What is Pharmacy SEO? Definition and tips
When individuals are in need of locating a nearby pharmacy, they are likely to turn to a Google search, just like many modern consumers. This is where Pharmacy SEO, or search engine optimisation for pharmacies, can be advantageous.
All of the pharmacy SEO guides I saw ranking on Google are talking about standards SEO optimisations: add more backlinks, write more content, showcase your products, etc… This is not very useful or relevant because a pharmacy requires a customised approach to SEO strategies to be relevant and generate new business.
I consult one of the fastest growing pharmacies in the UK, so I am well places to tackle this topic. This article is based on my experience being engaged for SEO consulting with successful online pharmacies for years.
The goal with this guide is to provide an outline of the top 5 tips SEO Managers for pharmacies should keep in mind to achieve long-term success with SEO. The guide also seeks to answer the question: What is Pharmacy SEO?
What is Pharmacy SEO?
Pharmacy SEO involves optimising online e-commerce pharmacy shops for buyers by improving content, inbound links and technical aspects. By targeting relevant keywords and optimising product and content pages, pharmacies can increase their visibility on search engines results and generate new sales. This will result in online business growth.
Online pharmacies are essentially e-commerce shops, so SEO experts working with pharmacies have similar experiences of those working with an e-commerce. However, while pharmacies sell products just like e-commerce shops, they are quite different when it comes to content relevance and health topics.
Similarly to e-commerce, pharmacies use category pages to list items, the ability to write reviews along with the checkout functionality. Differently than any other e-commerce store, pharmacies can also provide consultations allowing users to speak directly to their pharmacists for receiving tips on which medications to buy.
Online Pharmacies Examples
I have been working in SEO for over 10 years and have found that pharmacies are a specialty. I worked with e-commerce shops and online pharmacies alike, so I am able to tell the difference.
For me, a fascinating part of working with pharmacies is that their ability to encompass standard e-commerce SEO by adding the extra service of bespoke consultations when selling their products. The online pharmacies approach to growing a business is linked to resolving real concerns that patients have. I have seen pharmacists consulting with clients, diagnosing their problems and advising which products they need to buy.
The best examples I could give of online pharmacies would be a client I am consulting and examples I take from the Internet, based on how they approach SEO and digital marketing. Some examples include:
- medino online pharmacy: the fastest growing UK pharmacy
- Boots: #1 online pharmacy in the UK
- Lloyds Pharmacy: #1 ranking pharmacy on Google in the UK
A key difference between standard e-commerce and pharmacy e-commerce is the display of safety information with the related bespoke service. The pharmaceutical industry is highly regulated and users can actually talk to a pharmacist before they purchase. This means online pharmacies offer both products and services at the same time.
A good example of service can be found in Pharmacyonline.co.uk, a pharmacy that offers assessments by condition. Before buying a product, they provide users with an online assessment followed by a questionnaire, then they advice them on which product is most suited for their condition.
Okay, after having explained my credentials and seen some examples, let’s share core tips for pharmacy SEO success.
Tips for Successful Pharmacy SEO
Now let’s move on to the tips for areas to focus on when improving SEO for pharmacies. I’d recommend you work on each area separately in order to achieve SEO success.
Branded Product Pages
The standard category product page typical for e-commerce websites is one of the main component of a successful SEO strategy. When formatting a pharmacy branded product page, there are a few decisions that need to be taken, for example, how to organise products within the same brand, and whether branded listing pages are necessary.
In my experience, I saw online pharmacies selling brands, such as Syndol, Viscotears, Durex, etc…These branded pages include all of the products that brand is selling, so they are considered a product category page on its own right. The approach has been to try ranking those pages for the branded name. But because these brands have their own websites ranking on search engines, it often happens than the online pharmacy is directly competing for the same keyword, and often not being able to hit the #1.
TIP: if you are going to build a branded page and you want to sell someone else’s products on your online pharmacy, make sure you understand search intent as often the brand can be associated to a symptom and a specific product. For example, when users search for “Syndol”, Google currently shows results for a specific product: the Syndol head relief 30 tablets. In this case, you can optimise your product page for the branded keyword “Syndol” if you have the right product to sell.
But I have seen cases where the actual brand corresponds to the branded category page. In these cases, Google #1 result is the branded website of that product. One example is Nytol because in this case Google is not certain of which Nytol product people want to buy, and it shows the Nytol website on top of search results.
Ultimately, what you decide to do with your branded category pages can depend on a variety of factors. A major factor is understanding search intent behind the brand name and what results look like. If results show a specific product, then chances are that you can rank your product page for a branded term – whereas if results are brands, then you probably have to take the lower spots.
Articles and informational content
When it comes to content marketing and blogs, the SEO strategy that I’d recommend is to position the content in a way that is really visible on the website, in order to help the site become a trusted source in the industry and support various product pages.
ChemistDirect does a great job at blogging for specific concerns and conditions and delivering a content strategy in support of product pages. Often, their blogs generate more traffic than the product pages are able to generate.
With this approach to blog post in support of products and category pages, the informational part of the website supplies that extra traffic needed to growth the business online, along with tips and recommendations on when and how to use these products.
A solid and well executed blogging strategy is necessary if online pharmacies want to rank high on search engines and educate their customers.
Minimazing page exclusion
A large online pharmacy can store thousands of products resulting in a huge number of indexed pages on search engines. Sometimes, though, it happens that pages are not indexed, even if there is nothing wrong with them. That’s why I’d recommend checking indexed pages in Search Console.
To view the excluded pages in Search Console, just go to Indexing > Pages from your dashboard. In this report, you can filter by indexed and non indexed pages.
The report will also give you the ability to check why pages are not indexed and typical errors are because pages are redirected, duplicated, don’t have the proper canonical tag, not found (404) or many other reasons.
TIP: SEO Managers should first understand what is the issue causing the non indexing for a page, then make the right assessment if a fix is needed because not all problems need to be fixed. For example, pages with redirects are not an issue because an old page is now gone from Google index and users can land on a different one, so that’s not classified as an error.
For sites selling different quantities of the same medication by default and are displaying a single page for each quantity, it is very likely that Google will choose a quantity to index over another quantity. This is a very common and important aspect for pharmacy websites to monitor and take action where necessary.
Reviews and USG content
When is comes to aggregating products, something that online pharmacies do as a business, collecting reviews from customers is one of the most influential SEO factors.
Because pharmacies sell products from several brands, it provides an opportunity for online pharmacies to differentiate themselves on search engine results. For some online pharmacies, customers reviews become a source of unlimited content.
While reviews tend to be used as a tool for selling more products, it happens that oftentimes reviews are perceived as not trustworthy or authentic.
Normally online pharmacies publish the reviews they receive from sales they generated.
Instead, it would be better to have a place on the website for collecting for about a product and brand that includes several sources, in order to work out an average product rating. This depends whether there are enough reviews to begin with, but I would imagine for popular brands it’s not difficult to have thousands of reviews and enough data to build a comprehensive article.
For example, medino, an online pharmacy selling hundreds of different brands and thousands of pharmacy products, does a great job at UGC content and reviews by collecting reviews for a product from different sources.
The above graph is part of an article that put together all Syndol reviews from several sources:
This approach is working from a ranking perspective because for the keyword “Syndol reviews” medino is ranking on POS2 and generating thousands of new users to the website.
Building high quality and impactful links
One of the best ways to build links for online pharmacies is using their own data. Pharmacies operate in a highly regulated environment and this makes links acquisition very difficult because bloggers and media sites do not always want to link to pharmacy products and landing pages.
On the other side, pharmacists are qualified for sharing health tips with various media outlets in order to add expertise and authority to a piece of content.
These are the two most common link building strategies I have seen working for pharmacies, which need to think outside a box and play the digital PR and passive link acquisition strategies. What and where can your expert pharmacists contribute?
In the case of medino, one of the fastest growing UK pharmacies, the site contributed to several national outlets and accumulated high profile links from sites like Healthline, DailyMail, Mirror.co.uk, The Sun, Buzzfeed, Crunchbase and more.
Medino link building strategy is one of the reasons why they are so successful with SEO. This can go a long way to allowing the site to grow rapid in organic search.
Each online pharmacy has its own pharmacist and doctor, they also have internal data to display in blog posts and become the source of trusted statistics and product reviews.
Need Online Pharmacy SEO help?
If you read this article and you are working for an online pharmacy, I am interested in knowing more about how I can support your SEO growth and whether I am a good fit for your business.
As an SEO for online pharmacies expert, I work with well established pharmacies that are looking to grow within their country. I also work with sites that lost visibility and traffic and want to recover it.
If you want to start a successful online pharmacy SEO project, reach out to me and arrange a chat.
Frequently Asked Questions About Pharmacy SEO
While there are some overlapping aspects between Pharmacy and e-Commerce SEO, they are considered different. The type of queries that an online pharmacy site would focus on compared to a standard e-commerce website would be different in terms of providing health services and advise, which are not needed to purely online stores.
Online pharmacies customers tend to have, in my experience, a very buying oriented intent, so keywords related to product pages are the top focus. However, focus should also go beyond listing and be given to blog posts in order to support product pages and catch top of the funnel customers, not ready (yet) to buy.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a widely discussed topic among online pharmacies, and rightfully so. In essence, SEO involves optimizing websites to achieve prominent rankings on search engine results pages (SERPs) organically, without resorting to paid online advertising or Pay-Per-Click (PPC) ads.
As the Internet evolves and search engines alter their ranking factors and algorithms, there may be some who question the necessity of SEO. You may find yourself wondering if SEO truly works or if there are ways to enhance its effectiveness. The answer to both of these inquiries is affirmative.
When it comes to SEO, there are no assured guarantees. I’ll put in my utmost effort to serve you based on your objectives and strive towards achieving your core Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for organic growth. However, it’s important to note that SEO is a time-consuming process that requires patience, and immediate results cannot be guaranteed.