Maximize Your Odds for Success With a Smart, Effective Website
Part 2: 5 Best Practices for Written Web Content
By: Jessica Chew | May 6, 2020
In Part 2 of this series, you’ll learn tips and tricks for developing website content that engages visitors and ranks well in search. If you missed Part 1: Developing Your Web Strategy, be sure to check it out.
Your website content does more than just tell your story, it’s also integral to helping people find your organization and gain knowledge about your offerings and services. Websites serve as a critical resource for referral partners, patients, and families to become aware of your business.
So, before we dig into the best practices for writing, let’s look at the criteria for “good” content according to Google—the world’s biggest search engine.
Best Practice #1: Understand Google’s criteria for good web content
In an article by Aubrey Grant of LinkNow Media, Google’s algorithm rates content on three criteria, and ranks sites accordingly. This is important, because ranking well means that your healthcare organization has a greater chance of appearing near the top of the search list and can gain leverage on competitors.
Grant explains Google’s content criteria as follows:
- Expertise: Is the content truthful? Does it exhibit expert knowledge? Does it conform to scientific or industry-specific standards?
- Authority: Is the writer qualified to write on the topic? Are they an authority? Are they certified to provide knowledge or services in this field?
- Trust: Is the page trustworthy? Is the page consistent? Is the page spammy? Can you trust the expertise and authority presented elsewhere on the page?
So, how do you write to satisfy Google’s algorithms?
- Know your audiences and provide the helpful content they’re seeking. Place this information near the top of your pages and posts.
- Be open about your purpose. If you’re selling something, be up front about it.
- Share your credentials, awards, and certifications.
- Use testimonials to build “social proof” for your expertise.1
- Include data points to back up your claims and add credibility.
Best Practice #2: Leverage the power of keywords
Keywords are the words and phrases visitors will most likely use to find you online. You want to think like your visitors; what kind of topics are patients and their families searching for? Hiring someone who specializes in SEO (search engine optimization) can be a good idea. Determining your best keywords is a great first step, since you’ll be incorporating them into your website content.
Once you have your keywords list, resist the temptation to overuse them. Instead, incorporate them where they would naturally occur. Note that search bots look for keywords in the following places:
- Page titles (the text that shows up in the search bar above your page)
- Headlines and subheads
- Image and meta tags
Best Practice #3: Use backlinks and crosslinks to boost engagement and authority
Crosslinking between pages on your own site is a great way to keep readers engaged and introduce them to new content. Linking to others’ sites sets the stage for “backlinking.” A backlink is simply a link from one site to another. In other words, you incorporate a link on your site to content on an outside site.
Google’s search engines reward backlinking with better rankings because these links presumably point to valuable content. If you’re part of an ACO or other type of member network with independent websites, this might be an easy strategy for you to employ.
Best Practice #4: Design an intuitive website navigation
Once users get to your website, give them a positive user experience. They should know exactly where to find the information they’re seeking. You can find and compare lots of different examples online. Wix, a popular DIY web platform, offers these tips for creating your navigation menu:
- Prioritize your content. How will content flow from the homepage to other pages? Drawing a simple site map can be helpful.
- Stick to language that people already know like “About Us” and “Contact.” More creative language can be confusing.
- Limit the number of items in your navigation. If needed, include dropdown menus under each main header.
- Link your logo to your homepage. This is a simple way for people to navigate back to the homepage.
- Indicate at all times which page users are on and make sure they can access the entire navigation from any page. “Sticky” navigation bars, which remain at the top of the page even as the user scrolls, and footer menus are two examples.
Best Practice #5: Write a Compelling (and Readable) Story
Good website writing follows its own set of rules, the most important of which is to always serve the needs of your readers.
- Be clear about what differentiates your organization and why it matters: In order to compete effectively, partners and customers must understand why they should choose your healthcare organization over others. This differentiation should be clear from the moment they hit your homepage. This article by Orbit Media Studies provides 19 elements that should be included on your homepage.
- Highlight key, customer-centered messages: What do you need readers to know about your organization? Be sure this information is easy to find on the page. Use benefit-driven language that demonstrates how you will meet their unique needs and include data-driven proof points to build credibility and authority.
- Keep copy short: Use a funnel approach, putting the most important information near the top of each page or section. Provide links to greater detail for readers who want it. Remember that graphs, charts, and other data-rich visuals can tell a story at a glance.
- Encourage next steps: Leading sentences with verbs is a simple way to engage readers and get them thinking about what’s next. Always include a clear call to action and double check all contact information for accuracy.
- Help readers scan for what they need: Break up longer copy with headers, highlighted type, bullets, etc.
Stay tuned for Part 3 of our series, which covers choosing and incorporating powerful visuals into your site content to capture attention and help fuel conversion.