What are the government backlinks

Can Jens Spahn SEO? - The health portal of the federal government in the online marketing check

“In future, anyone who googles health should end up with us first.” Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn set himself this ambitious goal for the national health portal that his ministry launched on September 1st. But how realistic is this very ambitious plan from an SEO point of view? How well is the portal set up in terms of SEO and can SEOs maybe even learn something from the site - be it for better or for worse? Lennart Leienbach and Matthäus Michalik from the performance marketing agency Claneo answer these questions in a guest analysis for OMR.

A hot topic of discussion long before the Corona

Due to the corona pandemic, the topic of health will be in focus more than ever in 2020. But long before that, at least since the first "Medic Update" at the end of 2018, health issues in connection with SEO were hotly debated in the industry. Not because SEOs pay more attention to their health than other professional groups, but because health websites are a prime example of so-called “Your Money or Your Life” (YMYL) content.

This includes Google all websites or content that revolves around future happiness, health, financial stability or the safety of visitors. With these, the search engine group places particularly high demands on the quality and transparency of the content. It is accordingly difficult to rank in the first place for such topics - even for state portals.

High quality, neutral and easy to understand?

According to the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis), around 66 percent of all German Internet users use the web to research health topics. The fact that the search for content on health is already an issue with young users can be seen from numerous memes.

This is another reason why it has long ceased to be a niche topic from an SEO point of view. More and more websites, small and large, have therefore emerged on this topic over the past few years. There is a lot of money to be made with health traffic; The market is accordingly hotly contested. It almost doesn't matter how big the provider is: they all have one thing in common: they incorporate paid advertising.

An alternative with no financial interests

For this reason alone, it is often doubtful whether the information on the websites is really completely neutral and whether the operators put the well-being of the user before any financial interest. Because even pharmaceutical companies try to be at the top of the search results with their own health portals. Precisely for this reason, gesundheit.bund.de should offer “objective, understandable and reliable health information” and be a trustworthy alternative to previous offers for users. The standards formulated in “Good Practice in Health Information” are used as quality criteria.

A central component of these criteria is that content is free of commercial interests. Above all, however, the user is placed at the center of the content and not the search engine. The content must be easy to understand, structured in a user-friendly manner and enriched with graphic representations. So everything that is also becoming more and more popular in the SEO scene. While optimization was primarily for search engine bots in the early years, the focus is now on users and the quality of the content.

The technical and content-related foundation stone has been laid

Even if the start of the new state health portal on Tuesday was a bit bumpy from a technical point of view - in between the loading times increased sharply, there were even server errors and timeouts - the foundation for SEO success seems to have been laid. Users can already find content on nearly 200 of the most common diseases. And articles on the subject of e-health, an ICD search and information on the electronic health card (eGK) are already available.

Comparison of the visibility index of the British government health portal nhs.co versus private offers

The content is to be continuously expanded, at least that is the promise of the Federal Ministry. The previous content was created in collaboration with three institutional partners (including the Robert Koch Institute). However, the content of the German health portal does not quite come close to its British counterpart nhs.uk. On the website of the National Health Service (NHS), visitors can find out about almost 1,200 diseases, which is also reflected in the Google visibility that the SEO toolSistrix shows for the website.

Google page speed analysis of the website Insightsheil.bund.de

From a technical point of view, the German state health portal also fulfills its mandatory SEO tasks. There are certainly still adjusting screws that could be turned (e.g. in terms of page speed, i.e. the loading speed of the website, or the "Core Web Vitals", a series of key figures that Google uses to measure the user-friendliness of the website), A first look reveals a modern website that follows current best practice approaches.

This is also reflected in the first tests with industry-standard tools such as Google's Page Speed ​​Insights, the test for optimization on mobile devices or the test tool for structured data. Structured data was also extensively integrated. For example, the use of FAQ markup is already visible, because of which several follow-up questions appear in the search results.

The use of the FAQ markup on gesundheit.bund.de is visible in the search results on Google

But even if the first cornerstone has been laid, the offer can still be expanded from an SEO point of view. This becomes particularly clear when you compare the information already available with that of the current BigPlayers. Take conjunctivitis as an example. In terms of content, gesundheit.bund.de, the two private-sector offers netdoktor.de, apotheken-umschau.de and health.gv.at (the Austrian counterpart to gesundheit.bund.de) all deal with almost the same topics in this context. However, they differ significantly in scope.

Big differences in the amount of information

Netdoktor.de is well ahead with around 2,400 words, followed by apotheken-umschau.de with almost 1,500 words and Gesundheit.gv.at with just under 1,000 words. Gesund.bund.de is in last place with approx. 770 words in terms of text volume. Of course: quantity doesn't always mean quality. And yet in this case the number of words roughly reflects the depth to which the individual websites deal with the topic.

Netdoktor.de offers the most extensive information. Gesund.bund.de, on the other hand, links to one of the partners for more in-depth information. How Google will rate this will only show with time. In the SEO industry, the trend has actually been going in a different direction for some time, namely towards holistic, ie "all-encompassing" landing pages. In other words: all questions a user might have on a topic should be answered on a single landing page if possible. And there can be quite a few, as the alsoasked.com tool shows for the keyword "conjunctivitis":

Questions related to the search term "conjunctivitis"

In terms of rich media content, i.e. illustrations, images or audio and video content, netdoktor.de and apotheken-umschau.de in particular already offer the user a lot. Even ifealthy.bund.de seems to be lagging a little behind, the site is already better positioned than Gesundheit.gv.at at the start.

In terms of barrier-free accessibility and access to content, gesundheit.bund.de is extremely exemplary. This aspect also partially overlaps with SEO factors. For example, images are always provided with extensive ALT texts, which also help the search engines to understand the content of the images. The document outline (semantic headings / H-tag structure) is largely well implemented. There is also a context menu, which, admittedly, is not yet completely reliable, can be activated by right-clicking:

Accessibility at gesundheit.bund.de

The translation of texts using a Google translator is also offered in the context menu. If you know the quality of Google Translate, this is certainly sufficient for individual words. So far, however, no further information is known on the topic of internationalization.

It remains exciting

From an SEO point of view, healthy.bund.de is already doing a lot very well. Most of all, it's an exciting SEO case that SEOs should keep an eye on. It is not often that a YMYL website can offer so much high quality content right from the start. In addition, there will certainly be many high-quality and relevant backlinks in the near future - the dream of every SEO. It is also exciting how Google will handle the site and whether Jens Spahn's ambitious goal of becoming number one in search results will be achieved. We will definitely be able to observe it in SEO tools such as SISTRIX, ahrefs & Co. This is another reason why the portal will certainly not only be discussed politically and socially.

About the authors:

Lennart Leienbach is Senior SEO Analyst at Claneo, a search, performance & content marketing agency from Berlin. He supports start-ups, SMEs and corporations in the areas of technical search engine optimization (SEO), analytics and data visualization. Before joining Claneo, Lennart worked for three years as an SEO analyst at Performics Germany (AKM3 until 2015).

Matthäus Michalik is the founder and managing director of Claneo, a search, performance & content marketing agency from Berlin. With more than 50 experts, Claneo advises various companies from start-ups to corporations. The focus is on SEO, Performance Marketing, Content Marketing & Amazon Marketing. Before that, Matthäus held various positions on the agency and client side.