A blog is a valuable piece of website real estate, especially if you’re using it to its full potential. For healthcare organizations, blogging has many uses, including attracting new patients, positioning your organization as a trustworthy thought leader, delighting current patients with helpful information and contributing to your search engine optimization efforts.
Is your organization trying to reach potential and/or current patients? Did you know that 72% of people who use the Internet say they looked online for health information within the past year? Of those people, 77% used a search engine. Additionally, according to ThinkWithGoogle, 77% of patients use search prior to booking an appointment. So, at least two things are clear: your potential patients are online and they’re looking for information.
In order to set yourself up for blogging success, we have 7 tips for you to follow.
1. Research Your Audience
This is a critical aspect of your blogging strategy. Prior to creating any content, you should know who you’re creating it for. Conduct extensive research on your target audience to define your buyer personas, or semi-fictional representations of your ideal customers (in this case, patients). Knowing specifically who you’re writing for should make content creation much easier and should also help you decide which topics to cover.
During your research, find out the following about your target audience:
- What are their goals?
- What problems are they trying to solve?
- What are their pain points?
- What questions do they have?
- How can your organization help them?
If your hospital or organization specializes in sports medicine, your potential patients might be wondering “what to expect from ACL reconstruction surgery.” In today’s digital age, they’re likely typing that question into the Google search bar. Write a blog post that addresses the topic – not only will this help them find your organization, it’ll answer their question and build their trust in your organization.
2. Conduct Keyword Research
Once you know who you’re writing for and what their goals, pain points and questions are, you’ll want to conduct keyword research. By using tools like Google’s Keyword Planner, you can search different keywords you think your audience might be searching for. The Keyword Planner will then give you other suggested keywords along with estimated monthly search numbers. Moz’s Keyword Analysis Tool provides insight into keyword difficulty, allowing you to see how hard it’ll be to rank for certain keywords.
By gathering lists of suggested keywords, their monthly search volume and their difficulty, you can find long-tail keywords that will be easier to rank for, but will still have a significant number of monthly searches. For example, many different hospitals are likely trying to rank for “best maternity ward.” However, if you explore longer tail keywords such as “best maternity ward amenities” or “best maternity ward in Arizona,” your content will probably have a better chance of being found via organic search.
Focus on one keyword in each of your blog posts – use it enough throughout the content, but don’t overstuff! Google recognizes keyword stuffing and actually favors quality content over content stuffed with the same keyword.
3. Use Simple Language
This goes along with researching your audience. The language you use in your blog posts should depend on who, ideally, is reading them. If you’re trying to reach potential patients, use simple language. Instead of saying “nasopharyngitis” or “rhinopharyngitis,” say “the common cold.” Using language that your audience doesn’t understand will drive them away – gain their trust and readership by writing content that is easy for them to understand.
4. Include Calls to Action (CTAs)
Each of your blog posts should include a call to action. What do you want your readers to do once they’ve finished reading your post? Let them know! If your blog post is about “how to choose a hospital that fits your needs,” include a link to download your associated checklist.
5. Maintain Compliance
Of course, as you contribute to your blog, you’ll need to ensure that you’re complying with all HIPAA and other industry regulations. Never share patient health information, and always make sure that you’re maintaining patient privacy.
6. Post Consistently & Promote
Once you create a blog, make sure you’re posting consistently – at least once per week. Think about it this way: the more often you post, the greater the possibility that potential patients will find you.
Don’t forget to promote your posts once you’ve written them! This will give them higher visibility. If you have an inbound marketing program set up, you’re probably sending out lead nurturing emails every so often. Consider sending a weekly blog digest to your blog subscribers and include your three most recent posts, with links to read more. If you’d rather not send a blog digest, you might want to include links to a couple of your blog posts in your monthly newsletter.
Another way to promote your blog posts is via social media. After all, over 40% of consumers say that information found via social media affects the way they deal with their health, while 90% of survey respondents ages 18-24 said they would trust medical information shared by others on their social media networks. Again, if you’re running an inbound marketing program, you’re probably posting on various social media platforms. Try posting a sentence or two blog teaser, with the link to read more.
And finally, don’t forget to analyze your blog’s performance metrics. There are many different numbers you can measure, but we’ll highlight three of the most important ones.
First, measure overall blog views to see if they’re growing over time. Additionally, looking at number of views broken down by each individual blog post will allow you to see which blog posts are your top performers. This can help drive future content creation – for example, if one of your top blog posts is “How to be Heart-Healthy,” you might want to think about writing additional blog posts on the same topic, such as “10 Elements of a Heart-Healthy Diet.”
Second, look into your blog’s traffic sources – did visitors come in through organic search or direct traffic? If organic search is driving a large number of visitors, it’s probably safe to assume that your keyword choice and search engine optimization are on point. If people are visiting your blog via direct traffic, you’ve likely created some loyal fans – they know your blog’s URL and continue to visit it.
Third, measure number of clicks on your calls to action (CTAs) and associated conversions – remember, each blog post should have a call to action. How many of your readers are clicking on those CTAs? Once they click, if they’re being directed to a landing page or to another conversion opportunity, how many of them are actually converting?
Use your analysis to drive future content creation and to refine your blogging and content strategy.
Whether you’re just setting out to create a blog or you’ve had a blog in place for a while, these 7 tips can help you create posts that your target audience actually wants to read and, in turn, will help your organization get found by potential patients. If you’d like to learn more about blogging and how it fits into inbound marketing, download our white paper, Inbound Marketing for Healthcare. Ready to get started implementing an inbound marketing program, complete with consistent blogging at your organization? We’d love to talk with you – contact us today!
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