Are You Content with Your Content?
Defining content strategy and the many elements that make it work
To answer this question, we must first address another: what is content?
Quite simply, content is what a medical website contains. It’s the writing, the information, the pictures and the videos, the stuff of webpages that your visitors are reading, watching and engaging with. Unlike the behind-the-scenes coding that creates the visual design and infrastructure of the site, the content is front and center, inviting visitors to learn what you have to say, act on it and share it with others.
The very nature of good medical website content makes it ideal for marketing and SEO. Having great content on your site gives you an organic means of building external links, improving rankings for long tail keywords and creating a community around your brand online. It gives you a higher conversion rate, higher organic search rankings, a stronger social following and more brand visibility.
Though it won’t provide immediate results, SEO experts are quickly beginning to realize that content marketing is the best way to make a site authoritative and sustainable in the long-term. More and more are shying away from practices like link building in the face of changing Google algorithms and industry standards. The basic idea is that, by using a strong medical content strategy, you can build an online community and loyal following capable of weathering any changes in search engine algorithms or page ranking.
So, what exactly does a medical content strategist do?
In essence, medical content strategy refers to the way that interesting, relevant content is created, published and governed. Content strategists define the what, when and why of content publishing, determining what content should be used when and why.
If this all sounds complicated, it’s because it is. Content strategy is about a lot more than writing—it requires an analysis of the industry, audience and existing content to develop a detailed plan that will maximize the usefulness of that content. An ideal medical content strategy will take a multifaceted approach that requires a variety of different disciplines, including:
- Search engine optimization (SEO). This is the process of editing and organizing the content of a site to increase its visibility to search engines. SEO will help your page appear higher on search engine results and is accomplished by carefully placing search-specific keywords and links within content.
- Web writing. Writing for the web requires an entirely different skillset than writing for other mediums. Web writers need to create web-exclusive content that is both interesting and usable. This means they need an understanding of user experience design, writing metadata and managing an inventory of content that is constantly changing.
- Editorial strategy. This concerns all the governing attributes of online content: voice and tone, legal and regulatory concerns, values, user-generated content, etc. This element of the strategy will also include an organization’s editorial calendar and the lifecycles of various pieces of content.
- Metadata strategy. Metadata is commonly referred to as “data about data” or “content about content.” In this context, it refers to the meta tags and other labels applied to content that allows it to be identified and organized online in meaningful ways (like search engine indexing).
- Content management. This refers to the technologies needed to create, deliver and preserve content, including publishing infrastructures and workflows.
- Content channel distribution. This is how the content is made available to users, as in blogs, email, social media and others.
Content strategy necessitates an understanding of the industry the strategist is working in and the target audience before content is even created. Then, after the content has been developed and distributed, it needs to be analyzed to determine how effective it was.
The medical content strategy process is complex and takes time to produce results, but medical practices can take advantage of its ability to find, reach out to and engage with potential patients on the web. Though SEO strategies like link building can be inviting for their quick returns, long-term content strategies create an online community around your medical practice capable of weathering any Google, Bing or Yahoo! update. Content strategy can help you build a medical website you’ll be proud of, one that offers valuable information and forums of discussion for the community while also driving profits.