7 Healthcare Copywriting Tips to Take Your Content from Meh to Must-Read

by | May 24, 2021 | Content Strategy | 0 comments

Healthcare copywriting is a unique discipline that requires a combination of talent, experience, subject matter expertise and technique to effectively guide consumers on their wellness journey. Here are seven practical tips to ensure your healthcare content delivers on both audience needs and organizational goals.

Unlike con­tent designed to mere­ly enter­tain, the stakes are a lot high­er when dis­sem­i­nat­ing health­care-relat­ed infor­ma­tion. Every word mat­ters when the sub­ject mat­ter has poten­tial­ly life-sav­ing outcomes.

With­out a clear under­stand­ing of the con­sumer audi­ence and the abil­i­ty to sim­pli­fy often-com­plex mate­r­i­al, the exer­cise in health­care copy­writ­ing is futile and results will be ineffective.

In our expe­ri­ence, there are a few key ingre­di­ents to cre­at­ing health­care con­tent that shows up in search, leaps off the screen/page and leaves read­ers bet­ter informed:

  • an under­stand­ing of med­ical con­cepts and terminology
  • an abil­i­ty to com­mu­ni­cate to con­sumers with con­fi­dence and accessibility
  • a firm grasp of SEO prac­tices and how they apply to health­care writing

Most impor­tant­ly, an effec­tive approach to health­care writ­ing requires relay­ing all of this infor­ma­tion in a crisp, com­pre­hen­sive and engag­ing way.

Draw­ing from our 30+ years of devel­op­ing con­tent for health­care orga­ni­za­tions, as well as con­sumer research and the lat­est dig­i­tal trends, we’ve com­piled these guide­lines for effec­tive health­care copywriting.

Do your homework.

Effec­tive health­care copy­writ­ing starts before a sin­gle let­ter is typed. With con­sumers over­whelmed and mis­in­for­ma­tion ram­pant, the plan­ning and research phase is crit­i­cal to cre­at­ing accu­rate con­tent that read­ers trust.

Start by inter­view­ing clin­i­cal experts with­in your orga­ni­za­tion to local­ize the top­ic and human­ize the brand deliv­er­ing the mate­r­i­al. If nation­al guide­lines or trends are addi­tive to sup­ple­ment the con­tent, use only rep­utable sources like the CDC, WHO and web­sites with a .org domain.

Use active voice for authority.

There are sub­tle dif­fer­ences between health­care copy­writ­ing that res­onates and con­tent that is ignored. Writ­ing in an active voice is one of these.

Active voice con­notes an author­i­ta­tive view­point and builds trust in the mate­r­i­al being pre­sent­ed. Use a pas­sive voice detec­tor tool like this one to avoid cloud­ing the mes­sage you’re try­ing to send.

Use subheads and lists to break up copy.

High-per­form­ing arti­cles use sub­heads (h2, h3 tags) to sep­a­rate long-form con­tent into eas­i­ly digestible para­graphs. This approach makes an arti­cle more scan-able, allow­ing read­ers to find exact­ly what they’re search­ing for with­in your health­care content.

In a sim­i­lar man­ner, arti­cles with at least one list per 500 words per­formed 70% bet­ter than arti­cles with­out lists. Con­sumers view lists as a step-by-step guide to achiev­ing the goal that brought them to your con­tent in the first place.

Make your writing accurate, confident—and actionable.

As every health­care copy­writer knows, suc­cess­ful health­care writ­ing will blend easy-to-read, engag­ing con­tent with accu­rate, digestible infor­ma­tion that guides con­sumers towards an action or behav­ior change. Last year at the height of the coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic, PwC’s Health Research Insti­tute found that patients named their doc­tors as the No. 1 source of reas­sur­ance in decid­ing when to return to reg­u­lar care.

With that fact in mind, health­care copy­writ­ing is an oppor­tu­ni­ty to lever­age the advice of your sub­ject mat­ter experts with clar­i­ty, con­fi­dence and authority.

Use clear and concise language.

When writ­ing for the gen­er­al con­sumer, aim for a six-grade read­ing lev­el. Avoid med­ical jar­gon and key­word stuff­ing, as both prac­tices can make con­tent less engag­ing to read­ers. Use a resource like the Flesch-Kin­caid Grade Lev­el Test or online tools like this one to deter­mine if your con­tent is poten­tial­ly con­de­scend­ing (too low) or intim­i­dat­ing (too high) for your audience.

Follow SEO best practices for high performance.

With 3 in 10 adults “almost con­stant­ly” online, health­care orga­ni­za­tions have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to serve as a trust­ed guide when con­sumers are active­ly con­sum­ing health-relat­ed con­tent. This means align­ing your health­care blog and web­site con­tent to SEO best prac­tices is crit­i­cal to per­for­mance and will max­i­mize the reach of your blog and web­site pages.

For best results: Base your con­tent length on rec­om­men­da­tions from SEO tools based on your tar­get key­words, cre­ate descrip­tive and unique meta descrip­tions for each piece of con­tent, include your tar­get key­word in the title of the arti­cle or page, and more.

Read our guide to dig­i­tal health­care mar­ket­ing for more search tips and oth­er trends that can impact your health­care copy­writ­ing success.

Guide readers on taking the best next step.

Wrap­ping up a strong exam­ple of health­care writ­ing with a gener­ic encour­age­ment to “learn more” leaves read­ers with lit­tle direc­tion as to how they can con­tin­ue engag­ing with your content.

Above all, avoid using gener­ic calls to action (CTAs) when­ev­er pos­si­ble. Offer­ing click-through links to appoint­ment sched­ul­ing, sign-ups for sem­i­nars or online class­es, or oth­er action­able CTAs will dri­ve more traf­fic to your site. This will gen­er­ate bet­ter search results and over­all engage­ment with your brand.

Frequently asked questions

Along with these gen­er­al guide­lines, here are answers to the ques­tions we’re fre­quent­ly asked when it comes to health­care copywriting.

How many words do I need for high-performing healthcare copywriting content?

The word count for health­care copy­writ­ing con­tent will vary depend­ing on the key­word that you’re tar­get­ing with the piece. Google con­tin­ues to favor high-qual­i­ty and infor­ma­tive con­tent, and trends con­tin­ue to show that con­tent with more depth (which often trans­lates to longer arti­cles) will rank high­er than con­tent that sim­ply scratch­es the sur­face on a topic.

If you focus on pro­vid­ing your read­ers with qual­i­ty con­tent that includes accu­rate, com­pre­hen­sive and easy-to-under­stand infor­ma­tion, while align­ing to word count rec­om­men­da­tions from your SEO tool of choice, you’ll be well on your way to high performance.

How do I come up with healthcare topics to write about?

We rec­om­mend com­bin­ing orga­ni­za­tion­al pri­or­i­ties with research on con­sumer search trends to plan health­care top­ics. By think­ing first about the ser­vice lines you need to grow, research­ing those ser­vice lines through tools like Bright­Edge or SEM­Rush, and lever­ag­ing sub­ject mat­ter exper­tise in devel­op­ing the con­tent, you’re like­ly to cre­ate con­tent that adds val­ue for both your health sys­tem and the con­sumers you’re try­ing to reach.

At True North, we pro­vide our health­care part­ners with strate­gic top­ic research and con­tent plan­ning sup­port as we exe­cute our con­tent and dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing strate­gies togeth­er. We’re pas­sion­ate about lever­ag­ing the SEO research tools at our dis­pos­al and your clin­i­cal exper­tise to craft top­ics that con­nect con­sumers with life-chang­ing health­care information.

Inter­est­ed in learn­ing more about health­care writ­ing that works? Check out our web­site con­tent check­list for guid­ance spe­cif­ic to engag­ing a dig­i­tal audience.

Let’s Make Your Healthcare Copywriting More Effective

Our team of health­care con­tent experts can help you engage with your audience.

Sign up for updates!

Sign up for updates!

Get marketing tips delivered straight to your inbox.

You have Successfully Subscribed!