Medical SEO vs. Medical Advertising – Which One Is Better?
This is a very common question, asked by physicians and medical practices every day.
When you are promoting your medical practice, there are many ways to get the word out about the services you offer at your location to your community. If you are unfamiliar with the world of marketing, a variety of terms may begin to blend. While they may seem interchangeable, they are not. It is essential to know the difference between two critical medical marketing techniques that many practices use: Medical SEO & Medical Advertising. Both will play vital roles in getting more people through the front door to your business.
What is the difference between Medical SEO & Medical Advertising?
To fully understand the difference between Medical SEO and Medical Advertising, it is easiest to look at each concept on their own.
What is Medical SEO?
SEO is short for search engine optimization. SEO is a marketing concept that is applied across many industries, not just the world of health care. When you apply search engine optimization improvements to your website, you are making it easier to be understood by search engines. The vast majority of your new patients are going to find your medical practice using search engines. SEO helps your website gets to the top of search engine results.
Medical SEO focuses on target keywords patients who most likely need your services will use to find your practice. Improvements are made to your website that focus on those keywords. Generally, Medical SEO improves content, so that target keywords are used strategically throughout your website, so search engines begin to associate it with your medical practice.
What is Medical Advertising?
Medical advertising involves paying for ad placements in search engine results. These ad placements generally appear above the organic results. You would make these purchases through ad networks like Google AdWords, Bing Ads, or Yelp Ads. Regardless of how well you rank for a target keyword, you generally can purchase a top spot for a keyword if you are willing to pay for it. With that said, you cannot buy a keyword that is irrelevant to your website. For example, it would be very hard as a foot doctor to purchase the top spot for the keyword “hot dog vendor,” unless you had, for some reason, a page on your website dedicated to the feet of hot dog vendors.
The goal of both Medical SEO and Medical Advertising is to put your website in front of the faces of people who are possibly looking for your medical services. Medical SEO works on the organic side of search results while Medical Advertising works on the paid search result side. Medical SEO is a long-term proposition, taking months if not years to secure top spots, while Medical Advertising is more immediate.
What are the key benefits?
The benefits to both Medical SEO and Medical Advertising is that you beat out your competitors for the top search results if done correctly. Generally, the more often you appear in the top results for keywords, the more likely you will receive clicks to your website, and the more likely patients will go forward with using your services.
The key benefit of Medical SEO is that you do not need to pay for the organic results. If you appear as a top result for a keyword, you do not need to pay each time someone clicks on your website, unlike medical advertising. High organic ranking takes a while to achieve and depends on many factors, including your location, the location of the person searching for medical services, and the relevancy of your website to the search. However, once you achieve that top organic ranking, it won’t be effortless for a competitor to dislodge you. With that in mind, maintenance to your medical SEO must continue to keep you at that top spot.
The key benefit of medical advertising is that your website appears before any organic result, so it will be the first thing a potential patient will see. Your organic ranking does not play a role in your ability to buy an ad placement, although the relevancy of your website to the ad may affect the overall price. Good medical SEO can help lower the cost, even if it is not yet producing organic results. Another benefit to medical advertising is that your ads will begin to show quickly, rather than having to wait to climb the organic rankings slowly.
Which one has better ROI, medical SEO, or Medical Advertising?
Evaluating the ROI on Medical SEO and Medical Advertising depends on the time span you are considering. If you start both at the same time, Medical Advertising will have a better ROI in the short term compared to Medical SEO. As time goes by and organic rankings increase, Medical SEO generally has a better ROI long term. Does this mean you should only concentrate on Medical SEO? Absolutely not. Medical advertising plays an essential role in reaching patients when you are starting, driving traffic to your website, making your business more relevant to searches. Once you have established good Medical SEO for your top keywords, you can shift your medical advertising budget to keywords that are harder to achieve a better ranking. These often include keywords for services that are not usually associated with your medical practice or locations that are nearby, but not exactly close to your medical practice. While short term ROI on Medical SEO is poor, improving the keywords on your website from an organic standpoint will make advertising it easier. The more relevant your website is to the keywords you are paying for, the higher the quality score the ads will receive, making them much more efficient.
At the end of the day, Medical SEO and Medical Advertising go hand in hand in promoting your medical practice. While both somewhat operate independently of each other, they both can influence the effectiveness of the other. A medical practice is well served by putting time and money into the development of both marketing practices. Many make the mistake of spending some time with both and then not maintaining it or revisiting it to make improvements. Today’s effective Medical SEO and Medical Advertising techniques could be tomorrow’s old-fashioned ways to promote your business. Pay attention to the changes in marketing in the healthcare industry and monitor your competitors to see if they begin to do anything different. If you stay ahead of them, you’ll keep your waiting room busy with patients!