10 Tips to Get Your Pharmacy Discovered on the Web
Pharmacy owners wear a ton of hats. We understand that making sure your web presence is functioning at its peak can come second to just about most everything involved with running a pharmacy. Below you will find a list of ten tips to get you started on the path to web presence bliss. We have included a slew of links to additional articles to check out along with our own viewpoints on each topic. We hope you enjoy our own pharmacy seo care plan.
We will try not to get too technical and break this up into two sections. What you can do on your website (on page). Then what you can do everywhere outside of your website (off page), but still on the web. On page is pretty self explanatory, and for these tips we will assume you have the basics. Off page however, can be a variety of things such as social media websites, business listing websites, links to your website, etc.
On Page (Your Website)
Make sure you have a sitemap on your website. Your sitemap tells google and other search engines about the makeup of your website so their bots can efficiently crawl your site. There are plugins that will build the sitemap for you typically, especially if you are using a common website builder/management system like wordpress, strikingly, squarespace, etc. You can find a list of common content management systems here.
Think about what your patients would search to find your services and make sure you are using those words (terms) on your website. As a local business, be sure to add some local keyword terms as well. Search engines will start to penalize you if you get too spammy here. An industry standard is 1-3% of keyword density. Best practice (in my humble opinion) is use the keywords obviously, but ensure to write in a cadence and style that makes sense and the user shouldn’t be able to detect you are spamming them. Some experts will even say density doesn’t matter much at all, it’s more about placement of the keyword and that the content is relative and high quality. A good keyword post can found here by Backlinko.
Page speed is one of the factors Google uses in its algorithm when displaying search engine results. For small business and local searches you can get away with some slower speeds, generally three seconds or less is fine. However, you will notice your larger national e-commerce sites have much faster speeds because it improves sales (conversion rates) and search engine rankings. That said, the faster your page loads the better experience it is for your patients; which will increase your chances of acquiring a new patient searching for your pharmacy. Moz has a great article on page speed here. A couple of free tools available to evaluate your site are hosted by Google, HubSpot, and a slew of them on this post from Upcity.
A popular buzz word or phrase right now is content marketing and goes hand in hand with keywords in number three. You will hear it all over the internet and any marketing company you speak to. Content marketing usually appears in the form of blog post, website news, or articles that then get shared across a pharmacies social channels. There are a ton of blog posts and articles to learn about effective content strategies, and companies that sell services to help you generate content. Some companies sell services that go as far as producing content and pushing it out on your website and social sites on your behalf.
Our recommendation for community pharmacies is stick with what you know. If you thrive on technology or convenience highlight your mobile app or your automation. Produce content that matters to your patient base and the patients you are trying to attract. Keep the information quality high and worry less about word count. I personally believe when a blog post or article comes from the actual company it will have a greater impact than an automated post that gets duplicated across multiple companies. Google actually prefers original content over duplicated content. However, I understand PICs (pharmacist in charge) don’t have a ton of free time on their hands to sit down at a computer and create remarkable content over and over. There’s a place for using services, but I firmly believe putting this on total autopilot is not the optimal solution.
Off Page (Everywhere Else)
Business listing services
Claim it! Google goes without saying. Make sure you claim your business on Google, Bing, Yelp, Facebook, and any other you feel is important. Many of these are social sites as well. There are some services out there that will do all of this for you for a monthly fee, I’ll leave that up to you. The important piece is listing your business with these services, adding your hours, listing your website url (a backlink), and generating positive reviews. Here is Hubspot’s top 50 business listing sites. (Shameless plug). We at RxLocal have created the RxLocal Pharmacy Finder. We encourage you to check it out, it’s a place to claim your pharmacy and truly convey to those patients searching for something more than just business hours. Its free to all independent pharmacies. It just cost you a little time to claim your pharmacy, and really dive into what you can do for a patient. It has a dashboard for views, impressions, and clicks as well as other features we will add like a become a patient button. It’s a free backlink as well, which is my next topic (Shameless plug complete).
A url on another site that links back to your site. This is a big determining factor in how Google or Bing sorts you in search results. Note, before Google became “Google”, the creators referred to the project as “BackRub” as a reference to backlinks. The more trusted the site, the more weight it carries with search engines. An example would be a backlink to your site from a local tire shop vs a backlink from Time Magazine. The Time Magazine backlink will carry much more weight from a search engine perspective. This is also why content is important; the better your content, the more likely it is to get shared. I’m sharing nine backlinks already at this point just in this post. So when you have the opportunity with other business partners, charity organizations, or other stakeholders, ask for a backlink to your site. Also, the business listing services you use will have places for your url of your pharmacy, use these as well. It is also very important to give backlinks as well. Moz has a great article on backlinks. There are free services for backlink checking. I like Google Search Console; you will have to do a little work on you site to claim it through this service. It also takes a little time for backlinks to show up.
Very similar to business listing services since some do both. I always recommend Facebook and Twitter for community pharmacies. Quick note, there are about 3 billion searches per day on Google and about 2 billion searches on Facebook per day. So if you are not on Facebook, you should be. People search on Google, they find on Facebook. Try to adhere to a monthly cadence at minimum on your social posts, with most experts recommending 2-3 times per week. A good thing about social media, you can just share what others have shared if you are struggling to create content. Again, stick with what you are comfortable with here. If Twitter and Facebook max you out, don’t over extend.
Almost 90% of consumers now look at reviews before visiting a business according to Brighton SEO. Their study also shows that 31% of customers are likely to spend 31% more on a business with excellent reviews. Thats is very interesting to most all business owners. I know there are other forces at work with community pharmacy, but I think you can’t ignore those numbers. Reviews also create fresh new content for Google or other search engines to consume without you having to do any work. The other benefit is most reviews will highlight some keywords for which you are trying to rank. As you can see, there is so much benefit for reviews with little work from community pharmacies, outside of an excellent patient experience. (last shameless plug) The RxLocal Pharmacy Finder is a place for a more comprehensive pharmacy review by patients. We ask for standard star ratings, a a rating in a 1-10 format, along with pros and cons to be as informative and constructive as possible. (shamless plug complete). Brighton SEO’s article on reviews is always a great resource.
Also known as PPC (pay per click). It can be effective if you have the budget for it. Google has some fairly strict rules on promoting pharmacy services, you can read those here. Facebook has its fair share of rules as well, but tend to offer a little more flexibility like promoting your own page to gain followers. Facebook’s rules on PPC are here. If you do venture into paid promotion, there are ton of tools you can use to carve up and make sure your pharmacy is getting in front of the audience you are targeting. Larry Kim has a great and humorous approach to paid promotion and when to actually do it.
That’s our ten tips to get you started on your journey to web presence bliss. It’s always a moving target and you never get to cross the finish line. More importantly, it takes time for Google to trust any website. So imagine a frustrated patient is standing in line at a big box chain, or they just received another auto-shipment that piles up from PBM mail order pharmacies. Then they search for pharmacies close by because they want something more out of a pharmacy experience. Your pharmacy comes right up on their phone.