April 2019

IN THE PRACTICE

6 FAQs about using a blog to grow your online presence


by Vanessa Caceres EyeWorld Contributing Writer

You may have heard that a blog on your practice website can help grow your online presence, but you may be wondering how that works.
A blog can indeed increase your online traffic and establish your practice as a local eyecare expert, which can potentially grow your patient base. However, it’s a long-term investment that requires some patience and strategy. Read on for answers to some of the most common FAQs about blogging.

1. What should we write about in our posts?
An easy place to start is with questions that patients frequently ask your practice, recommends Kevin Phillips. In addition to the questions you hear, ask the front desk staff and techs about the questions they get asked, Mr. Phillips recommended.
In her work for the ReVision LASIK and Cataract Surgery blog, Samantha Parrish has covered several topics, including:
• FAQs about procedures
• new developments in the field of vision care
• health conditions that may contribute to vision impairment
• prevention and wellness tips
• lifestyle topics related to wearing glasses and contacts
• practice news
Focus as much as possible on what patients need to help them make decisions related to their eyecare, including cost-related issues, Mr. Phillips advised. He works frequently with medical practice blogs and helped grow the blog for Anchorage-based Alaska Sleep Clinic to reach millions of site visitors. See sidebar for more blog post ideas from Mr. Phillips.
Final suggestions: It’s OK to add a personal touch or humor, as long as it’s not over the top, said Andrew Whitley. Also, keep your titles as natural-sounding as possible; avoid the temptation to use clickbait wording, which can ruin your credibility, he added.

2. How long should blog posts be?
Generally speaking, posts should be 300 to 500 words, Mr. Whitley said. “When people read online, they have a much shorter attention span than they do when reading a book, so the reader should be able to finish the post within a few minutes. An occasional long-form post of 1,000 words or more can be valuable as well, particularly, when it’s a complex topic.” For those longer posts, make sure to use subsections with bold headings so the reader can easily skip ahead.
Mr. Phillips favors the longer posts and said that 1,000 words or more should be done regularly, so long as the text is broken into sections with headers and has links to other helpful information.
3. How often should we post?
Once or twice week is a sweet spot if you can do that, Mr. Phillips said. Start with a realistic schedule that you can follow consistently. “Twelve posts spread out over a 6-month period is better than 12 posts in 1 month, followed by 5 months of nothing,” Mr. Whitley said.

4. Who should write the blog?
Traditionally, an in-house marketing person or a medical writer/marketing writer at a marketing agency will write blog posts. A medical writer at Advice Media writes blogs for Central Florida Eye Institute, said Rachel Santora. Another option is a freelance health/medical journalist. A trained writer who is also familiar with health and medical terminology will ensure expertise that’s written so lay readers can understand information, Ms. Santora said.
However, Google’s algorithms recently updated to put much less favor on blogs written by anonymous authors, especially in the medical field, Mr. Phillips said. Google now favors blogs from credible medical sources who have bios beside their stories. Practices still may consider using ghostwriters for their blogs but should have a byline from their on-staff medical experts.

5. How important are keywords?
Keywords can help attract site visitors, but you should focus even more on quality content, Mr. Phillips said. Keywords can be valuable to include in your article titles or subheads.
“Indicating keywords and writing a concise meta-description will help the blog rank higher in organic search results when someone searches for a topic related to your blog,” Ms. Parrish said.
Make sure your blog posts also include the name of your town or other area you serve, Ms. Santora said.
One caution shared by Mr. Whitley: “Occasionally as a web developer, I see companies ranking for random search terms that have nothing to do with their industry … and they are now getting search traffic that doesn’t benefit them,” he said. If you stick to article topics related to eyecare, you shouldn’t have to worry about using the “wrong” keywords.

6. How can we attract more readers?
Sharing your posts on social media is an easy way to bring eyes to your blog posts. Also, consider offering a free e-book, coupon, or some other easy giveaway that requires site visitors to give their email address. You can share blog posts as part of that marketing effort, Mr. Whitley said.
You should also work with your website developer to track your web traffic, but be patient. It can take about 6 months to see a real difference. “People think their posts will go viral, but it’s not going to happen,” Mr. Phillips said.

About the sources
Samantha Parrish
Marketing manager
ReVision LASIK and
Cataract Surgery
Columbus, Ohio

Kevin Phillips
Content marketing consultant
IMPACT
Cambridge, Minnesota

Rachel Santora
Digital marketing account manager
Advice Media
Park City, Utah

Andrew Whitley
Senior account executive
Amplify Online
Bradenton, Florida

Financial interests
Parrish: None
Phillips: None
Santora: None
Whitley: None

Contact information
Parrish
: samanthap@revisioneyes.com
Phillips: kphillips@impactbnd.com
Santora: Rachel.santora@advicemedia.com
Whitley: andrew@amplifyonline.com
 

17 ideas for business blog topics

1. Cost
2. “Best of” lists
3. Comparisons
4. Pros and cons
5. Benefits/advantages of
6. Problems (your problems)
7. Problems (their problems)
8. How-to/tutorials
9. Correlation/causation
10. Definition and description
11. Types/classifications
12. Qualifications
13. Laws/regulations/requirements
14. Myths and misconceptions
15. Reviews
16. Ideas/trends
17. Timeline

Source: Kevin Phillips, “17 business blog topics your audience wants you to write,” www.impactbnd.com/blog/business-blog-topics-list

6 FAQs about using a blog to grow your online presence 6 FAQs about using a blog to grow your online presence
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