Today’s healthcare users must navigate an increasingly complex ecosystem. However, many of them lack the skills and knowledge they need to make educated decisions about their care and insurance options. It’s no surprise that many of them head to our favorite resource for answers: the internet.
In 2013, 72% of internet users searched the web for healthcare information, and most of them used general search engines rather than health-specific sites like WebMD or Medscape. More recent studies suggest that these numbers are holding steady.
While some healthcare organizations have been skeptical of blogging, it is an essential part of your inbound marketing strategy for potential and existing consumers alike.
Keep reading to learn more about effective healthcare blogging and how it can improve search engine optimization (SEO), the user experience, and your content marketing strategy.
Blogging Can Improve Healthcare Literacy
As healthcare costs rise, it’s important that consumers understand the basics of our healthcare system. Sadly, many of them don’t know how their healthcare plans work and cannot easily navigate their care. This lack of healthcare literacy negatively impacts us all. The estimated cost of low healthcare literacy is between $106 billion and $238 billion annually.
People deserve easy access to high-quality health information. Unfortunately, the quality of online health and wellness information varies dramatically. The last thing you want is for your patients or members relying on internet chat rooms for their important healthcare decisions and diagnoses.
Of those who use the internet for healthcare research:
- 87% research diagnoses and medical conditions
- 82% study their prescription medications and potential side effects
- 74% check their symptoms before calling the doctor
- 35% look for alternatives to their doctors’ recommended treatment protocols
Well-written, accurate, and approachable content can improve your consumers can improve their healthcare literacy and health outcomes.
RELATED: How to Build a Content Marketing Strategy for Open Enrollment
Build Trust With Consumers and Other Stakeholders
We live in a complicated “post-truth” world. People are skeptical of almost everything, and concerns about profit motives make many leery of healthcare organizations. In 1966, 73% of Americans had “great confidence” in the medical profession. According to a 2014 study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, that number had dropped to 34% by 2012.
A well-written blog can foster trust and discourage unhealthy skepticism. It also opens up another channel of communication with your members and patients. According to a 2015 survey, 46% of people withhold information from their doctors because they’re afraid of being judged.
If your healthcare blog candidly and empathetically talks about sensitive issues like diet, tobacco and alcohol consumption, and addiction, your readers might discover that you’re more approachable than they expected.
Express Your Healthcare Organization’s Value Proposition
Your organization is unique. Maybe you have an innovative approach to coordinated healthcare. Perhaps your care teams’ diversity and language skills mirror the population they serve. Or maybe your organization is a leading-edge research institution. Your blog can keep readers up to date about your biggest successes and initiatives.
This doesn’t mean that your blogs should be a marketing blitz. Instead, you should express your organization’s value through a carefully curated editorial calendar, a consistent voice and style, and regularly updated content.
Improve Your Website’s Visibility
Every healthcare organization wants to improve or maintain its organic search rankings. Blogging is one of the best ways to boost your page rank.
When Google and other search engines rank pages, they consider a variety of factors, including the quality of those pages’ content. Their algorithms assess inbound links, topic authority, the structure of your blogs, and your array of keywords.
If you just have a home page and an “Our Services” page, you’re missing out on opportunities to add depth and breadth to your website. A blog allows you to provide detailed content that targets your members and patients’ interests and concerns.
5 Essential Rules for Healthcare Blogs
While you may conceptually understand the value of a blog, the practical realities of blogging may seem daunting. As you prepare to launch or update your healthcare blog, consider the following rules and guidelines.
1. Identify Your Key Demographics
Most healthcare organizations serve a diverse population. By reviewing your data, however, you can identify traits that many of your users share — including age, income, race, national origin, common risk factors, and prevalent diagnoses. If your organization uses population health management systems, you likely already have access to much of this data.
Once you understand your core demographics, you can tailor your blog content to their needs and interests.
2. Consider Your Audience’s Language Skills
When you’re deeply involved in a technical and highly regulated field like healthcare, it’s easy to fall into your industry’s vernacular. However, your vocabulary and tone can alienate your consumers and reduce your content’s reach and positive impact.
Consider your readers’ level of education, preferred language, and cognitive abilities. If they can’t understand your content, you’re wasting your time with a blog. At LaFleur, we believe that healthcare consumers deserve meaningful, informative content that is approachable and easy to understand. That’s why the majority of our healthcare writers are CDC-certified in health literacy.
3. Do Meaningful Keyword Research
Now that you understand your patients’ demographics and language needs, it’s time to build content that speaks to them and answers their questions. If you’re a healthcare organization, you may have a treasure trove of information that can help you build an effective and meaningful editorial calendar.
First, take a look at your organizational data. You’ll probably be able to quickly identify trends in your patients’ questions and needs. For example, searches about affordable healthcare might increase during the months preceding Open Enrollment. If you run a family practice, you might see an influx of vaccination-related queries when children head back to school or during flu season. You can answer these questions quickly and efficiently with a blog.
Next, use tools like Google Trends to refine your keywords. Many of our clients are surprised that consumers prefer certain terms over others.
For example, consider the following keywords’ Google Trends data:
- Memory Care: Frequently searched, but its related queries are mainly the names of memory care facilities.
- Dementia Care: Moderately searched, and its related queries are more educational or focused on finding services.
- Alzheimer’s Care: In comparison, it’s rarely searched.
Based on this data, your facility or visiting nurse service may want to use “dementia care” in blogs that target concerned loved ones looking for respite care, adult daycare, or other services.
4. Don’t Gloss Over the Details
There’s enough vague healthcare information out there — you don’t need to add to it. If you’re blogging, don’t skimp on the quality and detail of your content.
Typically, you should aim for at least 700 words per blog, but don’t be afraid to go over that minimum word count when necessary. You can always break up the blog into a multi-part series if it becomes too unwieldy.
5. Divvy Up Your Blogging Responsibilities
Most physicians, nurses, and healthcare professionals will bristle if you tell them that they’re solely responsible for their blog’s development. That’s simply too much of a burden for most of them.
Instead, you should take advantage of the unique perspectives that your team offers. A physician and a nurse case manager might approach the same topic in very different ways, providing fresh insight that your readers will appreciate.
If you’re unsure whether your team can manage a blog on its own, consider working with an experienced healthcare content marketing agency like LaFleur.
RELATED: Our Work: Canopy Health
Our Approach to Healthcare Content
LaFleur has a comprehensive editorial process that delivers exceptional work for highly specialized and niche markets and audience segments.
Rigorous Ideation and Research Processes
We collaborate closely with clients and look at site analytics, keyword trends, and recent news to develop topic ideas that will resonate with target audiences, align with your business goals, drive more traffic to your site, and generate more leads.
Process-Driven Approach to Content Creation
Researchers, specialists, editors, and others contribute to content development. We share and document all feedback from our clients to ensure our team’s continuing education and alignment with your brand.
Uniquely Qualified Team Members
Our content team includes former lawyers, journalists, and health literacy writers, as well as certified experts in search engine optimization (SEO) and marketing automation.
We’ve developed a holistic digital strategy and an Agile project management approach, establishing our clients as industry thought leaders. For example, LaFleur increased one California healthcare organization’s new organic website users by 1,238.28% with targeted, engaging, well-researched, and audience-consumable content.
LaFleur: Brilliant Healthcare Marketing
LaFleur’s team of marketing professionals works closely with healthcare organizations nationwide. We provide comprehensive marketing services — including blogging, email automation, social media, and website design.
We’d love to hear more about your organization’s goals and the chance to help you identify practical solutions to your pressing short- and long-term marketing needs. To learn more about our approach to content marketing and how it fits into your larger digital marketing strategy, please contact LaFleur by completing this brief online form or by calling (888) 222-1512.
2017 national consumer study. (2017). Professional Research Consultants. Retrieved from https://prccustomresearch.com/wp-content/uploads/Old-Site-Content/Consumer-and-Brand/2017-CB-NationalConsumerReport.pdf
Blendon, R., Benson, J., & Hero, J. (2014, October 23). Public trust in physicians — U.S. medicine in international perspective. New England Journal of Medicine, 371, 1570-1572. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMp1407373. Retrieved from https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp1407373
Fox, S., and Duggan, M. (2013, January 15). Health online 2013. Washington, D.C.: Pew Research Center. Retrieved from https://www.pewinternet.org/2013/01/15/health-online-2013/
Health literacy. (n.d.). National Network of Libraries of Medicine. Retrieved from https://nnlm.gov/initiatives/topics/health-literacy
New Zocdoc study reveals women are more likely than men to lie to doctors. (2015, November 10). Zocdoc. Retrieved from https://www.zocdoc.com/about/news/new-zocdoc-study-reveals-women-are-more-likely-than-men-to-lie-to-doctors/