I’ve said it before; the Internet is inescapable and its use is expanding rapidly. In fact, in 2017 there will be more Internet traffic worldwide than all prior Internet years combined. Having an online presence, with the right information easily available, has never been more critical for retail pharmacies than it is today.
It’s time that independent pharmacies leverage opportunity within their community by creating their online presence. Below are the 3 things you must do.
1. Build a Website
Your website should embody your physical storefront and represent your brand. Patients are going online to make assumptions and decisions about the store they will potentially visit. SCORE, a nonprofit association dedicated to helping small businesses, released an infographic indicating 91% of small business patrons have visited a store because of an online experience and 88% were influenced by an online review.1
It’s never been more straightforward to start a website. There are easy-to-use website building tools that provide even a beginner with the ability to create beautiful websites. Website builders like Wix.com, Squarespace and Weebly require no coding experience and provide drag and drop elements for additional simplicity.
Here are 10 “must haves” for your pharmacy website:
- Contact Info: Phone and Email
- Business Hours
- Location / Map Showing Location
- Photograph of Storefront
- Links to Social Media (Facebook, etc.)
- “Contact Us”
- “About Us” or History Page
- Services Page
- Newsletter or Email Sign-up
Once you have created a website you’ll need to let the search engines quickly know it exists by submitting it. Search engines crawl the Internet collecting information and indexing millions of webpages daily. By default, a new website will eventually be discovered by search engines without being submitted. However, it is a best practice to speed up this indexing process by submitting your site to Google and Bing respectively.
2. Utilize Keywords and Keyword Phrases
If content is king, then keywords are its queen. Keyword phrases shape the value and set the tone for a webpage. By leveraging keywords, you can increase your page rank to optimize your website for search engines. This is referred to as Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Making sure your pharmacy appears at the top of search result pages such as Google and Bing should be your top priority after launching your website. According to a Google local search study, 4 out of 5 Internet users perform local searches. Of these, 50% visit a business that very day. A local search is conducted when online users look for businesses within their immediate area.
Including relevant content is essential to ensuring it is seen. Utilize popular keywords that are related to your website. You should also consider the words and phrases your patients might search. Include phrases about the special services you offer in lay terms. Remember, your patients are not pharmacists like you.
So where should you put your keywords and keyword phrases? Start here.
Google gives more weight to keywords found in the beginning of a title, so include key words in your headlines. For example, a headline that reads: “Diabetes Support Services” is much better than a headline that reads: “Our pharmacy specializes in serving patients with diabetes.”
Want to better understand how search works? Watch Google’s Matt Cutts give a short explanation on how search engines find the right websites for each search query:
3. Leverage Referral Sites
In a 2014 BrightLocal consumer survey, nearly 90% of consumers have read reviews to determine the quality of a local business and 40% read reviews on a regular basis. 73% of consumers trust online reviews on local businesses. Use your positive relationship with your patients to your advantage. Encourage your patients for positively reviewing your pharmacy on other referral sites. It is a great way to attract new business.
Start with your Google Business page. Google is 80% of all Internet search. (If you haven’t created your free Google Business Account, please do so by clicking here. And yes, I said free.) Then go to Bing and Yelp and Foursquare and even the Yellow Pages. All of these sites offer free business pages.
Then, encourage customers to write online reviews. Thank your reviewers. (Respond to positive and negative reviews.) Share positive reviews across your social sites (i.e. Facebook). Repurpose the reviews in your other marketing, like your newsletter or e-blasts.