The Intake

Insights for those starting, managing, and growing independent healthcare practices

The importance of content marketing for doctors

Content marketing for doctors is a way to connect with patients and prospects, establish trust and credibility, and take your online presence to the next level.

Medical practice manager reads about content marketing for doctors

At a Glance

  • Content marketing through regularly publishing new, quality content establishes trust and credibility, educates patients, and improves search engine optimization.
  • Common sources of content ideas include patient questions and concerns, seasonal health issues, and more.
  • Updating older website content by editing existing posts helps keep information current, maintains search engine relevancy, and allows site visitors to access timely recommendations.

Content marketing for medical practices is essential, and a key part of building your comprehensive medical practice marketing strategy. Creating and publishing it can take several forms:

  • A blog on your practice’s website
  • Social media posts and interactions
  • Articles you write for other providers or publications

Regardless of where you do so, consistently publishing quality content that leads back to or fuels your practice’s website will improve your search engine optimization (SEO).

Patient Perspectives Report

Why does current content matter?

You may wonder why you can’t publish a small series of relevant content one time and then simply wait until it finds its audience in the form of more hits and traffic.

Unfortunately, it’s not that clear cut. The answer is partly related to technology and partly related to human behavior.

The technology of content marketing

When a search engine like Google instructs its robots (bots) to crawl a website, it considers — among other factors — how fresh or up to date the content is. This is a critical part of the search engine’s process of determining how relevant that content will be to users.

For a search engine to consider a site relevant, it must have recent changes or significant updates. ”

For a search engine to consider a site relevant, it must have recent changes or significant updates — which is where regularly posting quality content comes in.

Ultimately, the more frequently you provide new, quality content, the better.

But current content isn’t just a way to improve your SEO. It also:

  • Establishes trust and builds credibility with your existing and potential patients
  • Informs and educates about timely and relevant topics
  • Demonstrates your thought leadership and professional expertise in the medical industry

The behavior that impacts content marketing for doctors

Most patients — 89% according to — research their symptoms online before they make an appointment with their physician.

There are a few drivers of this behavior:

  • We have become a society that wants immediate answers. Why would someone wait anywhere from a week to multiple months to get an appointment with their primary care provider when they can research their symptoms with the stroke of a few keys? Unfortunately, this can lead to inaccurate self-diagnoses.
  • Pharmaceutical companies bombard patients with advertisements. Big pharma fuels hypochondria. When people recognize specific symptoms in advertisements, they are naturally prone to wondering whether that information applies to them.

By publishing accurate, up-to-date, and neutral content, you can provide your patients with guidance about the information they’re hearing, their treatment options, and how they can get timely, reliable answers.

How do doctors find ideas for new content?

As a result of your medical experience and daily contact with patients, you have a nearly unlimited resource for developing content for your practice’s website and social media platforms. But while you can and should draw on your interactions with patients as you brainstorm new content around their concerns and any patterns you notice, remember to omit specific patient details or interactions. Keep any examples or case studies you use reasonably generic to avoid HIPAA concerns.

Here are a few steps you can take to create a running list of content topics:

  • Develop an editorial calendar. Set weekly or monthly themes and base your content around them. 
  • Consider common concerns. What do patients most frequently ask during their appointments? Are there any issues that you address over and over, whether all the time or seasonally? What do you wish patients, or prospective patients, knew about your specialty? 
  • Ask your patients to ask you questions. Answering patient questions publicly can be a way to connect both with the individual and with your patient community. Just make sure that your patients know the questions and answers will be public and that you will redact their names, contact information, and any identifying information before you publish.
  • Turn to recent conference topics. Conferences you attend can provide excellent inspiration for developing timely content. You can determine what was covered that is relevant to your patients.
  • Make big pharma work for you. Pharmaceutical advertisements can point to topics patients might wonder about. Are there broad topics, not tied to specific products, that would help multiple people?

Note: As you plan and begin to create content, ask your practice’s attorney to create a disclaimer to go at the bottom of each post. It’s important to remind patients that your content is informational, not diagnostic.

Optimize Operations

How can doctors refresh and update older content?

Refreshing older posts shouldn’t be your only approach to improving your website’s content. However, updating existing content is one method you can occasionally use as part of a robust strategy.

Updating existing content is one method you can occasionally use as part of a robust strategy. ”

When you refresh a previously published article, edit it in your content management system (CMS) rather than posting it again. Nearly identical pieces will hurt your SEO. Maintain the original URL to maintain any internal and external links that point to that post, and update the date to reflect the republication. 

When should you refresh your posts? 

Here are a few suggestions to help you effectively refresh your posts::

  • As seasons change, update older articles with new tips related to typical seasonal concerns in your specialty
  • As new flu or COVID-19 variants are discovered, discuss the changes in symptoms that may accompany them and provide recommendations for the best course(s) of action
  • Answer a previously answered question from an updated perspective

When you refresh your content, you ensure that the information on your website is up to date. 

Get your practice noticed with current content

You can rank higher in search engine results when you provide quality, current, and relevant information on your practice’s website. While this isn’t the only way to improve your SEO, it is definitely one method you want to include in your website SEO strategy.

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75% of people look online to find a doctor. Patients take a critical look at web presence, online business profiles, and reviews when they decide to pick a health provider. Learn where your practice should be online in the Patient Perspectives report.

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Written by

Karmin Gentili

Karmin Gentili has been a freelance writer and editor since 2016. She has over 25 years of experience in corporate HR and compliance consulting. She has worked to further elevate her skills by pursuing and receiving multiple certifications, including copywriting, video scriptwriting, effective content positioning, case study writing, and SEO. Her love of writing motivates her to use those skills to develop content for the medical field that ensures others can work toward achieving their goals.

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