How SEO is Changing: Part Two
Simple SEO for Pharmacies
In this two-part series on search engine optimization for pharmacies, we talk about what you should know to start ranking better in search results. We'll cover both on-page and off-page SEO, as well as how social media affects SEO.
Last week we talked about how promoting your pharmacy online can help you grow your business. We got into how to use on-page SEO to rank better in the search engine results. We also talked about Google's Page Experience Update, which focuses on user experience.
Today we'll discuss off-page SEO as well as social media, and the roles each play in helping your business rank in the search results.
Part Two: Off-Page SEO
Off-page SEO refers to anything you do off of your website to bring people to your site. There are three basic areas where you can put effort into your SEO offline; building trust and relationships, link building, and social media.
Building Trust & Relationships
As a pharmacist, you know how important your patient relationships are. After all, if someone doesn't trust you, they're not likely to take your professional advice.
Building trust online is also important; so how can you do that?
Staying consistent is one of the most important ways to build trust with your audience. By posting high quality resources on a consistent basis, you earn the trust of your readers.
Some other ways to build trust with your website and digital strategy are:
Demonstrate Your Authority
As a healthcare professional, you're expected to be an authority. So how can your posts reflect your expert status?
Always be sure your advice is of the utmost quality, for one. Help your readers solve problems by posting only the most reliable information.
If you're giving advice, be sure you know your subject. If you're sharing or linking to someone else's advice, be sure to double check that they're trustworthy.
Engage with your Audience
When your patients come in to see you in person, you speak with them; you engage. Engagement is just as important online as it is in person.
Say you've posted an amazing article on managing spring allergies.
A patient leaves a question in the comments on your blog. Another patient asks you a question on your Facebook page. Answering in a timely and professional manner will build trust, so be sure to watch for ways to engage.
Don't Over Sell
Sure, your website is a great marketing tool; a great website is a huge asset to any business. But be careful not to look at it as a way to pump out the sales. Don't oversell.
We've all seen those websites packed with ads; they're there to sell us something. Of course your overarching goal is to grow your patient base and increase revenue. But the way to doing that is to build strong and authentic relationships.
How can you do this?
By creating so much value that your patients love visiting your site. Remember, nobody likes to feel as though you're in it for the money. The minute you start treating your website like a sales tool, you'll lose ground.
Building trust and authority is a vital part of off-page SEO and genuine interaction will always win the day.
Another way to build out your online presence is link building.
So what exactly is it? Link building is building links between your site and other authoritative websites.
For example, if you're the go-to pharmacy for several local doctor's offices, they may post a link to your site on their website or social media. By building links with well established and authoritative sites, you also build credibility.
But there are some things to be aware of when link building, such as:
Focus on High Quality Links
If you're building links to legitimate, authoritative websites, that's perfect. Especially sites that are trusted by a big audience. Never try to build links to just any site; search engines love links that show off your authority and credibility.
Use Relevant Anchor Text
As with all things SEO these days, relevance adds to a great user experience, and that matters with link building too. Be sure that when someone links to you they use relevant keywords that make sense.
Remember, a genuine experience is what you're looking to give your readers.
The More the Merrier
Link building is about building as many high quality, authoritative links as you can; the more you have, the better. But again, quality matters- linking to a bunch of random sites that don't make sense is not good for SEO.
So take your time, be patient and build links in a genuine way; think links that will add value to your patients lives, like you do.
How to Build Links
One strategy is to find local doctor's offices or health authorities to link to, as well as professional organizations in the industry. On top of that though, you can find established and trustworthy blogs and websites online to connect with; or you can link with respected influencers in your space.
You can build relationships through guest blogging, mentions and referrals, to name just a few ways. Want to know more about reaching out to other businesses? Check out our article, How to Partner with Other Local Businesses.
In it, our own Spencer Turbitt gives sound advice on reaching out to local businesses, but there are also several pointers that can apply to online influencers and industry sites, too.
Always remember: When link building, think quality over quantity but go for both! And above all, never, ever pay for links; be sure your link building is a natural reflection of your efforts on social media, guest blogs, webinars and all the rest of your content.
Geographic Location and SEO
Geography is another important consideration when it comes to SEO. If you're looking to focus on a local audience, your address is key, so be sure to include your address, phone and other information on your site.
And don't forget to use local keywords.
Social Media and SEO
Social media can do a lot to improve your SEO; when used well, it can give you a dramatic boost in site traffic. But there's more to it than making random, salesy posts. For your social media to be an effective SEO tool, you need a sound strategy.
It's all about shares; or developing shareable content that delivers value. By building an engaged follower base and asking for shares, you build your authority.
We talk about social media for pharmacies in our article How to Promote Your Pharmacy on Social Media.
Here are a few steps you can take to optimize your social media for SEO:
Get More Followers
By growing your follower base, you increase your shares and your credibility. So how can you do that? There are several ways; post a giveaway, run a contest, and engage.
Answer questions, reply to comments, build a presence that your followers love. Once others see how much value you can add to their lives, they'll want to follow you too!
Optimize your Content
As you get those shares rolling, you need to optimize your content for SEO. Be sure your page titles are accurate and descriptive, have meta tags in place and alt tags on your images. By optimizing your content, you make it easy for search engines to love you.
Ask your Followers to Share
You're engaging with your audience and creating valuable content, right? Which means you're building a bond with your followers. So don't be afraid to ask people to share your content on their social media.
It's not enough just to put it out there and assume people will know what you want. Ask and they will share.
Develop Shareable Content
What does shareable content look like? It's content that adds value to the lives of your readers. It's could be a health tip that provides relief for a well known issue or a mindful thought for the day. Perhaps it's a motivational quote that gets people on track for the day; there are so many possibilities.
We talk about great content a lot in our iApotheca 30-Day Content Marketing Challenge. Check it out for tips on how to create content that your audience wants to share.
Have local influencers you'd love to have associated with your brand? Follow them! Engage, communicate. Mention them in posts, call them out once in a while (in a nice way). Promote their posts now and again, but don't overdo it. This is not about getting attention, it's about building quality relationships.
And as you build these relationships with influencers you share in their audience. Oh, and don't forget to return the favor. You can also do this with other businesses in your community.
But remember, this is your brand we're talking about here. So be sure to engage with reputable sources only.
Social media is an important part of building strong SEO. And best of all, it's one that pharmacies of all sizes can take advantage of.
Always keep your brand voice strong, friendly and professional, and engage. With consistency and strong content, your efforts will pay off in SEO and website traffic.
Share the Workload
Search engine optimization is essential to a solid digital marketing strategy. When done well, it can help grow pharmacy sales and revenue. And, you can keep it simple.
Create valuable content and use effective keywords; you've got the tools. And when posting, be careful to add tags and descriptions. If time is an issue, as it tends to be in pharmacies, get your staff involved.
We've talked before about why it's important to have your staff helping with content. Not only does it help save time and produce more, their perspective on your patients is vital.
By having each staff member do a few minutes of keyword research for their own content, it keeps the load light. But the SEO results will be well worth it. And if you're looking for a tool to sketch out your digital strategy, check out the iApotheca 2021 Pharmacy Content Planner.
In it you can lay out your blog series and posts, detail your upcoming social media efforts and decide who is responsible for what.
Sound like fun? I thought so!
Have questions or comments on SEO for pharmacies? We'd love to hear them!
If you have questions about on-page SEO, we'd love to hear them! Feel free to leave a comment below. And, to download a PDF copy of this article, click on the image below.