Sanofi is an international pharmaceutical corporation of French origin. Over 50 years, it has evolved from a division of an oil company into one of the world leaders at biopharmaceuticals.
The company has many scientific discoveries in the field of medicine and healthcare. Among its achievements are development of treatment of rare diseases, development of standards for treatment of diabetes and cardiovascular disorders. For decades, the company has been focusing on protecting millions of people from flu, as well as eradicating polio. Its deep scientific approach has led to revolutionary solutions in the treatment of inflammatory diseases. Over the years, Sanofi brought together different companies and today it is a combination of many cultures, identities, and brands.
The drug portfolio is widely diversified. Thanks to this, Sanofi helps to comprehensively support the health of Russian people – from prevention with modern vaccines to the management of such serious diseases as diabetes, cardiological, oncological, rare genetic and other diseases.
In 2022, Sanofi was named the world’s best employer by the Top Employers Institute for the fourth year in a row.
Increase in flow of organic users to all promoted sites
The Main Difficulties and Problems of Projects
We encountered the following main difficulties and limitations:
- There was high competition even for branded keywords in Yandex due to aggregators, large pharmacies and drug portals, Yandex’s own services, which is why Google was the main channel to attract organic traffic.
- For non-branded keywords (diseases, symptoms), search results were filled with websites with long articles, while Sanofi websites had short ones. They couldn’t cover the entire list of relevant keywords. Most of the texts were written without considering SEO requirements.
- E-A-T factors (expertise, authoritativeness, trustworthiness) were mostly ignored.
- New materials were rarely published (on average, less than one article per month).
- Our technical recommendations were implemented slowly (most of the websites were supported by a foreign global team).
- In 2021, almost half of the websites simultaneously migrated to the Amazon global platform with an unplanned change of the main website host.
- From a technical point of view, the main problems were: many duplicate pages with parameters of advertising campaigns and PDF instructions, which often ranked higher than original pages, outdated and not updated XML sitemap files, and almost no semantic markup (schema.org).
- There were some difficulties in communication: at first we contacted only one team for all the sites, but just after the start the model changed to “one site – one team”.
Detailed Brief for Each Project
The goal was to select keywords for each website with the maximum correspondence to its target audience and to minimize the number of corrections of content.
We considered not only keywords related to the main symptoms, but also LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) ones: for example, for an oncological project, the task was to increase the oncological alertness not only of the patients, but also of those who care about them.
Troubleshooting Technical Issues
In general, the level of technical optimization of most websites was not bad: the websites were correctly indexed, there were no critical or fatal errors.
During the project, we did the following:
- eliminated duplicate pages, set up automatic generation of XML sitemaps, where possible;
- marked up breadcrumbs (schema.org/breadcrumbs), content (schema.org/article) and contact details;
- optimized and uniqualized title and meta description tags, сorrected the h1—h6 heading hierarchy;
- got rid of the outdated HTML-code and scripts of previous versions of websites, optimized the graphic content, which gave rise to Core Web Vitals metrics.
- corrected blocks of automatic linking implemented in-text anchor linking (from article to article, from article to product).
- optimized article page templates. Added table of contents, publication dates, reading time, and so on. This was mostly implemented during planned redesigns (except for adding information about the authors).
Interestingly, the level of “trust” in the Sanofi websites and the level of development of the E-A-T factors for Google were enough to continue to grow with almost every Google Core Update, even despite the fact that the authors of the articles were not mentioned.
Selection of the Main Medical Authors and Work With Content
First, we held an internal competition and selected several main authors with medical background. Then, while preparing the content plans, we convinced the client that it is necessary to increase the amount of content to cover the maximum pool of relevant keywords, as well as to compete in Yandex.
In addition, to cover all brand demand, we did the following:
- optimized all the product and instruction pages;
- created FAQ sections to cover low-frequency search demand and marked it up with schema.org for better search snippets in Google;
- edited and increased the amount of content about the instructions and proposed clinical use of the medicines.
Non-branded content went through several stages of approval, including the client’s medical advisors. To minimize content edits at each stage, we described a future article in as much detail as possible when prepared a technical specification for it.
We wrote over 150 unique optimized articles in total.
Regular Brand Teams Trainings
At the start of the project, we saw that different brand teams had different levels of knowledge in SEO. We decided to prepare and conduct a training on the topic of “Search Engine Optimization of Sanofi Medical Sites”. The main goal was to highlight the value of our work, to establish a closer interaction with the client and to speed up the implementation of recommendations and content. Trainings of such kind became a regular pattern in our work with Sanofi.
We implemented practical tools for brand teams based on Google Data Studio for interactive tracking of key and non-trivial metrics over time.
Local Issues That Have Been Resolved
In May-June 2021, some sites migrated to a new “static” platform, which was supported by the global team at Amazon. Our task was to supervise the move at all stages:
- to check future page layouts in terms of the presence of all necessary blocks;
- to prepare meta tags, codes for all semantic markup (schema.org for breadcrumbs, articles, organization) for each page;
- to check the implementation on test versions and correct possible mistakes.
Some sites encountered an unexpected problem. It turned out that the new platform does not support sites without “www” prefix. Because of this, some sites with the main mirror without “www” migrated to a new mirror without prior recommendations for such a move. This resulted in following:
- Page redirects from sites without “www” to sites with “www” were not configured.
- It was impossible to install SSL certificate on the old mirror without “www”.
We promptly set the task to set up page-by-page redirects from all non-primary hosts. We also “moved” the sites in Google and Yandex webmaster services. These measures helped to avoid a drop in traffic.
After the migration, traffic to most sites increased.
During our work with the Sanofi projects, traffic to all sites with regular SEO support was constantly growing. The exception is the website for medical professionals docsfera.ru, which content was closed to unauthorized users and search bots until the beginning of 2022.
Websites for over-the-counter drugs:
- allergia.pro: -35% in 2020; +1087% in 2021
- lasolvan.ru: +139% in 2020; +213% in 2021
- no-spa.ru: +289% in 2020; -26% in 2021
- komfort-vnutri.ru: +987% in 2020; +632% in 2021
- magneb6.ru: +18% in 2020; +14% in 2021
- essentiale.ru: +99% in 2020; +184% in 2021
- proviver.ru: +229% in 2020; +574% in 2021
Prescription drug websites:
- helpheart.ru: +310% of traffic over 1.5 years (July 2020 – December 2021)
- shkoladiabeta.ru: +328% of traffic over 1.5 years (July 2020 – December 2021)
- privivka.ru: +15% of traffic in 2021
- redkiebolezni.ru: +434% of traffic over 1.5 years (July 2020 – December 2021)
- rodnayakrov.ru (a new website): from 0 to 5,000 users monthly over 10 months
- atopia.live (a new website): 0 to 2,500 users monthly over 10 months
of organic users in 2020 on prescription drug websites
of organic traffic in 2021 on prescription drug websites
of organic traffic over 1.5 years for over-the-counter drug websites
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