SEO: Pharmacy’s Missing Secret Weapon

In this presentation delivered at The Pharmacy Show in 2021, Saam talks about how Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) can help plant your private services on the first page of Google and drive significant revenue from them


SEO_ Pharmacy’s Missing Secret Weapon - Sign up to download the full version

The presentation has been transcribed below:


Slide 2

That graph represents the most remarkable story for a particular independent pharmacy up in Scotland.

Can you see that red arrow there…that’s when I still classed the business as a pharmacy back in May 2020.

Its private service offering was doing well but like most other pharmacies, its bread and butter were prescriptions.
But fast forward to today, I can no longer call this business a pharmacy. A more accurate description would be along the lines of:

Slide 3

“Hollistic Primary Healthcare Hub”

Let that slide sink in for a second.

Look at how the private service offering today now dwarves its NHS services, and look at the variety there. Not only can you get your prescription, but this “pharmacy” can also help you:

  • Get your yellow fever vaccine before you travel
  • Remove that excess build-up of wax in your ears
  • Feel more energetic with a Vitamin B12 injection
  • Clear up your chest infection with antibiotics through its private GP offering
  • Access a dentist immediately to help with your persistent toothache
  • Help you lose weight via the most powerful POM treatment on the market

And much, much more…

It truly is a one-stop-shop for many of your healthcare needs.

Slide 4

Furthermore, this business is absolutely thriving financially. The private service side is generating more revenue than its NHS side, and much more profit. Prescriptions have become their secondary source of income. They are now working on automating more of their prescription journey so that profits can improve on that side too.

Slide 5

For me, that’s the future of Community Pharmacy. Automating the prescription journey as much as possible and focussing on the provision and growth of clinical services.

Not only will you be building more avenues of revenue, but you’re stepping away from the mundane tasks of checking prescriptions towards a more fulfilled holistic service approach, and improving access to healthcare in your area.

This kind of opportunity exists for all pharmacies around the Nation. It’s how your gonna survive and massively thrive.

Slide 6

Now, getting to this position requires that you innovate and think about your business in a different way.

There are many factors that you have to consider, such as:

  • Getting trained to provide these services in the first place
  • Making sure you have the right resource levels to deliver
  • You’ve developed strong SOP’s , and so on.

Essentially, you need to be in a position to be able to deliver these services well to your patients.

But aside from delivery, you will not get towards the success levels of this pharmacy without the right digital infrastructure around your services, and investing in marketing. And in terms of marketing, one of the secret weapons to driving 100’s of clinic bookings every month is Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO.

SEO is what I’m gonna talk about primarily in this session. It is the most underutilised marketing tactic in pharmacy but one that offers the biggest opportunity, and I firmly believe it can change the landscape of Clinical Community Pharmacy.

Slide 7

So just before we get into the juicy world of SEO….the rest of this content is available in The PM Academy! Sign up for free here to download all the slides and the transcript 🙂

Digitise your Prescribing Clinic & Revolutionise your Pharmacy

In this presentation, delivered at The Pharmacy Show 2022, Saam will show you how you can turn your PGD or Independent Prescribing status into £10,000’s per month. He shows you what digital tools, mechanisms and formulas you need to adopt to make it work.



The presentation has been transcribed below:

Slide 2

After she said those words and shot me down in front of a room full of people, I did something that would change the course of my life forever.

I got up, adjusted my tie, and said “I won’t do this anymore”. And walked out.

That was the last meeting I ever had with them, back in 2012.

I was working for one of the big corps and I had a very well-paid job. But towards the end of my time there, it felt like I was wearing a straight jacket to work instead of a suit jacket.

I had so many ideas for growth, but they just didn’t get listened to. I understood, of course. It’s tough to get anything through the big corporate red tape.

But I needed to grow.

And the only way I could do that was to break free and personally innovate.

Slide 3

As much as I love the NHS, I see it as a bit of a straight jacket for Community Pharmacy.

It’s very restrictive.

The market for prescriptions is heavily saturated, you’re getting paid less, and you don’t set the prices.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t focus on driving item numbers – it’s always gonna be part of your business model.

But, I’m sure you’ll agree, things a getting tighter.

But because you’re an Independent Pharmacy where no red tape exists and where you make the decisions about where your business goes, there are no boundaries like I had all those years ago.

You’ve got room to innovate.

And that tightening NHS grip can loosen if you put more time and energy into offering private clinical services.

It’s incredible what pharmacies can offer today.

And, with the help of the brilliant companies in this expo, you can become, I believe, the most powerful, diverse health hub in your city.

There’s so much potential for growth down this route.

Slide 4

Yet, like my store manager all those years back, I’m still hearing these sentences from time to time.

The way of the NHS has been a habit.

But these comments don’t stand any more, and here’s why…

Slide 5

I’ve broken it down into chunks:

  • Your sphere of Influence
  • The Boom in Private and Digital Healthcare
  • How our behaviour has now altered
  • Your ease of access to training
  • Revenue Potential
  • And Digital Marketing

Slide 6

When you go down the clinical route, your sphere of influence….the rest of this content is available in The PM Academy! Sign up for free here to download all the slides and the transcript 🙂

private clinic marketing
Pharmacy Mentor has helped this Pharmacy Multiple for years with marketing, and their Digital Strategy has evolved alongside their growth. This Case Study focuses on the Private Clinic Marketing which has worked so well for them, and how their marketing needs have changed over time.

Before we begin, let’s summarise the process of this Private Clinic Marketing journey, so if you’re short of time, you can skip to the bits most important to you.

  • Step 1

    Growing a Digital Presence & Community

    Whilst this is optional, it really does help not only for encouraging new patients, but also for sustainable future retargeting and communicating with your community, meaning more return visits.

  • Step 2

    Building a Website that Converts Visitors into Bookings

    It isn’t just about having a website, it’s about having a website that people trust and find simple to use, all through the booking process.

    Step 2

  • Step 3

    Promoting Clinical Services through Paid Advertising

    Using Facebook, Instagram & Google to get patients’ eyes on the service.

  • Step 4

    SEO - Search Engine Optimisation for Clinic Keywords

    Generating continuous streams of new traffic through Google Search and other search engines.

    Step 4


Step 1: Growing a Digital Presence & Community

The pharmacy owner is ambitious and set out to grow this multiple, by developing a formula that worked and using that for every pharmacy.

We began running individual Facebook pages for each pharmacy, people engage more to things relating specifically to their community, this grew an audience much faster than a single group page would.

facebook page insights

Reaching 1,000 followers was faster by growing smaller pages dedicated to their communities and merging the pages.

Once this community had grown, and the group acquired even more pharmacies, it reached a stage where managing everything through a single page made more sense from a cost/benefit perspective. We consolidated all the individual community pharmacy pages and merged the audiences into one single page, branded as the pharmacy group.

Is Social Proof important for Private Clinic Marketing?

Have you ever discovered a new business, and wanted to check out they were legitimate before booking with them?

Social proof is seeing other people trust the business.  When it comes to booking an appointment for the first time, for example, having a large following on Social Media provides that trust at a glance.

Google Reviews

Google Reviews are another way of encouraging bookings from new patients. This pharmacy has focused on building Google Reviews as they know the importance of them.

There are two ways of getting reviews like this on Google. Deliver excellent service, and then ask for the reviews.

screenshot of 35 different 5 star Google reviews

This is just one of the Pharmacy Group’s pharmacies. Don’t tell me that doesn’t cast them in a great light for anyone thinking about using them.

Want a branded poster which boosts Google Reviews for your pharmacy?

Step 2: Building a Website that converts visitors into bookings

They obviously wanted as many bookings as possible in each pharmacy. But how could they centralise and manage all the bookings in one place? They needed a website.

travel clinic web page from pharmacy website

The site was one of our Advanced Pharmacy Websites, built with bookings in mind, as you can see, the highlighted buttons all represent converting the visitor into a new patient.

These buttons take the patient into a third-party booking system which they already used. We integrated the website so it works seamlessly with the third party software.

The website is also fundamental for Step 4. Poorly designed websites which don’t engage visitors won’t rank well on Google, meaning far fewer future visitors.

Step 3: Advertising through Facebook & Google

When it comes to Facebook & Google Advertising, it’s pretty much a factory. Want more output? Put more in.

Facebook Ads Report, trend graph showing Link Clicks vs Cost. The cost & link click trends follow very closely, showing you get what you pay for.

This shows the results of the campaigns driving traffic to the booking calendar of the Pharmacy’s website between October 2021 and March 2022.

The link clicks follow money spent like a boat rises and falls with the water level. It’s simple. If you want more results, you increase your budget.

screenshot of Facebook Ad analytics

Facebook Ads total spend was £1,050.91 generating 2,313 website visitors.

Just going off the average across all industries, the average landing page conversion is 2.35%.

2.35% of 2,313 visitors is 54 people. Even with a lower estimated average margin of £25 per consultation, you’d still be generating £300 profit from your £1000 investment.

The reality is, we know that these pharmacies are experiencing higher than 2.35% conversion rate, as both their Travel Clinic and Ear Health Clinics in particular are busy with multiple appointments across multiple pharmacies every day.

google ads statistics

Again, you can almost see the correlation between cost and Clicks, only with Google Ads we also have Calls as an additional objective.

What does this mean? If you have a profitable service with higher margins than your advertising spend, then any money invested is generating profit. Obviously, there’s a ceiling. Not everyone in the world needs their ears cleaning at once, but for services like PCR tests, Flu Jabs etc, that ceiling is higher.

How much did they invest for the returns?

One of the most common questions we get asked is what kind of returns are generated by different levels of investment.

Google Ads are measured by Cost Per Click, (Facebook Ads focused on link clicks are too) because you are only charged every time your advert gets clicked. It costs different amounts to advertise for different words, depending on competition, so those costs vary.

Below is an example of how much this pharmacy spent on Google Ads versus how many clicks their ad received.

Google Ads Spend for Different Searches

Here, showing less than £150, this pharmacy generated around 120 relevant website visitors for their Travel Clinic.

Step 4: SEO for Clinical Keywords

Almost exactly a year ago to this date, (I remember because it was at the Pharmacy Show 2021) I caught up with the pharmacy owner about the benefits of Search Engine Optimisation for the Pharmacy Private Clinics.

We talked about how amazingly this had worked for our clients who’d employed our SEO strategy for PCR tests (link to that Case Study), and this pharmacy owner was interested in doing Rapid Antigen Tests.

graph showing 5.5k pharmacy visitors in the last 28 days

In the last 28 days, 2.6k people visited this Pharmacy website, each visitor viewing more than 2 pages on average.

We started work a couple of months later. Developing blogs around service-specific keywords (specific topics displayed in the image below), our aim was generating local traffic to the website from people searching for things related to these services.

screenshot of blog topics created by Pharmacy Mentor

Nearly a year on from that initial conversation, and the pharmacy is experiencing continuous growth in both users and page views. You can see in the chart below how many users that is generating for free, compared to the paid campaigns.

How the Pharmacy is doing at a glance

The pharmacy recently acquired a number of new pharmacies, and is rolling out the same successful formula for those pharmacies.

The owner of this pharmacy group also just took our Perfect Pharmacy Scorecard (a self-assessment showing how well your pharmacy scores against Pharmacy Perfection.) The majority of pharmacies taking this Quiz get a Medium score, so we were delighted with one of our clients scoring so highly, especially in Digital Presence.

What’s next for this pharmacy?

The next step for this pharmacy is increased analytics on their website, as well as further work on getting found for more service keywords, bringing in an even bigger audience across multiple locations. Understanding the user behaviour on the website in greater detail means we can fine-tune the marketing for greater effectiveness.

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marketing ehc & ed in pharmacy
Emergency Contraception & Erectile Dysfunction services are such important services, providing care to people in vulnerable situations. But navigating ethics, regulations, and public perceptions when promoting these services is tricky.

Marketing Emergency Hormone Contraception and Erectile Dysfunction (EHC & ED) is important to get right. Not only does it help deliver care and change lives for the people in your community, but marketed correctly, these services help keep your business profitable and sustainable.

So let’s take a look at effectively marketing your ED & EHC services in 5 simple steps.

1. Sensitivity first

As a pharmacist, you don’t need me telling you that Erectile Dysfunction & Emergency Hormone Contraception are both sensitive services from a patient’s perspective. Discretion, judgement free delivery of these services is a must. And whilst neutrality is one thing, compassion also goes a long way.

You probably manage your services in this way – but not everyone does. Patients may have previous bad experiences, so make your pharmacy’s approach clear.

Remember: your entire pharmacy team needs to be 100% sure on how to manage these patient experiences. Semi-regular briefings help keep everyone on the same page.

2. Perfect Patient Experience

Other than your pharmacy team’s conduct, there are ways of providing a service which your community values.

The main things they value with both services are discretion, safety and effectiveness.

That’s one of the main draws of the direct online route – people ideally want complete privacy.

Whilst you might not win over every single patient who might’ve otherwise gone online, providing an environment promoting privacy gives a convenient alternative.

Consider offering at least one of the following:

  • A Pharmacy Messenger/WhatsApp channel for patients to communicate through.
  • Online booking facilities for private consultation rooms.
  • Video Consultations

3. Advertising Do’s & Don’t’s for EHC & ED

As per medicine advertising guidelines, you cannot directly advertise Prescription-Only Medicines (POM’s). It’s good practice to promote the service or condition you’re treating rather than the medicine itself.

You’ll also likely need LegitScript verification for advertising these services. Pharmacy Mentor can assist you with this process.

  • DO
  • DO show sensitivity in your wording of any advertising of your service
  • DO make use of Local SEO & Sponsored Social Media Ads to advertise your service.
  • DO make sure you aren’t violating terms and conditions when using Facebook & Google.
  • DO Ask Pharmacy Mentor for advice if you aren’t sure.
  • DON’T
  • DON’T Include ED or EHC in any discounts or special offers. This makes patients feel like you’re charging more than you could ordinarily.
  • DON’T Advertise POM’s directly. Always advertise the condition or service.
  • DON’T forget your pharmacy reputation is affected by the style of your advertising, for better or worse.
  • DON’T try to compete on price – compete on service and trust instead.

Making your EHC & ED Services get clicks on Google

There are two stages of getting clicks on Google.

The first is appearing on Google in the first place. But we’ll cover that in the next section.

But let’s say that, either through publishing relevant content on your website, or paying to appear on Google through Google Advertising you appear on Google, like in this image below.

google results for ehc pill

How do you ensure your website is the one that gets clicked, instead of your competition?

Put your USP in your headline

Your opening line on anything promoting your service is like a headline of a newspaper. Grabbing your audience immediately is the name of the game, but it requires balance, so you aren’t perceived as clickbait or spammy, especially on sensitive subjects like ED & EHC.

There’s limited space for your headlines, so prioritising is key.

What is your main USP? The reason your consumers choose you over your competitors? Those should be in your headline.

The Superdrug advert below does a good job with “No Doctors Visit Required.” This addresses a concern of their target market (convenience) and therefore speaks more directly to them than other Ads.

google results for morning after pill near me

For Community Pharmacy, your USP might be safety and professional advice in-person. Or it might be that patients can collect immediately without waiting for delivery.

For patients who don’t want to leave their home, consider offering a video consultation.

Remember, this headline is solely about getting the click. Once the patient has clicked on your headline, this can link to a webpage with much more information. You don’t have to put everything about your service in the headline.

Promoting Your Service through Social Media Adverts (Paid)

Social Media (especially paid advertising through social media) is a great place to promote private services. Especially ones that people often delay treatment for, such as Erectile Dysfunction.

However, sensitivity is once again paramount.

Avoid profiling. Social Media sites terms and conditions prohibits negative profiling in social media copy.

You can restrict EHC marketing to women and ED to men – but you can’t specify your target audience using your copy – this is profiling.

Examples of Adverts that Meta (formerly Facebook) Will & Won’t Accept:

An example of unacceptable profiling in a Meta Ad:

Are you a young, nervous woman who needs the Morning After Pill?

Middle-aged and struggling with ED?

The phrasing of “young & nervous” makes the person reading the advert feel targeted. And whilst that’s acceptable for some forms of advertising, when it comes to sensitive subjects like EHC, ED & Weight Loss, it’s prohibited.

Also avoid words like “struggling” as it paints a negative light and Meta doesn’t want their users feeling negatively whilst using their Instagram & Facebook.

Example of acceptable Meta Ad copy:

Need professional, confidential advice about the Morning After Pill?

Get professional, medical support for ED and feel your best self!


Difficulties in advertising – don’t get banned

It’s becoming increasingly difficult for pharmacies to advertise online at all without LegitScript.

Companies like Meta & Google were previously pretty lax on advertising around medicine. But since the pandemic, with an increase in illegitimate drugs being sold online, their regulations are far stricter. Pharmacies have found themselves permanently banned from advertising for advertising in a way previously deemed fine.

Not sure if you need LegitScript Certification?

Talk to Pharmacy Mentor and we’ll discuss whether you need certification based on your advertising activity.

4. Providing Information & Guidance Online

As a pharmacist, you’re the most convenient source of trusted healthcare advice in your local community.

It’s this advice which is what direct online solutions cannot offer, and it’s what increases your market share, promoted correctly. One of the biggest concerns with emergency contraception, as an example, is safety. People feel reassured having a qualified professional in front of them telling them it’s safe.

google questions about ehc

However, giving guidance online is important. People typing in these questions in your local area finding you as the source of the answer means more patients. Younger people especially search for advice online before seeking it elsewhere. Creating content for your website around both EHC & ED means when your community searches these questions, you appear with answers.

Once they visit your site for the answers, you simply guide them towards your pharmacy for their treatment.

Whilst many pharmacy services are seasonal, Emergency contraception & Erectile Dysfunction demand is consistent through the year, meaning a stable source of revenue for your pharmacy.

google trends for marketing ehc & ed

5. A New Way to Serve Your Community

For Community Pharmacy, your competition, as usual, is Online Direct Suppliers, offering convenience (not having to leave the house) as their USP with same-day or next-day delivery.

With our Independent Prescribing Website Add-on, you can rival this service. Take orders, payments and approve online risk-assessment forms. This process saves you time by automating all the administrative processes, gives you an audit trail, and lets you focus on care.

After that, encouraging the patient to collect in the pharmacy is the best port-of-call, as you can then give them the advice they need with the meds. We even built a specific “Pay Now, Collect-In-Store” option for Community Pharmacy.

To request a Live Demo of this type of website in action, please use that link and get in touch.

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