Google is a monster digital marketing tool, and its power cannot be denied – when looking at paid vs organic search, which is better for your practice? Research confirms that:
- Google processes more than 100,000 search queries per second
- More than 8.5 billion Google searches happen every day, while Bing has just over a billion monthly searches
- Google’s global search engine market share is 91.88%
The challenge with Google is understanding how to use it to reach your target audience. Fortunately, there are different tools that can help you use Google to your advantage, including PPC and SEO. But how do you decide between paid vs organic search?
Paid Search Results and PPC Advertising
When considering paid vs organic search for your medical practice, your primary considerations will be time, budget, and resources. If you have a healthy marketing budget, limited time and resources, and an ambitious goal to quickly attract new patients, then Pay-Per-Click advertising (PPC) is likely your best option. However, if you are working with a modest budget, it is probably best to focus on an organic approach.
What is Pay-Per-Click Advertising?
PPC campaigns, also referred to as paid search ads, means an advertiser gets prominent placement in search results and will be charged for every time someone clicks the ad.
Google Ads is Google’s PPC platform. From there, anyone can build a campaign with Google Ads. Every time someone searches, Google chooses from among its advertisers to display ads in the top three positions of search results depending on:
- The quality and relevance of the ad campaign
- The keywords selected
- The maximum bid amount (how much you are willing to pay) for those keywords
Collectively, those factors make up your “ad rank.”
PPC relies on “keywords” which are words or short phrases that describe your services and match what your prospective patients will be searching for on Google. For example, if you have an orthopedic practice, you will want to use keywords such as “hip replacement” or other relevant procedures you wish to promote.
Your PPC spend depends on your target keywords. The average cost of PPC is around $2 to $4 per click in the healthcare market. The good news is that you can set your maximum bid amount to ensure that you stay within your PPC budget. But keep in mind that you end up paying for every click, so you want actual prospective patients seeing the ad and not just anyone.
Why Use Paid Search as Part of Your Strategy
The internet is crowded and often full of competition in the medical space. The goal of PPC is to stand out from the crowd. For many practices, they will find that their competitors are already gaining visibility through paid search, and this is what many patients see first when they search online for medical services.
For new or expanding medical practices, time is of the essence. If rapid growth is your goal, then a strategic PPC campaign will deliver the fastest return on your investment. Benefits of paid search include:
- Cost-effective, fast results
- Ability to target a specific service and geographic area
- Measurable results
- Flexibility to tweak ads
- Control over your ad budget
One caveat, PPC ad costs for ineffective campaign can add up. Be sure to carefully plan and monitor ad performance and adjust as needed.
Organic Search Results and Search Engine Optimization
The first thing most people do when they need a new doctor is to turn to Google. In fact, 77% of provider searches start online. That is why good search engine optimization (SEO) is so important for your website. SEO helps ensure that your practice will be found in unpaid, or organic, searches by patients who are actively seeking a provider or procedure.
What is SEO?
SEO is the process of optimizing your website so that it shows up on the first page of Google searches based upon relevant keywords. Essentially, that means building your website in such a way that makes it easier for patients to find you.
The most consequential element of medical search engine optimization is content. Your website should include keywords to help Google find your page and connect you with patients seeking your services. Include your keywords in:
- Meta descriptions
- Image file names
Blog content is another way to improve SEO. Google will rank blog content based on timeliness, quality, and relevance to your audience. Blogs also improve keyword ranking strength – helping you stay ahead of your competition. Other elements of a good SEO strategy include:
- Fast-loading pages
- Mobile-friendly (responsive) design
- User-friendly layout
- Pages feature your location(s)
Why Use SEO as Part of Your Strategy
Simply put, if your website is not optimized, you will not rank high in search results and your patients will not find you – defeating the whole purpose of having a website to begin with. Effective SEO will increase your visibility and give you a competitive advantage. Other advantages of using SEO as part of your overall digital marketing strategy to attract and retain patients include:
- Cost-effective (paid vs organic search) – organic SEO’s only cost is time
- Long term benefits – organic SEO traffic continues long-term
- Brand recognition – when patients see you often online, it helps build awareness
Google My Business is another free and effective tool to improve healthcare local SEO for your website. You can use the service to create a personalized business profile page. Since Google’s algorithm can tell when a user is looking for local service, your practice will appear in localized search results.
Be sure to keep your hours, locations, phone number and URL current on your local business page. Also, monitor and respond to any reviews on your profile.
Summary: Paid vs Organic Search
Organic vs paid search each have their own pros and cons. While PPC works a lot faster than organic SEO, that speed comes at a price since with PPC you are bidding for that prime placement. If you are not in a hurry, and have the right resources, SEO will benefit your practice over the long term.
If you are still trying to decide between paid vs organic search, the good news is that you do not have to choose one or the other. A combination of the two will provide both immediate and long-term results for your practice. One thing is for sure, if you do not have a strategy to help patients find you online, you can be sure that your competition does.
iHealthspot Can Help
It is not always easy to decide on the best approach to PPC vs organic search. That is why it helps to have medical marketing experts on your side. iHealthSpot Interactive consultants can help you build a strong online presence to achieve your practice goals while staying on budget. Our SEO services include:
- On-page SEO for keywords
- Local SEO for multiple office locations
- Monthly, custom-written blogs
- Monthly keyword ranking reports and consultation
iHealthSpot is a certified Google partner and our team of experts creates and optimizes PPC campaigns to ensure your practice appears at the top of Google search results. Our PPC experts know what works – and what does not – so you do not have to waste time and money trying to guess. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you improve your online visibility and attract new patients.