Whether you run a large healthcare medical practice, are a gastroenterologist, a certified nutritionist, sell a medical product or diet, or operate a yoga studio, you need to view your website as an extension of your practice, product or lifestyle.
Content marketers always give the same advice – create compelling content for your website. For example, Social Media Today claimed that content marketing was positioned to be among the “most vitally important strategies” of 2015. That trend is not likely to shift significantly any time soon. But, while everyone talks about the need for compelling content, and how it is an essential component of any digital marketing strategy, it can be difficult to articulate exactly what that is, or how to create it.
Once upon a time, websites, including health-related sites, didn’t bother trying to present tangible content to their readers — SEO copywriting was the center of the online marketing world’s universe — but those days are long gone. Companies can no longer rely on SEO copywriters placing just the right keywords the correct number of times in the right places to miraculously achieve top rankings for their online content. While a lot of businesses tried to game that numbers system, it was too good to be true as a long-term practice.
While the positioning and frequency of keywords still plays a crucial role in health-related website ranking on search engines, the focus has shifted to providing compelling content, quality and relevance. According to the Pew Research Center, 77% of people seeking answers to their health questions began looking for that information through a search engine such as Google, Yahoo or Bing. Companies involved in any health-oriented industry need to get serious about the content they provide to their clients and potential customers, and ensure that it offers relevant, share-worthy material.
So, what is compelling content? Here are a few approaches to consider that are key to creating content that will ultimately attract and retain customers.
Provide Useful Information
Health-promoting websites’ users are specific about their needs – they want answers to questions. So, while you may be tempted to only use your medical website to describe your key products and promote your services, that isn’t going to answer your reader’s basic questions. There is a delicate balance that has to be maintained between providing enough information to satisfy your potential client’s immediate concerns, while leaving enough unanswered questions to spur them to either contact your office, show interest in your product or continue browsing on your site, and making them feel victim of a bait-and-switch scheme. Posting frequent, informative and non-sales-oriented blog content created by professional writers with expertise in the field, that includes helpful links, current news, or health-supporting apps, is a good way to achieve that balance, and it has the added benefit of boosting your search engine ranking.
Advertise Only Yourself
Your website, just like your business, is your brand. How well you provide information on demand, the way your readers want it presented, to establish a dialog with them in the form of interesting, provocative or educational articles and blog posts determines your site’s success. Publishing quality content that hits home with your audience is completely undermined if your health-related site is hosting advertising that has no connection to your practice – in fact, people will find it distracting and unprofessional, and could lead your customers to click off your page to find a less spammy site. Articles on topics of importance to your site users should be the most prominent feature on your website and the content, even the advertising, should be focused on those issues. Consider writing an eBook to help market your practice instead. For example, the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine does not host any external advertising on their site, but they do promote a Vegetarian Starter Kit, which they produce, publish, and distribute themselves.
Don’t Just Market – Connect
Creating consistent content that focuses on current news about your health expertise and related medical topics will help you connect with your audience. When your viewers find value in your content, they will trust you, begin paying attention to your relevant content and share it organically in their social circles. In fact, recent research from the University of Leicester indicates that the experiences that patients share on social platforms has become a point of reference for other patients, and they tend to seek medical information more readily through social platforms than through traditional medical information sources. By providing up-to-date content that answers health-related questions, you are more likely to cultivate social sharing and benefit from the word-of-mouth advertising created when your content is shared through Facebook, Twitter and other social mediums.
Current mainstream content marketing of health-related websites requires much more than just SEO nowadays. In order to lure both users and search engines, your site needs consistent, timely, focused content that engages the audience, cultivates loyalty, and inspires them to take specific actions, whether it’s to call for an appointment, download an app or e-book, attend a class, or share your latest article in their social circle.
4-Star Writer Colleen D has been writing professionally for over 25 years for newspapers, magazines, blogs and websites. She holds a Certificate in Plant Based Nutrition, is a certified Master Gardener and is a member of the American Herbalists Guild.