When people search for their local pharmacy or have questions regarding it, the first place they’re going to look is Google.
Google is the knower of all things - and it has a special place for local information searches that include services, products, and businesses. A whopping 46% of all Google searches are made up of those queries. This means when someone searches ‘pharmacy near me,’ you’re definitely going to want your business to show up first.
The thing is, that might not happen without a good SEO (search engine optimization) strategy.
SEO is what makes your website show up in those search results. By implementing an effective SEO strategy, you can bring in more visitors to your website and ultimately increase your customer base.
If you’re unfamiliar with SEO and concepts surrounding it, there’s no need to worry. This article will go through the ins and outs of SEO and its best practices when it comes to developing your website.
How Search Engines Work
The three main search engines are Google, Bing, and Yahoo. These websites drive over 99% of web traffic - meaning that people use these search engines to find what they’re actually looking for online, with Google taking the lion’s share of traffic.
Google is made up of algorithms that analyze each and every search based on the search’s word choice, geolocation, intent, and other factors. This system is unique to Google, which is what makes it the most popular search engine - it tends to deliver the most accurate results.
But every search engine has three main functions when it comes to gathering search results:
Search engines utilize bots known as ‘crawlers’ that scour the web for new/updated content. This is a constant and continuous automated task - it’s how search engines pick up on the new content that you post on your blog and/or website.
After that info is collected, it’s sorted and stored (indexed) in a giant database, just waiting for someone to search for it.
When someone searches for it, the engine rifles through that database at a rapid speed and organizes the info depending on popularity and relevance.
SEO amps up your website content so that your website can get organized more correctly and ranked higher.
Local and Mobile SEO
Search engines are constantly updating their systems, which means that you have to constantly update your website in order to keep pace. Most recently, Google has moved to mobile-first indexing, which places more weight on a website’s mobile version instead of desktop. It began this mobile-indexing for all new websites in 2019.
Since so many people are using their mobile devices over desktops these days (there are around 5 billion mobile users in the world), this type of indexing just makes sense.
This move towards mobile-indexing means that your website’s content must be optimized for mobile users to improve SEO. You don’t want to be left behind in this new wave.
Local SEO is what you have to focus on to get traffic via local searches. To strengthen your local SEO, it’s important to make your business information (address, phone number, hours of operation) available on your website.
When it comes to Google and SEO, they look at your business location keywords, your presence on Google My Business, reviews, and social media shares.
SEO Best Practices
SEO is a great tool when it comes to bringing in new customers because a good SEO strategy will help you drive more traffic to your website, and that traffic is more likely to head into your pharmacy and give you their business.
Good practice for SEO includes using strong, relevant, keywords that appeal to those you’re marketing to, creating your site so it’s search engine friendly, and getting other websites to link over to yours through embedded links.
Here are the basics:
● Include Meta Tags
Every web page should have a meta tag that includes meta titles and descriptions. This tells search engines what your page is all about and how they should display the information. The length of your meta tags, keywords, and capitalization make all the difference for SEO.
● Optimize Text and Images
Headers don’t just make text easier to read for humans, they make it easier to read for search engines, too. This is how crawlers identify important information. Adding headers to every webpage that include business keywords, location, products, services, etc. will be beneficial. Including descriptions and alt text for every image on your page - namely brand graphics - is great for SEO, too.
● Use Internal and External Links
Internal links drive traffic to other areas of your own website, and external links lead to outside sites. You can link your website content to relevant products, blog posts, or other information so people will stay on your site longer and strengthen your search rankings. Having credible outside links also improves your own website’s credibility.
● Use Maps and Reviews
These are two great ways to boost your visibility online, and they’re especially great for local SEO. You can create accounts on Google My Business, Bing Places, YellowPages, and Angie’s List to help you with this aspect.
As with anything, there are plenty of mistakes along the path of utilizing SEO. Here’s a list of those mistakes so you know what to avoid:
● Skipping Out on Mobile Optimization
As mobile-indexing becomes more and more mainstream, your pharmacy is going to miss out if you don’t optimize your site for mobile users. Your mobile site should include all the same content as your desktop version, including everything related to formatting. You want the large chunk of customers using their mobile devices to get the same good experience as those on desktops.
● Prioritizing Keywords
Of course, keywords are important. But you should never place them over topics and search intent. There is so much information on the internet that it’s hard to stand out with keywords alone - in fact, it’s nearly impossible. Instead, stand out with the intent behind your audience’s searches. If you know their intent, you can develop relevant topics that fit their needs.
● Settling for Slow Pages
Google measures how fast your website loads and uses that information for your search results ranking. In order to learn how to optimize your page speed, check out Google PageSpeed Insights.
Tools and Resources to Help Your SEO Strategy
Of course, there are plenty of resources available on the internet that can further you along in your SEO journey. Check out these websites to learn more:
● Yoast includes SEO guides and training. ● Google Analytics helps you manage/track activity on your website. ● Google Search Console is yet another tool to help measure search traffic, along with measuring performance. ● Answer the Public offers content ideas if you’re not sure what to publish on your website.
SEO is an integral part of any business’s online presence. In order to keep up in this ever-increasingly digital landscape, it’s important to develop a strategy that delivers results.