Pharmacy Mentor launched a new website for a community pharmacy in October 2021. Understanding that websites aren’t much use without visitors, we recommended that the pharmacy employed a blogging strategy, driving traffic from Google to their website.
The top of Google is a profitable place, making it competitive.
Lots of competing clinics in the local area.
Producing professional, ethical advice in the blog.
How we did it
We talked with the pharmacy owners about what services were most profitable for the pharmacy. Once we knew that, we mapped out a 6-month content strategy, covering a range of profitable services the pharmacy wanted patients to find.
Our blogging team then created optimised blog posts on the chosen subjects. These blogs posts answered FAQ’s, highlighted symptoms, causes and treatments for the relevant query and had relevant high-quality imagery supplementing the text.
We started creating the blogs before the website launched, attracting visitors from the moment it went live.
Using Google Analytics, we tracked the traffic generated by these actions for each specific blog post, as well as for the overall website visitors.
From launch, the site averaged around 30 visitors per day, which meant hundreds per week. But the important thing is that these aren’t just people stumbling across the website.
3.6k targeted visitors to the site since launch
The pharmacy is the top result on Google for every query we created a blog post for
Ear Wax page delivering exceptional results, with over 300 visits in the June 2022.
These visitors are searching for pharmacy services, and they’re finding this community pharmacy online.
The important thing isn’t really how many visitors the website got in the first three months. The important thing is this strategy continually delivers visitors all year round. Especially when Flu season kicks in.
A pharmacy based in Wales with no digital presence at all, no website, no social media, no email marketing. The pharmacy is in Wales which means they don’t have EPS either. They’ve also recently started an Ear & Hearing Health Clinic, as well as signed up for a prescription-reordering app.
The challenges of having no digital presence whatsoever were primarily:
Customer acquisition for private clinics, prescriptions, and sign-ups for their new Prescription Collection Point & prescription reordering app.
Their phone was constantly ringing and they wanted to move away from dealing with phone calls.
They were restricted to offline advertising.
Being in Wales, they also don’t have EPS, so another solution to automate needed to be considered.
They have no way of cross-promoting their services to their existing community.
Website & SEO
Pharmacy Mentor began by developing their website with a booking calendar, we created Search-engine-optimised (SEO) blog posts (what is SEO?) for their private clinics (e.g., ear wax removal and both NHS & Private flu jab clinics.) We then implemented the following:
We created optimised blog posts, written clearly and informatively. The blogs give prospective patients all the information they need to make an informed appointment booking.
At the end of their SEO blogs for their clinics are calls-to-action with a conveniently integrated booking calendar.
We promote the prescription re-ordering app through organic Facebook channels, as well as the website.
We created a unique EPS-style form for them. Patients fill in the form, select their local GP and nominate them as a pharmacy. This is then sent to the GP’s for admin/approval.
We designed a poster with a QR code to attach to the Prescription Collection Point. This QR Code is linked to the sign-up form for the service.
Anyone who signs up to the PCP service gets automatically sent a custom-designed branded welcome email explaining the service and what they need to do. The email has a picture of the pharmacy team which instills a sense of connection early on. It lets the patient know that despite signing up for an automated system, there are real people working behind the scenes.
Social Media & Advertising
We created an optimised Facebook & Google profile for their pharmacy. Managing these with branded content is growing awareness in their community of what the pharmacy offers.
We create and run ad campaigns both on Google, promoting their Flu Jab clinics, as well as Facebook Ads promoting their Ear Wax Removal service. The Facebook ads in particular drive multiple bookings per week.
The primary function of the ecosystem is to attract new patients digitally (ie with no input from the pharmacists) and retain them within a digital system, be that the Facebook page, an email list, the Prescription re-ordering app, or the PCP sign-up system.
There are a lot of good results here, because starting from zero leaves a lot of ground to cover.
The revenue isn’t being tracked through the website, hence displaying as zero.
Website & SEO
We installed analytics into their site two weeks ago, 567 sessions and 1000 page views since that time. (Previous performance is, unfortunately, untracked, but these are good stats for a pharmacy that 6 months ago had no digital presence.)
44% of their website traffic comes from Social Media & Google, directly through the ongoing Social Media & Blogging work we do for them.
The booking calendar on their website means all clinic appointments are now booked online. Meaning fewer phone calls.
In the past month, they’ve seen 166 appointments booked for either Ear Wax Removals, Ear Health Checks, or Flu Jabs.
Their email marketing list is currently at 177 subscribers since its creation 2 months ago. This is currently used to inform patients of services available at the pharmacy, but there’s more potential for promoting products and special offers.
We are driving signups to their Prescription Collection Point through both organic Facebook posting, and Facebook Ads.
The Prescription Collection Point also generates sign-ups through its QR code, meaning patients who see it and like the idea can sign-up immediately without having to contact the pharmacy. Meaning fewer phone calls.
Overall, the digital ecosystem is up and running successfully. The pharmacists are enjoying the time they get to spend on patient care instead of admin. The digital marketing we’re doing is driving patients to the pharmacy and all the pharmacists have to worry about is patient care. The results aren’t out of this world compared to pharmacies who’ve been operating digitally for years. But this is the very start of this pharmacy’s digital journey and they’re already seeing the benefits.
Now we have analytics installed for them, we can review and optimise our tactics further, which will mean increased success rates further down the line.
https://www.pharmacymentor.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Digital-Ecosystem-Case-Study.png10801920JP Quinnhttps://www.pharmacymentor.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Pharmacy-Mentor-Logo-Header-Website-300x56.pngJP Quinn2021-12-06 14:20:122021-12-06 14:21:03Case Study: Building a Digital Ecosystem from the ground up
A pharmacy focused on private clinical services. They wanted to fill their calendar with clinical appointment bookings, as the profit margins on these services are substantial. They also wanted to reduce the typical level of administration that would come with managing clinical appointments.
The clinic needed to be marketed specifically to patients with needs for clinical services, in order to keep the marketing budget efficient.
For most of the clinics, the patients would need a pre-consultation assessment, in order to assess their suitability for treatment(s).
Patients were largely unaware that a pharmacy would offer the services they sought.
Pharmacy Mentor recommended a Search Engine Optimised blogging strategy.
Because of the size of the budget, we wanted to better track and analyse what was happening, which meant using our Advanced Google Ads management.
We created a series of blog posts (1 every 2 weeks) with a focus around the keywords that best represented each clinic, e.g., “Vitamin B12 injections+location.”
The blog posts were written clearly and informatively. Walking prospective patients through recognising their symptoms, to what to expect from the treatment.
At the end of the blog is a call-to-action with a conveniently integrated booking calendar.
The idea is to create a funnel for each individual clinic, giving every patient an informed, intuitive journey from Google Search to appointment booking.
Each blog post for each clinic ranks #1 on Google for (name of service)+(location). e.g. Blood Tests + Location.
As a result, this pharmacy has generated 81k clicks between the end of March 2021 and the beginning of October 2021.
The margins aren’t exact, as we’re talking about a collection of different services but let’s say for ease of maths, that the average clinical appointment only generates a profit of £10.
If less than half (40k) of those clicks booked an appointment, that would be £400k of revenue generated over 6 months.
Naturally, this is a case study, so it isn’t typical of results. But it shows what can be done.
This image above shows a recent spike in activity due to a recent re-introduction of Day 2 PCR testing. This pharmacy was already #1 on Google for PCR test+location. As a result, when the demand for this service spiked, they were the ones who benefited from 7,000+ page views a day. And that’s the secret to SEO. It is a proactive tactic to capture the business of tomorrow. If you want results today, you need to have started work six months ago (or 2 years ago, as was the case with this pharmacy.)
In our recent article, Blogging for Pharmacies: The Industry Missing the Gold Rush, we explored the power of online content. In this article, we’re exploring getting that content in front of people. One of the most effective ways of doing that is optimising your content for search engines like Google.
Before we begin, check out these stats demonstrating the importance of using SEO to get your pharmacy seen on Google.
The #1 position on Google gets 32% of all clicks. (Backlinko.com)
The top 3 Google search results get 75.1% of all clicks. (Backlinko.com)
What is SEO, and what does it do?
What is SEO?
A search engine like Google has a checklist so that the web pages it recommends give a great user experience. The search engine recommends pages based on how well they score on that checklist. Put simply, Search Engine Optimisation is the process of making a web page more likely to be ranked higher by scoring well on that checklist.
Going through all the trouble of creating a website and filling it with content, only for nobody visiting the site sounds like a pointless exercise. Unless you deploy SEO as part of your digital strategy, I imagine this is your experience of having a website.
But you wouldn’t be alone. This is what the majority of the Internet looks like. Especially for pharmacy websites.
90.63% of all pages get zero traffic from Google. 5.29% of them get ten visits per month or less. (ahrefs.com)
What does SEO do?
Pharmacy owners we speak to about websites typically all have the same, templated website with little to no functionality. If you bought a $50 Rolex watch, would you be surprised if it stopped working after a month? You get what you pay for. And it’s the same with websites.
Buying a website “because you think you should”, with no plan for what it does or how it works? You’ll opt for the cheapest option. And why wouldn’t you? You have no idea what you want the website to achieve. Bearing no other factors in mind other than “having a website”, you choose the cheapest route to goal.
Ok, so you have a website. Now what? The only time it shows up is when people are searching for your pharmacy by name. Which is something, at least. It’s better than it showing someone else. But these people searching for you by name are already your customers. Your website isn’t attracting new visitors. And that’s the whole purpose of SEO. Attracting new business.
On-Page SEO vs Off-Page SEO
SEO can get incredibly complicated, incredibly fast. And you’re a business owner, not a marketer. You don’t care about those complexities. Let’s explain so you can see the big picture without needing any fine print.
Think of Google as a Visitor Information Centre for the town/city you’re in. When a person searches on Google, it’s just like asking the guide behind the information desk a question.
Such questions might be:
“Where can I find the nearest pharmacy”
“How to safely get rid of earwax”
“Where can I get a travel vaccination?”
For the guide to recommend you, they must know about the thing you want referrals for. It’s a bit like rules in a game. They’ll only recommend you for the things you’ve told them about.
You’re not the only player in the search engine game
Now, you’re not the only one who wants recommendations from the guide. Everyone in town wants visitors. So the guide uses a system. Everyone must create content they think will help the guide solve people’s problems.
Let’s use books as a substitute for websites, to highlight the point. You want to promote your Ear Wax Removal service. So you write a book called “How to remove ear wax safely – A Pharmacist’s Guide.” Over the road, an Ear Wax Clinic has written a book called “Ear Wax Removals – Book Appointments Now”. And on the other side of town, another pharmacy has written a book called “Cheap Ear Wax Removal.”
The guide reads these books and, based on how easy it was to read, how helpful it thinks the book is, and how much information the book had in, the guide ranks your book against the other books that other businesses have given it. This is on-page SEO.
So how do the rankings work?
Imagine you are the guide.
Which one would you recommend to people? It depends, right? If they’ve asked for “Cheap Ear Wax Removal”, on the title of the book alone, you’d recommend in this order:
Cheap Ear Wax Removal book
Ear Wax Removals – Book Appointments
How to remove ear wax safely – A Pharmacist’s Guide
That being said, SEO is not determined by the title alone. This order could be different if the content in the second options was optimised for that search term. There are also other factors that could change these positions around, such as cookies and your location. You see, it’s tricky!
If they asked the guide How to safely remove Ear Wax, you’d likely recommend the complete opposite order.
Titles that contain a question get 14.1% more clicks vs. titles that don’t. (Backlinko.com) Why? Because most people have a question in their mind when they search online. Seeing the question they’re asking inspires confidence they’ll find the answer that applies to them.
Bear in mind, you’re not the only guide in town. Ultimately, if people don’t think your recommendations are any good, they’ll use another guide.
Search Engines monitor visitor’s behaviour
The Google guide recommends your content based on its own initial impression, but it absolutely takes user feedback on board. If it recommends your book, and someone immediately comes back and says they want a different book, it pays attention. If enough people do that, it stops recommending your book as highly. Its sole purpose is to help people solve their problems. If your book isn’t helping people, it will stop recommending you.
Now, the more content you create, the more you can be recommended by the Google guide for different keywords. Keywords are essentially the subjects your books cover. It’ll often be in the title. Using our previous example, “ear wax removal” was the key phrase you were targeting. Keywords let the guide know what you want the book to be judged on and recommended for.
But remember, the critical part of creating this content is the guide recommending you in the first place. The guide has learned over time what people like to see. So if you don’t meet these expectations, you won’t be recommended at all. There’s no point in spending the time writing the book if the guide thinks it’s rubbish and won’t ever recommend it to anyone. And the opposite is true, the more they recommend the content, the more worth your time it is.
Now is the time to use SEO to get your pharmacy on the first page of Google
At the time of writing, May 19th 2021, there really isn’t a lot of competition either. So it’s an incredibly effective use of your time, as there aren’t many people competing with you for the highest recommendations.
Of course, the guide is a little bit crafty. You can also just pay it to put you at the top of the ranking, using Google Ads. It tells people that you’ve paid for that recommendation, but it still recommends you before anyone who hasn’t paid it. It’s not exactly the cleanest process, but that’s how it makes its money.
You can see the Ads dominate the top of the page. But a high percentage of online traffic goes to the organic results rather than clicking on Ads.
Off-page SEO – How that influences your recommendations
If on-page SEO is writing the book that Google recommends to people, off-page SEO is all the hype that book gets from other people.
Do other people reference your book in their books? (Links from other websites to your page.)
Is your book being read a lot without Google recommending it? (This is you sharing your content through social media and emails)
Do your own books reference this book? (Does the homepage of your website have a link to this page? If you don’t consider it super-important, why should Google?)
It’s important not to neglect your off-page SEO. Here’s a simple reason why:
You want Google to think your website is great, right? Think about a book again. If someone handed you a book they wrote and told you it was great, you might read it and make your own mind up. If it’s #1 on the NY Times Bestseller List, is multiple award-winning, and sold millions of copies, you’re going to assume that the book is of good quality before you’ve even read it.
The same’s true for your website. The more that external sources direct people towards it, the better Google presumes the content from your site is and the more credit it gives you.
What can I do to get better off-page SEO?
That is a big, big topic. You can check out The Ultimate Guide to Off-Page SEO by Neil Patel, if only to demonstrate an example of off-page SEO in action. Neil Patel writes these helpful articles, and folks like me use them in situations like this. The more this happens, the more Google loves his site. And they do.
How does using SEO for your pharmacy help your business?
New Business from an active market.
People who are in the active market know they have a problem and need a solution. (They usually know what the solution is too.) Their search terms might be “rehydration sachets”. Writing content for this market can see immediate returns and lets people know where they can find you to give you money to solve their problem. They have a problem, they find your solution.
Activating a dormant market.
The dormant market often doesn’t know what their problem is yet, so they Google the symptoms of their problem. To continue the example, they search “how to cure a hangover”. They’re not sure of what their problem is yet (they’re dehydrated) but writing content like “10 ways to cure a hangover” reaches this market. One of the 10 ways could mention rehydration sachets, “…which you can get at our pharmacy”. Someone wasn’t looking for your product, but they’ve found it. That concludes my lecture ‘Activating a Dormant Market 101’.
Especially for pharmacies, we’re in a transitionary period where public awareness still isn’t there for the services you offer. Sending people to your website to solve their current problems also gives you the opportunity to show them all the other things you offer. Someone comes to your website for a travel vaccine and sees you also offer lip fillers. They find you for one thing and are made aware of another. The more you can be discovered in any area, the better. Web traffic just has the benefit of being large volume, especially when you are ranked highly on the Search Engines Results Page for a common search. The numbers that a website with proper SEO delivers can’t be beaten for the investment.
What about Technical SEO?
Technical SEO has been left until last deliberately. It’s actually more important than ever. But it is a bit boring.
Search engines not only measure how good your on-page content is to rank you, but they also measure all the technical aspects of your website and content and compare it to best-practice. Because performance matters to user experience.
Think of on-page SEO as how a car looks, and off-page SEO as how a car runs. Someone might excitedly climb behind the wheel of a Lamborghini, but if it runs like an Austin Metro, they’ll quickly get out again.
For example, pages that load within two seconds have an average bounce rate of 9%, while pages that load in five seconds see their bounce rates skyrocket to 38%. (“Bounce” means visitors exit the page without interacting with it.) Below is an excerpt from a tweet from Google’s John Mueller.
I can tell you as someone whose focus is on-page SEO, Technical SEO is not something you want to get bogged down with. Unless you know what you’re doing, it is a long and painful headache. Getting your site built and managed by professionals is the easiest way to get rid of that headache.
So what now?
Hopefully, that’s given you a clear view of SEO and its importance. Do your own marketing? Please, please implement SEO into what you do. Outsource your marketing? You now understand its importance in the work that either we, or anyone else does for you. If an agency doesn’t offer satisfactory answers or results with SEO, it’s worth questioning why not. SEO isn’t ever a guarantee, but if your SEO isn’t delivering, you at least want a guarantee that making it better is a focus.
https://www.pharmacymentor.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/SEO-for-Pharmacy.png10801920JP Quinnhttps://www.pharmacymentor.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Pharmacy-Mentor-Logo-Header-Website-300x56.pngJP Quinn2021-05-23 12:19:362021-05-23 12:28:36SEO for Pharmacy: The Complete Guide to Winning Google