By Scott Neverett
People have embraced the Web and social media to find and research medical conditions, new treatment therapies, diet and lifestyle information and other health-related issues. The process often starts with research on the Web and ends with some action joining a community, making a decision about a prescription or treatment, increasing self care, enrolling in a clinical trial, etc. Pharma needs to optimize what happens in the middle with strategies that engage patients, partners and medical professionals more effectively.
For many, online search is at the heart of how they gather information or make decisions and search engine optimization (SEO) is at the heart of making your site easier to find. Beyond thinking about what someone would type into Google, getting the most from your search campaign requires understanding your target audience, knowing where they interact and gather information, and then driving them to your company website.
How can pharma companies get the most from their search campaign?
Targeting the right audience is the key to success of any search campaign. The challenge is to figure out where your demographic is online and focus your communication strategy around it. It’s reasonable — even desirable — on multichannel, multi-audience campaigns to have separate SEO campaigns. Once people get to your site, they need to find value there and be encouraged to share it with others.
Bottom line: Increase digital landscape knowledge, gather information about the population youre trying to attract and offer them something of value.
Aim to achieve visibility in different places and in different ways. Search engines are a component in how users find information, but you can achieve visibility in many places and ways such as on social networks, through linked data, mobile apps, social bookmarking sites like Reddit, StumbleUpon and Digg, online directories, industry publications, etc. While many people first head to Google, Twitter Search is an integrated application that enables users to search conversations or view trending topics. Facebook is currently testing search results which display articles ranked by likes.
Bottom line: Create profiles on social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, LinkedIn and other portals or websites and take time to periodically review and update them.
Content is King. High-quality information will keep people returning to your website and sharing it with their network. Well-written content creates higher levels of engagement, search engine rankings and promotes the likelihood of links from other sites. Create a list of targeted keywords and use them throughout your content and in various titles and run keyword audits on competitor sites as well, particularly if they rank higher than yours in major search engines. Titles should be interesting to read, but clearly communicate what the reader can expect to learn.
Bottom line: Know what words and phrases your reader is searching for and craft well-written copy for every Web page. Including targeted disease-state terms in titles will make a difference in the success of any search campaign.
Understand your rankings. Having the top spot on Google may not translate to business success, but chances are people are looking for what they need on the first page of search results. Because rankings fluctuate, depending on competition and changes in the Google algorithm, its important to monitor rankings over time, and determine if you need to make changes in order to maintain top positions.
Bottom line: First-page SEO ranking is important; recognize that management and optimization are ongoing tasks. If your site is appearing at page five for a given keyword phrase, its time to make some technical and tactical changes.
Measurement is one of the Holy Grails of Web analytics. In addition to rankings, measure conversations, engagement, brand advocates, influence and links. While its important to appear at the top of organic search results, a more important measurement is if youve achieved the goal you set out to achieve in the first place. Your position in search results or the number of followers on Twitter is meaningless if your campaign isnt producing intended results.
Bottom line: Providing value and information of interest to patients, medical professionals or other targets is of primary importance. Use these criteria to build searches on your company, products, and competitors and adjust your search strategy accordingly.
Search and its kissing cousin, web analytics, are important precisely because they are consistently and quantitatively measurable. They deserve to be a top priority not only because they can drive your online marketing success, but because they can be a topline indicator of how successful your offline efforts are as well.