Nutritional Supplement SEO Copywriting: How To Stay Out Of The FDA Mud Without Losing Traffic (A Pig Farming Copywriter’s Tips)
They were in ecstasy. Muscular snouts deep in the rich forest soil, stirring up pine needles and grubs galore. Their tails moved back and forth with pleasure. We had returned home from a bike ride to find our pigs had taken advantage of a weak electric fence and moved on to new territory.
We tried everything to get them back in. Melon scraps, fresh sumac leaves, pleading and commands. Finally, my husband and I were forced to use raw might against these obstinate 140-pounders. I pulled a rope looped around a foreleg and he pushed from behind.
We pushed and pulled them, joining them in muddy pig glory on the other side of the gate (of course the muddiest part of the pen). And to add insult to injury, after each roundup I had to reach into the ooze and carefully work the rope off of the pig’s foot as the errant dinner lay there panting with exhaustion.
That night we went through dish soap, baking soda, salt, vinegar. Only an enzyme cleaner got the smell of pig off of us.
Just like me, you want to keep out of the mud – the FDA mud that is. And as tough as it is, because of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA), you cannot let your customers dig into everything and indulge their every curiosity and question. You can’t talk explicitly about all that your products can do to help them.
This makes things particularly difficult when it comes to search engine optimization (SEO). Because while you can’t talk about “diabetes” or “Alzheimer’s” in your sales materials, those are the very search terms your potential customers are using.
Now some of you may be saying, but so many supplement websites use disease terms – why can’t I? How are they getting away with this?
I’m not going to get into this discussion right here about the consequences of being noncompliant. Pam Magnuson covers this beautifully in her course and landing page on FDA-compliant copywriting. But suffice it to say, the FDA is increasing its vigilance and this is something worth paying attention to.
But what you can do is this:
– You can mine the tail of your key words by building content around more FDA-neutral search terms like “blood sugar levels” or “healthy blood pressure”.
– You may also be able to pull in some good traffic with search terms that address benefits like “strong memory” or “healthy joints”.
– And you can continue to extend your reach with deeper benefit references by talking about “senior exercise” which may pull in people concerned about arthritis or “losing belly fat” for people who are also concerned about pre-diabetes or diabetes.
But you also want to be able to tap into that core traffic.
And this is where I take advantage of the “2-click rule”. According to noted FDA attorney, Marc Ullman, you can talk about diseases, post relevant research, and more as long as it is insulated by two clicks from sales materials that specifically references your products. In the interim page, you can have some generic information about an herb or supplement, but no brand-references.
So draw your traffic with good articles or free reports that use their search terms – “heart disease” or “cancer”. And even though you can’t make a sale right there, if you have an opt-in, you can get back to them with an email follow-up that is integrated with other content you send to your list.
But there’s another benefit to this as well . . .
(And this is for you if you’re not marketing nutritional supplements as well . . .)
Not only does this tactic help out with the FDA but it works fantastically to build credibility and good will. If you have followed internet marketer Frank Kern’s map to success, he takes advantage of this same tactic – give give give great information. After you’ve established a strong relationship, where they feel indebted to you and eager for more information, you can bring in a sales message with tremendous results. Your prospects will be even more primed to receive it.
A Word of Caution: While there is room with free reports to discuss diseases, it’s not an absolute safe zone. The 2-click rule is not law, just standard practice.
The FDA may conclude that the intended use of your free report is for marketing purposes – even if it is insulated – and send you one of its infamous letters about selling an unapproved drug. You have to consider carefully the context of how you’re presenting this report, the report itself and how you use the list you build with it. Make sure that you stay heavy on the information side of things with mailings to this list. And some companies, to play it safe, have created separate “information library” websites to further insulate their publications from being connected with their marketing activities.
Bottom line, you should always evaluate your publications with a lawyer who specializes in FDA legalities.
And if you’d like some help on developing SEO-rich content – both tip-toeing around disease claims and discussing diseases full force, keep my services in mind. Email me at email@example.com and we can set up a time to discuss your business, your goals and your website.
For some ideas on cost-effective marketing in addition to SEO, see my latest report,17 Health Copywriting Tactics for a Tough Economy.