Why digital optimization matters
by Jeff Hinds
November 9, 2011
We’ve come a long way from searching the local library’s card catalog using the Dewey Decimal System to today’s advanced algorithms of Google’s Instant and Universal Search. Google started with a simple white page with a simple open text field and search results displayed on a page with 10 blue links. While the search engine has maintained a clean, simple look over the years, it has continually evolved and expanded its functionality.
In May 2007 Google launched Universal Search, a comprehensive search model designed to blend content, images, maps, books, video, and news into its results. Today the feature has evolved to become a refined user interface that includes a left-hand navigation panel providing the user a way to view the most relevant search results by category. For example, pharma-related search results could be categorized by news, videos, images or even include an image of the author writing on the particular subject searched to ensure the user is getting the exact information they are looking for. In other words, you can use the left-hand navigation panel to display the results that fall into one of these categories or sift through all results based on your needs.
While search engines are constantly changing and always working to improve their search results, pharmaceutical companies need to adapt their search marketing strategies to maintain or achieve a competitive advantage.
A 2009 Manhattan Research study of How Digital is Shaping the Future of Pharmaceutical Marketing found that “As a group, physicians have acclimated themselves to advanced online activities, such as watching streaming video and listening to podcasts, at a much faster rate than consumers.”
The study also found that
• Physicians rely heavily on the search engines when researching medical and pharmaceutical information and product updates, with Google being the most popular.
• When looking for health info and tools online, eHealth Consumers use search engines an average of 69% of the time, whereas they have a specific website in mind only 31% of the time.
With these facts in mind, pharma marketers should consider using search engine optimization (SEO) and digital asset optimization. SEO is a strategic approach to creating the most relevant content based on determining the keywords that people are using to search for a particular piece of information throughout the Web. These keywords can then be used to develop copy, create searchable headlines and navigational links for a better user experience and improved search rankings, traffic and visibility. Digital asset optimization takes the same approach by using keyword research for digital assets such as pictures, PDFs, PowerPoint presentations and video.
A case for digital optimization
Digital assets (images, videos, PDFs) are now showing up in Google’s search results. Since the latest Google update made in October, we have seen a dramatic increase in videos displayed in the top search results.
If your site’s videos, images and presentations are optimized, they have an increased chance of showing up in a keyword-related search. In the screenshot below, a thumbnail of a video for how to use the LANTUS® SoloSTAR® Insulin Pen and an image from a news site both displayed when the keyword “lantus” was searched.
The first listing on the search query is from Google’s Medication Search, which launched in June 2010. Google’s Medication Search displays a summary and description of brand name prescription drugs when the drug name is entered into the search box. The medication search results have links to the National Institutes of Health to get more information about side effects, prescribing information, dosing directions, precautions, dietary instructions, and what to do if you miss a dose.
This means pharma marketers are competing against Google’s Medication Search for a top listing in the search results as well as YouTube videos and images that may not be owned by your brand.
Not only are there more vertical search engines for videos, images, podcasts, and presentations than ever, but there are more competitors for your brand’s information like Wikipedia, Drugs.com and RxList, WebMD, and the Mayo Clinic for disease-related searches.
Physicians and consumers searching for healthcare information want and expect a more visual experience. Having your videos, images, presentations and PDFs optimized for search will increase your brands visibility, traffic, engagement, reputation and sales. It can be boiled down to one question - will you own and be in control of your brand’s digital information or will you allow third-parties and your competitors control the relevant information that is distributed via search engines?