I’m confident that unless you’re one of the few people I’ve spoken to already, you have no idea what is happening on Bing & Yahoo Search for pharmacies. Fair warning: what you’ll read about in this article might annoy you…
If you Bing “pharmacy”, and you’re a community pharmacist, you’ll encounter a problem. Though you may not realise it.
This is something I noticed by accident, stumbling across the issue when one of Pharmacy Mentor’s laptop browsers was set to Yahoo Search by default.
Big pharmacy companies are advertising on Bing search engine across the whole of the UK for the term pharmacy. You might question why. You might question why you should care. Let’s explore both of these questions step-by-step below.
What is Bing?
Bing is the Microsoft equivalent of Google’s search engine, only less popular. Because Bing is Microsoft’s search engine, it comes pre-installed on all Microsoft Devices as standard.
Other search brands use Bing’s search engine too
Yahoo Search is just Bing search with a different branding, and is the default search function for Mozilla Firefox. Yahoo’s search engine is powered by Bing, which means both Bing & Yahoo deliver the same results, including adverts.
Why should pharmacies care about Bing, or Yahoo Search?
The fact is, Google dominates the search engine market, with 92.47% global market share (91% in the UK) as of June 2021 (Statista, 2022). It seems most people don’t care about Bing or Yahoo Search. So why should you?
Bing Pharmacy PPC (Pay-per-click) Advertising
Advertising on Bing, which feeds through to AOL & Yahoo, has a considerably smaller Cost-per-Click (CPC) than Google.
Still irrelevant to you?
- Go to a Bing-powered search engine
- Search for “pharmacy near me”, or even your own pharmacy name.
- Look at who appears first.
Saving you a bit of time, I’ve already done searches for “pharmacy near me” as well as “Pharmacy John O’Groats” and “Pharmacy Lands End” below, demonstrating the issue for pharmacies anywhere in the UK.
Scroll through the image sideshow below to see the searches.
But here’s where you get annoyed…
What I didn’t search for, was your specific pharmacy name. Open a Bing search, and search for your pharmacy name.
If you didn’t just utter “you crafty cusses”, or words to that effect, you don’t yet understand what is happening.
So let me enlighten you a little more.
(N.B. If you don’t see Ads, it might be that the adverts have reached the maximum daily/monthly budget. But they’ll be back.)
Who uses Bing?
91% of the UK uses Google. 5% use Bing. Whilst 5% doesn’t sound like a lot, it translates to approximately 3.35 million people using Bing.
According to the macro statistics, if you open up your browser and Bing is your default search engine, you probably go into your browser settings and change your default search engine.
You know who doesn’t do that? People who don’t know enough about browser settings, or don’t know how to do it.
You know which demographic doesn’t know how to work the Internet? The one that needs prescriptions the most.
It’s an incredibly savvy tactic.
Have another look at those screenshots. Can you see how minimal the indicators are that the top results are adverts? Again, the people with eyesight sharp enough for “Ads related to: pharmacy near me” aren’t generally the ones using Bing.
Advertising over people’s businesses on Google is noticeable.
Because the business owners use Google. So they’ll probably see.
But doing this through Bing is sneaky. You avoid a snarling dog, because it’s obvious. But the mosquito that gets you in your sleep bites you all they like.
What can you do about it?
Unfortunately the only way to fight Bing Ads is with Bing Ads. (The same is true with Google Ads.)
If someone puts a poster over a signpost to your pharmacy, preventing that means either asking them to stop, or putting your own poster up over their poster. If it’s a local competitor who’s doing the advertising, there’s a good chance of finding an agreement that works for both parties.
But do you think the companies who’re paying for adverts targeting “pharmacy” all over the UK will stop because you asked nicely?
Are Bing Ads for pharmacy it worth it?
These big pharmacy companies advertising on Bing think so.
It’s worth noting, they advertise on Bing, but not on Google. The budget on Google is too high to cover the entirety of the UK all the time, but because of the smaller user base of Bing, it’s possible.
But they wouldn’t continue to do this unless they had a valid reason to. The reason is that the predominant user base for Bing is people who don’t know how to change to Google. And that’s pharmacy’s target market.
How much does it cost?
Advertising on Bing obviously has a cost, typically between 25-50 pence per click. Pay-per-click on Google for Pharmacy is more like £1-3 per click, for reference.
But don’t worry about competing with a big company advertising budget. Competing with them in your local area won’t cost anything like that much.
Weigh up whether or not remaining inactive whilst these big companies skim the cream off the top of your catchment area is worth less than to you than a couple of hundred pounds a month.
Worth noting: The patients these companies pick up could be searching for your pharmacy, but they could be from any pharmacy searches in the UK. You aren’t being directly targeted.
Not Just Protecting Your Pharmacy Business
And don’t forget – advertising on Bing isn’t just protecting your pharmacy’s existing patient base. You’re actively promoting your pharmacy and attracting new patients too. Advertising on Bing is probably a worthwhile endeavour even if you weren’t being forced into it.