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Digital Pharmacist Blog

SEO Basics For Pharmacies

Last updated Sep 14, 2020 | Pharmacy Marketing

When people need to find their local pharmacy, where are they going to look? Like most of today’s consumers, they’ll probably Google it. 

According to GoGulf, online searches for local information, including services, products, and businesses, makes up 46% of all Google queries. When someone searches for  “pharmacies near me,” you want your business to be the first thing they see. But without a good SEO strategy, you may not even show up in the first few pages of search results.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a strategy that allows websites to show up in organic (non-paid) search engine results. Developing an SEO strategy for your pharmacy can help you attract more website visitors, increase business, and drive new patients to your door. 

In this post, we dive into some of the mechanics of SEO and best practices for implementing it on your pharmacy website.

How Search Engines Work

The major commercial search engines, Google, Bing, and Yahoo, drive over 99% of web traffic, according to SEOclarity. The real traffic share breaks down like this:

  • Google: 92.97% (includes Google Images, Google Maps, and YouTube)
  • Bing: 4.40%
  • Yahoo: 2.48%

Each one has its own process for sorting and ranking website information. Google, the most popular search engine by far, has a unique ranking system made up of a series of algorithms that analyze each search query based on word choice, geographic location, search intent, and many other factors. 

When it comes to aggregating search results, most search engines have three main functions: crawling, indexing, and ranking. 

Crawling: Search engine bots known as “crawlers” or “spiders” search the web for new and updated content. Done automatically and consistently, this is how search engines pick up on your latest social media posts, blogs, and website page updates.

Indexing: Once new website information has been collected, it’s then sorted for quality and stored or indexed in giant databases to await a search query.

Ranking: When a search query comes up, the engine sorts through its index at lightning speed, organizing information by popularity and relevance for the searcher. 

SEO enhances website content for search engines so that your website information can be organized and ranked more competitively. 

Mobile and Local SEO

Because search engines are constantly updating their ranking systems, it’s important to keep up with new changes, like Google’s recent move to mobile-first indexing

Since 2016, Google has been experimenting with categorizing and ranking data based on a website’s mobile version rather than desktop. In 2019, the search engine began implementing mobile-first indexing for all new websites. 

With over 5 billion mobile users (67% of the population) worldwide as of 2019, it makes sense to search and store mobile-friendly content first. As mobile-first indexing becomes the norm for search engines, optimizing your mobile content will play a crucial role in your SEO strategy.

Local SEO helps you attract more business through local searches, making your website and business information available to people searching for brick-and-mortar businesses in specific geographic areas.

Most search engines have their own maps feature which is displayed above or next to text search results. Google’s Maps Pack or “Snack Pack” contains a short list (generally 3 to 5) of the highest-ranking local businesses in the search area. Yahoo and Bing display the top five local results in their map function along with sponsored results.

Local SEO may also be ranked differently, depending on the search engine you use. Google, for example, looks for business’s location keywords, the presence of a Google My Business listing, online reviews, and social media shares among other factors. 

Want to learn how to build a local SEO strategy for your pharmacy? Check out our on-demand webinar about using local SEO to attract new customers.

SEO Best Practices

SEO can be a powerful tool for attracting local customers to your pharmacy and getting found online. The strategy incorporates many different tools and processes to help you drive traffic to your website and business. Some of them include using keywords that appeal to your target market, making your pharmacy site friendly to search engines, and having other website link to yours.

These best practices and common errors can help you improve your pharmacy’s SEO and start seeing better results.

The Basics

Include meta tags for each webpage. Meta tags, which include meta titles and descriptions, tell search engines what your webpages are about and how to display the information. Length, keywords, and capitalization can all make a difference to your SEO.

Optimize your text and images. Headers make it easier for search engine crawlers to identify important information. Add them to every webpage and include business keywords like your location, products, and services. And don’t forget to create descriptions and alt text for every image you use, especially any brand graphics. 

Utilize internal and external links. Internal links drive traffic to other pages of your website and external links drive traffic to other relevant sites. Hyperlink your website content to relevant products or services, contact information, or blog posts to keep visitors on your website longer and improve your search rankings. External links to relevant sources can also add authority to your website and content.

Boost your visibility with maps and reviews. Capture local search attention by setting up Google My Business, Bing Places, and Yahoo listings and adding a map and location information to your website. Creating accounts on review sites like YellowPages and Angie’s List can also help your local SEO.

Mistakes To Avoid

Not optimizing your site for mobile devices. Last year, mobile searches made up between 56-60% of all organic traffic. Without mobile optimization, your pharmacy website will become more difficult to find online as mobile-first indexing becomes mainstream. Make sure you include all the same content on your mobile and desktop website versions and all formatting like meta tags and headings.

Prioritizing keywords over topics and search intent. Keywords are useful for leading searchers to your business, but with so much content out there, it’s hard to stand out. Instead, focus on the intent behind your audience’s searches. Do they need information or are they ready to buy? This will help you develop content topics that really fit your patient’s needs and answer their questions.

Neglecting your website and page speed. Google measures how quickly your website loads and uses it to rank you in search results. Compressing files, reducing redirects, and removing unnecessary characters in your code can all help speed up your load time. To get started, try Google PageSpeed Insights to evaluate your website’s loading speed. 

Further Tools and Resources

  • Yoast. A great SEO resource with guides and training, and the creator of the famous WordPress SEO plugin.
  • Google Analytics. A free analytics platform that helps you track and manage website activity.
  • Google Search Console. Another free tool that helps you measure search traffic and performance.
  • Answer the Public. Need content ideas? This site offers insights on questions people ask about any topic.

A good SEO strategy is built over time, but you don’t have to wait to start improving your performance. For more help optimizing your pharmacy website, get in touch today.

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