Be sure to also read Part 1: “How to Increase Content Usefulness with Plain Language: Lessons from Blue Cross Blue Shield.”

We all know the things that go wrong with content creation — no messaging strategy, untrained subject matter experts, a business constantly reacting to bad news. But with the sheer amount of change in the past five years, health insurance companies are even more vulnerable to all of these challenges, and more. If you’re a content strategist at one of these companies, there’s so much you can do to improve the quality of your site’s content, and there are probably a lot of people in your organization who want to do better. They know there’s a problem and they want to fix it, but they might be looking in the wrong place.

If you really want to make your content less boring, more useful, and get people to pay attention, start by learning how your customers are searching for information on the web.

Here are four content evaluation tools and tricks to try that would work for many industries.

1. Google Trends

Google Trends shows real-world, aggregated search data. This example shows you a comparison of searches for “health insurance” (in blue) versus searches for “Kardashian” (in red).

Content Creation


You can see that even with health care reform and all the news coverage of the health insurance industry, there’s been little upward movement in the amount of searches for the term. On the other hand, more people searched for “Kardashian” since 2010, with several spikes in interest.

Now that you’ve seen the basics, let’s look at how you can test which terms people really understand. Here’s a comparison of plain and not-so-plain language versions of the same thing, “drug list” and “formulary”:

Content Creation


From this example, it looks as if search volumes for “drug list” and “formulary” are about the same. If I were building a page and my subject matter expert suggested calling it the “formulary” page, I might suggest naming it so both terms are included, such as “Formularies and Drug Lists.” That way, people who searched for either term could find what they need.

2. Google Keyword Planner

Content Creation


You may also notice that “formulary” is searched for more often than “drug list.” But the combination of the two is convincing and helps you understand the vocabulary your customers want you to use. This can help you better label your content.

Content Creation


Look down at some of the other keywords, and you’ll find more suggestions for how to label and name your content: “medication list,” “list of drugs,” and “drug names” are other viable plain-language terms for your formulary page.

3. Google Search

Another way to confirm your research is to use Google Search. By reviewing the related items on search engine results pages, you might find additional data points to use.

You’ll see here that success is mixed in these examples.

Content Creation


Content Creation

Searching for “drug list” doesn’t provide direct terms that are useful for an insurance company. However, there are some good ideas here — particularly formulary vs. non-formulary — which is a good insight into how people think of drug lists and shows that your customers will be looking for your formulary/drug list on Google with the addition of your company’s name. That’s an important consideration when labeling files, hyperlinks, or naming an application.

4. Search Directly on Competitors’ Sites

Another way to gain insights about plain language labeling is by going to competitors and tracking what comes up in searches for terms on their sites.

Content Creation


Content Creation


You can see there aren’t many relevant related terms for “formulary” or “drug list” on the United Healthcare site.

Content Creation



Content Creation


Yet on Humana’s website, you’ll see there’s a correlation between “drug lists” and “formularies,” as well as some suggested related articles.

Immediate Benefits

When you follow a plain language approach with your content strategy, your customers begin to understand concepts and definitions they need to know. Plus, your content creators — and the rest of your organization — will see the value of focusing on your customer and speaking to them in the language they understand as you track results such as time on site, bounce rates, and reduced customer service expenses.

If that sounds like content strategy nirvana, it is, but there’s no quick path to it. Sometimes you have to get there one term, one label, and one insight at a time.

The Author

Jeff recently joined MRM-McCann as an Associate Director of Content Strategy. Before that, he led Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan’s digital content strategy from the launch of the Affordable Care Act through 2016. He’s also held positions in Digital and Internal Communications at The Walt Disney Company, Kellogg Company and Visteon Corporation.

Jeff earned his Ph.D. in English and Creative Writing from Western Michigan University. He also holds an M.F.A. and B.A. in English from the University of Maryland at College Park. He lives in Grosse Pointe Park, Mich. with his wife and two kids.

This article is about


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


We invite you to share your perspective in a constructive way. To comment, please sign in or register. Our moderating team will review all comments and may edit them for clarity. Our team also may delete comments that are off-topic or disrespectful. All postings become the property of
Content Science Review.

Partner Whitepapers

The 3 Elements of Content Intelligence

Make better content decisions with a system of data + insight.

Digital Transformation for Marketing

Your content approach makes or breaks your digital transformation. Learn why intelligent content strategy + engineering are critical to your success.

Content Strategy for Products + Services

Your content is integral to your product. You might have piloted content strategy and seen promising results. Now what? It’s time to get more strategic so you can sustain and scale. This whitepaper will help you start.

Help with Content Analytics + ROI

Does your content work? It's a simple question, but getting a clear answer from content analytics or ROI formulas is often anything but easy. This ebook by Colleen Jones will help you overcome the challenges.