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Healthcare Content Marketing Checklist – 12 Things that You Should Try in 2021

It was just a few years ago that you could easily rank content for medical-related terms simply by writing longer and more in-depth posts than those that currently exist.

Unfortunately, healthcare content marketing isn’t that easy anymore.

In fact, over 90% of content receives zero monthly visits from Google search.

However, plenty of healthcare marketing companies have built their brand around content marketing, even in today’s competitive content landscape. For example, Levels Health built its brand on content marketing with zero monthly visitors in June of 2020 to over 10,000 monthly visitors in January 2021.

This healthcare content marketing checklist covers everything that the most successful brands are leveraging to maximize the impact of their content.

Re-Visit Customer Content Fit

Customer content fit is the idea that your content fits answers only qualified patients ask. 

For example, if you are a plastic surgeon offering weight loss, you might have these two blog posts:

5 Tips to Eat Healthier ≠ Customer Content Fit

5 Surprising Ways Weight Loss Surgery Impacted This Patient’s Health = Customer Content Fit

The problem with the top post is that it’s too generic and will attract a variety of people that may not be ideal customers, such as:

  • A fitness guru struggling to lift more weight 
  • A mom making healthier lunches for kids 
  • Someone with low energy

Notice that none of these people have any intention of weight loss surgery. However, someone reading about the additional benefits of weight loss surgery from someone that experienced it (post number 2) is a very targeted potential patient. 

When Cognitive FX, a concussion treatment center in Utah, shifted its content strategy to focus on customer content fit, they grew the blog from about 500 to 70,000 page views per month and increased content-driven consultations from zero to over 60 per month. In fact, content is responsible for about 50% of their overall consultations per month.

Action Items:

Ask the doctor to make a list of key questions that most patients bring to their consultations to ensure your content answers very specific questions that most patients with purchase intent ask. 

Interview Medical Staff

Another innovative content marketing technique is to have the content come from the medical professionals themselves. While most healthcare institutions hire freelance writers to create the content, this creates a few problems:

  • The content lacks depth – freelancers can only include information they find on Google 
  • Google won’t rank it – Google’s medic update prefers to rank medically reviewed posts

By interviewing medical staff and then writing the posts, you can solve both of those problems.

This is how Levels Health skyrocketed their traffic from zero to 10,000 monthly visitors in less than a year.

Action Items:

Once you’ve hashed out a few different blog post ideas, create an outline of the post. Then, interview a medical expert for additional depth and expertise.

Add Expert Quotes

Generating visitors to your posts can be tricky, even if you have stellar content.

Therefore, create promotion allies by including quotes from other medical experts. For example, if you are writing a post about “The Best Exercises For Patients With Knee Pain,” consider asking various physical therapists if they have any recommendations and if you can add a quote from them to your post.

Most will be more than happy to contribute a quote and even share the finished post to their social accounts as it provides free exposure for them. 

Action Items:

Once you’ve created an outline of your post, create a list of industry experts for outreach. Then send an email like this:

Don’t forget to follow up with them when it’s live as you want to allow them to share your new post.

Leverage Internal Linking

If you want a simple healthcare content marketing hack that takes less than 2 minutes to implement and can dramatically improve performance, leverage internal linking. SEO expert Brian Dean recently stated that internal linking is one of the most underrated SEO tactics. 

In addition, Search Pilot recently did a case study revealing that internal linking helped them increase organic search traffic to tested pages by 25%.

Action Items:

While internal linking is a great way to boost traffic, avoid randomly adding internal links like confetti. Instead, consider the architecture of your posts and only link to relevant posts. The diagram below sums up a good internal link structure…

…while the diagram below sums up a poor internal link structure.

Accommodate New Topics 

The pandemic has changed the keywords patients search in search engines. 

For example, you might have previously published a post titled “5 Best Physical Therapy Exercises For Post-Knee Surgery.” However, if this post includes gym machines, some people are unwilling to enter a gym and your content is therefore useless to them.

Instead, create content that accommodates new pain points such as “5 Best Physical Therapy Exercises You Can Do At Home (Post-Knee Surgery).”

Action Items:

To find new searches, use a tool like Google Trends or Google’s new Question Hub. Question Hub collects specific questions searchers can’t find answers to and then shows those questions to content creators. 

In addition, Ahrefs has a “Newly Discovered” tab for keyword research.

Create Original Research

The next item on our healthcare content marketing checklist is original research. Your patients want to know the facts, and other healthcare writers need research to support their claims.

Therefore, consider publishing original research.

Even if you can’t publish original research, do your own analysis of original research.

This is the approach Dana Farber, a cancer research institute, leveraged. They published analysis of a recent study revealing how thalidomide produced birth defects. 

The blog post is just over 500 words long, with a link to the original study and several expert opinions. Despite its simplicity, this post is among the top 10 highest performing pages on the entire Dana Farber website. 

Action Items:

Find studies relevant to topics your practice addresses. From there, complete analysis of the study and then ask several medical professionals for quotes on their thoughts of the study.

Update Old Content

If your website has content over a year old, it might be worth updating it, as case studies show that updating old content can increase traffic by nearly 100%.

However, not all content performs well post-update. Data shows that posts that previously performed well are much more likely to bring the highest traffic gain to maximize post-update success. 

In fact, the study above showed that about 69% of the nearly 100% total traffic increase came from just 12% of all blog posts updated. So only update your highest performing blog posts if you have limited resources.

Action Items:

Identify posts that were previously among your top 10 or top 20 performing blog posts and are beginning to decline. You can do this in a tool like Ahrefs:

Type in your URL > Click “Top Pages 2.0” > Set The Date Range to 1+ Year > Sort by lost traffic

Combine Poorly Performing Posts

Now that you know to only update posts that were previously high performers, what should you do with posts that never performed well?

If you have several poorly performing posts (with links) on a similar topic, combine them and 301 redirect the URLs to the new guide. 

One case study combined ten individual posts into an ultimate guide and earned an extra 4,600 monthly visitors

Action Items:

Find all the poorly performing blog posts on your website. Look for about 5-10 posts that are about roughly the same topic and combine them into one power post. 

When you combine them, pull only the most relevant information from each post, update the statistics and supporting research, and 301 redirect the old individual posts to the new power post.

Prune Underperfoming Content

Finally, for all the pages that can’t be combined or updated, it’s best to prune them by deleting them or 301 redirecting them to a relevant page. 

There are plenty of case studies that support the effectiveness of content pruning, including one that found a 31% increase in organic traffic, and another that earned an additional 2,500 organic visitors.

Action Items:

Use a tool like Ahrefs and look at your lowest performing content. You can do this by entering your URL, clicking “Top Pages” and sorting “Traffic” from lowest to highest:

From there, delete or 301 redirect pages that have under five monthly visitors and zero links. 

Improve Your User Experience 

If you’re trying to find a quick answer about a symptom you feel, which post would you prefer to read?

You’d probably prefer to read the post with images, short sentences, and bold emphasis. Therefore, include this in your content strategy.

In fact, Google will be rolling out a user experience update, and you’ll be rewarded or bumped based on your user experience.

Here is an example of a great user experience in the healthcare space: 


Action Items:

Before publishing a blog post, be sure you can check off all of these items:

  • Paragraphs are no more than three sentences long
  • Images, screenshots, and graphs exist and are relevant to the content
  • Headings break up the text to make it easy to find sections
  • Overall, you can understand the gist of the post simply by scanning it

Adopt an Omnichannel Strategy

Businesses with omnichannel content marketing strategies achieve 91% greater year-over-year customer retention rates than businesses without an omnichannel strategy. 

To implement an omnichannel approach, use the content sprouting method. This method is based on the idea that you can start with just one piece of content and repurpose it into many different forms of content. 

In fact, Ted Keegan, the CMO of University Health hospital’s systems says that one way they have adapted during COVID-19 is by performing live webinars and then repurposing thee says, “The webinars have created additional content for our web and social media channels and helped boost views and engagements on these platforms.”

Action Items:

Start with just one piece of content (ideally a video or live stream). Then use the workflow to repurpose it into different pieces of content. You can hire someone on Upwork or Fiverr to turn it into a podcast and video or a freelance writer to turn it into a blog post.

You can also use a tool like Repurpose House to repurpose your content for you. 

Add Interactive Elements

Another healthcare content marketing trend we will see more of is interactive elements. Interactive elements help generate links and attention, which increases the impact of your content marketing. For example, you might add a quiz to attach to your content. 

John Hopkins has a very simple COVID-19 symptom checker quiz, and it has earned over 4,000 backlinks and drives nearly 30,000 monthly visitors:

Combining this quiz with a piece of content can dramatically improve that content’s performance.

Action Items:

Consider adding a downloadable template/checklist or quiz to your content. You can create a quiz for free with a tool like Typeform, which enables you to embed it on your website. 

You can also use a free design tool like Canva to create a checklist and attach it to your blog post.

Update Your Funnel

Most blog posts end with a conclusion, and the reader bounces from your website. Instead, be sure to update your funnel and direct the reader to the next action step. 

For example, add a lead magnet like a template to the end of each blog post.

Very few healthcare institutions are leveraging this right now, though it’s working well across competitive industries such as marketing, so take advantage of it now.

HubSpot is a great example of this. 

The reader lands on a blog post, and at the end, there is a downloadable workbook or an option to read another related blog post. To access the template, the reader enters their email address, which allows the company to remarket to them.

Action Items:

Revisit your funnel and ensure that each piece of content moves the reader closer to the sale. This means adding CTAs to the bottom of each blog post and eventually collecting an email address or phone number. 

Final Thoughts

In 2021, content marketing is about much more than writing the longest blog post possible. It is much more patient experience focused and will continue to be so into the future. If you need a patient-centric content marketing strategy, contact us today. 

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