How can independent pharmacies rank higher in Google search?
Google doesn't just compete in online search, it dominates. Google controls more than 92 percent of worldwide search engine market share.1 Roughly one-third of U.S. consumers search for local businesses online daily, and they're most likely to start looking on Google.2 Accordingly, it's essential to optimize your presence on Google's platform so that pharmacy search results work in your favor.
Although Google keeps its search algorithm details confidential, there is guidance available for local businesses on how to rank higher. Google returns local business search results based on a combination of many factors, but there are three that pharmacies can optimize - relevance, distance, and prominence. Let's review each one:
- Relevance refers to how well the Business Profile you create on Google aligns with what someone is searching for. If an individual types “pharmacy with delivery" into the search bar, the most relevant results will be pharmacies that rank highly for delivery. Your profile should include all patient care services you offer, such as drive-through and curbside pickup, so that Google can match your business with appropriate searches. In addition, make sure your pharmacy website is fully up to date with all the services you offer — and corresponding keywords — because Google incorporates that information into its search results.
- Distance is a straightforward measure based on either the location term used in a search (e.g., “pharmacy near Brookdale") or an automatic calculation using signals from the searcher's physical location. As you would assume, there's not much to optimize about your brick-and-mortar location — it is what it is. Nonetheless, check to make sure your profile's business address is up to date, particularly if your store recently moved. Also, note in your profile if your pharmacy is located within a medical building or shopping center as opposed to a standalone location.
- Prominence indicates the extent to which your business is known to the public. Among Google's considerations are how well-trafficked the business is and whether it's near any landmarks (e.g., hotels, museums) or other high-interest areas. Google also determines prominence based on information from links, articles, directories and customer reviews. Google will give a favorable prominence score to a pharmacy with a positive overall rating (expressed on a five-star scale) and a high total number of reviews. Take an active approach to reviews by asking for them on social media or directly from individual customers as they're picking up their prescriptions.
Where to start or improve
A few additional elements can help you along in your search-improvement quest, whether you're just starting out or a seasoned SEO veteran.
For beginners, Google's free-to-use Business Profile Manager allows you to type in your pharmacy's name and “claim" your profile. Once you've verified that you're the business owner, enter complete and accurate information, such as physical address, phone number, business category, hours of operation, and special attributes (e.g., specialty medications, vaccinations). You can edit this information as changes arise. If you need assistance, Good Neighbor Pharmacy offers a local listing management service that will help your claim your business profile.
Once you've established your profile, you'll also be set up to respond to customer reviews. Replying to reviews shows that you value customer feedback. Naturally, positive reviews will improve business visibility. In the event of a negative review, be sure to respond in a professional manner and address the issues mentioned by the customer who posted the review. Good Neighbor Pharmacy members can conveniently manage and respond to reviews through SOCi, a reputation management and social media solution. Suggested review responses are available for both positive and negative reviews, and the mobile app makes it quick and easy to manage your online reputation.
You should also consider adding photos to your profile to show shoppers that your pharmacy carries the items they're searching for. Other photos might include shots of your storefront and parking area so that customers have visual cues about your physical location.
Ideally, as you optimize your online presence, you'll climb the ranks in a local business search toward the ultimate destination — the top three positions on the results page, also known as the local 3-pack. However, even if you're executing perfectly on organic search, you may need to supplement your efforts with paid advertising. If you're a Good Neighbor Pharmacy member, contact your advertising manager to talk through how to tailor ads to your geographic market and promote the specific services for which you'd like to rank highly.
Taken as a whole, improving your search ranking will drive additional customers to your store and help boost your bottom line.
1. HubSpot. 25 Google Search Statistics to Bookmark ASAP. https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/google-search-statistics
2. Statista. Frequency of Online Searches for Local Businesses According to Consumers in the United States as of November 2021. https://www.statista.com/statistics/315709/online-local-business-search-frequency-us-canada/
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