Is your Pharma site is targeting the right keywords? | Varn


24 July 2020

Is your Pharma site targeting the right keywords?

In a previous blog we explored the importance of SEO for Pharma companies, with a list of SEO factors to consider when optimising your site. One of the factors covered in this list was Keyword Research and Search Intent. For any website, it is essential that the SEO strategy is based on optimising your site for the terms searched for by your users. Without first identifying these keywords and understanding the requirements and intent of your target audience, you risk spending a lot of time optimising your website for words and phrases that will not drive any traffic.

In this blog, we will cover search intent and how search engines process queries. We will also look at how to identify keywords and create valuable content that serves the needs of your audience and their search queries.


What is search intent and how do search engines process queries?

As we briefly outlined in the previous Pharma blog, search intent is simply the reason for the search. What does the user want to get out of entering this particular query into a search engine? This can be to find information such as a statistic, or to navigate to their favourite brand’s website, or to make a transaction for example. Search engines such as Google make it a priority to build language models to help them to decipher what the user’s goal is so that they can return the most useful and relevant information on the search results page. Therefore, in order to be shown on these results pages, websites must also understand search intent to ensure they are providing the required information in the best format to match the intent of these search queries. In the case of the Pharma industry, it is imperative to understand the different intents and types of information required by Health Care Professionals and the public throughout different stages of the diagnosis and treatment process.

Let’s look at an example:

A user may search for ‘best treatment for osteoarthritis’. Search engines can decipher this by identifying the intent, which in this case is the intent to find information, and the topic, which is osteoarthritis treatment options.

After identifying the intent and the topic, the search engine will use this information to decide the most appropriate type of results to show the user, and then searching its index to find websites that provide the most relevant information in this format to match the search query. If we search our above example on Google, the list of results shows pages which are very relevant to the topic area and contain large amounts of informational content.


How can I identify and find target keywords?

As well as understanding search intent to ensure that you are producing the correct type of content, you must also determine the popular keywords and topics that users are searching for. There are many ways to compile a list of keywords to target on your site including:

  • Thinking about the keywords you would like your site to rank well for
  • Internally discussing what you think your audience will search for. Often it is useful to get input from the sales and customer services teams
  • Using free online tools such as Google Analytics, Google Search Console and Google Ads Keyword Planner. You can also look at the autocomplete suggestions made by Google when you begin to search as well as the related searches and People Also Ask boxes on the results pages
  • Contact an SEO agency to conduct comprehensive keyword research to identify content gaps on your site


Tip: Don’t just focus on broad phrases, consider long-tail keywords (more specific and often longer search phrases) as these are often less competitive and have lower search volumes but are more likely to convert

Google Autocomplete


How can I optimise my site for my identified keywords?

Now that you have your list of keywords to target, you need to check that your website is optimised for them so that physicians and the public can find your content. There are a few basic steps you can take to check your site for content gaps and ensure it is optimised for your target keywords:

  1. Take your list of target keywords and group them into topics of similar keywords.
  2. Prioritise these keywords based on the importance of the keyword to your business, the search volume of the keyword and how competitive it is in search.
  3. Search each of the keywords in Google to see what type of content is returned e.g. videos, in-depth articles, instructions etc. Note this next to each keyword, as this is the type of content you should be producing in order to target that keyword.
  4. Make a list of all pages on your website and next to each page, note the keyword it already is or should be targeting. This will identify any pages which aren’t optimised for any keywords and will also highlight any keywords which aren’t being targeted.
  5. For each keyword, check if your site is currently ranking, and make a note of competitors who are ranking above you. It is important to note that in Pharma, high authority sites such as the NHS website and medical charity websites often dominate the top rankings. Therefore, when checking competitors, only focus on those that are similar to your site, e.g. a product manufacturer.
  6. Now you have collected this information, you can use it to work through each of the pages on your site, ensuring that the content, headings and meta data are optimised for the target keyword for that page.


Tip: Try to avoid multiple pages targeting the same keyword as this can lead to keyword cannibalisation. In addition, each page should focus on targeting one main keyword topic only.


We hope that this blog has helped you to understand search intent, keyword research and how to optimise your Pharma website to improve search visibility.

If you are interested in finding out more about keyword research or Pharma SEO, contact the experts at Varn.

Article by: Katie, Technical SEO Expert More articles by Katie

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