Hospital websites with robust digital health libraries get up to 100x more traffic than other systems

Hospitals can get up to 100 times more website traffic if they have robust online health libraries, according to a Boston Digital report.

For its study, Boston Digital examined the search traffic of the top 20 U.S. hospitals, as ranked by U.S. News & World Report, according to a Sept. 28 news release. Researchers compared the website traffic of hospitals that offer robust libraries for health content with hospitals with smaller libraries.

Google Search's algorithm is more likely to suggest content from hospitals than healthcare content providers, according to the report. Among the top 20 hospitals, 68 percent of all traffic from search engines comes from health content. 

Seven study insights:

  1. Hospitals whose health information content earns 70 percent or more of their total search traffic also get 10 times as much search traffic as hospitals where health content is a smaller percentage.

  2. Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic and Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins Medicine have the highest amount of search traffic, according to the report. Mayo has received 208.2 million health library searches, Cleveland Clinic has received 36.8 million and Johns Hopkins has received 27.5 million. Mayo, Cleveland Clinic and Johns Hopkins all have comprehensive health library content; the content is original to the site and is highly accessible to readers.

  3. New York City-based New York-Presbyterian has received 2 million searches for health information content. The report attributes less traffic to its health library, which is outsourced from HealthWise. 

  4. Los Angeles-based UCLA Health has received 762,000 searches for health information content. The report said UCLA Health has a good amount of health content but attributes fewer views to the content being hosted on a subdomain instead of a top-level domain. Google's algorithm treats subdomains as separate websites, which can affect the traffic driven in for its search results.

  5. Cleveland Clinic's health library accounts for 7,000 health pages on its website out of 14,600 total pages. Johns Hopkins' health library has just under 3,000 health pages out of 34,000 total pages. At Cleveland Clinic, 97 percent of its search traffic is its health library, whereas 90 percent of Johns Hopkins' total site traffic is from its health library.

  6. A hospital cannot have too much health information on its website, the report said. Mayo Clinic has 15,000 pages of health information content and generates the most web traffic. A hospital with fewer than 2,500 pages earns between 10 and 100 times less organic traffic than libraries with twice as many pages. 

  7. Health libraries with fewer than 2,500 pages earn under 1 million monthly visits, whereas libraries with 2,500 to 5,000 pages earn just below 10 million visits, on average.

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