Think like a search engine to build high-traffic branded websites
Is your current SEO strategy working to effectively connect your target patient and professional audiences with essential brand messaging through non-paid channels? If not, consider an enlightened, socially-informed SEO strategy to maximize web visibility and user engagement. To win in organic rankings and branded site traffic, pharma marketers must think like a search engine.
Over time, semantic concepts have replaced keywords as the focus of search engine algorithms. Pharma marketers need to optimize content thematically rather than mechanically focusing on individual words or phrases. Keywords are still the building blocks, but the research process is no longer a purely quantitative exercise. Now, the process requires holistic application of semantic analysis and strategic thinking about audiences and relevant content.
Implications for Keyword Research
The process begins by culling a very large number of terms related to the main topics addressed on your site. Next, lump those terms into thematic categories, and optimize content towards each theme. Each list of theme-grouped terms will then guide the content focus for corresponding pages.
A simple thematic keyword research outline might look something like this:
|Theme 1 – Symptom
“Strep throat symptoms”
“Do I have strep”
“Sore throat fever headache”
|Theme 2 – Diagnosis
“Strep throat diagnosis”
“Throat culture results”
“Types of sore throat”
|Theme 3 – Treatment
“Treatment of strep”
“strep throat antibiotics”
“Procedures to cure strep”
This approach facilitates creating themes around audience segments (i.e. stage of illness), brand imperatives (i.e. education about treatment options), conversion goals (i.e. coupon downloads), etc., in a far more natural way than if your primary objective were to simply load up your top landing pages with target keywords. Fortunately, Google Keyword Planner is still very valuable when performing thematic keyword research for pharma concepts. However, to maximize the value of keyword research in an age when search engines understand “concepts,” applying social listening and primary verbatim insights to your SEO-driven content strategy can make a tremendous difference.
Beyond Keyword Research: Social Semantic Analysis
Social listening tools scrape, organize, and summarize posts from all major social networks, as well as publicly accessible forums and blogs on virtually any healthcare topic. These tools provide invaluable insight into real conversations between people (patients, physicians, clinicians, academics, etc.) talking about any given disease state. We can analyze the language used while also bucketing conversations by audience segment, treatments discussed and other actionable dimensions – very helpful context for enlightened keyword and ad copy development.
Social conversations not only add a wealth of insight and “texture” to inform content strategy, but can also contribute directly to target keyword selection and expansion. The arsenal of conversational language allows pharma marketers to expand keyword lists with semantically related terms, improving reach. By infusing page copy and meta-data with socially-informed language, the brand experience will resonate more effectively with the user.
Wanting more digital pharma insight? Access my whitepaper for examples of current best practices, case studies and anecdotes illustrating real-world applications of all 8 principals for digital pharma marketing success: