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The ultimate guide to life science SEO



The digital landscape is constantly evolving, and with it, the strategies businesses use to reach their target audiences. One approach that has gained significant traction in recent years is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). But what does SEO mean in the context of the life sciences industry? Let's delve into the concept of life science SEO.

Life science SEO is a specialised form of SEO that focuses on improving the online visibility of businesses in the life sciences sector, including companies working in biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, lab instruments, reagents, clinical diagnostics, contract research services, contract manufacturing services, fine chemicals, and more. The approach involves the use of specific strategies and techniques tailored to the unique needs and challenges of this industry, with the aim of improving a company's ranking on search engines like Google and Bing.

Most life science buyers come from a technical background, use data in their decision making process and expect to be able to self-educate based on the materials they can find online. As such, it's crucial for businesses in this industry to ensure that their content is not only accurate and informative, but also easily discoverable by their target audience. This is where the importance of SEO in the life science sector comes into play.

However, SEO in the life sciences is about more than just driving any old traffic to your website. It's about reaching the right audience – researchers, biomedical scientists, pharma executives, healthcare professionals, and other key decision-makers in the industry – with the right information at the right time. It's about enhancing the visibility of your research findings, product offerings, and services in a crowded digital space, as well as establishing your brand as a credible and authoritative source of information in your field.

By improving your search engine ranking, you can increase your online visibility, attract more qualified leads, and ultimately, drive more conversions and revenue for your business. In this guide, we cover everything you need to know about life science SEO, from keyword research and content creation, to technical SEO, the importance of backlinking, and how to measure the performance of your SEO efforts. Let’s dive in!

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Understanding life science SEO basics

Before we go too deep into the subject of life science SEO, let’s cover a few of the basics, including how search engines work, the importance of keywords, and the difference between on-page and off-page SEO.

How search engines work

Search engines like Google and Bing act like vast digital libraries. Their primary function is to index billions of web pages and provide the most relevant and useful results to users based on their search queries. They do this through a process known as crawling and indexing.

Crawling is the process by which search engines discover new and updated content on the web. They use bots, also known as spiders or crawlers, to visit web pages, follow links on these pages, and then send the data back to their servers.

Indexing, on the other hand, is the process of organising the information gathered during crawling. Search engines analyse the content of each page and store it in a massive database, ready to be retrieved when a relevant search query is made.

When a user makes a search query, search engines use complex algorithms to determine the most relevant results based on factors like the quality and relevance of the content, the number of links pointing to the page, the user's location and search history, and more. These algorithms evolve over time, so it’s important to stay on top of the latest trends in the world of search, so you can ensure your strategies and tactics are appropriate for getting your site to rank effectively.

The importance of keywords

Keywords play a crucial role in SEO. They are the words and phrases that users type into search engines when looking for information. By optimising your content with relevant keywords, you can help search engines understand what your content is about and how it should be indexed.

In the context of the life sciences, keywords could be specific scientific terms, names of diseases or treatments, or even questions that researchers or healthcare professionals might ask. By understanding and using these keywords in your content, you can increase your chances of being found by your target audience.

On-page and off-page SEO

On-page and off-page SEO are two critical components of any SEO strategy. On-page SEO refers to the actions you take on your website to improve its visibility. This includes optimising your content with relevant keywords, using meta tags, creating a user-friendly website structure, ensuring your site is mobile-friendly, ensuring your website loads quickly, and more.

Off-page SEO, on the other hand, involves activities outside your website that can impact your search engine rankings, such as building high-quality backlinks from reputable sites, social media marketing, and online reputation management.

In the life sciences industry, on-page and off-page SEO are both crucial. By combining both strategies, you can enhance your online visibility, establish your brand's credibility, and reach a wider audience. In the following sections, we'll delve deeper into these strategies and how you can effectively implement them in your life science business.


Keyword research in life science SEO 

Keyword research is the cornerstone of any successful SEO strategy, and is the process of identifying the words and phrases that your target audience uses when searching for information related to your field. In this section, we explore the importance of keyword research, the tools you can use, and the role of Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) and Natural Language Processing (NLP) in life science SEO.

Importance of keyword research

Keyword research is crucial for several reasons. First, it helps you understand the language your target audience uses, allowing you to tailor your content to match their search queries. Second, it provides insights into the questions and problems your audience is trying to solve, enabling you to create content that meets their needs. Lastly, it helps you identify high-volume keywords that can drive significant traffic to your site, as well as low-competition keywords that offer opportunities for ranking (competition score is a metric that measures how hard it is to rank for a keyword organically, considering factors like the authority and number of competing websites, the quality of their content etc., where a higher score means it will be more difficult to rank). The ideal keyword is often one that has a high search volume, but a low competition score.

In the life sciences industry, keyword research can help you uncover the specific terms and phrases used by researchers, healthcare professionals, and industry decision-makers. This can guide your content creation efforts, ensuring that your content is not only relevant but also easily discoverable by your target audience.

Tools for keyword research

Several tools can aid in keyword research. Google's Keyword Planner is a popular choice, offering insights into keyword search volume and competition. SEMRush and Ahrefs are other comprehensive SEO tools that provide keyword data, along with other useful SEO metrics. Here at BioStrata, we use SE Ranking as our tool of choice, which not only enables keyword research for SEO, it also provides insights into the Google Ads that companies are running against specific keywords.

For life sciences, tools like PubMed and Google Scholar can also be valuable, as they can help you identify trending topics in scientific research, which can inform your keyword strategy.

LSI, NLP and EEAT in life science SEO

Latent Semantic INdexing (LSI), Natural Language Processing (NLP), and Experience-Expertise-Authoritativeness-Trustworthiness (EEAT) are all concepts that have become increasingly important in SEO. LSI keywords are semantically related to your primary keyword, helping search engines understand your content better. For instance, if your primary keyword is "genetic engineering," LSI keywords could be "gene editing," "CRISPR," or "DNA sequencing."

NLP, on the other hand, is a field of AI that helps machines understand human language. Search engines use NLP to understand the context and intent behind search queries. By incorporating NLP strategies in your SEO, you can optimise your content to align with the way your audience naturally speaks and searches, improving your chances of ranking higher in search results.

Finally, EEAT has been an integral component of SEO over the last year or two, as is particularly crucial in the life sciences sector. EEAT is a framework for evaluating the quality of a piece of content, focusing on the credibility of the author, the accuracy of the information, and the overall user experience. In a technical field like the life sciences, these factors can significantly influence customer trust and perception. The "Experience" and "Expertise" components refer to the creator's qualifications and knowledge in the topic. For instance, a researcher with a PhD in molecular biology would be considered highly experienced and expert in topics related to genetics or cell biology. "Authoritativeness" and "Trustworthiness" are measures of the reliability and accuracy of the content. In a field that is continuously evolving with new research and discoveries, up-to-date and accurate information is key to establishing authority and trust. By incorporating EEAT principles into your SEO strategy, you ensure that your content is not only discoverable but also respected, reinforcing your reputation as a thought leader in the life sciences industry.

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SEO strategies for life science websites

With an understanding of the basics of SEO and the importance of keyword research, it's time to look at specific SEO strategies that can boost the visibility of your life science website. These strategies include creating quality content, building inbound links, focusing on user experience design, avoiding excessive use of acronyms and jargon, and matching keyword intent.

Creating quality life science content

Content is king in SEO, and for life science websites, the importance of quality content cannot be overstated. Your content should be accurate, informative, and engaging, providing value to your target audience. This could include research findings, product information, educational resources, and industry news.

Quality content not only attracts visitors to your site but also encourages them to stay longer and explore more, reducing your bounce rate and increasing your chances of ranking higher in search results. Moreover, high-quality content can establish your brand as a thought leader in your field, building trust and credibility with your audience.

Building inbound links

Inbound links, also known as backlinks, are links from other websites to yours. They are a crucial factor in SEO, as they signal to search engines that your content is valuable and trustworthy. The more high-quality backlinks you have, the higher your site is likely to rank.

Building inbound links can be challenging, but there are several strategies you can use. These include guest blogging, creating shareable content like infographics that others will share with their networks (linking back to your site), and building relationships with influencers and other industry professionals (in the hope that they will share your content or reference your content on their own sites). Remember, the quality of the links is more important than the quantity. Links from reputable, high-authority sites in the life sciences field will carry more weight than links from unrelated or low-quality sites.

Life science PR and media relations can play an important role in building backlinks, as the domain authority of life science trade media publications is usually very high (meaning any links back to your site will be of very high quality in the eyes of search engines like Google and Bing). As such, it’s important to consider your wider marketing and communications strategy when conducting SEO, to ensure that all of your strategies are working in concert and that you are getting the most bang for buck from all of your efforts.

User experience design

User experience (UX) design is another critical factor in SEO. Search engines favour websites that provide a good user experience, including fast load times, easy navigation, and mobile-friendly design.

In the life sciences sector, where information can be complex and dense, a good UX design can make your content more accessible and understandable to your audience. This includes using clear headings and subheadings, breaking up text with images and bullet points, and using interactive elements like videos and infographics where appropriate.

Avoiding acronyms and jargon

While acronyms and jargon are common in the life sciences industry, they can be confusing and off-putting to some members of your audience. When creating content, try to limit your use of industry-specific acronyms, being sure to explain them when necessary.

This doesn't mean you should oversimplify your content. Instead, aim for a balance between being accessible to a broad audience and providing the depth of information that professionals in the field would expect. This approach can make your content more appealing to a wider audience, increasing your potential for higher search rankings.

Matching keyword intent

Finally, it's important to match the intent behind your keywords. This means understanding why users are searching for a particular term and ensuring your content meets their needs.

There are three main types of search intent: informational (the user wants to learn something), navigational (the user wants to go to a specific website), and transactional (the user wants to buy something). By understanding the intent behind your keywords, you can tailor your content to meet your audience's needs, increasing your chances of ranking higher in search results.

For example, if a user searches for "latest developments in gene therapy," they are likely looking for informational content. On the other hand, if they search for "buy PCR machine," their intent is transactional.


The importance of SEO metrics 

SEO is not a set-it-and-forget-it strategy. It requires constant monitoring and tweaking to ensure optimal performance. This is where SEO metrics come in, which are data points that provide insights into the effectiveness of your SEO efforts. SEO metrics can help you understand what's working, what's not, and where there's room for improvement.

In the life sciences industry, tracking SEO metrics can help you understand how your target audience interacts with your content, which keywords are driving the most traffic, and how your site ranks compared to competitors. This information can guide your SEO strategy, helping you make data-driven decisions to improve your online visibility and reach your business goals.

Tools for tracking SEO metrics

There are several tools available for tracking SEO metrics. Google Analytics is a powerful tool that provides insights into your website's traffic, user behaviour, and website conversion rates. Google Search Console, on the other hand, offers valuable data on your site's search performance and visibility.

Other tools like SEMRush, SE Ranking, and Ahrefs provide comprehensive SEO analytics, including keyword rankings, backlink analysis, and competitive research. These tools can be particularly useful in the life sciences sector, where the competitive landscape can be complex and dynamic.

Key SEO metrics to track in the life sciences

While there are many SEO metrics you can track, some are particularly relevant for life science websites. These include:

  • Organic traffic: This is the number of visitors who come to your site through unpaid search results. A steady increase in organic traffic is a good sign that your SEO efforts are paying off.
  • Keyword rankings: This refers to the position of your site in search engine results for specific keywords. Tracking this can help you understand which keywords are driving traffic to your site and where there's room for improvement.
  • Bounce rate: This is the percentage of visitors who leave your site after viewing only one page. A high bounce rate could indicate that your content is not meeting the needs of your audience.
  • Backlinks: The number and quality of backlinks to your site can significantly impact your search engine rankings. Tracking your backlinks can help you understand which content is attracting links and how you can leverage this to improve your SEO.
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Common challenges in life science SEO and how to overcome them

The life sciences sector, with its unique characteristics and constraints, presents specific challenges when it comes to SEO. However, with the right strategies, these challenges can be effectively managed and even turned into opportunities. Let's delve into some of these industry-specific challenges and explore the strategies to overcome them.

Low-search-volume keywords

Challenge: In the life sciences industry, many keywords are relatively niche, as well highly specific and technical, which can lead to low search volumes. This can make it challenging to drive significant traffic to your site through organic search.

Solution: Lean into long-tail keywords and niche topics. 

While low-search-volume keywords may not drive significant traffic, they can attract highly targeted visitors who are more likely to convert. Low volume keywords are also often less competitive, especially long-tail keywords. As such, by focusing on long-tail keywords and niche topics, you can reach a more specific audience and improve your conversion rates. Be sure to balance effort versus reward here, focussing on keywords that are likely to drive the right traffic to your site. Also be sure to optimise your website for conversion (so that this small level of traffic is likely to convert into leads and customers).

Highly technical content

Challenge: Life science content is often complex and technical, making it difficult to create content that is both SEO-friendly and valuable to your audience. Striking the right balance between readability and technical accuracy can be a challenge.

Solution: Make content accessible and use LSI keywords.

While your content should be technically accurate, it should also be accessible to a broad audience. This can be achieved by using clear language, breaking down complex concepts, and using visuals to aid understanding. Additionally, writing with semantic search in mind can help search engines understand the context of your content, improving your chances of ranking higher.

Regulatory restrictions

Challenge: The life sciences industry is heavily regulated, and these regulations often extend to digital content. This can limit your ability to use certain keywords or make specific claims about your products or services.

Solution: Understand regulations and work creatively within them. 

While regulations can limit your SEO efforts, they also level the playing field. All businesses in your industry face the same restrictions, meaning that success comes down to creativity and strategy. By understanding the regulations and working within them, you can create effective SEO strategies that comply with industry standards.

Evolution of search engine algorithms

Challenge: Search engine algorithms are constantly evolving, making it challenging to keep up with the latest SEO best practices. What works today may not work tomorrow, requiring continuous learning and adaptation.

Solution: Stay up-to-date and focus on quality. 

Staying up-to-date with the latest SEO trends and algorithm updates is crucial. This can be achieved by following reputable SEO blogs, attending industry conferences, and using SEO tools that provide insights into the latest changes. Additionally, focusing on creating high-quality content and providing a great user experience can help you stay ahead, regardless of algorithm changes.


The future of SEO in the life sciences 

As we navigate the digital landscape, it's clear that SEO will continue to play a pivotal role in the life sciences industry. However, the future of SEO is not static; it's shaped by evolving technologies, changing user behaviour, and shifting industry trends. Let's explore some predictions for the future of SEO in life sciences and how you can prepare for these changes.

Predictions and trends

AI and machine learning

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning are set to revolutionise SEO. Search engines are increasingly using these technologies to understand and rank content. For life science companies, this means that SEO strategies will need to adapt to these new algorithms. This could involve using AI tools for keyword research, content optimisation, and user behaviour analysis.

It’s also worth keeping an eye on how search engines like Google and Bing are starting to incorporate generative AI into search results, providing answers to queries at the top of the results page, above the traditional page links. This could have a big impact on the success of your SEO programs, as well as the strategies you’ll need to apply to get found online. This is a fast moving field and it is currently unclear which strategies will work best as we see the emergence of generative AI results in search – stay tuned and watch this space for updates!

Voice search

With the rise of digital assistants like Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant, voice search is becoming increasingly popular. This trend is likely to continue, with more people using voice search to find information. For life science companies, this means optimising content for voice search, which often involves using more natural language and answering specific questions. 

Think creatively when planning your voice search strategy – where and when are life science audiences most likely to use voice search and what will they be doing? For example, when lab researchers are at the bench, they are often working in restricted environments, wearing gloves, and working with hazardous chemicals. As such, they may not be able to physically use their phones… but they will be able to use their voices.

Mobile-first indexing

Google has already shifted to mobile-first indexing, meaning it primarily uses the mobile version of a website for indexing and ranking. As mobile usage continues to grow, this trend is likely to continue. Life science companies will need to ensure their websites are mobile-friendly, providing a seamless user experience across all devices and screen sizes.

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In the rapidly evolving digital landscape, SEO has emerged as a crucial strategy for businesses in the life science industry. From enhancing online visibility to driving more qualified traffic and conversions, the benefits of SEO are wide ranging. However, life science SEO comes with its unique set of challenges and opportunities, requiring a deep understanding of the industry and a tailored approach.

We started by defining life science SEO and highlighting its importance in the life sciences industry. We then delved into the basics of SEO, including how search engines work, the importance of keywords, and the difference between on-page and off-page SEO. We also explored the process of keyword research and its role in life science SEO.

From here, we explored the various SEO strategies for life science websites, including creating quality content, building inbound links, focusing on user experience design, avoiding excessive use of acronyms and jargon, and matching keyword intent. We also highlighted the common challenges in life science SEO and how to overcome them.

Looking towards the future, we reviewed the current predictions and trends in life science SEO, including the rise of AI and machine learning, voice search, and mobile-first indexing.

In conclusion, SEO is a powerful tool for any business in the life sciences sector looking to thrive in today's digital age. It's not just about being found online; it's about being found by the right people, with the right intent, at the right time.

Do you still have any questions about life science SEO? To help, we've put together 20 Frequently Asked Questions about life science SEO.


Next steps?

If you're ready to enhance your online visibility, drive more traffic to your site, and increase conversions, we invite you to book a free SEO consultation call. Our team of sector specialist life science SEO experts is ready to help you navigate the complexities of life science SEO and achieve your business goals.

 Book a call today

If you want to explore your options, it's important to know what to look for when sourcing life science SEO services and the benefits of partnering with a sector specialist life science SEO agency, check out our blog on 'a guide to choosing the best life science SEO agency'.

Here we outline the key services offered by a life science SEO agency, including keyword research, SEO content development, traffic analytics and performance tracking, and the development of custom SEO strategies.

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