1. Think like a patient, not a healthcare professional. Remember—you are writing for patients and potential patients, NOT your peers! What do patients want?

  1. Research SEO keywords and terms: find what your patients are looking for the most; you want them to trust you and not just land on WebMD or Mayo Clinic every time.
  2. SEO optimization can be time consuming, but is extremely important; you can hire help from SEO experts as needed
  3. Make your frequently asked questions (FAQs) page useful and easy to understand: answer FAQs concisely and then write long-form blogs about them too (when applicable).
  4. Provide reliable resources such as pre-op and post-op instructions, a list of links to trusted sources of information, and explain why you trust them.
  5. Write about symptoms and conditions, not just the procedures and treatments. People search for their symptoms, not procedures or even condition names (because they may not know). For example, “Why is my toe growing crooked?” instead of “hammer toe.”
  6. Tell patients’ stories: everyone loves stories because they are personal and something the reader can relate to. Stories also show positive outcomes, are reassuring that they’ve made the right decision to go with you/your practice, and show trustworthiness. If others trust you and have great outcomes, that is more attractive to potential patients.

2. Keep it accurate:

  1. Keep all information up-to-date and accurate: incorrect information, such as old location addresses, wrong hours, non-working phone number and outdated doctor information can cause harm and annoy your audience.
  2. Physician and staff bios need to be consistent and up-to-date: research other practice’s websites to see which style appeals best to patients (remember—you’re thinking like your audience).
  3. Consider a data management software like TriageTrak to manage the changes.
  4. Copyedit! Proofread! No matter your audience’s literacy level, readers notice mistakes. One small mistake stands out like Rudolph’s red nose. The reader can get stuck on errors and stop thinking about the subject matter. Errors also portray a poor brand image. No copyeditors on staff? Outsource one on an as-needed basis—an affordable and convenient solution.

3. Consider your audience’s reading and medical comprehension level:

  1. Write to your audience: reading level is important and should be written at an 8th grade level or lower, depending on your target audience. Know your demographic.
  2. Reference CDC guidelines on how to write medical content:
  3. Plain Language Material & Resources
  4. The CDC Clear Communication Index
  5. Everyday Words for Public Health Communication
  6. Health Literacy

4. Cite your sources: these are signals of trust (trust signals):

  1. Don’t just list statistics—cite where they came from.
  2. Original sources signal trust to Google, other search engines and the reader.

5. Create original, alternative and varied content: video, audio, infographics:

  1. Content isn’t just written words: you can turn readers away immediately if they see long blocks of text. Break it up into easy to digest chunks with helpful infographics, audio and other interesting features.
  2. Video consistently has the most views and shares of all content types.
  3. Content must be original writing: the Internet is not “free” to copy and paste:
  4. You will be violating copyright law.
  5. Google will penalize you and your content may not come up in any search.

6. Write a content plan and set goals:

  1. Create a strategy and prioritize content based on accuracy, relevancy, what you need to promote.
  2. Set goals for what you hope to achieve (time spent on page, page visits overall, conversions).
  3. Organize it all with deadlines, topics, who is assigned to complete the task, etc.

7. Promote new content everywhere, maintain your online presence, and obtain backlinks:

  1. Add links to all your social media pages: in your signature, on all web pages, at the top of each blog (so they are easy to share and easy to find you).
  2. Establish a solid, constant online presence: create and keep up with social media platforms, like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn, regularly posting new information.
  3. Send out a weekly or monthly newsletter: use a service like MailChimp to schedule email blasts.
  4. Get backlinks: These are hyperlinks from other websites to yours, which work to drive more traffic to your site, often from your target audience. You usually have to ask the other site to backlink to you, so these may depend on a mutually beneficial relationship. If clients trust the information on the other site, the link to your site becomes very valuable.

8. Don’t forget to close the deal (you’re a business):

  1. What sets you apart from competitors? Promote positive outcomes, happy patients, multiple locations, telehealth, other conveniences for patient satisfaction.
  2. Conversion forms: Provide plenty of opportunities with forms that allow patients to request an appointment, ask a question, or leave a comment/review.
  3. Appointment requests: Patients like to schedule appointments online, especially Millennials, which now outnumber Boomers. You should be using an online patient portal for scheduling and messaging and results, etc.
  4. Use inlinks to keep readers on your site: these are hyperlinks to other pages on your website, such as related blogs or procedure landing pages.
  5. Retarget those that leave your site without completing an action.

9. Keep it current:

  1. Revisit old content and refresh it with new stats or new information or more information.
  2. Don’t ignore what’s going on around you: discuss the COVID-19 pandemic and how you are addressing it in your office to keep patients and staff safe.

10. OR… Hire a professional! Did all that seem overwhelming when you already have a full-time job that isn’t being a marketing professional or content strategist? If so, hire a professional. Let them worry about 1 through 9.

If you need help developing and executing your healthcare content strategy, we can help. Our team can develop your content, maintain your website, promote it and analyze the results. We take the whole content marketing process, from strategy to execution to analysis, off your plate. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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This document was last updated on July 24, 2014