A blog exploring pharmaceutical relationship marketing, emarketing and innovation with a focus on rare disorders.
The convergence of rare disease, digital communications, and pharmaceutical marketing communications

The “Long Tail” of SEO for Chronic Disease Communities

Posted by | 8:55am on Thursday, February 7, 2008

you might find that your patient and caregiver audiences refer to themselves or are talking about different issues using different terms than you might expect. 

Your website is like your “virtual sales force” bringing in prospects from the all over the internet. Our research around chronic disease state sites is that over 50% of the visitors come in through disease related terms — and not always the obvious ones. It’s less about the medicine than it is about the disease for most people. The “long tail” refers to the matchmaking between the few people searching for specific information and longer maybe multi-word description of a page devoted that that concept. This is in contrast to the broader keywords that might bring in people through the homepage for your generalized marketing messages.


If you are “listening through your webdatayou might find that your patient and caregiver audiences refer to themselves or are talking about different issues using different terms than you might expect. As a pharma marketer, you probably can’t engage in the conversation. However, anything they are discussing can certainly be used to optimize your search campaign.

This is an especially powerful technique in a chronic disease community. You can address issues that THEY see as important. KPIs for measuring how well your “long tail” search engine optimization strategy is working are well defined by Stephan Spencer below:

Page Yield
This is the percentage of unique pages that yield search-delivered traffic in a given month.

This ratio essentially is a key driver of the length of your “long tail” of natural search. The more pages that yield traffic from search engines, the healthier your SEO program. If you have only a small portion of your website delivering searchers to your door, then most of your pages, your virtual salespeople, are warming the bench instead of working hard for you. My colleague Brian Klais has a name for the webpages that aren’t driving any search traffic — freeloaders.

Keyword Yield
This is the average number of keywords each page (minus the freeloaders) yields in a given month. Put another way, it’s the ratio of keywords to pages yielding search traffic.

The higher your keyword yield, the more of the “long tail” of natural search your site will capture. In other words, the more keywords each yielding page attracts or targets, the longer your tail. So an average of eight search terms per page indicates pages with much broader appeal to the engines than, say, three search terms per page.
The average merchant in our study had 2.4 keywords per page.

Visitors Per Keyword
This is the ratio of search engine delivered visitors to search terms.

This metric indicates how much traffic each keyword drives and is a function of your rankings in the search engine result pages. Put another way, this metric determines the height or thickness of your “long tail.”

About Wendy White

Since founding Siren Interactive in 1999, Wendy has been recognized as a thought leader at the intersection of niche pharma brands, patient empowerment and online marketing. Her vision for how the internet can facilitate interactions and provide crucial information that patients, caregivers and their healthcare providers previously struggled to find has propelled Siren to the forefront of relationship marketing for rare disorder therapies.

View other posts from Wendy

3 Pingbacks/Trackbacks

  • http://onlinemarketer.wordpress.com DJ

    Hi Wendy,

    Your first paragraph is dead on: people must think about their disease state/product as the customer would. Chip and Dan Heath call not doing that “The Curse of Knowledge” in their book, Made to Stick. Brand Managers or marketers forget what it is like to not know the product name, proper spelling, etc.

    I thought this article by MediaWeek was interesting:

    Reprise’s analysis found that 70 percent of Super Bowl advertisers bought some paid search ads on either Google, Yahoo, MSN – up close to 20 percent versus last year. But just 6 percent of advertisers used their 30-second spots to direct viewers to the Web, and the vast majority (93 percent) failed to buy search ads for alternative terms that were related to their ads, such as their spokesperson’s names, slogans or taglines, reported Reprise. Perhaps even more of a blunder these days– according to Reprise, not a single Super Bowl advertiser directed users to their brand’s pages on MySpace, YouTube or Facebook.

    I wrote about this in my blog post from this morning: Super Bowl Ads Fumble.

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