Medical copywriting

Writing effective content for medical websites incorporates several key skills

Skill number 1: Know your audience

Writing content for a medical website begins with knowing your audience and having the skill to write in a tone that is appropriate to their level of understanding. Writing for a professional audience requires a very different approach compared to writing for patients.

  • Medical professionals expect to be addressed in a manner that acknowledges their many years of study and expertise in treating disease.
  • Patients and carers respond best to a plain-English approach overlaid with a reassuring tone, helpful graphics and simple explanations for technical terms.
  • Allied health professionals are often treated as though they fall somewhere in between, although in practice they may have actually have a more in-depth understanding of certain topics than physicians. So it’s important to write at the correct level, depending on who your allied health audience is.

Skill number 2: Use relevant keywords

How will people find your site? By typing in words related to your product or clinic. Google will then display the sites which contain those key words. The sites with the most relevance will appear at the top of the page (following any advertised sites). Correctly employing keywords is called SEO (search engine optimisation.

It usually begins with formulating a ‘key word plan’ with words or phrases chosen for each page on your site. The content writer then incorporates these key words into the headlines and copy in the right places to optimise the content.

For some highly technical subjects, it can be difficult to find relevant keywords using the usual keyword tools. In this case, I use my judgement to select the most likely search terms.

Skill number 3: Ensure code compliance

There are several codes of conduct covering web content for medical products. Sites for medical clinics, prescription pharmaceuticals, over-the counter pharmaceuticals and medical devices are all subject to different regulations. Without an in-depth understanding of these codes of conduct, your content may break the rules. You could risk a hefty fine or worse. That’s why it’s important to select a web content writer who understands the rules.

Know the pitfalls of writing about prescription drugs and the rules affecting clinical websites

In Australia, prescription drugs cannot be advertised to consumers by drug companies or mentioned in clinicians’ sites. This rule will affect you if you mention a prescription drug on your website. Using the generic name of the drug will not help you get around this rule. The regulators are particularly strict when it comes to the advertising of certain prescription cosmetic products – I’m sure you know which one I mean!

If you are promoting a prescription drug to doctors, you need to have your site password protected so that only qualified medical professionals can access the content.

Content for clinic or medical practice websites is also subject to regulations regarding what you can say and how you can say it.

Skill number 4: Understand YMYL and E-A-T

Google’s YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) rules significantly affect healthcare content writing by emphasising the importance of expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (E-A-T) in creating high-quality content. To optimise for E-A-T and YMYL, healthcare content creators need to focus on creating high-quality, people-first content that is original, helpful, and transparent.

By ignoring YMYL and E-A-T, your site will not rank well with Google.

How to rank well considering YMYL and E-A-T

In addition to providing only high-quality content, to rank well  with search engines your site should be checked regularly for accuracy, and include links to authoritative websites, avoiding linking to low-quality sites.

Skill number 5: Be clear and concise

Healthcare professionals are busy people. They don’t have time to waste on waffle. That’s why it’s essential to get to the important points quickly before you lose their attention.

At the same time, SEO optimisers will tell you that longer content (1000 words or more) is prioritised in search results. So how do you reconcile these 2 goals? The answer lies in chunks.

Break your content into chunks

Short chunks of compelling content will help the reader stay focussed on the page so they absorb your message in its entirety. Using video, charts, and infographics can help to break up the content. Using dot points, subheads and call-outs will also help bring your page to life.

Where to start with commissioning website content

Launching a new website can be a little daunting. You need someone to plan the site, someone to build the site, someone to design the site, someone to provide content for the site and someone to host the site.

Start by contacting me.

We can discuss your requirements and I can help you put together a team with expertise in building health websites, both large and small.

 Dr Hanna’s website designed by WebInjection.