Marketing for medical devices has typically been an offline affair. It has relied on enthusiastic sales reps seeking face-to-face meetings with healthcare professionals (HCPs) to promote and sell a companies products.
With the global COVID pandemic, selling products the traditional way has been severely restricted, at a time where the emphasis on health is more important than ever.
And with a growing trend in healthcare companies seeking to advance their digital programs, investigating ways to promote medical devices via digital marketing offers a great opportunity for medical device businesses.
In this article, I am going to introduce and explore SEO for medical devices; what it is, the benefits and some ideas to consider when thinking about your own SEO strategy.
What exactly is medical device SEO?
In its simplest form, SEO is the process of improving the ranking position of a website pages within a search engine, to increase your brand’s visibility to your target audience and potential customers.
SEO can be utilised by any business, in any industry. However, when it comes to specific industries, the tactics and methods that you want to focus on will change.
SEO for medical devices is just one way to medical companies can reach and connect with an audience online. The purpose of this?
To improve brand and product awareness, generate website traffic and convert these users into leads and ultimately sales.
To improve your SEO, there are many specific factors to consider, many of which I have covered in this article about life science SEO.
But generally speaking, it is about creating content and resources that match the audience profile and the intent of which this audience searches for information on search engines.
What are the benefits of Medical Device SEO?
I’ve already touched on some of the advantages of SEO for medical device companies above, but let me expand on those ideas and propose additional benefits.
‘Free’ Marketing Channel
SEO is often considered as a ‘free’ digital marketing channel. In some sense, this is an accurate, because it costs absolutely nothing to appear in Google’s search results (excluding paid ads).
But to see the benefits from SEO, you need to work to a properly planned and implemented SEO strategy.
Planning and implementing a strategy is the part that isn’t free. To do this effectively, you need time, resources and a workforce that can implement the strategy.
Increased Search Visibility
When you take active steps towards an SEO strategy, you are targetting relevant keywords and themes that link both your brand with your audience.
By creating new, relevant content, or improving your existing performance, the visibility of your brand will likely improve on search engines.
This improved brand visibility will hopefully lead to increased website visits, but it can also have a secondary benefit of improving brand awareness.
Improving your search visibility to generate more website visitors is one thing, but not every user will click through to your website.
Although this can be frustrating, simply appearing alongside competitors website results or related search terms can be beneficial.
If users are making multiple search queries and continue to notice the appearance of your brand, this is still helping to improve brand awareness – albeit very minor!
When users turn to search engines for information, they are putting their trust in search engines to show the best, most relevant results.
Therefore, if you can appear on the search engine results pages (SERPs) for relevant keywords, users will likely view your brand with some sort of trust.
Combine that with my previous point about improving brand awareness through appearing in multiple, relevant search results and users are likely to be subconsciously aware of you before they even interact with any of your content.
Whether a user already knows about your brand and the products or services your business offers before they visit your site, attracting visitors to your site is one way to engage your brand message and ethos towards them.
It is very rare that a user will make initial contact from one interaction, but multiple interactions will help with lead generation or even sales.
Although SEO success can be quantified by the number of users that you generate from search engine queries, measuring the number of people that take action with content on your site can be a different metric to measure success.
Lead generation is typified by any user that interacts with your website, before taking some sort of action; fills in a contact form, signs up for email notifications, enquires about a product, etc.
Once you have put a marketing funnel in place, you can generate ‘warm’ leads using free traffic from search engines. When it comes to convincing users to buy your product or service at a later date, these free warm leads offer the best chance of being successful.
Identify New Product Opportunities
When creating an SEO strategy, you typically look for keywords with relevance to your business with the correct intent.
There are many ways to perform keyword research, but understanding all of the different ways that users search – with the estimated search volume – allows your business to identify new business opportunities.
But understanding the intent behind keywords is not a one-off task.
As part of your SEO strategy, you should be constantly reviewing and measuring what does and doesn’t work. Doing so also allows you to investigate the frequency of how users search, and any emerging trends that you should be aware of.
Identify your audiences – HCPs and patients
Let me revisit the first point I made in the introduction. The typical sales process of sales reps targeting HCPs clearly identifies one key audience, the people that are likely to recommend or prescribe products to the end users.
However, this strategy lacks any direct communication with the end users, relying solely on the HCP.
With SEO, you can create content and information that can be consumed by both audiences.
By identifying these two separate needs, you are increasing the potential audience size and producing content that is relevant to answering the specific audience needs.
Once you have identified your different audiences, you need to consider how you would like to be found and what users are searching to find you.
An obvious approach is to target branded keywords, especially as it is likely that your competitors will be active online too.
However, there are plenty of unbranded keywords to consider. If you can identify all of the related unbranded keywords, and the search volumes from all the different countries, you can start to consider what content will have the biggest impact.
Understand keyword intent
As part of an initial keyword scoping exercise, prioritising keywords by largest search volume may be the starting approach.
However, the search intent behind different keywords will impact how likely a user is to take the action you require.
For example, keywords that start with ‘how to’ or ‘what is’ are generally classed as informational keywords. The search volume behind these keywords may be high, but users are unlikely to take action.
Compare this with ‘transactional’ keywords, such as ‘best’ or ‘buy’ where search volume may be lower, but the intent to convert to a lead or sale is much greater!
Create great content
Once you have identified the target keywords, and the intent behind each keyword, you can start to plan a strategy to creating content.
Creating content doesn’t just refer to writing blog posts, it can be anything from producing written content for your home page, services or application pages, or even for aftercare support pages.
It is crucial that you create content that matches the intent of the keyword and predicts where the customer currently is in the marketing funnel.
One of the easiest ways to understand and match this intent, is to simply make a google search for yourself and understand what content and pages are already ranking for your target keywords!
Funnel traffic to key landing pages
There is no point going to all the effort of building awareness, trust and generating visits to webpages if you can’t funnel users to take an action. The idea of this is to convert users from being cold leads, into warm leads. Whether that means they sign up to your email list or makes an enquiry.
Sometimes, it can be as simple as putting clear CTA (call-to-action) buttons or sign-up forms in prominent places on your high traffic pages. Other times, it might be a case of creating a time-delayed pop-up or chatbot interaction to convince users to make the final step.
However, if you are going to all the effort to improve your SEO, you should be prepared to go to the effort to convert that traffic too!
SEO for medical devices can be a highly valuable channel for healthcare companies if executed correctly.
Medical device SEO is not so different from SEO in other industries, but that doesn’t mean that any SEO consultant or agency will be able to help.
What is crucial is performing keyword research to identify and understand what your audience is looking for. Once you know this, you need to create content that matches the desired search intent.
Although SEO is ‘free’, planning and implementing the steps required to be successful requires time, knowledge and expertise. Ensuring you assemble a team with scientific and healthcare knowledge is the key to ensuring that you make SEO for medical device websites a success!