Today’s guest blog post is by Aarin Murray, a Search Marketing Coordinator and passionate SEO practitioner at iProspect.
By Aarin Murray
Its a fact: Smartphone sales are rising, and according to Google, mobile search has grown four times in the past year. Yet as of June 2011, none of the top 15 pharmaceutical brands had a mobile site. Given the growing popularity of mobile search, which means more individuals are accessing the internet on the phone, it is imperative that pharmas ensure their websites function appropriately on these devices. In addition to the usability considerations, pharmas need to ensure their sites meet regulatory guidelines when viewed on mobile devices.
Attracting a mobile audience doesnt mean constructing new mobile sites and apps theres mobile-friendly optimization, too. Altering desktop landing pages popular among mobile users is a viable alternative capable of producing search visibility and user satisfaction.
Consider the following as you embark on this strategy:
- 1. Examine Current Data
Pharmas need to track mobile traffic to see how mobile visitors interact with their sites. This data is found through analytics software, most of which allow segmentation by device. On Google Analytics, for example, creating an advanced segment for mobile devices allows you to see top landing pages, traffic-driving keywords, and page bounce rates. With this information, pharmas not only know what pages and keywords to target in mobile efforts; they can also track the results of their changes.
Note: If the overall percentage of traffic from mobile devices is low, making the website mobile friendly may be a lower priority for now, though the segment is fast growing. According to Manhattan Research data, nearly 30 million US adults are mobile health users, or use apps, text messaging or browsers on their mobile devices for health reasons. So dont put mobile aside for too long!
- 2. Keep It Simple
For a visually successful and user-friendly page, simplicity is key. Avoid clutter in the form peripheral text, image links, and Flash objects. Delineate the sections of a page, as done on PubMed.gov, shown below. Here three distinct areas are present: search bar, page copy, and navigation links. Because mobile users work with a small screen, its best that they identify the layout of the page quickly, and spend less time scrolling and zooming.
- 3. Key Content First
Mobile users are looking for quick access to information. Consider rearranging the body copy to give priority to the most pertinent information. On a page about disease symptoms, for example, list the symptoms in the first paragraph. Visually speaking, shorter paragraphs and larger font make for a more legible page. For pages that give the brand name and indication, remember the ISI will need to be included in a highly visible location as well. This can be challenging for black box drugs considering the small size of mobile device screens, but typically a call-out at the top of the page works well.
Additionally, mobile search queries tend to be shorter than those made from a desktop. If a page is optimized around a long keyword, consider optimizing the page around a shorter keyword, provided that it stays relevant. To check traffic on a certain keyword, you can select the mobile setting in the advanced options of the Google Keywords Tool.
- 4. Local Value
Dont forget the emphasis on local intent in mobile search. Google reports that 95 percent of mobile searchers search local information to visit a business, call a business, or make a purchase. If a pharmaceutical site has a location-based feature like “find a pharmacy or “find a physician, verify that it carries up-to-date contact information or has a click-to-call button.
- 5. Technical Efficiency
Search engine success also depends on a sites technical foundation. To determine how mobile-friendly a page is from a technical standpoint, refer to Googles Page Speed Online. This free tool gives suggestions on how to minimize page load time on mobile devices. A check on PubMed.gov returned no high-priority suggestions, meriting a “Good Job! from Google.
If these recommendations seem daunting, keep in mind that optimizing for mobile-friendly desktop pages means slimming a page down to its essential content. The goal here is to keep mobile users on the site so they recognize and remember the brand.
comScore reports that for pharmaceutical marketing, branded websites are most effective in that they increase brand favorability among prospective patients. This finding coupled with the growing number of smart phone users further illustrates why pharmaceutical companies need to work toward satisfying mobile users i.e., potential consumers. And with the top 15 pharmaceutical brands playing little or no role in the mobile sphere, the chances for success are that much more palpable.