Writing digital content is as much science as art. Follow the guidelines in this website content checklist to give your audiences and search algorithms exactly what they’re looking for.
Every page on your website should serve a purpose—and every element on the page should drive toward that goal. To gain a competitive advantage in a crowded and constantly evolving digital space, use this website content checklist to guide your planning, copywriting, design and distribution efforts.
Define the goals
Content designed to generate organic traffic will be structured differently than pages created to drive conversions. Make sure the first question you ask is focused on your mission: “What am I trying to achieve with my website?”
When creating website content, always start by defining your goals along with metrics that will be used to measure success. This checklist outlines the common objectives for website content and key performance metrics for each:
If the goal is driving traffic and engagement, you can measure success through:
- Bounce rate
- Increases in keyword rankings
- New/return users
- Pages per session
- Share of organic search relative to paid promotion
- Total sessions
If the goal is generating leads, you can measure success through goal events set up across asset downloads, event sign-ups, clicks to schedule appointments, email subscribers and more.
Plan your content
Once the goals for a piece of web content are established, the next step is to audit your current site, execute SEO research and evaluate competitive sites to plan your strategy for website optimization. By aligning your priority services lines with local search and competitive trends in website content, you’ll start to more effectively engage consumers at the consideration and action stage of their healthcare journey by delivering them the information and next best action they’re looking for in a moment of need.
Remember that your blog and website content serve two distinct purposes. Your blog should be designed to engage and build relationships at the awareness stage of the consumer journey. The purpose of your website is to inform, educate and drive action at the consideration and action stage. What’s the difference?
Here’s a few examples of topics that would be addressed differently on your blog versus your website:
Causes of stroke—On your website, there should be a page dedicated to what causes a stroke and the symptoms to watch for. On your blog, you might have articles detailing each potential stroke risk factor and how to manage it. For example, “how stress increases stroke risk” may be a high-performing blog topic to consider.
Menopause—Your website should have a page focused on defining menopause and directing women to the support they need. Similar to stroke, your blog can have articles focused on individual symptoms and what women might be able to do to manage them, like “managing menopause weight gain.”
The format of your content is also critical when developing your marketing strategy.
Consideration stage content helps consumers understand their diagnosis or symptoms. This type of content is critical to earning strong organic rankings and performance. This includes condition and symptom pages to define common ailments and their symptoms, risk factors, the diagnosis process and an overview of treatment options.
On these pages, consider including:
- Health risk assessments
- Patient testimonials or provider Q&A sessions with video content
- Animated explainer videos on specific conditions or procedures
- Downloadable guides on specific conditions or procedures
Decision stage content is designed to help your consumers access the care that they’re looking for. This includes your services pages, which are easily accessible from the appropriate condition pages. This type of content enables a consumer to easily find a provider or point of care.
Content on these pages should include:
- Clear call to action to connect now or request information
- Physician profiles with online scheduling opportunities
- Scheduling options, including telehealth, urgent care or express care
Select the right keywords
Keyword research is a critical step when going through your website content checklist. Using a tool like SEMRush, you can identify the keywords that match the topic, have a strong search volume, align with your priority service lines, and signal high consumer intent to learn more or consume healthcare services.
Here are three types of keywords and how they can be used to engage and convert visitors:
Informational keywords—These terms target users who are in research mode. Generally, these keywords have lower buyer intent as the user’s goal is to learn, not make a purchase. Some examples include:
Navigational keywords—These keywords are typically used during the evaluation stage. They include brand names, specific product names, specific services or reviews.
Transactional keywords—These are terms and phrases that have the most buyer intent. The customer is ready and wants to buy and the only question now is from whom. Examples of transactional keywords in healthcare are “best place to have a hip replacement” or “where to have a baby in Chicago.”
In planning keyword strategies, it’s important to remember the difference between website and blog content and consistently work to avoid keyword cannibalization.
As websites grow and evolve, it’s easy to get to a place where you have multiple pages targeting “symptoms of a heart attack,” for example. However, when that happens, the performance of each individual page or article suffers. Use a tool like SEMRush, Yoast or another plug-in to analyze your site for cannibalization as you produce new content.
Create a clear, comprehensive headline
Mad Men-era advertising legend David Ogilvy said crafting a headline is 80% of copywriting. He estimated that five times as many people read the headline as the body copy. While that’s likely still true as skimming is the new reading, the structure and approach to writing headlines have evolved considerably since Ogilvy’s era.
If creativity is essential to engage print readers, clarity is key when writing website content. A good rule of thumb is to imagine the headline on a search engine results page and ask, “Does this match the user’s expectation when clicking through to the content?”
The headline is another element that can impact search ranking, so follow these tips when coming up with the perfect headline:
- Address user intent.
- Craft headlines with 10 to 13-words—they drive twice as much traffic and 1.5X more shares than shorter ones (< 7 words).
- Describe what is discussed in the text body.
- Ensure it stands out on the page.
- Make it unique and comprehensive.
- Use numbers or question words.
Consider adding images and video
While current trends point toward higher word counts because of saturation and competition in the market, this doesn’t mean visitors want to be met with a wall of text when arriving at your content via search. Research shows images can have a big impact on website performance, so find ways to break up copy with photography, illustrations and other creative elements.
By incorporating at least one image, on average your posts will generate twice as much traffic, 30% more shares and 25% more backlinks compared to posts containing text only.
Video also adds value to website content. The same research cited earlier shows posts without a video get 92% less traffic and 24% fewer shares. In addition to search impact, video can be effective in converting leads, as over half of consumers use the medium to influence their purchasing decisions.
Pitch the piece with the perfect meta description
The meta description is designed to “sell” a user on clicking through to the content. Here are a few guidelines:
- Keep the meta description to two sentences or less, between 140–160 characters.
- Include the keyword.
- Convey your site’s unique selling point.
- Add a clear call to action that reflects the content’s value.
- Geo-tags for website content are important as consumers often search for things like “heart care in Chattanooga, TN.”
Conduct a final review of other elements that impact SEO
An important part of this website content checklist involves the consideration of SEO. Before publishing, take a few minutes to review these elements that are often overlooked when creating content:
URL— While often generated automatically based on the headline and left as-is, the URL deserves your attention. Like keywords, the URL is a contributing factor to search ranking as it signals to visitors and search engines that the content is relevant to the topic. Here are a few guidelines for SEO-friendly URLs:
- Include your keyword.
- Be descriptive and meaningful.
- Use relevant categories/subfolders based on your site map.
- Contain around 3 to 5 words.
- Avoid using the year so the content isn’t dated.
HTML structure—A more complex tagging structure is ideal for driving organic traffic. Research shows more than half of posts with h2, h3 and he subheadings are high-performing in terms of traffic and engagement, compared to 44% with a simple structure (h2+h3) and 39% with no structure at all (no h2).
Work to drive engagement
Once the website content is developed, the real work (and fun) begins. Content is king but distribution is equally royal.
To multiply the reach of your content, consider executing paid media, particularly paid search promotion, of your highest value content. While we typically recommend using conversion-focused landing pages, there may be some service lines across your site that don’t have a unique campaign strategy, but that warrant paid media attention. Focus on those pages and keywords that drive the most value, need the most volume, and see the most competitive pressure.
Optimize often (more than you might think)
Website content is never a set-it-and-forget-it strategy. Once your content is live, you’ll need an iterative, programmatic approach to analyzing performance and keyword ranking progressions to determine when to edit or rewrite individual pages.
Many health systems need to think about a comprehensive overhaul of web content in 2021. For those who have already taken those steps, setting up a monthly or quarterly review of key metrics to define your ongoing content plan will ensure that your website content continues to perform for a long time, minimizing the need for future overhauls.
This checklist serves as a starting point for your website content strategy. Evolve your processes often and let your results inform your future marketing plans.
Leave the Heavy Lifting to Us
If you’re ready to level up your content strategy or are simply stretched thin, let the healthcare content experts at True North come alongside and guide and/or implement your efforts.