How SEO Can Improve the Search Visibility of Pharma Websites


A great pharma website needs more than attractive web design, intuitive user experience (UX), and engaging content — it also needs search engine optimization (SEO) to ensure that it has the online visibility to reach target audiences.

But in order to understand how SEO can improve the searchability of pharma websites, it’s important to grasp what it is and how it works first.

What Is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?

According to Rand Fishkin, SEO expert and founder of the marketing software and analytics company Moz:

“SEO is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of the traffic that you earn through organic results in search engines.”

Traffic quantity refers to how many people visit a website through search engines such as Google (e.g. People Google product X and then click on a company’s website from the search engine results (SERPs) page).

Traffic quality refers to how valuable a website’s visitors are (e.g. People who visit a website because they want to evaluate the company’s products/services represent high-quality traffic, while random visitors who have no intention of doing so represent low-quality traffic).

Organic results represent search engine traffic that is built through SEO best practices instead of paid search engine traffic (e.g. bidding on search engine ads via Google Adwords).

How Does SEO Work to Improve Searchability?

Search engines such as Google “crawl” the web, gathering and indexing content found on websites throughout the Internet.

That indexed content is then analyzed by an algorithm that “ranks” it according to how relevant it is to a user’s search engine query.

For example:

If a diabetes patient uses Google to search for “How to use an insulin pen,” the SERP would return general instructions on how to use an insulin pen.

But if the same patient searches for “How to use a Pharma X brand insulin pen,” the SERP would return specific instructions on how to use Pharma X brand insulin pens.

While search engines don’t reveal how certain SEO elements are weighed within their algorithms, ranking primarily depends on two types of optimization:

  • On-page optimization: Conduct keyword research, optimize web content and metadata (e.g. title tags, meta description tags, and heading tags), and internal link anchor text.

  • Off-page optimization: Build links to your website by having other websites and blogs link back to your web pages, which builds up your site’s credibility and SEO ranking on SERPs pages.

Note: It’s much easier to optimize a pharma website’s on-page elements, but off-page optimization has a greater impact on SEO ranking. Creating insightful content that is shared on authoritative websites or by key opinion leaders (KOLs) via social media is a good way to improve off-page optimization.

A Final Note About SEO

There are steps pharmas can take right now to improve their SEO performance such as optimizing their on-page SEO elements. However, pharmas should NOT expect overnight results!

SEO isn’t a one-time action, it’s a ongoing process that must be managed continuously either in-house or through a reputable SEO or digital innovation agency that can analyze and optimize a website's SEO performance.

With an SEO plan of action that includes on-page optimization and content creation to improve off-page optimization, it will take 3 to 6 months before pharmas can expect to see marked improvements in the quantity, and more importantly, quality of their website traffic.

What challenges does your organization face when it comes to SEO? Share your thoughts and experiences with us in the comment box below!

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