SEO: The Secret to Attracting More Customers to Your Pharmacy
When customers need pharmacy services or products, chances are they are searching for them online. That’s because search engines (like Google, Yahoo! and Bing) are the most popular way to find information about local businesses, according to research by Pew Research Center.
So it’s important to think about how potential customers search online. They might type “pharmacy that delivers in my town” or “where can I buy glucosamine supplements in my town” into a search engine. The million-dollar question is: Will your pharmacy’s website appear at the top of those search results? It might not, unless you take some specific actions.
Marketing experts recommend performing search engine optimization (SEO) — or better yet, local SEO. And these experts also say that local SEO is a critical step that many community-based businesses ignore. In other words: Going to the trouble of building a website but not investing in search strategies is like building a brick-and-mortar store, but then not putting a sign out front.
It’s All about Location
When it comes to SEO for independent pharmacies, the old real estate maxim definitely applies: location, location, location. After all, your potential customers are not searching the Internet for a pharmacy that is 500 or 5,000 miles away. They are searching for specific services or products located in their corner of the world.
The simple idea behind local SEO is to link your conveniently located store to the exact products or services customers are searching for. Here are the three most important steps you can take:
- Make sure your physical address appears on every page of your website. Include your street address, as well as your city and postal code. That way, if a customer searches for a pharmacy in “XYZ” city or ZIP code, your store will come up.
- Register your site with local directories. A directory is a list of web pages by categories. To be listed, you must submit the address of your website to the directory’s caretakers. Directory listings often will appear in search engine lists, or customers may search the directory itself.Examples of local directories include Citysearch, Google Places, Bing Local, MerchantCircle, Patch, Yelp, Superpages.com, 411.com and Yahoo Local. Websites for area Chambers of Commerce and tourist organizations frequently provide listings of local businesses as well. You can use a free service like ExpressUpdateUSA.com to claim your free business listing and help ensure the accuracy of your information on top online search engines.
- Use local keywords. Every website should include a list of keywords or phrases that would direct someone using a search engine to your store. That list of keywords appears in the document header, which is a part of the website’s coding that doesn’t appear on the actual web page. Make sure that list includes all the cities, towns, counties, neighborhoods, regions, and so on where your customers live and work.
Think Like a Customer to Identify Keywords
When developing your list of keywords and phrases, put the strongest or most likely search terms at the beginning of the list. And make sure the list doesn’t exceed 750 characters.
“Pharmacy” and “drug store” would definitely be at the top. All of your location words and phrases also would appear near the top. Unique services such as delivery, immunizations or patient counseling might rank high as well. In addition, give some thought to the special front-end products that you sell — such as compression hose, supplements and seasonal items. Add those to the list, too.
Note: Don’t forget to work your best keywords or phrases into your page title and description. They also are part of the document header coding that doesn’t display on your website.
Move to the Top of the List
Of course, customers will still have trouble finding your pharmacy if your listing is buried toward the end of any search results. So it’s important to use tactics designed to improve your rankings. Search engines rank sites based on many factors. The most important are:
- The number and kinds of sites that link to your site
- How many matches there are between users’ search terms and the keywords and phrases on your site
Here are a few ideas to boost your rankings:
- Obtain more links. Consider writing articles that appear on other sites or sending out press releases that mention and link to your website. Simply asking local business groups, partners or vendors to link to your site is another good idea.
- Make a video. Even homemade videos can be very effective if you say something of value to customers. Make sure you upload your video to YouTube and any other free video sites.
- Write a blog. It’s relatively easy for a web developer to incorporate a blog on your website. Once it’s up, search for blog directories and list your blog’s address on the most relevant ones.
Using local SEO strategies isn’t complicated. Above all, make sure you include your address on every page of your site, register your site with as many directories as possible, and think like a customer to build an effective keyword list.
The point: Effective SEO helps customers locate your store and discover why it is unique, turning your website into an inexpensive and effective marketing tool. Get started today!