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
The presentation has been transcribed below:
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:
“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.
Whatsmore, 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.
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.
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.
So just before we get into the juicy world of SEO, a little bit about me. I’m a pharmacist..have been for the last 14 yrs, and I’ve managed all sizes of pharmacy businesses, from large chain multiples to the single independent.
But for the last 8 years, I’ve been building websites and marketing digitally, two things which I absolutely adore doing. So much so, I ended up building Pharmacy Mentor, which is a specialist marketing and development agency, for pharmacies.
Now, of all the marketing channels that I know, SEO has always been my fave.
But, also I know how business-changing SEO can be. And it’s one of the main reasons Pharmacy Mentor gets business…if you take your phone out now open chrome and type either of the words “Pharmacy Marketing” or “Pharmacy Website Design” – you’ll see PM right at the top there, just below the Ads. That’s SEO. I want people to find our company for those specific keywords.
So what is Search Engine Optimisation exactly?
In the words of the SEO guru himself, Neil Patel, he describes SEO as “the process of taking steps to help a website or piece of content rank higher on Google.”
So, just from that definition there, we know we need a website or content online to make this work.
To take it a bit further, SEO is all about ranking higher on Google organically and not paying Google to be at the top.
Now, this bit is really important to understand. SEO involves optimising a piece of digital content so that when someone searches for something in particular, in a search engine like Google, that piece of content shows up towards the top of the results.
You can always pay for Advertising space to drive traffic immediately. However, if you can get there without paying for Ads, you’re gonna yield a much stronger return on investment and it will be much more cost-effective for you in the long run.
To help you understand this visually, take a look at the following slide. Let’s say you’re a pharmacy owner, which in this audience, most of you probably are, and you’re looking for some help to grow your EPS numbers. You’ve heard from a friend of yours that another pharmacy grew their item numbers quite successfully by doing a mailshot in their area. So, you decide to do some research into it.
You log onto Google, and you search for something like “mailshot service pharmacy” or “mailshot for a pharmacy”, for example.
Get your phone out now and try it yourselves now if you can log onto Google.
Right at the top there, you can see company’s paying for that Ad space and are getting charged every time someone clicks on the link. This is Pay Per Click.
But, right underneath this, you can see a page for our company that has been optimised for those keywords. We don’t pay to be there and we don’t pay every time someone clicks on the link. And of course, out of all of those options on the slide there, you’re gonna click on our link because it talks to you so perfectly. “Let’s drive prescription numbers” – Yes, please – click! And because of this article and the way that it speaks to pharmacy owners on Google, we get business from it.
That’s SEO in action right there.
Now the thing is, this pharmacy owner had never heard of Pharmacy Mentor before today. They would have never have typed the words “Pharmacy Mentor” into Google.
Rather, pharmacy owners are looking for the services they require on Google and that’s how our company gets found. Over the years, we’ve optimised content for 100’s of pharmacy owner specific keywords and as a result, we obtain 10,000’s of page views every month that is super targeted for our audience.
Also, incredibly interestingly, with Google’s Keyword Planner, I can check what kind of monthly search volume each keyword has which will help me work out which of them I should focus on more than others.
And this can even be location-specific. So, for example, if I wanted to find out how many searches were made for the keyword “pharmacy websites” in Manchester, I can view that data.
So, how does all this translate for your business?
What keywords should you guys be focussing on?
And what do you then do with those keywords?
Well, the best place to start off when trying to find these is to follow the basic formula that you can see on the screen right there.
That formula, although very simple looking, is worth hundreds of thousands every year to a pharmacy, especially one that offers private clinics. And I’m not exaggerating in the slightest here.
Now, it’s worth mentioning that there really isn’t a limit to the number of keywords you can target. There are 100’s, if not 1000’s of them of various lengths and combinations, and that’s one of the reasons SEO is a never-ending game. You can’t really run out of SEO and I’ll talk more about the other reasons why a tad later.
So, following this formula:
1. Firstly, make a list of all the services and products you really want to push and make more money from:
- NHS and Private Prescriptions
- Flu vaccineTravel Clinic
- Yellow fever vaccineMeningitis Vaccine (Hajj and Umrah)
- Malaria TabletsAesthetics Clinic
- Lip fillers
- Vampire Facial
2. List the geographical locations you want to target
3. Begin developing the keyword list using the formula above:
So, understanding the services I want to promote and where my target audience are, some of these would be:
- Yellow fever vaccine Warrington
- Flu Vaccine Warrington
- Lip fillers Warrington
And so on.
So as you can see there, I’m now starting to create a list of top-level, highly powerful keywords for my business.
So let’s say I’ve made a list of 20 keywords and I’ve checked on Google’s keywords planner that they are in fact being searched for by people in my area.
Well, it’s time for me to start creating content. I need to get some content up online and I need to optimise it for the keywords I’ve just listed. That’s where my website comes into play.
So, how do you optimise content exactly?
I’ve only got a short time with you guys today, I can’t go into the full details of optimisation, because it’s technical and extensive.
There is so much you can do to make your content appear higher in search results, but the two things I should mention for now are the following:
- Make sure you create and optimise an entire page for each service and keyword that you want to target, and blog consistently every month.
- The more content you can create…
If you get these two nailed, you can expect to begin driving tonnes more traffic to your website, hence revenue and profit.
But like I said before, SEO is a never ending game. My advice of creating optimised content on your website through service pages and blogging represents about 20% of the vast universe that SEO is. Site Speed, SSL certificates, site maps and metadata to mention a few all play a role in ranking your content higher. But the real reason you can’t run out is the world of backlinks and off-page SEO.
So, going back to the formula and on-page optimisation, this is exactly the strategy we executed when working with this pharmacy I showed you at the start. We took care of a lot of technical SEO for them naturally, which I’ll remind you is very important, but we followed the same formula I described before.
We developed a keyword and content strategy for them and got to work creating optimised content on the website.
The graph shows how many website link clicks and how many people have viewed those links on Google since May 2020 last year.
Now, I can’t deny that Covid helped our cause a lot in this scenario but it’s the optimised content that we have developed, and continue doing so, that has caused the increase you can see here.
You see, COVID accelerated digital behavioural change. People became glued to their phones and began looking for services and products near them at a level never seen before in human history. People didn’t know what was open or closed and people had to do their research via Google.
For this particular pharmacy, COVID testing services, ear wax removal, phlebotomy and private GP proved to be hugely popular keywords in their area.
If you have a look at that green box there, it tells you that over the period of this time, we developed 70,000 website clicks and over 2 million people have seen these links on Google. Purely organically. That’s a mind blowing result.
That’s why this pharmacy is generating £millions of pounds in revenue every year from private services, and the more work we do for them in terms of SEO, the more they will make.
And that’s really why I can no longer class this business as a pharmacy.
So, how do you get started?
Well, of course, you can try to find the time to learn how to do all of this yourself and if you do want to, I’ve popped some really useful links there to help get you started.
But, your pharmacy owners. And that means you haven’t got much time.
So the best thing for you to do would be to find a freelancer or an agency that specialise in SEO to do it for you.
But remember, first and foremost, you need a good, solid website to begin developing the optimised content on, and you need to develop a content keyword strategy to work from.
And lastly, this is a long-term strategy designed to develop traffic and revenue over time. It’s important to note that you’re not going to see results immediately. It takes time for Google and other search engines to index the content you create and it’s not certain how long this can take. It may take a week to index, or 3 months. Plus, we need to keep on top of how Google is altering their bots and algorithms at all times.
But you have to start somewhere and if you’re offering private services, the marketing channel that I would be focussing on is SEO.
My name’s Saam and we’d love to talk to you about how wwe can help your pharmacy business succeed.