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UHS grows the number of in-house campaigns by 10x in one year and increases conversions for its facilities with Semrush

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“We started working with Semrush targeting a pilot of 5 to 10 campaigns, but we’ve quickly grown the number of our campaigns tenfold. The more comfortable we get working with Semrush, the more effective we become, to the point where we are successfully taking on more and more projects.”
Tony Morisset, Lead SEO Specialist, UHS

About Universal Health Services, Inc.:

One of the nation’s largest and most respected providers of hospital and healthcare services, Universal Health Services, Inc. has built an impressive record of achievement and performance. Growing steadily since its inception into an esteemed Fortune 500 corporation, annual revenues were $11.4 billion in 2019. In 2021, UHS was again recognized as one of the World’s Most Admired Companies by Fortune; ranked #281 on the Fortune 500; and in 2017, listed #275 in Forbes inaugural ranking of America’s Top 500 Public Companies.

Business challenge: trigger organic growth through tackling non-branded search

UHS Corporate Marketing – the Agency at UHS – is the internal resource hub supporting marketing and communications strategies and multi-channel tactics for UHS Corporate and its subsidiaries. Focused on digital marketing, the Agency manages the web content for 200 behavioral health facilities and 26 acute care hospitals across the United States. Between 2018 and 2020, UHS has expanded and upskilled the Agency, and undergone an insourcing initiative that is enabling it to scale initiatives, drive consistency and generate cost-savings. 

Some UHS facilities work with outside vendors, including outsourcing digital initiatives such as SEO. While often expensive, outsourcing SEO didn’t consistently bring the desired results. UHS sought to build a suite of SEO services, complemented by digital analytics, media buying and other related capabilities.

At the end of 2019, the new SEO team, consisting of two people, was initially tasked with managing five pilot campaigns to see if the internal team could outperform outside agencies and deliver visible results in demand generation and conversion


Setting up Semrush projects and seeing first results

In November 2019, the UHS SEO team purchased a Semrush license and began analyzing the state of the pilot facilities’ websites. 

“The Semrush Domain Overview has given us so many valuable analytics: we can get daily traffic data for different periods - the last month, six months, a year, or all time - to the entire domain or specific pages, seeing exactly which keywords were or were not performing historically,” says Tony Morisset, Lead SEO Specialist at UHS. 

“Even if it’s on the national level and we want to bring it to the local level, this keyword data is a game-changer. We’re not just stabbing keywords on a wall, we have the data to back it up.”

An example of a facility’s keyword trend in Semrush Domain Overview
The SEO team quickly realized the facility sites were lacking content that would drive relevant traffic. Using the Semrush Keyword Magic Tool, SEO Writing Assistant, and Topic Research, the SEO and content teams began producing content around behavioral health and seeing immediate results.
“We started working with Semrush targeting a pilot of five to 10 campaigns, but we ended up getting more licenses, more keywords, and we grew the number of our campaigns tenfold by the end of 2020. The more comfortable we got working with Semrush, the more effective we became, to the point where we could take on more and more projects,” explains Tony.

Old Vineyard Behavioral Health Services Case

One of the projects the team took on in 2020 was managing the SEO campaign for Old Vineyard Behavioral Health Services, located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, which offers a variety of behavioral health services for teens, adults and older adults. In September 2020, the facility noticed a substantial drop in online leads. The UHS SEO team engaged and applied the same approach to solving the problem.
Tony started by using the Topic Research tool to uncover relevant topics around trauma, PTSD, depression, etc.

The tool’s mind map, list of most popular questions, relevant keywords, and sources helped him form a brief for the UHS Agency copywriters.

The content team proceeded with producing five articles using the SEO Writing Assistant. The tool’s extension for Google Docs provided them with semantically related keywords and optimal word count, advised on the text's readability and originality, checked on broken links and image alt attributes

Semrush SEO Writing Assistant suggestions
“I’m a firm believer that if you follow the SEO Writing Assistant, it will yield results,” says Tony.
The first Old Vineyard Behavioral Health Services article was posted in October 2020. The end of the year is usually the lowest point for behavioral health facilities across the entire division, given Thanksgiving and Christmas. However, Old Vineyard Behavioral Health Services was able to overcome this seasonal trend, driving, in fact, higher visibility and greater demand during the months of November and December.:
“The facility was very pleased when we shared the results with them just three months later. They saw substantial traffic, the site was ranking for keywords it had never had before. The traffic for one page was significant,” Tony continues. 
“It worked, and I see it working in other internal SEO projects. November and December ended up being the busiest months for some of our behavioral health facilities.”

Expanding In-house SEO Campaigns

Since the beginning of the year, Tony and the team proved they were saving the company money and converting more patients. By the end of 2020, the team of two people was managing 50 campaigns. 
The team prioritizes facilities that leadership identifies as high priority, which requires most of the team’s attention. In addition, the team manages facility campaigns that can function mostly on autopilot, using Semrush’s robust reporting capabilities to provide the facility with automated Organic Positions reports each month.
“Semrush helps a lot – it’s nice to have alerts come through when something is not looking good,” says Tony.
All facilities receive monthly Semrush Organic Positions reports integrated with the Google Analytics data.
“Since bringing this work in-house, we’ve noticed that we’ve been performing better. Leadership is happy with the results. We’re showing the company how important SEO is because of the tool as well. We are now confident that it’s the right move and are looking to grow our impact in 2021,” concludes Tony.


UHS grew the number of in-house campaigns by 10x in one year.
With the help of Semrush, the UHS team successfully runs campaigns for 50 facilities currently and is looking to expand further.
The UHS Agency team achieved significant growth rates in online leads.
The team streamlined the process of creating highly effective content with Semrush and grew conversions by 49% in 5 months.
UHS has saved roughly 60% in costs by bringing SEO in-house.
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