Research reveals habits of patients and healthcare professionals on search engines –


Search engines are now arguably the primary means by which patients and healthcare professionals access medical information. It is therefore important that the pharmaceutical industry understands exactly what it is looking for. New research from Life Sciences by Stickyeyes, conducted for pharmaphorum, sheds light on people’s behavior when searching for oncology information online.

The research examines the types of questions patients and healthcare professionals ask search engines and the information they seek, in order to understand the overall digital marketing landscape in oncology and its associated topic areas.

It also compares the behavior of patients and healthcare professionals to analyze the differences between the two.

Monthly search volumes attributed to keywords provide an indication of how often a term is used within Google per month and therefore popular, allowing searchers to identify the most common questions and the most popular content. more requested.

758 keywords in 16 main categories were identified in relation to oncology treatment, with a total of 51,930 searches per month in the UK.

The data shows that while patient terms – which tended to be broader in nature – dominate the landscape, “pockets of opportunity” lie within HCP terms.

“Keyword research can be used to better understand the content healthcare professionals search for online and the types of questions they ask,” the researchers explain. “Monthly search volumes attributed to keywords provide an indication of how often a term is used and therefore popular; which means that this research allows us to identify the most common questions and the most requested content.

“By understanding this, we are able to create and adapt content based on demand rather than intuition. More and more pharma brands are talking about customer or audience driven strategies. It’s a method to ensure that you put what your audience wants at the heart of your business.

Top 10 Search Terms for Patients and Healthcare Professionals

Terms relating to side effects, general information, and different therapeutic areas are the most popular with patients, suggesting that informative content around these areas will be most effective.

When it comes to analyzing the volume of search terms by category, generic and broad terms such as “cancer treatment” dominate the landscape, especially for patients. “Radiotherapy”, “Immunotherapy” and “Chemotherapy” are popular search terms with both audiences.

Figure 2 – Search Volume by Category (Global)

Search Volume by Category (Global)

Figure 3 – Search volume by category (patients)

In general, healthcare professionals are less likely to search for generic terms and instead use research for specific, informed reasons – for example, research, clinical trials and risk research, immuno-oncology being a key area. The niche terms they use, such as “DNA Damage Response”, tend to receive low search volume thanks to their specificity.

Figure 4 – Category Search Volume (HCP)

category search volume (HCP)

The search also segments major categories to add an extra layer of specificity.

Within these secondary categories, treatments, side effects, and information are all key search areas for patients, while healthcare professionals again search for more specific keywords, reducing search volume.

Figure 5 – Potential of keyword subcategories (patients)

Figure 6 – Keyword Subcategory Potential (HCP)

The tables below provide an example of the top five terms in each of the top four secondary keyword categories created.

Figure 7 – Secondary category terms

Reviewing the research as a whole, the researchers note that “treatments” (radiotherapy, chemotherapy, etc.) and side effects are the most popular topics “it’s probably what you expect.”

“Healthcare professionals, on the other hand, were looking for new trials and research – with immuno-oncology being a key area, addressing the ever-changing world of oncology and methods of practice,” say- they.

“Interestingly, this is a low volume area: none of the keywords have search volumes greater than 6,600 per month, with 93% of the keywords having 100 or fewer searches. mean that healthcare professionals are turning to other sources of information, or that these areas have not yet generated massive interest among healthcare professionals.

The researchers add that they would expect to see similar patterns in other disease areas outside of oncology.

“In pharmaceutical research, we consistently see the pattern of high search volume for patient searches (finding symptoms, treatments, and information, etc.) versus low volume for long-tail searches – specific searches involving more than three words – for healthcare professionals (dosage research, chemical compounds in products, clinical trials, etc.), as informational content is essential for both fields.

They note that this information could have implications for the types of content pharmaceutical brands might produce on their websites.

“When you look at pharmaceutical websites, you often think of functional product-related content. This search can identify informational content; that is, content that is one step closer to a product but still relevant and that a brand has a clear “right” to talk about.

“Informational content is crucial to meeting the contextual needs of an audience, building trust and helping a site gain visibility in search engines. Sweet spot marketing teams should focus their efforts on keywords and content themes that fall somewhere between reasonable competition (looking for an exceptionally competitive keyword with fresh content wouldn’t pay off) and a high enough search volume to make it worthwhile.

“Identifying the keywords that a brand has the right to talk about, that can drive traffic but have low competition to see quick wins, is the most effective use of research like this.”

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