The increasingly untenable limitations placed on direct to consumer advertising of prescription drugs will doubtless soon be addressed by the powers that be, whether at national or European level and deregulation, when it happens will lead to an explosion in the number of product and therapy area websites being produced by the pharmaceutical industry. But in an online environment already crowded with millions of websites and little to no policing, how can marketing departments ensure that patients searching for the best cure for GORD ever stumble upon their experimental new drug megacurealot
when it’s URL www.megacurealot.com
bears not even a passing resemblance to the problem it treats? Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) has been a concern for companies in virtually every other industry ever since the start of the internet explosion and plenty of companies have sprung up offering to make your site more popular than Amazon, Yahoo! and Peoplehavingpainfulthingshappeningtothem.com but is it really worth the effort of contracting this work out to another company, in addition to your web designers be they internal or external, what are the pros and cons and, in the murky world of the online eyeball trade, just who can you trust?
Why search engine optimisation?
A web site without search engine marketing is like a shop in a cul-de-sac. Sure, the window displays are dynamic and colourful, there’s a warm welcome inside, and it’s open all hours. But many potential shoppers won’t come simply because they don’t know it’s there. Although the way a web site looks and works is key, making it successful without a management and marketing strategy is virtually impossible. That's to say that unless its content is dynamic and interactive, and its presence felt among target audience groups, it will struggle to exploit its potential.
How can search engine optimisation affect your bottom line?
The vast majority of Internet users - some 85% - look for what they want by first visiting one of the top 8 search engines. AltaVista alone handles over 38 million searches a month. And with health being the number one area searched upon you can guarantee that there are a lot of people wanting information on your products out there. Everybody knows that even a few good positions on just one or two of the busiest engines can dramatically increase traffic to a site. When regulations on DTC marketing are relaxed it will be vital that top search engines list your product sites high in results under illnesses and ailments they treat.
When setting up your online marketing plan ensure that search engine optimisation is not an afterthought to your banner ad spends. They are a primary means to drive traffic to your website and fairly easy to budget for.
With the following three key figures you can calculate your ROI:
How many searches are conducted for words, terms or phrases that relate to your products or services per month?
When visitors enter your site (or specially created Marketing Page) what is your conversion rate for turning them into to leads or sales?
What is the value of your average product?
Why hire an outside service instead of doing it yourself?
A study conducted by Cyberatlas in August 2001 shows that 80% of American companies carry out their search engine optimisation in-house, despite the fact that optimisation has become so complicated that serious mistakes are made by the in-house experts.
The 80% statistic may be even worse for the biggest companies. A study by iProspect – September 2001 – found that 97% of Fortune 100 company websites are difficult to find in the search engines. 45% of them do not even use meta-tags – the most basic form of optimisation. These figures suggest that most businesses’ search engine optimisation is done very badly. And this is despite the fact that company’s URLs (Universal Resource Locator, the web address) are usually identical to their actual company name. With arbitrarily named products the imperative to rank high is even greater.
Search engine optimisation used to be easy, you would add some meta tagging, submit the site on a regular basis to an engine and the rankings followed. These tactics would now label you a ‘spammer’ and your site could get blacklisted from the engines.
Each of the major search engines now has their own unique set of algorithms; which are complex and ever-changing. These algorithms are not a matter of public record, it’s not possible to find them at algorithms.com. Neither are the engines to which they relate either obliged or inclined to share their formulae.
Understanding the algorithms, working with them, responding to their changing demands and predicting what might come next, calls for focus, dedication and patience. Search engine companies like Stickyeyes.com have teams of engineers dedicated to cracking the continually changing algorithms.
Chances are your in-house expert already has a full-time job, so they won’t have sufficient time to research this as well.
You should consider hiring an SEO company if any of the following are true:
Your site is used for sales lead generation;
You have multiple products or services;
Your site is built in Flash or frames;
You sell your products in more than one country;
You fear your in-house person may have 'spammed' search engines
What's the difference between software and a service firm?
You will have seen the ads for software programmes that claim they will submit your website to hundreds of engines. These cheap automated search engine submission packages (DIY software in a box) have cornered the market for the last four years. Most spam the engines with your site and several have been blacklisted by the major search engines because they seek to deceive the engines into believing a web site is something it's not.
Optimisation isn’t so straightforward that an inexpensive programme can take care of it, if it were then sites featuring personal train set collections and a whole host of less salubrious material would be appearing when children searched for Harry Potter. The fact that this happens far less than it used to pays testament to the advances that the search engines have achieved in tracking through millions of websites to bring back what you are looking for in seconds. But these changes to the ways in which search engines find things has inevitably complicated the process and created a whole new job role, a job role that is sustained by the ever changing nature of the algorithms involved.
What are you paying for when you hire an SEO firm or consultant?
Optimisation is usually cheaper than any other form of online or offline marketing. It costs less than direct mail, renting email lists, banner ads, print ads, booths at trade booths and all the other myriad ways of marketing a site, plus it is directly measurable. However confusion may arise because pricing is all over the map in this profession. Some experts have six figure price tags, some have cost just a few hundred pounds. However, most cost a reasonable amount – a few thousand pounds. With a company like Stickyeyes that would cover the use of people rather than software, a focus only on the top search engines, the selection of most relevant keyphrases and evaluation and benchmarking reports.
So, when you’re charged with making www.tetrahydrotrickalix.com the number one destination for internet searchers looking for information on fungal foot infections, before you invest in your millions in banners on Yahoo! and the like, why not grab the low-hanging fruit first? Optimise your site to get the Internet users who are online right now actively looking for your drug.
Click here for Detail-Direct, Detail-Direct.com is the premier location for product-based information that is relevant to the practice of medicine, or for more information contact Colin Williams, e-Marketing Manager on +44 (0)1344 667430