10 Proven Strategies for a Trustworthy Website

The difference between SEO and PPC: Everything you need to know

Web.com Team

Is your small business’s digital marketing strategy only getting you halfway to your goal? If so, the problem could be that you’re relying solely on search engine optimization (SEO) to drive traffic to your business website.

While SEO is essential to attracting site visitors, it’s not enough on its own to generate the amount of leads a small business needs in order to keep growing. To do that, you need to incorporate some other elements into your game plan.

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Search Engine Optimization (SEO) vs Pay Per Click Advertising (PPC): How Does Paid Search Compare to SEO?

SEM or “Search Engine Marketing” is a broad term. It’s everything that can be done to utilize the technology of search engines with the goal of promoting a web site and increasing its traffic. SEM includes both unpaid (organic) methods like SEO and paid tactics like PPC.

No SEM campaign is complete without SEO. The purpose of SEO is to make websites better for both search engines and users. It includes things like utilizing proper code; user-friendly site design and navigation; meta-tags and site maps that contain key words and phrases relevant to your business and site content; providing relevant educational content and keeping it updated; and nourishing inbound links to your website from social media, blogs, and other relevant, authoritative sources. If any business is going to spend money on advertising and paid placement, then SEO must be the first step in promoting their site.

Google search engine results page

The advantages of SEO

SEO is a cost-effective strategy for the long term. Since search results can remain in place for long periods of time, your initial investment can potentially provide great results far into the future. Organic rankings can also provide a more significant boost to your business’s credibility because most people tend to trust organic search results over paid ones.

That said, it is important to note that over the years, search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo have redesigned their paid search results to look more and more like organic ones. This, coupled with continuing efforts to reward advertisers for quality content and ad relevance in paid search, have resulted in generally higher quality ads, which are continuing to whittle away at the “trust” gap.

Perhaps one of the most important benefits of SEO is the ability to rank for certain “long tail” keywords and phrases that you may not even be focusing on, but that are associated with specific content on any of your pages. Organic search has a way of delivering these kinds of “pleasant surprises” and you can build your content out to the degree you choose, over time. Remember that you will want to keep your content fresh, as this is one of the attributes that contributes to “winning” the SEO game.

The advantages of PPC

By contrast, PPC is more precise—great for attracting targeted traffic when you want or need it, and pulling in those who are further down the purchase funnel (i.e. those who are closer to making a purchase decision, as opposed to those who may still be researching). PPC enjoys higher conversation rates and higher net revenue per visit than organic search clicks, and your ad spend budget is only used when someone clicks on your ad.

You can also target your ads to be served to very specific geographic locales and are allowed to bid how much you would like to pay per click (thus the name). You can drive traffic to your website on the same day you open a PPC account and it’s easy to measure the exact cost of acquiring a new customer, and overall return on investment.

PPC is great for vying for select, highly competitive keywords, and for focused campaigns. If there are service lines that you have identified as highest margin or most valuable to your practice for any reason, then a good strategy may be dedicating your PPC spend to these particular areas, while trying to capture the rest with SEO to the degree that you are able. If you are trying to establish brand awareness in a specific new location, again, PPC is a way to achieve this quickly.

Integrate Your PPC and SEO

Putting all your eggs in one marketing basket has never been a smart move. A business that only advertises in the local newspaper or spends all its marketing budget on putting up billboards is being foolish. Once you’ve optimized your website, the next step to success is diversifying your marketing efforts across a wide range of channels. These should include:

  1. Content marketing: Content can include blog posts, videos, images (such as infographics), online webinars, whitepapers — basically any format in which you share information with your customers and prospective customers. Putting quality content on your website will help your site rise higher in search engine rankings. However, you can also share content outside of your website. For example, you can share your content by posting it on social media, by guest blogging on industry websites, or by using “gated content” — content that users have to give up some information in order to access, like downloading a white paper or participating in a webinar. Just make sure that your content drives users to your website with a call-to-action and a link back to a landing page.
  2. Paid search advertising: If you market your business on Facebook at all, you know it’s become more difficult to get attention on the social site with organic posts. To get more customers through social media, you generally need to pay for advertising, too. It’s the same concept with paid search or pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. Search engine optimization of your website will boost your site in organic search engine results — but adding PPC advertising to the mix increases the odds that your target customers will see your business website. It has been found that PPC generates twice the number of visitors compared to SEO. Paid search relies on keywords, just like search engine optimization does, and you will need to test different offers, headlines, and advertising formats to see which ones work best. You can also get help from digital marketing experts to guide your PPC campaign and help your ads come out on top.
  3. Local search listings: Did you know that there are more than 2.4 million searches happen through Google every minute? Not to mention that 76% of all global searches take place on Google. Clearly, standing out on Google makes a huge difference in attracting new leads and customers. That’s why it’s so important to make sure your business is listed in Google’s local search directory and shows up in Google Maps when users search for what you sell. If your business is local, seeing that you’re just a few blocks away could be enough to make a customer come knocking on your business’s door instead of your competition’s.

Industry case study: SEO or PPC – Which is more beneficial for healthcare marketing?

SEO and PPC both play key roles in successful online marketing

Understanding which is more beneficial – SEO or PPC, is a common challenge for healthcare marketers. Each offers their own advantages and both play critical roles in allowing medical professionals and healthcare organizations to be discovered by, connect with, and engage prospective patients, while growing market share in an increasingly competitive environment. The keys are understanding the differences between the two; considering which are most appropriate given your specific objectives; and applying them strategically while testing, monitoring and measuring results which will ultimately allow you to adjust your resources most effectively.

“Promoting” is a word that makes many medical professionals uncomfortable. But as all healthcare providers understand, achieving good health isn’t always comfortable. The fact is that in this day and age, being able to be found online should be considered a responsibility for healthcare service providers.

Being “discoverable” online benefits medical professionals and patients. It builds trust and comfort between patients and providers. It provides patients confidence in an individual or organization’s ability to help them.

SEO, SEM, and PPC all work to help ensure that providers are visible online, while allowing them to communicate high-value information to patients who are searching actively for it. 

Providing helpful information allows individuals and organizations to become authorities in their fields, building credibility and top-of-mind awareness. When it comes to their personal health, consumers are naturally selective, and understanding who the leaders are is critically important to them.

While it can be difficult to identify the perfect balance of time and resources to dedicate to SEO and PPC, effective online marketing strategies should include both paid and organic campaigns. Putting all of your marketing budget into one basket is risky. If your strategy focuses entirely on organic results, you’ll likely miss out on the estimated 25% to 40% (depending upon which study you deem most credible) of searchers who are more apt to click on paid listings, even when your organic listing sits in the #1 organic spot, just below the ads on the search engine results pages (SERPS).

If you focus entirely on PPC, you may fail to attract the other (60% – 75%) of searchers. Additionally, if your organic rankings suddenly take a dive due to unforeseen search engine algorithm changes, and you don’t have a PPC campaign, your business might quietly disappear from your targeted SERPS.

Online marketing strategy for the healthcare industry

The bottom line is that both SEO and PPC should play roles in your online marketing. Making sure that your website is fundamentally optimized for organic search is the most basic component of good SEO, but it is ultimately an ongoing process that is broad-reaching and constantly evolving. The more time you dedicate to it, the more you’ll likely benefit from it. And while you may have difficulty understanding exactly what works and what doesn’t, and trouble quantifying ROI, your gains will generally be long lasting and benefit you in ways you may not have even anticipated.

PPC on the other hand, is one of the quickest, easiest ways to generate targeted traffic to websites and is particularly useful for focused efforts. It allows businesses to control expenses by setting maximums for ads, providing exceptional analytics tracking and straightforward means for calculating ROI. While it can be a short- or long-term strategy, once you cease paying, the associated traffic to your website ends. But the tracking mechanism and ability to quickly turn it on or off, diffuses most risks.

Both methods involve steep learning curves and a great deal of time to master. There is always something that can be done to improve results and the rules of the game are constantly changing requiring continual monitoring of industry trends; testing; analysis and learning. Like so many disciplines, it is best left in the hands of trusted professionals who have invested the time in the proper education and training, and whose experience helps set them apart.

Final thoughts

Don’t settle for a marketing strategy that only takes you half the way to success. By incorporating the key elements above into your digital marketing plan, along with good SEO, your business will soon see better results, more leads and more sales.

  • Web.com Team

    Our goal is to be your go-to partner in today’s always-on digital world.

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