Poor SEO Health for the Pharmaceutical Industry

It looks like the pharmaceutical industry could use a new SEO prescription; that is, at least, according to a recent study by Covario, which details exactly how Big Pharma is providing the perfect blueprint for what not-to-do when it comes to SEO.


Covario looked at 16 of the largest pharmaceutical advertisers in the world and compared them using their patented SEO Audit Score to determine just how well their websites were optimized for the highest volume keywords common to both consumers and medical professionals searching for drug-related information on Google, Bing and various other search engines.


"For decades pharmaceutical companies have been effective at using traditional advertising to target their largest brand advocatse -- doctors. The results of this study show that pharma advertisers have leveraged this expertise and applied it to SEO as a branding channel directed at medical practitioners," says Russ Mann, Covario CEO. "Having said that, pharmaceutical marketers have yet to translate their decades-old success in direct-to-consumer advertising in traditional channels like television into the Web-based organic search channel."


The study showed pharma giant Pfizer coming in first, largely because it has been able to effectively optimize its website properties around the word "pharmaceutical," a point that Covario found critical for brand recognition among medical professionals.


Trailing behind Pfizer was Johnson & Johnson, and then a three-way tied for fifth place among Eli Lilly, Novartis and Bayer.


Covario states that the big takeaway from this study is the poor returns in organic search results for "more consumer-focused, high-volume keywords like 'medicine,' 'drugs,' and 'healthcare.'" The sites that do show up high in the results for these terms are WebMD, Drugstore.com and a variety of universities, hospitals and medical establishments.


"The good news is that there are a number of clear opportunities for pharmas to distinguish their brands by using SEO as a direct-to-consumer branding mechanism," says Mann. "It's clear that consumers are increasingly going to the Internet for information related to their medication needs."


Other brands included in the study were GlaxoSmithKline, Abbot Laboratories, Bristol Meyers Squibb, Allergan, Amgen, Biogen Idec, Mylan, Gilead and Genzyme.