Ultimate Link Building / Outreach Ideas For Online Pharma Retail Websites

Outreach in the online pharma industry

Links are still crucial to organic visibility growth. Even though content marketing is the way forward, your websites still need high-quality links to increase trust and authority by search engines.

Medical devices, online pharmacies, pharmaceutical product websites, online stores for healthcare professional clothing… You name a business, and the likelihoods are that it’s considered as dull and boring by most people.

The question is how a new or smaller medical company can compete with perfectly visible domains like netdoctor.co.uk, health.com, healthline.com or onmeda.de, which already established a high authority with search engines?

SEO experts might say that creating really appealing, entertaining and sharable content would be enough to start a succesful viral outreach campaign. Maybe… but who is willing to link to an unknown online pharmacy brand? Can an unbranded online pharmacy company compete with the success of content campaigns from big players like Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson or Nivea? The truth is: It’s rather difficult when you do not have the level of brand awareness that those big healthcare and pharmaceutical companies have.

Pfizer Outreach Campaign

Surely, you can still get acquire links through easier and more traditional link building activities (social bookmarks, directories, blog comments, etc.). The question is if you need these peanuts after all. Which special values do these links offer to your website? Let’s talk about the cherry picking in link building, namely: high-quality, editorial links. You need them!

Facts and figures to start: Online pharmacies in Germany

The German online pharmacy market is confusing and controversial; the orientation of consumers is difficult (source: Study online pharmacies / 21.06.2013, disq.de).

According to DIMDI (German Institute of Medical Documentation and Information), there are currently around 3000 pharmacies with a mail-order service in Germany, of which ap. 1000 have an e-commerce website with an order option.

The trade of online pharmacies is an extremely dynamic sales channel and is constantly growing. According to the Shopper study “Multichannel sales of OTC / self-medication” customers are convinced by the service such as same day delivery, a wide range of medications and discounts. The brand however plays no significant role.

It is obvious that any marketing campaigns within the online pharmacy sector will be very challenging; the completion is hard, the customer does not care pretty much about the brand. That is why this is so important to start thinking out of boxes and provide outstanding value to the customer, far beyond a simple product description.

Challenges of link building in the online pharma retail industry

So what does it mean for SEO marketers working in a particular unexciting industry like online pharma retail?

We figured out already: you will be limited in doing thrilling and creative product-related digital marketing campaigns and the online pharmacy industry is not really brand-conscious. Link building in boring industries has to be handled from a different angle. The online pharmacy industry needs to create content and outreach strategies that go beyond the scope of plain information about products and conditions.

The reasons why link building for uninteresting niches may be more problematic and challenging are following:

Boring is a very subjective definition. Any boring, non-creative and challenging business has an interesting and engaging story to tell or information to offer. The biggest challenge for a SEO marketer is to be creative and innovative to generate and use these stories for link building and outreach.

Link building & outreach possibilities in the online pharma e-commerce

Let’s start with content. If you only offer basic product and condition related content on your domain, you can forget about outreach and seeding. The only option would be to buy links on a larger scale or do Black Hat SEO – which I do not recommend. Never risk your entire business over links!

The strategy you could apply is pretty simple:

1.) Create an amazing piece of content and publish it on your site

2.) Create seeding lists and contact tons of people that might be interested in your content (manual, PR distribution, social media promotion campaigns)

3.) Assess your results

Step #1: Linkable content to create and publish

What is linkable content? In my opinion, linkable and ideally sharable content is exceedingly researched and considered an informational asset with visual elements. Content needs to be targeted and meet its purpose.

There are three types of content your target audience or peers are ready and willing to link to:

1. Entertaining (e.g. infographics, videos, animations, medical comics),

2. Value (lists, case studies, research targeting specific audiences),

3. Educational (tools, in-depth articles, FAQ sections, white papers and guides).

Which content formats are the most commonly linked?

According to the survey published on verticalmeasures.com, articles are most often linked to. Research, visual content (infographics / data visualisation) and case studies follow close behind. The survey also shows that video content as well as free guides and white papers are a great linkable asset, as they offer a lot of useful information quickly.

Your content topics:

Our initial content strategy was:

In-depth articles giving heavily researched information on medications and conditions – but it was not enough to generate links from other websites. Possible reason may be not considering our online pharma retail websites as high authority resources within the healthcare industry and even by exceeding the level of depth in our content, it is difficult to convince publishers to link to our domains rather than to well-known medical authority websites.

Then we created the following content pieces:

1.) Educational content: Interactive tool that illustrates the effects of smoking on the human body

Link building for online pharmacies


2.) Value content: List with job portals / opportunities for students within the bio & pharmaceutical sector

Outreach for Online Pharmacy


3.) Educational content: Hybdrid – Statistics/Data presented in an interactive tool that counts up the data every second to illustrate numbers and spending in the pharmaceutical industry.


Step #2: Seeding and promoting your content

Selecting the right publishers and influencers is a core element of your link building and outreach success. We create a seeding list before creating content. It is very important to assess your target audience for the particular campaign before you start working on your landing page. To summarise, your seeding list has to:

Writing emails to the publishers and influencers is not enough. Social advertising, Native advertising and PPC could be a strong additional channel for content outreach. Important to remember:

Step #3: Assess the results of your outreach campaign

After the campaign it is time to evaluate the success of your outreach campaign to report back on the campaign ROI, tracking how brand awareness, referral and direct traffic increased, how many social engagement signals were generated. And of course, collect your precious, authoritative backlinks at the end. Target done!