Thursday, April 1, 2010

Randall Wong, MD: Content is king

The success of any Web site is the content of that site. No matter what the nature of the content (i.e. health information, practice information, etc.), good content will increase the popularity of the site. Here are a few tips about writing good content to keep your readers happy and to maximize your SEO (search engine optimization).

Remember, Google and your patients like relevant and fresh content. There is nothing worse than going to a Web site that is old and stale (no new information) or to a Web site where portions are still "under construction."

People are eager for information. They want answers — now! Irrelevant information or stale Web sites are a huge turnoff.

If you want to add content to your Web site, I suggest starting with two or three topics. This is a small enough number of projects that you can complete in a reasonable amount of time. And remember that Google ranks Web pages, not Web sites. You want to have two or three "cornerstone" topics of your Web site. The more complete they are, the better they will rank.
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For instance, while I am a retina specialist, I only have three cornerstone areas: diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, and retinal detachment.

Once you have created a sound foundation, then branch out. Watch out, don't be surprised if this takes weeks!

Write in a style that is comfortable for you, but relates to the patient. My own bias is that too many docs speak in a so-called business phase. I am comfortable writing in the same style that I use when seeing patients in the office. This works for me.

By speaking and writing at the same level, you stand a better chance of engaging your readers, and thus lending more credibility to yourself. Writing above your readers’ level and using too much techno-mumbo-jumbo are two great ways to bore your readers. They'll never come back.

Write regularly and often. I try and write on my own blog at least four times a week Monday through Friday. Next month, I will be approaching my 200th post. I am not saying you have to write this much. I used myself as an example. I have now reduced my writing frequency to about three times a week after establishing a pretty comprehensive archive.

Sticking to a regime is the hardest part, but there are several ways to avoid self-exploitation:

Ghost writers - there is a huge market for this and I'll share more with you in the future, but there are a ton of good writers looking for work.

Guest bloggers - this may be hard to achieve in the beginning, but there are many bloggers looking for links back to their own blogs who might write an article or two for you. I do this myself.

Your colleagues could also chip in and create content articles for you.

Be thorough, but not too thorough. This is tough for us. We tend to be know-it-alls. Keep the length of your article similar to what you read here. I'd recommend no more than 500 words and I'd shoot for a good 350 each time you start. The cornerstone articles should be a bit longer, think of them as reviews. Perhaps choose a length of 500-1000 words for the main bits.

Too lengthy gets boring. Too wordy is dull. You don't have to include every detail that you know. Just share a part of what you know. The goal is to show off your knowledge (i.e. authority) without being cocky or boring. Break it up into parts if you have that much to write about.

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