Writing articles for your website is the highest-yield practice promotion activity you can do. Here are some powerful shortcuts.
More patients than ever are searching for health information online. At the same time, a vast majority of patients rank doctors at the top of the list of trustworthy advisors.
This puts you in a prime position to educate your current patients in a powerful, engaging way and attract new patients to your practice by marketing to them with relevant writing.
Writing articles for your website is the highest-yield, cheapest, most effective patient outreach activity you can do.
It establishes you as an expert, educates your patients, and forms a solid foundation for future marketing, education, and media outlets. For example, it’s easy to produce videos for your practice if you’ve already written engaging, authoritative articles on relevant topics.
How to find topics to write about
Write about what you know and experience with patients every day in your office.
Get out a pen and paper, or your favorite text editor and brainstorm about the following:
• What common questions to patients ask?
• What are the top five most common problems you treat?
• What common procedures or surgeries do you perform?
• What common medication do you prescribe?
Each of these answers and topics can be turned into a series of articles you post on your website.
Write them all at one sitting and break them down into several blog posts, or upload them into a multi-page document patients can download as a PDF.
What not to write about
Don’t start out by writing about your favorite topics or a new procedure that you think every patient needs but no one’s asking about.
Getting found online is all about showing up in search results when patients type in what they are looking for. The secret is to step into the patient’s shoes and imagine what they’re searching for.
An even deeper secret is to use words in your articles that are layman’s terms from that patient’s vocabulary. You’re not writing for a group of medical textbook editors here.
Example of patient-focused writing
Try typing "rotary cup" into Google. Some of the top results are for "rotator cuff" exercises and shoulder websites. These savvy website owners know that patients commonly use the incorrect term rotary cup when looking for shoulder information, and take advantage of that.
When starting out, make your writing and your topics all about what the patient is looking for.
This can be difficult because our tendency is to just assume everyone knows the basics about what we do.
Two huge side benefits of writing articles patients want to read
First, Google is all about relevance.
If your topics match what patients are looking for, your articles will rank higher in search engines, making them (and your practice) easier to find.
Patients click on the search result featuring your article, visit your website, and ideally call for an appointment.
However, even if they don’t, they just made a powerful connection with you by finding exactly what they were looking for! Even if they’re not ready to call the office right then, you’re already positioned in their mind as the expert on the topic, making it more likely they’ll choose your practice in the future.
Second, patients who do read your articles are pre-educated on the subject matter.
This has profound implications for your practice.
• are easier to talk to
• are less likely to waste your time in the office
• have shown they’re motivated and proactive about their health
• already have an affinity for you
• are more likely to listen to you and take your advice
Imagine replacing a long, drawn-out discussion of the basics of hypertension with "Oh, I read your article on hypertension - what do we do next?"
How to get started
After you come up with some popular subjects for your next article, collect three patient education articles from review articles, pre-existing brochures, and information from your own medical society or quick online research.
Then summarize the main content of the articles in your own words, injecting your personality, unique approach, and recommendations as you go.
You can add helpful images or illustrations as needed; it’s better if they come from your own practice.
Here’s a link to one of the most popular patient education articles on my website on ganglion cysts.
Tweaking articles for search engine optimization
Search engine optimization is a vast topic, but it’s worth mentioning that each article has enormous practice promotion potential once you’ve written it.
Once your articles are published, you can improve rankings in search engines by making small alterations in the title of the article or in the keywords used inside the text of the articles.
The most important thing is to get started - putting articles together that patients want to read becomes faster and easier the more you do it.
Find out more about C. Noel Henley and our other Practice Notes bloggers.