This last month, The National Institute of Health partnered with Google to launch a new series of medication information pages for pharmaceuticals and many over-the-counter drugs. These “Medication Search” pages are now the first result (after sponsored links) to appear in Google when a person searches for a branded or generic drug name. A blue and red pill icon to the left of the result distinguish it from the natural search results that follow below.
Accounting for 85% of all spam, pharmaceuticals are the most spammed products on the Web. Understandably, the government is concerned with ensuring that accurate information is always available to the consumer.
What does this mean for the health care industry? The first Google result is estimated to be clicked by 47% of viewers. The second, by only 12%. For any given brand moved to the #2 slot, this could equal an average of 35% fewer visitors through organic search.
Online health care industry blogs are abuzz with the natural speculation that companies will combat this with increased investment in paid search results. But aside from the obvious, here are three things that you should begin doing today.
1. Ensure your properties are speaking the language of your consumer. The new NIH pages are poorly designed and lack consumer appeal. They can also be a bit confusing to consumers unfamiliar with generic drug names. All of these factors could potentially lead to consumers quickly clicking back to their initial search results looking for better information. If a Brand.com site speaks directly to the consumer’s questions and concerns, it will more likely be preferred as the property for valuable, digestible drug information. In doing this, make sure you understand how your consumers talk and search about their medical condition and your drug online. The NIH pages do not come up for long tail searches when specific drug information is being sought. For example, if one types “Viagra side effects” or “Boniva dosing” the NIH page is not a listed result. The primary results for your brand’s primary search term is now out of your reach, but there are dozens of long tail terms to turn your attention to.
2. Syndicate your branded content across all online areas of influence. Facebook is now rivaling Google in driving the most traffic to other portals. Google now aggregates relevant YouTube videos into its top results. Additionally, Google will display the most recent Twitter results. Losing your spot as the #1 Google search result further elevates the need to ensure your brand has exposure – in the language of your customer – across the social Web. As an added bonus, your organic search visibility will be raised as a results of taking your content beyond the silos of your controlled properties.
3. Know who really influences your brand online and build the relationship. Patient blogger Kelly Young, community moderator Pam Flores, and avid Twitter user Amy Tenderich. You know they’re out there. It’s time to know who they are, how much influence they have on your brand and most important, how to build relationships. If your media list doesn’t identify and rank non-traditional influencers, it’s time for a new media list.
Google search may be the front entrance to how consumers find a brand, but it’s not where they live and it’s not necessarily what they trust. A study published last year by Nielsen showed that 70% of consumers have some level of trust in branded websites. What do you think? Can brands find ways to successfully compensate for the loss of the coveted #1 Google result?