The Complete Guide to Medical Blogs for Healthcare Marketing
Medical blogs are a vital part of successful healthcare marketing.
One of our healthcare clients has seen a 1,499% increase in traffic from people who entered their website via the blog. This includes potential patients that may have never seen their website if it were not for their blog.
In this post we’re going to take a look at why a medical blog is so important. We’ll also give you some great ideas for medical blog topics.
And we’ll leave you with a few tips to help you improve your existing blog, or get started on the right foot if you don’t have a blog yet.
Does my practice need a medical blog?
For many doctors and medical practices, that is a primary question. After all, blogging can take a huge chunk of time from an already packed schedule.
The task itself is full of challenges, from coming up with topics and promoting your medical blog posts, to the actual task of writing them.
But the answer is YES. Absolutely!
Even when considering the obstacles to managing a blog, the pros far out way the cons. Your healthcare marketing strategy simply won’t be as successful without it.
Without a medical blog, you’re missing one of the primary avenues for getting attention, and in turn, new patients…
The individuals you’re trying to help use Google to search for nearly every aspect of healthcare and wellness.
When your blog answers a user’s search query, you position yourself for success. You could easily become the service provider they go to when they need help.
Blogging helps boost your site’s SEO quality.
When a user asks Google a question, and your blog provides a clear answer, you’re setting your practice up to be seen as an authority. This greatly increases your opportunities to show up and rank higher in Google search results.
For example, an individual searches for “What are the signs of the flu?”
You’ve written a blog post that answers with “The symptoms of the flu are a, b, and c.”
You now have a chance to not only help the user answer their question, but to also be in a position to help local visitors get the help they’ll need if they do have the flu.
The more your site is seen as a reputable authority, the better your placement will be on the search engine results page, or SERP.
Just how important is that SERP page?
Consider this: businesses on Google’s first page get 91 percent of the search engine traffic. When you flip to the second page, this number drops to 4.8 percent.
In short, consistent, quality content that answers specific questions can help you rank higher on the SERP and drive potential patients to your site.
Can medical blogs impact the bottom line?
Yes. In fact, medical blogs are one of the most efficient marketing tools you have at your disposal.
Content marketing, including blogging, costs 62 percent less than traditional marketing. And it generates three times as many leads.
In addition, marketers who place blogging as one of their top priorities are 13 times more likely to see a positive return on investment than those who don’t.
It’s simple: businesses and practices that blog get better results.
Companies that blog get an average 55 percent more visitors to their site than those who don’t.
Blogging is also necessary to help readers engage with you before they decide upon a provider.
Typically, 47 percent of consumers view three to five pieces of content before deciding on a product or service.
Proof that medical blogs get results.
One of our medical clients experienced a dramatic increase in visitors after investing in our blogging services.
By implementing a robust marketing plan that included blogging, our client was outperforming their competition by landing in the top 3 search results in Google on average.
As the number of blog posts has grown, so has their ability to rank well for more and more keywords. In other words, they now have hundreds of new ways for patients to find them from Google alone.
This process of regularly adding quality content to their blog is how they experienced the 1,499 percent increase in visitors who visited their website from the blog. Many of which were first time visitors, and may not have been familiar with the practice prior to their search.
Statistically, the blog was drawing in more visitors than any other part of the site.
They also had three rich snippets, which drove significant web traffic to their blog.
What is a rich snippet?
A rich snippet appears at the top of the Google search engine page. Often, it includes a photograph and a small paragraph of text from the article, source or blog.
Here are two examples of rich snippets from medical blogs:
The high visibility of these snippets make them coveted internet “real estate.”
For the aforementioned client, rich snippets led to a 440 percent increase in traffic from searches involving certain keywords.
Snippets usually hold top positions for visibility, and typically come from blog content.
Why does your practice need a medical blog?
A blog identifies you as a reliable source of valuable information.
Google’s search algorithm is notoriously complex. One of the important elements it considers when ranking sites is reliability and authority. Is the information accurate? Is it recent? Is it original, or does it simply repeat what is seen on other sites?
One key to becoming an authority is to create in-depth, accessible information on a consistent basis. More than half of consumers are influenced by quality content. Those consumers represent potential patients.
A blog keeps your patients informed.
A medical blog with quality, detailed posts is a great way to get helpful information out to all of your patients, and potential patients.
Do you need to let them know about changes in treatment options, new technology, or trends to avoid? A blog is the prefect avenue.
It’s also a good way to keep patients informed about what is going on at your practice. Welcoming a new doctor, offering another service line, or announcing a retirement are all good potential blog posts.
Just remember, there is a big difference between keeping patients informed and badgering them to schedule an appointment, or refer friends to your practice.
No one likes spam, and if your blog comes across as too “salesy,” it can do more harm than good.
Blogging is valuable for SEO optimization.
As we mentioned earlier, if you have a blog that reliably and accurately answers the questions that users are searching for, Google will look favorably upon you.
That means your website will show up more often when people near your office search for answers to their medical questions.
They can quickly move from not knowing who you are, to trusting that you can help them and making an appointment.
A blog keeps visitors on your website longer.
Perhaps they arrived to find the answer to a question, but once they received the information they needed, they found another article of interest. And another.
Time spent on a website is a ranking factor for SEO. When people spend more time on your site, it lets Google know that your site is valuable. Visitors are getting the information they need.
This is another reason that longer blogs tend to rank higher in the search engine results pages. The most effective blogs average around 2,000 words in length. But they don’t have to be that long to add value.
Done is better than perfect!
Blogging generates a positive ROI
In order to realize the economic value of medical blogs, it helps to understand the lifetime value of a patient.
For example, let’s assume that you received seven new appointment requests through your blog.
Now consider the lifetime value of a patient. Let’s assume—conservatively—that each one of these seven patients brings in $100 per visit to your practice. Now let’s assume that they see you once a year (7 x$100 = $700) for the next 5 years. ($700 x 5 = $3,500).
Of course, this example dramatically underestimated the value of a patient, just for the sake of simplicity. Many patients who come to a practice have chronic health conditions such as allergies or diabetes, and will need several visits throughout the year.
This once a year visit also doesn’t take into account acute health issues such as strep throat or ear infections that might occur. Nor does it factor in that a satisfied patient will refer your practice to neighbors and friends.
We used this basic formula to prove a point. For the amount of time it takes to write a blog—or the investment in having someone write a blog for you—you can calculate a proven, positive return.
You need a medical blog to stay competitive.
If your competitor is regularly producing quality medical blogs, then he or she is getting some precious web traffic that could be coming to you.
Practices that are looking to increase patient load, maximize schedules, and grow, are most certainly looking at content marketing and blogging as a way to get results.
Just remember, when someone asks Google for information on medical practices in your city, they will get a result. If it’s not yours, it will be one of your competitors.
What are good topics for your medical blog?
Okay, so you’re sold on the idea of a medical blog. Now, what should you write about? The first couple of entries may come to you easily, but as you run through your ideas, you may find writer’s block starting to develop.
Here are some good blog ideas you may consider:
National Health Months
There are several of these throughout the year. Here’s a handy National Health Observances calendar to help you.
Any topic related to these can gain traction and further establish you as an expert, particularly if this is within your field of specialty.
Here are some examples:
- National Birth Defects Prevention Month
- National Glaucoma Awareness Month
- 31 Give Kids A Smile ® Day
- Low Vision Awareness Month
- National Children’s Dental Health Month
- 7 – 14 Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week
- National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month
- National Kidney Month
- 26 American Diabetes Alert Day
Questions Your Patients Keep Asking
Perhaps you’ve noticed that your patients tend to ask a lot about a health-related topic they saw on the news. For example, maybe it’s breast cancer awareness month and your patients have been asking about the benefits of being screened for the BRCA gene.
Maybe a trend, like vaping, is getting a lot of attention.
When you sense a pattern, that’s a good indicator of a topic that will be both timely and popular.
Here are some examples:
- What’s the best sleeping position when pregnant?
- When should you see a doctor about sinus problems?
- Can certain foods cause migraines?
- What’s the Difference Between PMS and PMDD?
- How can you prevent swimmer’s ear?
Trending Health Topics
Did a celebrity just go public about his or her struggle with heart disease? Did an outbreak of the measles shut down a school in your state? Have there been cases of the Zika virus?
These are all topics that can help you take advantage of trending health topics and media publicity.
Vaping has been in the news quite a bit in 2019. How about: Is vaping bad for your health?
A quick skim of the news can easily give you a handful of medical blog topics for the next few weeks.
Introduce Patients to Your Medical Team
Your blog should help drive visitors to your site who may not know who you are. But it can also help ensure you show up when people search for your medical team by name.
Many physicians and medical practice managers think that they don’t need a blog because they get tons of referrals. But even with a referral, potential patients will likely Google you to learn more, before making deciding whether or not to make an appointment.
If they only remember the last name of the doctor their friend told them about, will they find you via Google?
You certainly hope so. And one way to ensure they do is to add content to your site about you, your doctors, or medical staff.
Have you recently hired a new doctor? Introduce them with a blog post.
Has one of your medical staff completed additional training or earned an advanced degree? Write a blog about what they did and how it helps your patients.
Blogging about your practice and medical staff will help build your brand, and provide a lot of good public relations.
These types of personal posts typically take less time to write. Which is great. But since they won’t help your SEO quite as much as other types of content, use them sparingly. Perhaps 1 out of every 5 blog posts at most.
Top Ten Lists
People love lists. Just skim through one of the magazines in the check out line at the grocery store.
Top 10 Ways to Look Like…
7 Foods to Help You…
The 3 Best Exercises for…
Part of the power of list posts is the ability to craft a powerful headline. It creates a knowledge gap – information the user wants to know, but doesn’t yet. And it’s human nature to close that gap.
Whether you’re an ENT, OBGYN, dentist, or managing a hospice and palliative care facility. There are always valuable lists you can share with your audience.
They can range from the top 10 foods you should avoid to the top 10 exercises you need to do. The top questions people ask, to the top mistakes people make.
The possibilities are endless.
What are the Biggest Challenges of Writing a Medical Blog?
No worthwhile task is without its challenges. Writing for medical blogs is no exception.
Some of the biggest challenges may include:
Finding Time to Blog
Medicine is a demanding profession. It places burdens on your time in the office, with patients, and even with your family.
Finding time to get your thoughts down can be difficult with so many priorities vying for position.
One tip for finding time, is to record your thoughts with your phone on your way to and from the office.
If nothing else, you can outline a blog post and get your general thoughts recorded. You can later go back and write the post. Or if that’s still too much, you can collaborate with a marketing agency to help ensure your posts gets done.
The added benefit of an agency is their ability to edit and optimize the post for search engines. After all, that is the goal.
Writing Medical Blogs for the Layman
While it’s perfectly obvious to you what a myringotomy is, the average person will have no idea.
Laymen will not be looking for this term in a Google search. However, they are much more likely to search for “tubes in ears.” Sometimes terms that seem obvious to you may be more difficult for others to understand.
We use online tools and research to better understand what people actually search for, and how to optimize blog posts accordingly.
Writing Blogs That Are Long Enough
Studies have shown that the blogs that perform the best in Google are more than 1,000 words long. Some of the highest performing are more than 2,000 words long.
When you consider that the average, 12-point, double spaced page has around 230 words, you can quickly see how medical blogs can put pressure on your time.
Sometimes, you may feel that you’ve said all that is relevant about a topic but your word count is still only around 500 or 600. And if you’re just getting started with a blog, that’s better than nothing.
Our recommendation is to look for ways to get started, but be aware that blogging is an ongoing process. Improve as you go. And don’t be afraid to get help when you need it.
Being Able to Follow Through with Medical Blog Promotion
No person—or blog—is an island. While social media and email campaigns alone won’t get you the traction you need, they are excellent ways to promote your blog.
Once you’ve written your medical blogs, tweet them or post them on your Facebook page. Building a social media following and an email newsletter base takes time. But it’s worth it.
Not only will a larger audience give you more opportunities to reach more people. But it will also increase the likelihood that one of your posts will go viral. Or gain valuable links from other sites, another ranking factor for Google.
Optimizing Your Medical Blogs for Search Engines
Once you’ve decided on your topics, and you’ve made time to write your posts. You still need to edit and optimize for search engines.
A quality post, with valuable info will go a long way towards showing up in Google search results. But if it’s a highly popular topic, or the competitive landscape it tough, you’ll need to spend some time ensuring your post is optimized for search engines – SEO.
SEO includes everything from finding the right keywords and including them appropriately in your post. To crafting an attention-grabbing headline and making sure your post title and url are in line with the keywords you decided on.
There are plenty of great resources on how to do SEO for blog posts. But if you don’t have time to learn a completely separate skill set or vocation, it’s probably a whole lot cheaper and more effective to hire an SEO agency.
Get Expert Help to Ensure Success
We hope we’ve given you enough information to realize the power of a medical blog for your practice, and to help you get started.
But we know it’s a big job, and demands both time and expertise. And while we believe that just about anyone can get started and see value, it takes more than a casual approach to get to the top and stay there.
That’s where we come in. At Proclaim Interactive, we specialize in working with healthcare, medical practices, and hospice care providers to ensure they have the greatest impact possible.
You want to help improve the lives of your patients and the people in your communities.
You want to make the world a better place.
We do, too.
That’s why we’re here.
So if you know you’re not doing enough to amplify your message, and see the impact you want to have, we can help.
We can take care of your blog, so you can take care of your patients.
Contact us today, and let us show you how we can help you help others.
Want more information? Check out our earlier blogs:
Why Every Medical Practice Needs a Blogging Strategy
Ten Tips on How to Beat Writer’s Block
How to Write for Your Audience