How search listening and keyword research can help you to target your health content and communications
Doctor Google is real. People seek information from search engines about everything that is going on in their lives, including their health symptoms.
Google Health says there are about 70,000 health-related Google searches a minute, making it a vast resource of data about the inner thoughts and wellbeing of the general public.
Health and medical organisations can use this information to answer people’s actual questions with evidence-based, factual and helpful information.
By finding out what people are actually searching – instead of what the industry wants to tell them – health providers and organisations can arm people with more targeted, relevant and trustworthy information.
Then you have to optimise that content so it comes up in the relevant searches.
Here is how to find health-content ideas that are relevant to your audience through search listening.
‘Search listening’ to help people find answers to their health questions
It also gives an insight into the words and terms people are using. For example, official sources might use the term “myocardial infarction” when discussing their research and scientific research.
But the person on the street is not going to find that when they type “heart attack research” into Google.
Search engine results are only as effective as the terms people enter. This means your content is only effective if you rank for terms that the people you want to reach are actually using.
There are tools and resources you can use through Google, including Google’s suggestions, and the infographics of Answer the Public.
Google’s suggestions are so underrated. In an incognito search, they automatically input the most common search terms if you leave a space in the phrase.
Slight variations in the search term offer significant insights into people’s thoughts.
Look at the difference in these.
Information-seeking or reassurance-seeking
For health-related content, changing the search term from “what does a” to “what does my” can change the question significantly.
Changing it to a “why” question impacts the question yet again. Imagine the person who is typing into Google “why does my heart hurt when I breathe”. That person needs evidence-based, useable information, ideally resources that direct them to assistance from a medical professional.
This is what they get in the results. The first suggestion given in the drop-down box “What do you do when your heart hurts when you breathe” is ten home remedies, the first of which is to eat almonds.
I’m not a doctor but I would think this is not great medical advice. I expect seeking a medical professional’s view is important.
Content strategy through search results
Using search results and content optimisation, you can put the needs of health consumers at the centre. You can respond to what they need and provide it.
The writing also has to be in an easy-to-read format so everyone can understand it.
It seems a wasted opportunity that thousands of people are searching “what does a heart murmur mean”. Have they just come from being diagnosed and not understood?
When you move in medical circles it’s easy to forget that not everyone understands all the health-related terms and what they mean.
Effective, evidence-based health content can help people – and the wider community – to have a better overall health literacy.
Informed health content strategy
Use insights from Google and other search tools to inform your consumers.
Find out what they’re really searching for and answer those questions.
Create relevant, evidence-based communications and content to help the public.
Find out more about my health content services here.