Writing for Your Patients’ Reading Level

June 27, 2022

When marketing to patients online, one important best practice is to write to your patients’ reading level. The problem is, there is no “average American reading level.” While dozens of sources will tell you that all SEO writing should be at a sixth- to eighth-grade reading level, this is not necessarily accurate. As well, setting a hard boundary for your writers can impede their ability to produce quality, natural-sounding content. Worse yet, content that falls noticeably below your audience’s reading level may insult readers. How, then, can you make this advice actionable? You can start by testing your audience’s reading level.

Testing the reading ability of your audience

First things first: Find out what works for your audience. Content analysis should already be a part of your online patient marketing strategy. Take your testing one step further by running your best and worst-performing articles through online readability software.

The Flesch-Kincaid is the most commonly used test, though several apps have developed their own formulas. Hemingway App. The Hemingway App’s formula is based on Ernest Hemingway’s work, which consistently fell below a fifth-grade reading level but was enjoyed by adult audiences worldwide. Once you determine the average grade-level range for your best-performing content, develop a plan to help your writers achieve this target score.

Tips for creating readable content

Now that you have an idea of your audience’s preferred reading level, you can improve the online patient experience by writing to it.

Choose a grade range

Avoid forcing writers to write within an overly strict framework. Yes, guidelines are necessary, but they should serve as just that — guidelines. Giving your writers a target range rather than a hard-and-fast rule leaves wiggle room for them to leverage their creativity.

Aim for a grade level below your audience’s level of comprehension

Regardless of who your audience is, write to a level slightly below what they can comprehend. Remember, people are turning to your content for quick answers, not to have to wade through blocks of medical jargon. If your audience’s reading level is at a 10, shoot for seven to nine. You want your content to be easily skimmable and digestible but still informative.

Focus on clarity

Clarity is key in online marketing, especially in the medical field. Your audience wants answers and, more often than not, peace of mind. You do not want your content to create more confusion than it alleviates. It should be clear and concise and directly answer the reader’s question:

  • Keep your sentences short and sweet, and remove any filler
  • Simplify big words
  • When you cannot simplify terminology, create context
  • Use bullet points and numbered lists to break up paragraphs
  • Use headings and visual aids

Software such as the Hemingway App can indicate places where you can simplify your writing for improved readability.

Take advantage of our proven formulas

At Doctor Genius, we have developed, tested, and tweaked formulas to create content that converts on behalf of our clients. Of course, we customize strategies and style guides to speak directly to each unique audience group. To take advantage of our proven formulas, call us today.

Doctor Genius, located at 16800 Aston Street, Suite 270, Irvine, CA 92606, provides a range of services for practice success. We seek to meet our clients’ needs by providing a variety of marketing, SEO, practice optimization tools, and coaching to transform the healthcare experience. Though we work to provide the most accurate information, the content found on this website is solely intended for entertainment purposes. Therefore, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is entirely correct. You may not use the information on this site to cure, prevent, or diagnose a perceived medical issue. If you have healthcare-related needs, please speak directly to a healthcare professional. Never self-perform medical treatments discussed on this website. All images displayed are also for entertainment purposes only, and personal experiences may differ. Please note that the business tactics mentioned on this site might not be applicable to your industry or practice.