If you think just about everyone is online these days, you’re correct. A Pew Research Center January 2014 survey found that 87% of U.S. adults use the Internet, as compared to 81% of U.S. adults in September 2012. In that 2012 survey, 72% of U.S. adults searched for health-related information on the Internet during the previous 12 months. These percentages have been increasing over time, so the number of people seeking out online health content has most likely climbed even higher since these surveys and will continue that ascent.
These millions of people are seeking content for numerous reasons. Many struggle with health problems and need more information, or they realize the importance of preventive lifestyle habits. The population is aging, and many people have age-related health concerns of their own or are seeking knowledge that can help their loved ones.
How can you assure that when health seekers find your content, the information will educate them and keep their attention?
Make sure it meets these seven criteria, and you’ll be well on your way.
1. Researched and Sourced
Given the nature of health content, you will likely need to research material you write. You should have excellent research skills, make sure the content you publish is well-researched, and that you’ve gleaned your information from reputable sources. When you call on sources to create health content, make sure those references are high-quality, such as those from .edu, .gov, and .org websites. Many .com sources can also prove reliable, but be discerning with what you use. Your readers will more eagerly trust your content and learn from it when you draw from reliable sources.
2. Relevant and Timely
What topics interest people these days, and which ones were popular a few years ago? You need to know the difference to create content that is both relevant and timely for readers. Although you need to know what’s trending in the health content world and follow those trends in some circumstances, as is the case with many content guidelines, rules are not always hard and fast. There can often be exceptions. So if you want to publish information that not many people are discussing, you can be a trendsetter by creating compelling content that becomes relevant and timely as you discuss it.
3. Based on the Latest Knowledge
Knowledge changes rapidly – extremely rapidly, in many cases – in the world of health content. Researchers are constantly making new discoveries, and medical studies are published on a regular basis as new research information comes to light. Your content needs to keep up with these changes and be based on the latest knowledge. It needs to be up to the minute, keeping in mind that health information published today may quickly go out of date.
4. Considering the Source
Establish a presence and reputation as a trusted authority on health information. Do so by following the steps discussed above. Then, readers will be attracted to the content you publish and will know they can count on you as a reliable information source. It can take time to build your reputation, so be patient as you establish rapport and a relationship with readers.
As great as online health content can be at keeping readers educated, it still can’t be the only source for information. Maintain a solid reputation with your online health readers by reminding them to consult their health practitioner, using these professionals as a primary source for health information and guidance.
You could have the most trustworthy health content on the planet, but if it’s dry or boring, no one will be motivated to read it. Readers will be stuck with the opposite of a page-turner. It can be challenging to transform topics that are inherently serious into engaging content, but with some creativity you can achieve this goal. For starters, write with your audience in mind. If they are not a group of serious academics, you can probably keep your content on the lighter side in terms of tone and style.
6. Easy to Understand
Many readers have limited experience with health information and with the specific topic your content discusses. But much health information can be complex and difficult for laypeople to understand. It’s essential that you translate complex information into content that people with lower-level knowledge can understand. Try running your content through a tool that checks it for reading level.
Health content can be trying for readers to sift through. Ease their burden by making your content approachable. Use techniques such as numbered and bulleted lists, headings and subheadings, and sidebars. Also divide long blocks of text into smaller chunks and shorter paragraphs. All of these techniques are simple to use but make a world of difference in terms of readers’ understanding and likelihood that they’ll keep reading what you’ve written.
It’s essential for all adults to be educated when it comes to health information. Achieving a level of wisdom and knowledge can help people reduce health care costs and live happier, more productive lives. By publishing reliable, engaging health content, you’ll be helping to make that happen.
5-Star Writer Judy W is a freelance writer and editor with extensive experience in various content specialty areas, including health, food, cooking, nutrition, parenting, pets, travel, business, and technology. She sees writing as a type of teaching and enjoys educating her readers about important topics.