How the Health Essentials blog grew from 200K to 3.2 million monthly visits in 18 months

If you’re in the US healthcare industry, you’ve probably visited the Health Essentials blog one way or another. It’s the most popular healthcare blog in the US, and receives over 7 million visits per month!

But do you know what’s more interesting? Health Essentials actually got almost half of this 7-figure traffic within the first 18 months of its launch. Between 2012 and 2014, the blog grew from 200K to 3.2 million monthly visits, and it’s been in an upward trajectory ever since.

Launching Health Essentials in 2012

Health Essentials is the blog of Cleveland Clinic, an American non-profit medical centre.

The blog’s content marketing director is Amanda Todovorich, a healthcare marketer who was named Content Marketer of the Year in 2016 by Content Marketing Institute (CMI).

In 2012, Amanda pitched the idea of rebranding the non-profit’s knowledge hub called Health Hub into Health Essentials, a consumer-facing healthcare blog, as an experiment that could boost the non-profit’s marketing efforts.

Managing a team of 3 people, she grew the blog through a mixture of social media promotion, content distribution and good old content creation. Over time, the team’s processes grew more refined and more reliant on data analysis and cross-team collaboration.

Growing from 200K to 3.2 million monthly visits

Growing a blog by the millions was no easy feat, under any circumstances whatsoever. Amanda had to employ a comprehensive, data-driven content strategy to reach 3.2 million monthly visitors in less than 2 years. Her team did the following to achieve this growth:

1) Unbranded content resonated more with its audience, so led by data and user traffic behaviour, Amanda made the decision to get rid of branded content that was related to Cleveland Clinic.

2) Posting relevant, evergreen content regularly was the name of the game. The blog published articles 3-5 times per day. The breadth and timelessness of its articles allowed the team to repurpose and combine together previous content pieces.

3) 40 physicians regularly posted at least once a month. And each blog post was revised by a medical expert. This ensured that there was a steady flow of content that was scientifically correct, high-quality and authoritative. The latter is a very important SEO factor when it comes to ranking in Google. This cross-collaborative approach also meant that the team could publish about a wide range of healthcare topics.

4) Amanda’s blog strategy was centred around the figurative “patient”. Everything that they posted needed to help the patient under some capacity. Each blog post answered one of the patient’s many concerns.

5) Her team’s empathy-driven approach to content was based on constant data analysis and trend-spotting. Helping this patient could mean answering popular queries on Google Search. Or maybe writing a very timely article on the Coronavirus.

6) Content distribution was as important as content creation. Using tools and data analysis, Amanda’s team developed a publishing schedule across different social media platforms. The team also devised acquisition campaigns to get more followers on social media and more newsletter subscriptions. Atomic Reach, an AI-powered content optimisation engine, also helped the team by analyzing content pieces based on quality and potential reach.

Because of the collaborative nature of the team, there was a steady flow of information between teams to find the best answers that addressed multiple issues at once.

Impact of millions of monthly visitors

Today, the blog has over 7 million monthly visitors.

Expert and unbranded healthcare content helped the blog get into partnerships with other organisations and get accepted into the Google News Network, which provides a huge boost of web traffic.

In 2015, with millions of monthly visitors, Amanda decided to monetise the blog. Today, the ads have generated enough revenue to fund their content operation and turn into Cleveland Clinic’s profit centre.

The team grew from 3 people to a group of 25 employees, with Amanda as the director of content marketing. The team now also manages a blog for physicians called ConsultQD, as well as other content marketing projects.

Mixing data with empathy

It’s easy to say that posting helpful content is the name of the game, but that isn’t enough. Amanda and her great team used common sense, a collaborative approach to blog posting, and data — continuously measured and analyzed — to achieve their objectives and aims (and go beyond them).


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