Most Doctors Ignore Paid Search to Access Health Content: comScore

By Brian T. Horowitz  |  Posted 2011-03-14 Print this article Print

title=Physicians Prefer Nonreferred Visits} 

Nonreferred visits, or direct navigation, in which searchers manually enter a URL or access sites from bookmarks, are how physicians find a majority of sites, according to comScore. 

"Physicians don't click on paid search," Mangano said. "If they're using search, they're going to click on nonreferred [links]."  

Categories of sites physicians visited the most include Pharmacy Services at 73 percent, Pharma Support at 67 percent and Clinic Sites at 59 percent. 

In contrast, paid search of pharmaceutical sites accounted for only 7 percent of doctors' Web visits in comScore's research.  

Physicians' visits to government health sites and social media sites generated 100 percent natural search results. Meanwhile, 80 percent of visits to pharmaceutical sites were natural search compared with 20 percent paid. 

Of physicians' natural search activity, 71 percent was geared toward locating physicians and 59 percent involved searching for general health content, like that of WebMD and Everyday Health. Meanwhile, 45 percent of doctors' Web visits led to government health sites such as the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) or National Institutes of Health. 

To compile the report on physicians' search habits, which comScore released as part of its comScore/ImpactRx Physician Behavioral Measurement initiative, comScore gathered search data from about 1,000 physicians. 

ImpactRx tracks and evaluates how pharmaceutical promotional activities may lead to physician prescribing behavior.

When companies are forming their SEO plans for health care sites, they want to keep in mind that doctors prefer natural search, Mangano suggested. 

"They're going to be more receptive to results coming off of organic search, so definitely don't overlook search engine optimization," he advised. "That should be as important, if not more so, than a paid search strategy."

Brian T. Horowitz is a freelance technology and health writer as well as a copy editor. Brian has worked on the tech beat since 1996 and covered health care IT and rugged mobile computing for eWEEK since 2010. He has contributed to more than 20 publications, including Computer Shopper, Fast Company,, More, NYSE Magazine, Parents,, USA Weekend and, as well as other consumer and trade publications. Brian holds a B.A. from Hofstra University in New York.

Follow him on Twitter: @bthorowitz


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