Both patients and doctors rely on internet searches for research. They search for symptoms, diseases, and treatment options. These searches offer a unique opportunity for companies to reach them with disease and brand information. To capture the attention of both the patient and the doctor, companies need to be the ones to provide answers to their questions at the right time. Providing timely responses ensure companies are winning with search.
SEO in Life Sciences: Opportunities in the Patient Space
Patients looking for diagnosis often turn to search in online communities and Google. Have you ever WebMD’d your headache only to find out it may be a brain tumor? The reason behind these results is the disease information they find is usually determined by the highest bidder for the combination of words they used. To better reach these patients, it is important to understand their search patterns.
To optimize the number of people you can reach within your budget you want to target symptom search terms that are specific to your disease. Broad symptom searches are not always better and are not affordable. For example, leukemia appears only when you search for specific symptoms like “bleeding and easy bruising” but not when you search for many broad terms like “dizziness, fatigue, and fever.” By using more specific search terms, you ensure that the patient is being directed to a disease awareness web presence that best answers their questions.
There are many ways to leverage search to expand your reach. One way is to identify diseases for which your indicated disease is commonly misdiagnosed. By doing so you introduce your disease awareness information to communities who may be searching for common symptoms with the misdiagnosed diseases and provide opportunities for the patient to request more information. Also, you should partner with advocacy groups to help spread your disease awareness content within their searchable patient forums. Not only will this allow you to reach an audience that you know will want your information, but it also establishes credibility and your organization’s authority on the disease. Finally, you should tap into the growing influencer market. By identifying patient ambassadors to develop disease awareness content that’s shareable and searchable on social you will reach people who may not yet be searching for your information.
SEO in Life Sciences: Engaging the Healthcare Provider Space
Patients are not the only ones searching for symptoms, diseases, and treatments online. Especially in the rare disease space, doctors may also be looking for information to help their patients. It is even more important to have a specific search strategy in these cases as well as partnerships with institutions doctors trust. Instead of broad, pricier search terms like ‘cardiovascular’ or ‘fatigue’ to beat out your mass market competitors, you should try for more targeted opportunities for ‘red flag’ symptoms.
Geo-fencing is an extremely helpful tool to target groups of people in a specific location. You can set up a geofence around medical centers and conferences, so you are more likely to capture the attention of relevant audiences. Rather than waiting for an interested party to search for your disease, you should use geofencing to display advertising within the radius of a specific medical location or conference for your disease area.
You should also target audiences based on the time of day they are most likely to be searching. Peak search hours for doctors are early mornings or during lunch time. So, when building your search term bidding strategy, you should be willing to pay more for a search term at 9 a.m. but pay less from 12-7 a.m. The goal of the strategy is to be cognizant of outbidding the competitor not only based on the term but also when people are searching.
Another way to stay competitive with other organizations and companies, is to monitor your brand and your search term optimization. Certain companies will bid on competitor brand names to funnel traffic back to their site. By keeping an eye on which companies are buying which terms, you ensure that competitors do not outbid you. It is important to know which terms competitors are trying to buy, especially if those terms are your branded terms. As a rule of thumb, you should always be willing to pay more for your own brand terms – if you’re seeing something different, investigate it.
Finally, social listening for key opinion leaders (KOLs) and healthcare providers (HCPs) discussing your drug is extremely useful. By listening to conversations referencing your therapies and company name, you will remain aware of what others are finding when they search outside of your properties.
Winning in search and SEO in life sciences means understanding where your patients and doctors are searching and the language they use, so you reach them when and where they need you.
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Contributions by Maggie Wong