Yes, real people are reading your healthcare blog.
It’s a confusing time to be a writer.
On the one hand, the demand for content has never been greater. An astounding 92% of companies maintain a blog, and almost half of all B2B marketers expect to hire or contract with content producers in 2023.
On the other hand, we’re inundated with doomsday predictions about AI apps replacing human writers and threats of another publishing “pivot to video.”
At this point, our team isn’t afraid of apps. We agree with Nectify that AI-generated content is homogenous, mediocre, and sometimes doesn’t even make sense. As for video, some of us came from the magazine publishing world, so we survived the original pivot to video in 2015.
We were unnerved, however, by a bold assertion we heard from a client this year. People don’t read blogs, he insisted. Only search engines do.
Is that true? Actually, no. It really isn’t.
Certainly, SEO is a primary goal for content marketing programs—companies that blog get 97% more links to their websites. But research strongly suggests that the humans initiating the search are, in fact, reading the content their searches produce.
Nearly 80% of internet users say they regularly read blogs. For 71% of B2B industry professionals, purchasing decisions are influenced by reading a corporate blog at some point. And, 70% of people would prefer to learn about a company through articles rather than ads.
In healthcare, the effects are even more pronounced. A study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research showed that patients and caregivers are influenced by blogs to take future health actions.
So if your most important blog viewer is a person, not an algorithm, how would that change the way you approach your blog? These are our recommendations.
1. Put more time into it.
LinkedIn recently asked one of its writers’ groups how much time they spent writing blogs. Answers varied widely, of course, but the experienced ones said they spent six to eight hours crafting a quality post. Many of the rest confessed they were dashing off content as quickly as possible just to fuel their SEO goals.
With 4.4 million blog posts created every day, you can be certain a lot of online content is uninspired and uninformative, written by people who believe their readers are search engines. In a self-fulfilling way, those writers are actually correct: If they're posting keyword-stuffed, oddly worded AI content, no humans will read it.
2. Pay for quality.
You can't expect a writer to spend six hours on a blog post and pay $50. Invest in your blog and you'll get well-researched, creatively written pieces that are educational and shareable.
3. Let the content dictate the length, not Google.
There's much debate about optimal blog post length. At one point, 600 words was thought to be the ideal word count. A few years later, long form was believed to be better for SEO, so people were writing as much as 3,000 words per post. For context, 3,000 words is longer than most lead-gen eBooks or white papers.
When real readers are the audience, you want to give them exactly enough to convey the information—no more and no less. Don't pad for search, and don't cut it short if you really have more to say. Google is optimizing for quality these days anyway, so focus less on length and more on doing what it takes providing thorough, helpful content.
4. Post consistently but don't over-schedule.
Despite SEO wisdom, the goal of a blog should really be to contribute meaningful information to your community. Therefore, if you don't have anything meaningful to say, don't post. Fewer quality posts are far preferable to frequent mediocre posts.
Rather than stressing your team with an ambitious calendar, create a manageable one that your team can reasonably follow. Further, a rigid schedule of two posts per week may not be necessary or appropriate for your audience. In healthcare IT where the sales cycle is long, once or twice a month is usually more than enough. And, if you skip a couple of weeks, it's not a problem—in B2B, few readers are following your blog closely enough to notice.
In the end, despite all the current digital clutter, maybe it’s not such a confusing time to be a writer, after all. Clear, authentic communication is a timeless strategy.
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