Smiling woman writing healthcare content on her laptop, with the text "Google's People-First ranking factor."

Your Guide to Healthcare Content Writing: Create Helpful, Patient-First Content

Healthcare content writing is important, sensitive work—especially when you’re writing about mental health and addiction. It takes empathy, a deep understanding of the recovery space and content marketing expertise.

When you center your audience, you invite them to emotionally connect with your brand. And that, in turn, helps them plan for addiction recovery in a concrete way.

Do your potential clients see themselves in your content?

Content is only effective when your audience actually sees it. That’s where Google’s best practices come in. Here’s how to incorporate their search ranking recommendations into your rehab content strategy:

Guideline #1: Self-Assess Your Content

Google’s latest SEO guidelines encourage all businesses to audit content on a regular basis. In the addiction treatment space, up-to-date content shows that your team is aware of the latest research. You can weigh in on new types of treatment, recommend certain therapies and generally demonstrate your expertise.

You can use Google’s published questionnaire as the basis for regular content audits. These questions could also become the basis for your in-house style guide.

Content and Quality Questions

High-quality healthcare content writing stands apart. Even the smallest mistakes – like spelling or grammatical errors – can undermine your drug rehab’s credibility. Google recommends you answer these questions, among others:

  • Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
  • Would you expect to see this content in or referenced by a printed magazine, encyclopedia, or book?
  • Does the content provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?
  • Does the content have any spelling or stylistic issues?

This is important for any business, but especially for mental health and addiction treatment centers. When a client signs up for your program, they’re trusting you with their future. Use every opportunity to demonstrate that you deserve that trust.

Expertise Questions

Your ideal clients don’t just want treatment – they want the right treatment for them. Content can showcase your deep knowledge of the recovery journey.

Google’s best practices refer to what you say, and also how you say it. This is your opportunity to share complex information in a way readers can easily understand.

Does the content present information in a way that makes you want to trust it, such as clear sourcing, evidence of the expertise involved, background about the author or the site that publishes it, such as through links to an author page or a site’s About page?

This approach helps you achieve two goals:

  1. It empowers the reader to make an informed decision about treatment.
  2. It shows your audience that you sincerely care about their recovery.

Guideline #2: Provide a Great Page Experience

Google’s core ranking systems look to reward content that provides a good page experience. Site owners seeking to be successful with our systems should not focus on only one or two aspects of page experience. Instead, check if you’re providing an overall great page experience across many aspects.

A holistic content strategy accounts for more than the words on your website. It also defines the user’s experience of navigating your site.

Clicking through your blog or addiction treatment pages should elicit an emotional response. In a perfect world, they’ll feel the same way visiting your site as they would going on a tour of your center. These authentic connections help clients feel safe by letting them know what to expect from treatment.

Guideline #3: Focus on People-First Content

Effective content meets a specific need. Think about the experience of Googling something. You type in a question, and your search returns a list of answers that might be helpful. When you click a link, you hope it’s going to give you the right answer. How good does it feel when the first article does just that? And how frustrating is it when you end up on a page that’s confusing or inaccurate?

Here’s how Google puts it:

After reading your content, will someone leave feeling they’ve learned enough about a topic to help achieve their goal?

For your potential clients, there’s also a larger goal: long-term recovery. Compelling healthcare content writing doesn’t just answer their questions, it also shares new insights. This gives readers a sense of your unique approach to treatment.

Sharing your perspective will filter out people who aren’t a good fit for your program. That’s a huge time saver. By appealing only to your ideal clients, you can set your admissions team up for success.

Guideline #4: Avoid Creating Search-Engine-First Content

There’s no doubt about it: SEO best practices are important. They’re also just one part of the big picture. Your SEO strategy can support high-quality content, and vice versa.

If you want to achieve your SEO goals using people-first content, make sure you match search intent. Here’s what that means:

  • Write clear headlines. Avoid clickbait or misleading meta copy.
  • Answer questions directly. Don’t make readers scroll forever to find the information they’re looking for.
  • Focus on relevant topics. Only share information you’re qualified to discuss. If your rehab treats only teens, there’s no need for a long series of blog posts about working during rehab.

Guideline #5: Healthcare Businesses Need To Know E-E-A-T and the Quality Rater Guidelines

E-E-A-T stands for Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness.

Google’s E-E-A-T guidelines are extremely important for SEO, especially for YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) businesses like rehabs. Here’s what these guidelines entail:

  • Experience: For drug rehabs, this means content written or reviewed by people with personal experience in recovery. For example, you might publish interviews with your clinicians or testimonials from people who have gone through your program.
  • Expertise: Your content should be research-driven, accurate and genuinely helpful. Consider having a healthcare professional review your deliverables before they go live.
  • Authoritativeness: Share accurate information in a confident tone. This positions you as a reliable resource, building brand loyalty over time.
  • Trust: When you follow the other three E-E-A-T standards, your audience will come to trust you. That’s a great responsibility and a powerful opportunity at the same time. Once you have a reader’s trust, your rehab can make a permanent difference in their life.

Guideline #6: Ask "Who, How, and Why" About Your Rehab’s Content

Google rewards transparency and accuracy. Your content will rank higher if you can easily answer these simple questions.

Who Created the Content?

Include bylines and author bios whenever possible. Ideally, your content creators will be experts in the subject matter. This lends credibility to your content and earns your readers’ trust.

How Was the Content Created?

Publish the details of your editorial process. Tell your readers who’s writing the content, who’s reviewing it and what guidelines they follow. You can also answer questions about the writing process itself.

As AI-generated content gets more popular, readers are learning how to recognize it. They also want more transparency about when and how websites use these tools.

If automation is used to substantially generate content, here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Is the use of automation, including AI-generation, self-evident to visitors through disclosures or in other ways?
  • Are you providing background about how automation or AI-generation was used to create content?
  • Are you explaining why automation or AI was seen as useful to produce content?

Why Was the Content Created?

There’s no one, right response here. You might want to:

  • Educate readers about a diagnosis or symptoms
  • Demystify the treatment process
  • Help readers plan the logistics of treatment
  • Support people with a loved one in recovery
  • Connect alumni with local resources

The list goes on and on. For every piece of content, you should have a clear answer to this question. This ensures that your content serves a purpose as part of a larger marketing strategy.

Start Creating Helpful, Patient-First Content for Your Rehab

Content is a powerful tool for healthcare businesses to build audience trust, improve patient satisfaction, and boost your bottom line. Helpful, patient-first content is just one part of a holistic content marketing strategy. Contact us to start connecting with your ideal clients.

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