI doesn’t know your value propositions. You’re going to have to add that stuff in there. You’re going to have to add the very specific things that your company and your business is going to help treat on top of that generic, “Oh, this is the treatment for this condition.”

Alex: That’s brilliant. The value prop thing is often overlooked. It’s what makes you different than the ABA clinics 30 miles away that they could also choose from. It doesn’t understand that. To be clear, we use AI to write some of our content for our clients. Correct?

Amber: Yes.

Alex: Then we revise them, right?

Jacquelyn: We’re doing more than revising it though. We’re outlining it. We’re determining what keywords are in it. We’re determining what headings are in it. We’re doing the strategy and we’re using the tool to then create the answers to some of the questions. It’s more than just letting a tool spit out 500 words and then us going in and adding keywords. It’s a lot more of a hands-on strategy. If anything, it’s more hands-on now than it was when we were exclusively working with copywriters. It’s way more hands-on for our team.

Amber: Yes, I 100% agree. We actually do put a lot of care and time and thought into these articles that we’re using AI for.

Alex: It was easier? Let’s go back to sending them to copywriters then. What’s more [unintelligible 00:09:33] Why? Because we don’t get to just send it out and then revisions come back and we send it back to the copywriter. We have to go back into the tool.

Jacquelyn: Copywriters aren’t perfect either. That’s the thing. We did this editing and strategy and stuff with the copywriters too. You’ll do it whether you’re working in-house with a team, whether you’re outsourcing to a totally different country. There’s always going to be strategy and revision that’s needed from your SEO team. Otherwise, you’re not going to have good content. It’s not all that different, it’s just faster and cheaper.

Alex: Got you. To that end, I bet Google’s trying to figure out a way to not throttle it, but you’re about to see such an influx of content coming onto websites. It’s like, I bet their engineers are quickly trying to figure out how to decipher what is AI. I bet they’re looking at the amount of content added to websites and not ranking them when they see it’s not a new content being added, so everyone be careful out there. Be careful adding a ton of it, Google’s got to be watching this for duplication. Google does not want to serve just a bunch of ChatGPT-related content, I guess.

Be careful out there if you’re using it a lot. Technical SEO, I see this on the prompt that our brand marketing director wanted us to talk about. I didn’t even think about it. What does it have to do with the technical side?

Amber: Basically what the technical SEO, that is going to become so important and is really going to be a value add for working with an agency or a marketing partner to make sure that your site is even crawlable. Now that you know content is going to be a little bit more complex of an issue to pursue, making sure that the content that you do create for your website is crawlable, it’s being indexed correctly. Making sure this foundation of your website is great, having a good user experience, making sure your site speed is great.

All of that is going to be such an integral part of the new SEO strategy that a lot of people are going to have to keep in mind and implement if they weren’t implementing it before.

Jacquelyn: I think Amber’s point on the indexation ties into your point about the duplication and the influx of new content so critically because what we’ve seen a million times is when we do have clients come to us who have a ton of content. Whether it’s good quality or not, nine times out of 10, we will see issues with it being indexed. They’ll come to us, we will do an audit and we will say, “You have 10,000 pieces of great content on your site. Guess what? Google has only seen and shown 5% of that.” They say, “Well I don’t understand that.”

There’s a big piece of technical SEO that goes into making sure content is crawlable and indexed. If you don’t go into your content strategy with that in mind, it really doesn’t matter how good the AI is. It’s not going to get seen. I think the more content that exists, the bigger problem that’s going to be.

Alex: Why is it not getting seen? Because if it’s linked to from any part of the website, why is Google not crawling it?

Jacquelyn: Let’s say there’s two things. One, if it doesn’t crawl it, there can be a million other resources that Google is attempting to crawl on your site. There’s only so much time that Google has to really go through the internet, so they’re not going to be able to hit every link. You have to really look at your crawl stats and see what they’re spending their time on. That’s the first part. Then, even if it is crawled, even if you have a great site structure, an internal linking structure, if the content is not adding value in Google’s eyes, whatever that means, it’s not going to index it.

We don’t get a say in that explicitly, we have to work with the system we’re given and make those indexation requests look at the referring links. Make sure that the anchor texts make sense, make sure the content has quality backlinks. It’s so much more holistic. I use that word so much and it’s annoying, but it’s so much more holistic than just putting good content on your site and linking to it. There’s a whole puzzle behind it.

Alex: That’s what I want to say. We need to change the acronym. I think SEO is misconstrued now. I think a lot of people just think it’s like throwing content up and getting ranked. I think we have to adapt as SEO marketers, but it’s not just throwing content, making sure the thing is crawlable. It’s value-adding, can the patient get access to care quickly as their online booking, is the site structure correctly? Are we using the right colors or do we have the right content in the right places? Have providers highlighted what’s the value prop? It’s marketing.

Clients are looking at like, “What do I do with my SEO?” Stop looking at it that way. It’s SEO, UX, CRO, patient experience. Look at your thing for the whole thing, find a marketing partner that’s not just SEO, they look at the whole thing. That’s what they’re going to be consulting with you on every month. It used to be enough when we started this agency to just spin up tons of content, make sure the website is fast enough and you are ranked. Now, totally different and more competitive ballgame. Cool. All right. Future, future, future, future, future.

How long have we got? Do we still need to be creating blog articles? Do we need to be looking at we only have a year or two of viability or just wait and see how it goes? I know every healthcare market out there is thinking like, “What do I need to do right now, or is it nothing?”

Amber: I think that right now there’s not a lot that you need to specifically do, but it’s time to evaluate what you’re doing. Keep doing what you’re doing, but start taking those steps to say, “Hey, if Google Bard is going to come around the corner within the next six months or so, what’s going to be my strategy then? Do I need to start transitioning into more of that bottom-funnel content? Do I need to actually start looking into my website, making sure the content’s getting crawled and indexed. Just start looking at what you’re going to do in the next six months and have a plan for when it rolls out.

That way you’re not chasing the Google Bard and its algorithm, you’re instead ahead of the game.

Alex: Ahead of the game, you said bottom of the funnel location pages. I’d start with bottom of the funnel location page. I’d start with building location pages. It’s going to matter more. You’re going to have a lot of the upper-funnel traffic drop off, I guess from Google to start answering the questions instead of, “Did I tear ACL?” 10 listings, no, here’s your answer. Yes, you did, you might go get surgery. I got you. It could be coming and the client’s getting ready because I know they’re probably all sitting there freaking out.

There’s a lot of AI out there for everything from voice synthesis. Creating ads, creating content, creating websites. AI can do a lot of things to us marketers who can no longer rely on tactics and the lever pulling and the hands work. We must become more strategic. It is going to leave some people in the dust, but if you’re getting ahead take courses, learn from the best, and become more strategic because there’s going to be tools out there that do a lot of the hands work going forward. Jacquelyn, final thoughts on Bard?

Jacquelyn: I’m going to give an anecdote, which I said in our SEO meeting when we talked about this. Which is, the day that Bard got announced, I went to get fast food on the way home and it was an AI box that took my order. It was able to have a conversation with me about the order I made and then a person gave me my order even though I had not interacted with a person at that point. I feel like that’s actually a good premise for where AI is going in general. It doesn’t really matter how the user’s getting the information.

If they’re seeing a featured snippet that’s giving them their result in search or if they’re seeing an AI chatbox that’s giving them their result. Ultimately, you need to be thinking about the food that you’re giving to your patients or, in this case obviously the healthcare you’re giving to your patients. You need to be thinking about the actual value prop and the actual value and helpfulness that you are presenting to your audience. That’s what’s going to be most important. It’s not about who’s taking the order, it’s not about the initial information that’s being delivered.

It’s about what the user can do with that. That’s up to you, that’s up to the meat of your website, no pun intended.

Alex: Where did you eat?

Jacquelyn: Arby’s?

Alex: Aw. Gross. I haven’t had Arby’s in like 10 years. Did you get the roast beef sandwich?

Jacquelyn: No, I just get cheese sticks. I just get the cheese sticks. [crosstalk]

Alex: Jacquelyn’s guilty pleasure, that in temptation Island?

Jacquelyn: I’m not guilty, I volunteered this information.

Alex: [laughs] I think that’s [unintelligible 00:17:50] so you go through there. I’m going to check it out. [crosstalk]

Jacquelyn: No, seriously. It’s on the way home, it’s right next to the office and I’ll say, “How many cheeses do you want?” You’ll say, “I want the most cheeses you can give me.” Then–

Alex: Then they’re like, “Are you sure you’re going to feel terrible tomorrow?” That’s interesting. Is it human listening so when you’re like, “I said no ketchup,” and it goes “Okay, we’ll add more ketchup.”

Jacquelyn: No. It was very specific. I ordered the way I normally would saying like, “I want large cheese sticks.” They were like, “You want a six-piece cheese stick and with marinara sauce?” They understood everything that went into the order I gave them. They could really understand the semantics and stuff. It was interesting. It was the same name that we talked about Bard.

Alex: That’s crazy. Future of healthcare marketing, it’s just going to say, “Would you like your ACL repaired?” “Yes, I would.” “Okay, come on.”

Jacquelyn: Seriously, it’s a human that’s going to be fixing. Maybe they’re going to use a robot, it’s a human that’s going to be fixing your ACL. Don’t you want to trust a human to actually help you with that?

Alex: Diagnosis, yes, I would. I went and met with one of the provider, I won’t name them because I didn’t choose them, but I came in and I said, “Hey, I tore my ACL and what do you suggest?” He goes, “Well, do you want a cadaver? Do you want to take it out or your patella your quads?” I said, “You just asked me what kind of surgery I want to a body part? Are you kidding me?” [laughing] “Do you want cheese sticks or?” “I don’t know, you tell me what I’m hungry for.” Amber, Jacquelyn, this was fun and slightly distracting.

Letter of the day is don’t freak out. It is coming. It will improve. This is the future. You got to get more strategic. Prepare your SEO plans accordingly. Find a friend. Call Jacquelyn, hit Amber up on LinkedIn. Do you want them to take a look at what you’re doing? Don’t freak out yet. Be prepared to get a little more sophisticated, strategic, and maybe not invest as much in upper funnel content because that’s the way things look like they’re going. All right, Jacquelyn, Amber, thanks for joining us.


Announcer: Thanks for listening to this episode of Ignite. Interested in keeping up with the latest trends in healthcare marketing? Subscribe to our podcast and leave a rating and review. For more healthcare marketing tips, visit our blog at cardinaldigitalmarketing.com.

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