When considering your online “presence” as a practice, you have to wonder what will keep the almighty Google gods appeased and you in their favor. While I am grateful for the awesome digital marketing team we have here to help navigate those troubled waters, I personally feel that without quality content, vital online capabilities like SEO and SEM fall a little flat.

Then again, I may be a little biased since content writing is my bread and butter.

Regardless, quality content is an important aspect of how you present yourself to the Internet, especially when it comes to healthcare. Think about it: Nobody is going to take your practice seriously if it seems like you’re babbling incoherently on a condition, procedure or specialty, and you certainly won’t rank on Google that way, either. Most importantly, potential patients and other readers won’t trust you as a credible source.

All that being said, here are four rules I have learned to live by in order to produce the best content possible for our clients (while keeping those pesky Google gods happy):

1. Satisfy a need

Think of something someone may want to look for and answer the following:

Who is your audience? Are you writing to a soccer mom who has a kid with a broken ankle, or a middle-aged man in need of a prostate exam?

What is the problem? Figure out what someone’s problem may be and provide the solution. In regards to what I do, someone suffering with a condition is usually the problem and a procedure or treatment—that my client performs—is the solution.

Where should they go? This is pretty self-explanatory, but covering this portion generally answers where the practice is located, or where the event is being held, and what area is serviced.

2. Be consistent

This may mean a lot of things, but to me it simply means to keep your tone, voice, grammar and nuance consistent throughout web content (and marketing materials). Consistency is one of the keys to good branding and makes things less confusing to readers.

It is also worth reiterating the importance grammar plays in healthcare content. (Consider this a PSA from your friendly member of the Grammar Police.) Being grammatically correct is an important aspect of trust with healthcare—who would put their faith in a physician that misspells a condition, or misses a period, creating a run-on sentence? How do you think that would look to a potential patient?

3. Be human

This is easier said than done with healthcare content, given that the subject matter is factual and, as a result, can be a tad dry in nature. However, it’s not impossible to give content the human vibe. For example, patient quotes and testimonials scattered throughout the site can warm things up and give the site a more personal feel. In addition, blogs give you the freedom to be more flexible and have more of a voice than other areas of a site.

4. Avoid sounding like a sales pitch

While hard sells and concrete calls to action (CTA) are important in healthcare content, the key is to say it without the reader truly knowing it. A good way to accomplish this is using what I like to call the “sell-it sandwich”:

Step one: Hook them in with a question, a declarative statement or a gripping headline that catches the eye. For example, How much do you really know about melanoma? or Melanoma: The Deadly Truth.

Step two: Fill the middle of the content with juicy, pertinent content and statistics. (Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer and accounts for the vast majority of skin cancer deaths. In fact, did you know it is estimated that 10,130 people will die of melanoma in 2016?)

Step three: Close the deal with a CTA that pertains to your hook and suggests that the solution to the problem is a service provided by you. (Know the facts and get screened. Contact XYZ today for more information or to schedule a consultation.)

Now, I’m not suggesting that you take my word for gospel, especially since content—like language—is an ever-evolving animal in a world where the rules constantly change. These are the rules that have helped me get through the thick of healthcare content and come out on the other side in a way that best benefits our clients.

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