On October 20, 2021, the FDA finally shared their proposed regulations around OTC for public inspection and comment.
If you’ve not gone through it, I cannot blame you.
It’s 33,000 words long. That’s more words than Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory! (Seriously!)
And if Willy Wonka invented the everlasting gobstopper … these proposed regulations very much feel like an everlasting drivel of contradiction.
I went through it. There was a lot to go through.
But “I spy, my marketing eye” caught two little (yet big!) things.
That’s because, like it or loathe it, over-the-counter is going to make a lot of changes in the industry.
But as many people focus on the technology, the impact on ASP, or the added confusion in the patients’ decision making process, I believe one key thing is being overlooked.
That is LANGUAGE.
That’s because, historically, hearing aids have been called hearing aids.
If somebody wanted to go on Google and look for hearing aids, they knew what they were looking for and it was a very straightforward process.
However, with “over-the-counter hearing aids” becoming a common term, it means that traditional/medical-grade hearing aids are going to form a label also.
“Hearing aids” is going to grow into an all-encompassing term.
The question is, what are traditional hearing aids going to be known as?
Well, reading through the proposed regulations gave two very interesting insights.
The first was this:
In this section, the proposed regulation talks about the two different types of hearing aids and it labels traditional hearing aids as “prescription hearing aids.”
In fact, throughout the entire piece, this is the terminology used to label real hearing aids.
Then when I explored further and read all the comments on the regulations, it was interesting to see that many people had quickly adopted this language when commenting on the differences.
This indicates that “prescription hearing aids” is highly likely to be the terminology that describes what you fit.
But here’s where it gets very interesting.
That’s because, based on some keyword research on Google, hardly anybody in the US is searching for “prescription hearing aids.”
It receives an average of 170 searches per month.
That is 329 million people in the US searching just 170 times per month.
When you compare that to the numbers for terms like “Hearing Aid” (201,000 monthly searches) and “Audiologist” (90,500 monthly searches) – you see just how rarely searched it is.
Why is this an opportunity?
Well, it means that right now, hardly any websites in hearing care are giving consideration to this terminology.
Yet if you can do the work now to start building “prescription hearing aid” into your SEO strategy, it means that when this language shift starts to happen, then you’re going to dominate Google.
It’s open water.
It also means that people that search “prescription hearing aids” are specifically looking for the devices that you fit, and they’re likely to be a better quality lead than somebody searching for general “hearing aids.”
If you have an SEO company, then be sure to highlight this to them and be ahead of the curve!
I then continued to read through the regulations and I spotted something else.
In the summary of the proposed statement on the packaging of OTC devices, it shared how it would have to advise that any “red flag conditions” should consult with an “ear specialist.”
Once again, I found this term somewhat unique.
It’s not a common term that much of the industry uses to describe themselves and not a keyword that many websites optimize for.
So, I followed the same process and researched how many people search this term each month.
It’s 3,600 people.
Once again, it’s hardly searched – it’s open water from an SEO perspective.
Yet once OTC hits full speed, you may find that all packaging uses this term to describe what somebody should look for if they have a more complex hearing challenge.
It could be a perfect pipeline of people that have decided to address a hearing challenge (and have purchased OTC) but realized they need specialist help.
These will be people that are much further down the decision making process than your average Google search, and if you can win this battle, then it could become very fruitful.
The Success Is All In The Implementation
These are two opportunities that could become very exciting over the coming months and years, and your job should be to either speak to your SEO company to ensure these keywords are part of your strategy, or hire somebody that knows what they’re doing.
But please know that speed often beats perfection.
Being the first to the punch will have a bigger difference than trying to be perfect and sluggish.
I’ll be continuing to monitor the traffic around these keywords and the final regulations prior to them being published.
Thanks for reading.