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Tag : SEO

Search for Distributors

About half of all scientists use search engines to find product info before looking anywhere else.I was having a conversation about web design and search engine optimization with a life science tools distributor recently, and he asked me how to target a website to a particular region? This got me thinking about search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) for distributors.

One of the limitations of search is that it is difficult to organically target a website to a region, at least in the life sciences. Search engines recognize some searches as inherently local. Search for “pizza” in Google for example and it will read your IP to determine your location and return local results. Search for electrophoresis gel boxes or Ras1 antibodies, however, and that location-specific context isn’t there. Therefore the simple answer to his question: “How do you target a website for a particular region [using SEO]?” – is that you don’t.

The next logical question: is SEO important to distributors? Often, but not always. If you can do a better job of optimizing for relevant terms than your life science supplier(s), then yes, you should optimize for those terms. It would be far better for a potential customer to find you than find a competing manufacturer or distributor. Likewise, if your country or region’s language(s) are different the language that your suppliers’ websites are written in, then SEO may be important as well since your customers may search in your local language (although newer technical and scientific terms are often the same across languages). If you do not have exclusive distribution rights and are effectively competing with other distributors in overlapping regions, then SEO may be very important. However, if your suppliers are well SEO-optimized, if you have exclusive distribution rights, and if your region speaks the same language as your suppliers’ websites are written in, then SEO is not of particularly great importance. In this scenario, which is actually quite common, you should be able to rely on your suppliers to pass along leads to you and in most situations they should have a listing of distributors directly on their website.

Unlike search engine optimization, search engine marketing can very easily be targeted to a particular region. SEM also allows companies to buy a top spot in the search results even if they are not doing so organically. Distributors often ignore SEM, leaving it to their suppliers, but there is no practical reason to do so. Even if you and your supplier are effectively advertising for the same product, having two listings in the paid advertisements only increases the odds that a searching scientist will click on one of them. If your suppliers are not performing SEM, and especially if their search engine rankings are not very high, you should be using SEM to target scientists in your region and get a placement near the top of the search results. So long as SEM campaigns are well-managed, they should be creating a good ROI and be well worth it for distributors.

With about half of life scientists stating that they look for product information on Google before anything else, a strong search presence is not only important to the sales of any life science tools company, but can deliver a great ROI. When deciding on how much resources to devote to search, distributors have different factors to consider than do suppliers. A strong SEO / SEM presence by suppliers can reduce the importance of SEO / SEM for distributors when compared to other marketing channels, but too many scientists use search to find products for it not to be at least a strong consideration in any distributor’s marketing strategy.

"These days, search is a critical component of life science marketing. If your company wants to boost its search rankings or use highly efficient SEM to capture that 50% of scientists who turn to search first, talk to us at BioBM. We’re here not only to help you get more relevant visitors to your website, but to help you do so efficiently and to make sure those visitors get converted into sales. Want to learn more? Contact us today."

Search Engine Optimization Tips

A 2011 survey performed by BioBM found that when looking for a new laboratory product, 90% of life scientists will first turn to one of two places. Half of that 90% will first turn to colleagues for recommendations, and the other half will turn to search engines (and the search engine of choice for scientists is overwhelmingly Google). Ensuring that your products are held in high esteem by a large enough number of life scientists to influence the 45% that turn to colleagues first for product recommendations is a complex, difficult problem, as well as one that takes a significant amount of tiime and money to tackle. Being seen by those 45% that will turn to Google or other search engines, however, is much easier and cheaper. Consider this: an Enquiro / Eyetools eye-tracking study (Enquiro, “Enquiro Eye Tracking Report I: Google”, March 2005) found that 100% of people performing Google searches will see the top three search results. Not to understate the competitiveness of organic search, but if your search engine optimization efforts are sufficient to get you into the top three search results for the relevant terms, you can more or less guarantee yourself that your products will be seen by 45% of scientists who are looking for your kinds of products. That is huge.

Now while much of the life sciences is competitive enough that getting into the top three positions in a search term is not a trivial task, you can still make a significant difference in your web traffic (and subsequently your leads and sales) by, for example, going from the fourth page of a major search term to the second page. Various research has shown that 70-90% of searchers do not go past the first page, and 90-99% do not go past the third page. Also, the aforementioned Enquiro / Eyetools study found that the position on the page makes a huge difference as well. While 100% of study participants saw the first three results on a search page, only 10% saw the 10th result. Moving from 9th or 10th to even 5th or 6th can make a big difference.

So… What do you need to know to help prop up your search rankings? Instead of writing a book on the topic, we’ll just list some tips below. If you have any questions or would like some elaboration, feel free to contact us.

  • Title & meta description example.The page title is very important to SEO. The meta description is important to the searcher, but is irrelevant to SEO. Using the wrong title HTML (meta_title= instead of title=) can significantly hurt your SEO.
  • Content is king. Nothing will improve your SEO better than more content, especially if you don’t have a lot of content to begin with. What is “not a lot of content”? Under 100 pages is certainly little enough content that more content can yield an easily noticeable improvement. If you are looking for ways to increase content while staying relevant, look into content marketing methods, such as blogging.
  • If you have content on external websites, try to bring it onto your site. For example, some companies have a primary website and then an online store at a different URL (either because of the restrictions of the e-commerce platform they are using, or just due to poor planning). Many companies have off-site blogs. These things should be brought onto your primary site so your SEO is not diluted across multiple sites.
  • Links back to your site are also very important for SEO. Google also determines contextual relevance, so links back from more relevant sites are more important, as are links from more popular (read: high traffic) sites. Just as an example, we recently did a very fast back-link campaign where we deployed about a dozen relevant links via product news releases and the client saw an average 13 place jump in search rankings for relevant terms.
  • Don’t try to fool Google. They know most of the tricks, and trying to trick them will likely either hurt your SEO or get your site completely de-listed. (see the Wikipedia article on “spamdexing” for a good list of what not to do)
  • Site traffic is highly important and creates a bit of a chicken-or-egg problem. Traffic is a very important factor in determining search engine rankings, but in order to get a lot more traffic you need better search engine rankings. Honestly, it’s not as much of a conundrum as it sounds. The key is trying to maintain the upward spiral (better SEO → more hits → better SEO → more hits, etc…).
  • Checking your search rankings manually is a pain. Seobook.com used to have a Rank Checker plugin for Firefox that allowed you to save up to 100 desired search terms and then to see if you are in the top 200 results on Google, Yahoo, and Bing and output the results as a csv file, which you can open in Excel. Unfortunately, last I checked it was no longer working. Until it’s up and running again, the rankchecker.net SEO tool should hold you over.
  • Trial-and-error is okay. Play with your content and see what works.


Another strategy worth noting is to become the first result for an ancillary search term. Regarding ancillary results, allow me to give an example using a company that I’m familiar with. Next Advance manufactures a high-throughput bead-mill homogenizer for disruption and lysis of tissue and cells. There are a lot of companies that sell homogenizers, many of which are larger than Next Advance and have been around for a long time. This crowding makes it relatively difficult to get to the top of search results. For the search term “homogenizer”, Next Advance first shows up on the fourth page of the results, as result #34. However, they know that “homogenizer” is not the only thing their potential customers are searching for, so they also optimized for less competitive terms. If you search for “tissue homognizer” they are 5th. For “liver homogenization” they are first. By enacting SEO strategies that allow them to leverage these alternate terms, they can drive a lot of traffic from search without having to compete for the highly competitive terms.

SEO is a great marketing tactic, especially for small companies on a limited marketing budget. It’s a low-cost, high-ROI form of internet marketing that can put your life science company directly in the sights of your potential customers by being where they are looking: search engines. It’s not rare at all for SEO to be a company’s highest-ROI form of marketing, and given the massive amount of scientists that are turning to search engines for product information, that shouldn’t be a surprise. With a meager budget and some sustained effort, you can help your company drive web-derived leads and sales through SEO.

"Are you far down the search rankings for some or all of the relevant search terms? If so, you’re costing yourself a lot of business, but that’s a problem that can be fixed. BioBM Consulting’s SEO experts can get your company higher up in the search rankings by implementing best practices in the short-term, and developing strategies so your rankings continue to climb in the long-term. Make sure scientists see your products when they search. Call BioBM Consulting today and we’ll help your life science company get started deriving more value, more traffic, more leads, and more sales from your website."

Where Is Your Web Content?

Your life science tools company should be harnessing the power of content to fuel web traffic and drive leads and sales from your website.When viewing the websites of companies selling life science tools or services, I frequently notice that many companies have problems with online content. Whether it is a general lack of content, quality of the content, or presentation of the content, one or more of these things is often a problem area for many life science tools companies, and chances are that these easily avoidable problems are costing you valuable sales and / or leads.

Quantity of Content

There’s a balance that needs to be struck with the amount of content that you create for your products. From a search engine optimization standpoint, more information is better, period, but SEO is generally not the most important thing to consider. From a user experience standpoint, which is generally more important, you want all the information that a prospective customer would want to be able to find, however not so much that any given piece of information becomes lost in a sea of content and is difficult to locate.

Generally, you should have enough content to do these things fairly thoroughly:
1) Identify the problem that your life science product or service is solving
2) Describe your product / service and how it solves the problem
3) Illustrate the comparative advantages to other solutions (value proposition)
4) Urge the prospective customer to the next step with a call to action

At worst, I’ve seen products described with two-paragraphs or a list of features and no accompanying documents. This is obviously not sufficient for ANY product. Even many products that have multiple pages of content, however, do not have all the content they need because they do not do those four things I listed above. It does not matter if you’ve talked about every bell and whistle that your product has if you don’t take any time to tell a prospective customer why they need it. Likewise, it doesn’t matter if you’ve masterfully illustrated a problem and convinced the researchers that they need a solution but have not communicated how your problem solves it. Every piece of the puzzle needs to be in place.

Quality of Content

If you have done those four things identified above then you should have plenty of high-quality content, right? No, it’s not quite that simple, and there is plenty more that you can do to communicate value. Do you have results showing how your product can improve a particular experiment or process? Show them. Do you have a relevant, attractive marketing video that you can add to the site? Do so. Do you have a list of protocols that are already developed for your product? References from published literature? Testimonials from customers? All of these things add to the quality of your content and, in turn, the perceived value of your product. Just make sure that this auxiliary content improves the case that you’re making when talking about those four key things (problem identification, product description, comparative advantages, call to action).

Also, when analyzing the quality of your online content, don’t forget to think of SEO. For example, google and other search engines like text and content that is directly on your website rather than hidden in a pdf or other document. As another good practice, don’t forget to include appropriate keywords that you’d like you site to come up in searches for. (Generally, any time you’re doing any sort of web design, whether a complete site build or a simple content change on a single page – always think of SEO. It never hurts, and always helps.)

Presentation of Content

This is the hardest part of content design, but also the part that will allow you to differentiate yourself the most from your competition, as you can absolutely make your product shine if you do it well. Presentation has to allow users to easily navigate your site and find the information that they want while accommodating all the information that you need to include. You should think about the user experience from the standpoint of prospective customers. Who will they be, why are they on your site, and what will they be looking for? Design your content to be presented in a way that takes them from the entry points, guides them through the information that they want to find (and the information you want to present) and funnels them into the beginning of the sales process.

If you’re not already, use Google Analytics. It’s free, and it’ll help you analyze the traffic on your website so you can help optimize the layout of your content. By knowing the traffic patterns on your site, you can improve your site and make adjustments to help drive researchers and purchasers to your most valuable content and into the sales process.

Remember that online, your website is who you are. The same can be said for your products and services. Content that is compelling, attractive, professional, well organized, well written and well designed will reflect well on your company and your product. Knowing what you need to say, how you need to say it, and how you need to present it will attract a larger and more relevant audience and improve your conversion of visitors into leads and sales.

"Want to improve your website traffic and draw more scientists to your site while improving the relevance of the audience your site attracts? Want to easily and effectively increase your leads and sales by optimizing your online content? Our life science internet and marketing consultants can work with you to develop and deploy top-quality, optimized content for your website or anywhere you need it. Contact BioBM and get help optimizing your content from a professional. Our PhD-holding staff is built to understand even the most technical and highly scientific products and services."

Improve Your Online Presence

Internet penetration is growing, and the internet is becoming an ever more important marketing tool.I don’t think anyone will dispute the power and influence of the internet. According to data from the International Telecommunications Union (a United Nations agency), internet penetration in the developed world will exceed 70% this year. Scientists are even more heavily influenced by the internet. We rely on it as a vast and trusted source of readily accessible data, a gateway to the tools and databases we use on a regular basis, a necessary communication tool, and a platform for collaboration across countries and continents. Fueled by fast, extensive business and university networks, internet penetration among life scientists is virtually 100%.

Just as individual consumers are turning more and more to the internet for both information and to make purchases, so are scientists. Researchers, geared towards finding their own information and encouraged by the ready availability of online information, look to the internet for information on products and services prior to purchase, and ever more are using use e-commerce for fast and efficient purchases. Because of this, it is imperative that life science companies leverage the internet to maximize their exposure, ensure that they manage their online brand image, present compelling online marketing, effectively capture online leads and convert these into sales, and utilize e-commerce where possible to reduce the barriers to purchase and increase sales efficiency.

How Important is A Website?

Online, your website is who you are. The quality of your website will be perceived to reflect the quality of your company and, by association, your products. Customers expect that the same kind of companies who create and maintain high-quality, well-performing products will put the same effort into creating and maintaining high-quality and well-performing websites. An outdated look or feel, errors, poor navigation, and a large list of other website faux pas will hurt your image and reputation. Unless you have an extremely strong reputation among your target market, you can assume that every new prospective customer who is interested in your product will look at your website for information before purchasing, and it is likely that your website will be the first place they look … unless they search for it and someone else comes up higher in the search results. Even with a strong reputation, many will still look to your website for more information. While a beautiful, well-structured website alone will not be enough to sell your products (you still need the proper content) a poor website can dramatically hurt your sales.

Refining Your Marketing Message / Having the Right Content

Your online marketing message is arguably the most important one that you will present. It is, in effect, constant; your online brand and marketing are always there for anyone to view. Again, it is very likely that almost all of your customers will view information for your products or services online at some point before purchase. You therefore need to have the appropriate mix of technical information and compelling marketing messages to encourage scientists to either buy the product at that time or inquire for more information immediately.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) / Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

It will not do you any good if your company has an excellent website that no one can find, and how you get found is through search. ComScore’s global search report has indicated that Google alone gets 1.5 million searches per minute, or well over one billion per day! Having insight into how search engines serve search results to these hundreds of millions of people is crucial to ensure that scientists looking for products or services online find yours and not those of your competitors. Search engine optimization is a tricky thing – search engines guard their algorithms and make only vague public statements as to how they work, so having someone with expert knowledge manage your SEO is crucial. For example, there is a sweet spot between a site having too few keywords, which will result in sub-optimal rankings, and too many keywords, which search engines will penalize you for. Experts have spent years figuring out the optimal “keyword density” along with many other SEO considerations and know what works and what doesn’t. Even with expert help, organically improving your search engine ranking takes time. To get around this, and get you to the critically important first page of search results today, you can make use of search engine marketing. Remember: 90% of searchers never go past the first page of search results, and 99% will not go past the third page, so being on the first page is of extreme importance. A properly managed SEM campaign can economically get you to that critically important first page page of the search results regardless of SEO, and even with good SEO it has been shown that a well-run SEM campaign will still result in an average 20% more hits. Another benefit of SEM: since most SEM campaigns are pay-per-click, you know that most of the people clicking are in your target market. After all, people most often click on links that are of genuine interest to them. Also, search engine marketing prices their advertising by the keyword, and a lot of life science keywords are niche markets, and therefore are less saturated which leads to lower costs and a higher return on your advertising dollars.

E-Commerce

According to a study by Forrester Research, sales via electronic commerce will increase by an estimated 60% from 2009 to 2014 in the United States. In Europe, the estimated increase over the same time period is 68%. A burgeoning societal tendency to make purchases online compounded by extremely high internet usage among scientists and the ease of finding products and information online, ever more researchers are turning to the internet for laboratory purchases wherever possible. Particularly for lower-cost items which do not require purchase orders or budgeted line-items (usually $2500 maximum for universities and research institutes and around $5000 for pharmaceutical or biotech companies), a well-implemented e-commerce backend to your website can make it easier for customers to buy your products, help you process orders more efficiently, and even integrate with customer relationship management and / or accounting software to automatically capture customer and order information. The most important factor, however, is the ease and speed of ordering for customers. At all times, you want to ensure that it is as easy as possible for customers to order your products.

These are only some of the considerations that a company should think about when analyzing their online presence. I did not touch on Social Media Marketing (SMM), forms of online advertising other than SEM, online brand presentation, and many other factors (a quick tangent since I’ve brought up social media marketing; if you think the most popular site on the internet is Google, you are wrong). However, the above points are perhaps some of the most important for a small life science company to consider when establishing, updating, and / or maintaining an online presence. We’ll be tackling each in more detail, including social media and the other topics we didn’t cover at all here, so be sure to follow us on twitter or add our blog to your RSS feed if you’d like to stay up to date with the latest posts.

"Does your company want a more professional online presence? Would you like to improve your online marketing? Would you like to know how you can improve your company’s search engine rankings? Get a free site review from BioBM and we will analyze your online presence and discuss how we can help you establish and maintain a top-quality online presence."

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