What do medical writers need to know about search engine optimisation (SEO)?

An open lap top is sat on a desk, ready for a medical writer. On the wall there are post-it notes. The lap top screen reads: SEO search engine optimisation.

What is search engine optimisation (SEO)?

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is a set of techniques that can help your online medical writing rank higher in search engine results. As a medical writer, incorporating SEO techniques can help improve the visibility and accessibility of your content to a wider audience.

What do I need to know about SEO in medical writing?

Well written content that provides value to the user, ranks more highly than poorly written content. Here are a few tips on how you can use SEO when creating medical writing for the web:

  1. Choose relevant keywords for your work.
  2. Optimise your title — by using one or two of your keywords.
  3. Optimise your abstract — again, by using your keywords.
  4. Use keywords throughout your writing — by including them in your sub-headings, main body of your work and any graphics that you include.
  5. Build links to your work — by including references to seminal articles and promoting your work via appropriate social media channels.

What are white hat SEO and black hat SEO?

The techniques described above are known as ‘white hat SEO’. They are in line with search engine guidelines and best practices for improving how easily your medical writing can be found.

By contrast ‘black hat SEO’ refers to the use of unethical techniques to improve the search engine ranking of your medical writing. These techniques violate search engine guidelines and can result in lower rankings and reduced visibility.

Some examples of black hat SEO techniques include:

  • Keyword stuffing: including numerous keywords in the content to try to manipulate search engine rankings.
  • Hiding text and links: is another form of keyword stuffing. This is the use of keywords that are not visible to the reader e.g. in white text.

How long does it take for SEO to work?

It’s important to remember that SEO is an ongoing process, and it takes time to see the results. Also, search engines are constantly changing the way they rank online information, so it’s essential to stay informed of the latest trends and best practices to keep your medical writing optimised.

So, should I prioritise SEO in my medical writing?

While SEO can help to improve visibility and accessibility of your medical writing, your primary goal should be to provide accurate and informative content that is understandable by your target audience.

Where can I learn more?

You can read more about search engine optimisation in WriteSource Medical’s article How to get your writing found: Why medical writers and academics need to use search engine optimisation.