Writing for a Medical Website: Tips and Tricks

A website can be a great marketing tool for a medical professional. It serves as a potential patient’s first glimpse of your practice, and can provide a more in-depth look at your practice for existing patients.

Healthcare providers with a flair for writing may want to consider writing the content themselves — after all, who knows your practice better than yourself? If you choose to go this route, keep in mind that it must be easy for the average consumer to understand (think seventh or eighth-grade reading level), and be professional and personable—all while keeping search engine optimization in mind.

In order to make your website easy to read, you’ll want to use familiar words and avoid medical jargon. For example, use “high blood pressure” rather than “hypertension,” and stick to common language—i.e., “use” rather than “utilize.”

As far as appearing professional, writing should be consistent. For example, don’t make “health care” two words in one instance but one word in another one. Another instance in which inconsistency often occurs is in employing the series comma. If you choose to use it (i.e., including a comma after “and” in a series—the nurse, receptionist, and technician), do so every time.

You’ll also want to write in the active tense, not the passive tense. For example, “The doctor gave many reasons for his diagnosis” versus “Many reasons were given by the doctor for his diagnosis.” Active statements are more concise, because they require less words to express action. Beginning a sentence with “There are” is also a no-no, as it’s really wasted words. Instead of, “There are two patients in the waiting room,” “Two patients are in the waiting room” sounds much better.

Keep in mind that online readers have short attention spans. Make paragraphs short, and avoid run-on sentences. Include the most pertinent information at the beginning of a webpage. Use headlines and subheads to help readers scan and find information easily. Make copy clean by avoiding redundancy and unnecessarily capitalizing words. For instance, don’t capitalize “Doctor” when it doesn’t precede a name.

Tone is another aspect to keep top of mind. You want to appear kind, trustworthy and competent. Engage your audience by writing to them directly by using “you.” This is not the place to let your sense of humor run rampant.

Lastly, but certainly not least, use keywords (words that patients are looking for) that search engines like Google and Bing will detect, such as “dermatologist” or whatever type of clinician you are, as well as the name of your town or city to drive your ranking on a search engine. This will improve the chances that a potential patient will find your website.

As a final step in the writing process, use your writing program’s spell check feature. That’s right, take a few minutes to scan your text for typos and grammar errors. Prose sprinkled with mistakes is a big turn-off to patients; you’ll lose credibility fast.

Expose your practice to a whole new potential patient base while reinforcing your credibility with existing patients with a well-written website.

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