Health content ideas: Unlocking the power of searches in Doctor Google

Health content ideas: Unlocking the power of searches in Doctor Google

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.

women typing on a computer

‘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.

google results what does a heart

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.

google results what does a heart
google results what does a heart

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.

How to get your website to show up on Google?

How to get your website to show up on Google?

You’ve put so much work into it! The website is finally live and now you just need people to find it.

You’ve connected your Google analytics account but the numbers are small, or all coming from Russia.

You have a quality message that would be of value to people, so how do you get your website to show up on Google?


Search engine optimisation

Search engine optimisation or SEO is the process of driving traffic to your website by using the right terms and processes that google can use to match it with search queries.

It’s making sure your site’s words, images and other content can be found and matched when people search.

This is what is known as “organic search”. These are the results that come up as a listing on the clean white background that we know as Google.

Content writing for SEO takes time and effort but it is free. And the results can be long-lasting.

Marketing firm Caldwell Richards chief executive Michael Buchholz says SEO is a long-term play, but one that can continue to produce a return on investment over a longer period.

“SEO traditionally takes about three to six months to get results,” he says.

“If you get it right, it will continue to add value and drive your ROI for the long term.”


But it takes effort

Getting to page one on Google is important. The search engine says 95 per cent of click-throughs come from the first page.

The top result attracts one-third of the clicks, and the seventh gets only about 2 per cent.

This shows how important it is to get the copywriting right. Keywords that attract the right audience are critical. Writing the correct types of content and copy are equally vital.

“If you’re a startup or you have limited resources, then you really need to think about ROI,” Richards says.

“There’s no point driving everyone to your website if nobody buys anything. Are people actually engaging with you.


How do search engines work

There is no secret to how search engines work. They publish all their information in very long and detailed posts such as these.

The challenge is, however, to translate that information into useable detail for your situation.

Basically google sends out its bots or spiders to crawl sites and assess sites. This is all the text, images and other content.

Then they categorise and index that information.

The final step is displaying what they deem the best and most appropriate result for a search on the white Google search page that you see. This is the search engine results page (SERP).


What Google wants

Search engines are not shy about telling people what they want from their copywriting and websites. It might be complicated and there is no magic ingredient but there are key factors to determine what results are displayed for searches.

This are the five things Google says it is trying to do when people search:


Meaning of your query

Are there typos to correct? What language is it in? Are there words that suggest the searcher wants specific information? Google also wants recent content to give people so it is up-to-date.

“If you search for trending keywords, our freshness algorithms will interpret that as a signal that up-to-date information might be more useful than older pages.”


Relevance of webpages

This is where the content, copy and keywords come in, but not keyword stuffing or just repeating the words.

“If those keywords appear on the page, or if they appear in the headings or body of the text, the information is more likely to be relevant,” Google says.

“Beyond simple keyword matching, we use aggregated and anonymized interaction data to assess whether search results are relevant to queries. We transform that data into signals that help our machine-learned systems better estimate relevance.”


Quality of content

This is about links. When you are an authority in your field, others will link to you. And this is an important part of ranking higher.

Google is, of course, onto some of the scammy things people try to do with dodgy backlinks though.

“Our systems are designed to identify signals that can help determine which pages demonstrate expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness on a given topic,” Google says.


Usability of webpages

Make sure people can use your website easily.

It has to be fast, it has to work well on mobiles and computers, and in different browsers.

Have a good navigation bar that is easy to see and very simple to use. Not only it is good for your customer journey, it’s important to Google.

“These algorithms analyse signals that indicate whether all our users are able to view the result, like whether the site appears correctly in different browsers; whether it is designed for all device types and sizes, including desktops, tablets, and smartphones; and whether the page loading times work well for users with slow Internet connections.



Context and settings

This is about the way Google changes depending on each searcher.

What I see when I type your organisation name will be different to what you see.

“Information such as your location, past Search history and Search settings all help us to tailor your results to what is most useful and relevant for you in that moment,” Google says.


How I can help you with SEO for your website

Your website matters. It is your shopfront and where potential clients will do research before you’re able to speak with them.

Effective content that appeals to readers and search engines can build your presence online and showcase your authority.

I can help. Find out more here


Trucking industry content writing: A special report for The Australian

Trucking industry content writing: A special report for The Australian

As they say, without trucks Australia stops.

When Australians faced the lockdown restrictions for COVID-19, we witnessed the importance of having an effective and efficient supply chain and logistics industry.

At the peak of the “toilet paper panic” shoppers were buying seven weeks supply in seven days. All that product was delivered on the back of a truck.

It was great to do this series writing about trucking and supply chains with The Australian. Thank you to the Australian Logistics Council and the Australian Trucking Council, especially, for their comments.

Blog writing for Asthma Australia’s winter campaign

Blog writing for Asthma Australia’s winter campaign

Blog writing for Asthma Australia’s winter campaign

For the one in 10 Australians with asthma, winter can be a difficult time. And in the time of COVID-19, it is extra challenging.

Asthma Australia launched a proactive content campaign. I wrote blogs about asthma, its management and triggers, ahead of the cold and flu season to inform people with asthma and their carers about potential difficulties in winter.

They feature credible, fact-based information about illnesses, fire smoke, allergies, mould and mites.

I love working alongside Asthma Australia to help inform Australians because they are so clear in their mission. That mission is to help people to breathe so they can love freely.

Writing blogs to educate and inform

Consistent blog writing can boost your organisation’s messaging and reach.

Professional blog writing is a way of connecting and informing your audience, and helping them with useful information.

Writing online articles and sharing information with your audience will help people understand an issue and guide their actions.

Regular and frequent updates to your website also helps search engines find your site. This can help you rank higher in search results. And the more content you have – as long as it is technically sound and written correctly – means there are more potential search terms for people to connect with you. Fresh news and article writing also boosts your overall volume of content online. 

Blogs are also a great way to showcase the skills and expertise of your organisation and your leaders. You can explain your services to your target audience, or advocate your position as thought leadership.

Thanks to the Asthma Australia team for letting me be involved 😊

For information on asthma visit

Writing for education: Women in Education

Writing for education: Women in Education

Writing for education


When I write about education and the innovation underway in the sector, it is always a heartening experience.

There are so many passionate people in education, teaching new methods and content.

For these series,  I worked with The Australian for a six-story series on women in education.

This covered topics from the future of education (for girls and boys), lifelong learning, skills of the future, leading educators, how and why STEMM is critical for women and the ESG field where women hold their own at the corporate table.

It was wonderful learning more about this diverse and challenging field. There are no easy answers.

For more, visit The Australian:

Asthma-ready at school

Asthma-ready at school

Helping parents of children with asthma get prepared for school 

Every February when school students return to school there is a spike in asthma symptoms and hospital presentations.

As the country’s leading voice on asthma education and resources, Asthma Australia collaborated with Barrett Comms to create a series of content pieces to reinforce important messages aimed at parents in the leadup to this time.

Barrett Comms also worked with Asthma Australia to update and refresh its website copy.

What is thought leadership anyway?

What is thought leadership anyway?

Thought leadership? It’s just an op-ed or a story

When I made the move from being a daily journalist into a communications role there were a few things I had to get my head around. 

Content, thought leadership, collateral, EDMs: all these terms were foreign to a newspaper reporter whose job it was to eliminate corporate speak and communicate in plain English.

Now those materials are my bread and butter. But not the jargon.

I still prefer to call them what they are: reports, blogs, stories and opinion pieces.

All these articles have a purpose. This is to engage and advocate, and ultimately, to build authority and credibility. Your message matters.


So what is thought leadership?


Thought leadership is an article or opinion piece that offers a fresh take on an area of expertise. Thought leaders stay relevant by linking their knowledge to wider events. They speak up on the issues of the day. They are not afraid to offer an opinion.

This is how to become a spokesperson in your field. By contributing to the public knowledge through smart communications, you can become an expert. Once your name is out there and you become known for your insights, facts and commentary, you can become a go-to person for media.

This all helps to get your message out to the right audience at the right time.

So for thought leadership without the jargon, just stick to the basics. Know your topic, have a view and present it well. And please, no corporate speak!

Freelance business journalism: UAP: A great Brisbane story

Freelance business journalism: UAP: A great Brisbane story

Sometimes there is a story that just clicks with you

When I was researching for a story in The Weekend Australian’s Mansion magazine about the renowned artist Janet Laurence, she mentioned how lucky I was to live in Brisbane.

This was because, from a public art perspective, we had one of the world’s best public art manufacturers operating from the city.

As a born and bred Brisbane resident who had worked in media for many years covering many different organisations, I was surprised I was unaware of the powerhouse that is UAP.

I was fortunate enough to go on a factory tour with Founder and Creative Director Daniel Tobin and learn more about the company and its incredible works for an article in The Australian’s The Deal magazine.

Co-founder and Managing Director Matthew Tobin told me through advanced manufacturing and robotics, they have been able to increase their efficiency and return production to Australia from China.

“Ten years ago we thought our workshop in Australia would be a prototype workshop and everything would be made in China,” he said. “A decade on, we know that is entirely inaccurate and our manufacturing will be made locally. To be viable and competitive as a manufacturer, especially as a custom manufacturer, it’s going to be cheaper to do it locally.”

Thank you to UAP and The Australian for allowing me to learn more about this great business.

Brisbane’s most influential people

Brisbane’s most influential people

Brisbane’s most influential people

This year I wrote a series of articles on key figures in Brisbane leading the city in its “new world” transformation. It was great fun to be involved.

There is a lot happening across the city, from the new developments of Howard Smith Wharves and Queen’s Wharf, to fresh energy within our cultural and educational institutions.

But, really, it comes down to the people and our spectacular weather.

As the creative director of the Queensland Ballet and “Mao’s Last Dancer”, Li Cunxin, put it: “Without a doubt, Brisbane is its people”. “Brisbane people are so welcoming, so friendly, so industrious and entrepreneurial, so creative. Brisbane really feels alive at the moment in everything from its food and dining scene to the latest designer hotels on the scene.”

And the final word goes to Infrastructure Australia chair Julieanne Alroe. “Brisbane is so much better experienced than explained,” Alroe says.

“Brisbane to me, when comes down to it, we just have the best lifestyle. People are friendly. The weather is fantastic. The city and the regions are still accessible but we’ve still got that good mix of growth and lifestyle.” 

Find out more in The Deal’s Brisbane special.

How to write a media release

How to write a media release

How to write a media release?

When you want your message out clearly and simply, a media release is the traditional way to go.

Media releases are generally in the news style. These follow the “inverted pyramid”.

This puts the information regarding who, what, when, why, where, and how at the very start of the story – in the first sentence of the media release. Additional details and quotes follow later.

What is the new element and why should people be interested? Start with this.

Don’t start with background information or details about how your company was formed. If it is relevant, then it can come later.

Media releases are best when they are crisp, clean and to-the-point. Aim for one page, although if it is a complex topic area such as a research issue or financial data, an additional summary at the end of the media release for understanding can be useful.

Include quotes for the key spokesperson and make them pithy and succinct. Ensure your quote punctuation is correct. For example: “Quotes go in the inverted commas, then a comma, then the close quotes,” he/she said.


Offer a package to media


Images are critical, and having useful and relevant case study information is often the make or break for securing comprehensive media coverage.

By way of example, if your release is about apartment sales in a certain area, the ideal scenario would be to have someone ready to talk about their experience of buying or selling as an anecdote.

Then the business or industry group can provide expert information for the research and detail of the story.

Next, have all your ducks in a row before you send out the information. When journalists receive your release they will expect a representative to be available to answer any questions or clarify points immediately. Key spokespeople must also be ready.

And at the end, once all the detail and appropriate background is on the page, that’s it. Don’t think the piece has to be long and include all the information about the topic. It just has to be the “new” and the “overview”.

Ensure you include contact details for the best media representative and make sure they are available to speak with any media.


 And that’s it, that’s how to write a media release.

What you need to know about the media

What you need to know about the media

How does the media work?


News and media outlets are relentless. Journalists are always on the hunt for a new story to tell, or a new way of telling an existing story.

There is a never-ending paradox of information overload. Journalists are bombarded with information but they are also searching endlessly for a good news story.

A journalist will always take a good story, as long as it is logistically possible to do so. Ensure your information is presented in the best way – and at the best time – to “get a run” in the media.

So how does a news operation actually work?

How a daily newspaper works

A traditional newspaper starts later than some other media. Other than the early chief of staff – who allocates stories – and a few early reporters, most journalists in the newsroom start the day about 8.30am or 9am.

Most reporters already have ideas for their stories of the day ready to go. They may have been alerted to an upcoming press conference or found a hidden gem in a report that would “hold” until a convenient time. They may have had an idea for a theme they would pursue, or been tasked with a follow up to an on-going news story.

Reporters crystallise their story idea into a brief – basically the proposed top of the story – and send it to the chief-of-staff before the morning conference. This meeting of editors and photo editors takes place three times daily and sets and refines the news agenda. The first is generally about 11am.

During the day reporters work on their stories – often multiple on any given day – and contact different stakeholders. Editors may request a certain take on a story after conference, or want additional details, an accompanying photo or a case study.

A more definite version of the story brief is sent to afternoon conference, generally about 3pm.

By 4pm and certainly 5pm, reporters are writing up their stories. Deadlines can be as early as 4pm for specific sections of the newspaper. Deadlines only extend into the evening for late-breaking stories or for the early pages – pages one or three.

Do not call a journalist with a non-urgent issue in the afternoon. Likewise, sending out a release in the afternoon means it is less likely to get attention.


How does a television newsroom operate?

Television crews work to earlier deadlines, given the time-intensive demands of face-to-face interviews and video editing.

Many television journalists are on the road with their crews from 7am, having been briefed by their producers on their stories for the day. Filming occurs across the day but ideally the footage and interviews are conducted in the morning.

Editing of the bulletins occurs from 3pm at the latest for a 5pm, 6pm or 7pm bulletin. Journalists also can be called on to do live crosses, or earlier packages for rolling coverage.


So it’s busy, decisions are being made quickly and efficiently, and journalists get their stories out. 

Then they get up and do it all again the next day.

And that’s how media operates.