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Selecting quality keyword research for life science companies is significantly more challenging than many other industries. The reason for this is because within life sciences there are many sub-fields targeting a variety of completely different audiences. For example, a large scale cGMP company is not going to be targeting the same audience as a commodity driven antibody company. Alternatively, often times one company might have both a clinical division as well as a products division. Therefore, they are targeting two very different audiences with both their keywords and website. To top it off, unlike many other industries, there is a large amount of online traffic coming from academics (eg. undergraduate biochemistry students) searching for broad keywords such as ‘monoclonal antibody’ or ‘crispr’ just to learn more. Alternatively, someone Googling, ‘shoes’ in the consumer commodities market, has a much higher relevancy rate. In short, focusing your time on optimizing for only ‘sequencing’ when your company sells RNA sequencing instrumentation or services probably isn’t the right keyword.

9. Utilize Google Keyword Planner to search for keyword suggestions.

10. Utilize ($79/mo) for long string keywords to target as well as utilize for future content marketing/AdWords.

11. Analyze the keyword suggestions, and select a target keyword (or related group of keywords) for each web page. The keywords that you select will depend on 4 factors:

  • Average Monthly Search Traffic
  • Relevance
  • Search Engine Competition
  • Your Current Rankings

Search Traffic

This factor is obvious. The higher the monthly search traffic, the better. Consider the key phrases below:

Keyword Avg. Monthly Searches
alkaline phosphatase 90,500
alkaline phosphatase staining 390


Fig 1. A comparison of high traffic keywords versus relevancy.

“Alkaline phosphatase” has by far the most traffic, so it is the obvious one to pick. Right? Well, actually a life science specific SEO specialist may consider picking “alkaline phosphatase staining” depending upon the relevance of the keywords to the page that is being optimized…


Sure, targeting the keyword with the most monthly search traffic seems appealing, but how relevant is that keyword to the page you are optimizing? In the above case, if you were optimizing a page of Alkaline Phosphatase Staining Kits, then a keyword like “alkaline phosphatase” would be far too general.


Fig 2. Google algorithmically ranks organic searches by searcher intent.

One of the major things to consider when choosing a keyword is the searcher’s intent. What is the searcher looking for when he/she searches “alkaline phosphatase”? A good assumption would be that they are looking for general information about the compound and enzyme. A look at the Google SERPs will tell you more:

As suspected, the top 2 results are Wikipedia pages giving general information about the enzyme. The remainder of the first page results are pages about the ALP Test, which are not relevant to staining kits.

Google has done an excellent job at configuring its algorithm to show search results that match the information that the searcher is looking for. The above results indicate that users searching alkaline phosphatase” are not looking for alkaline phosphatase staining kits. As a result, if these searchers landed on a staining kits page, they would click back or bounce to find the information they are looking for. A high bounce rate will result in lower rankings (more on that in later points).

Consequently, it would be wiser to pick a more relevant keyword like “alkaline phosphatase staining”.

It may even be worth considering targeting a longer tail keyword like “alkaline phosphatase staining kit”, which has only 10 searches/month. Of course this is very low traffic. But again, think about the searcher intent! A user searching for this keyword is clearly looking to buy a staining kit. Ranking number 1 for this keyword could be way more valuable than ranking for “alkaline phosphatase staining”, where searchers may in fact be looking for the staining method or protocol.

Which keyword you choose out of the two would be a matter of preference, but there are 2 more major factors that will help with your decision…

Search Engine Competition

When choosing between a selection of keywords, checking the competition in the search engines is a key step. An easy way to measure yourself against your competition is checking your Domain Authority against theirs.

Domain Authority (DA), in a nutshell, is a score out of 100 based on an algorithm developed by It shows your likeliness to rank for a keyword. You can read more about DA here.

You can check the DA of each competitor in the search results manually using a tool like the Domain Authority Checker. A seamless way is by using the Moz SEO Toolbar.

If you have a website with a DA of around 20-30, and all page 1 results for your target keyword have DA 60+ (as search engine dominant companies like Thermofisher, Sigma and Abcam do), then it is not likely that you will rank if the content you produce is similar to theirs. If they are not effectively optimizing the target keyword however, or you know that your content is going to be significantly better, you could be in with a chance.

If a competitor with a low DA is ranking on the 1st page, then go check out their content and learn why they are ranking.

Current Rankings

The next thing to check is where your domain is currently ranking. The best and quickest tool for this is Moz Rank Tracker which is free with a Moz Pro subscription.

If you are currently ranking #12 for a keyword that you are not optimized for, then optimizing for this keyword will likely push you to page 1.

Another reason to check your current rankings is because another page on your website could already be ranking. If this is the case then you may not want to disturb that ranking and create competition by optimizing another page for the same keyword.


Our client Vector Labs wanted to rank the below Lectins page for the keyword “lectins”, which has an avg search traffic of 14,800. Pretty good!

We found that Vector’s Lectins and Glycobiology Reagents page was already ranking #12 for “lectins” and therefore this page (rather than the Lectins page) should be optimized for that keyword instead to push it to page 1.

Considering the Lectins page was in fact a page for Lectin Binding Assay products, we chose to optimize the page for the very relevant keyword “lectin binding assays”. This keyword only has 20 searches/mo, but these are searchers looking to buy these assays.


Fig 3. An example with VectorLabs and preventing keyword cannibalization.

12. Create a keyword map across your content.

This will help you to build a base of content designed around contextually relevant and interconnected topics. Similar to building a house, you can build your SEO bricks by:

  1. Defining the requirements of what your house needs to have.
  2. Design a blueprint to figure out where things will be built.
  3. Develop the structures needed to support your requirements.
  4. You can learn more on how to create a structured keyword map across all of your content by reading this guide.

Fig 4. An example of a keyword map template.