SEO tactics woven organically into a website can assist in transforming it into a powerful tool that helps bring in new patients while also conveying a positive experience and educating the patient. Pay-per-click (PPC) strategies boost this effect further by guiding patients directly to the content displayed on your site.
Search engines look to quality websites and pages as voices of authority to display when a patient enters a query. The search engine relies on displaying the most relevant and high-quality result possible, so the patient will remember to come back to that search engine the next time they need a question answered.
Considering the billions of Web pages out there, getting first-page results is incredibly competitive. Pay-per-click is a way to get ahead of the competition—for a price. The search engine will still prefer to show great results, but pay-per-click ads create many opportunities that practices of all sizes can choose from.
It takes time for search engines to review (index) and organically give a higher rank to newly released web content. Depending on the content quality and how competitive the topic and market geography are, it could take weeks, months, or even years for a Web page to show up on the first page of results. Note that 75 percent of users do not explore past that first page.
Pay-per-click instantly cuts straight through this barrier by displaying ads that float above the top-ranking search results. This allows you to maintain your practice’s presence on key procedures and despite changing search engine algorithms.
Expect that when your Web page finally does rank high, you’ll still see competing service providers’ PPC ads above your organic listing. Some of these ads may even be set to directly target your website! Not all is lost, however. Organic search results are still seen as a more credible link.
If you are advertising via PPC while also enjoying top-ranking page results, having the website show up twice on the first page boosts the practice’s perceived credibility to the patient, while limiting the space available on the first page to competitors.
Pay-per-click is great at focusing on specific pages and services, and it’s quickly adaptable. If a practice wishes to switch focus from BOTOX® to JUVEDERM® or from breast augmentation to liposuction, ads can be changed immediately. Ads can also be updated so traffic is sent to the new targeted page, instead of the old. Throughout the time focus was on the old page, it will have built up credibility with search engines and should now see organic results, even though the pay-per-click focus has moved elsewhere.
Another advantage of having potential patients come to optimized content through pay-per-click ads is that those patients are now primed with information about services before arriving at the landing page. Is the doctor board certified? Can the procedure be done during a lunch hour? Is the practice close by? These are quick bits of key information the patient can learn even before they begin to absorb your Web page content. In addition, patients can be further primed with mentions of other website features such as financing options, photo galleries, video galleries, or treatment planners.
A great pay-per-click ad builds expectations, so that when a patient explores the website further or contacts the practice, those expectations are met. From the beginning to the end of the sales cycle, the experience is reinforced, potentially providing a higher rate of conversions.
Finally, organic results bring traffic from patients who are searching for closely related terms (“implants” as opposed to “augmentation,” for example), but pay-per-click can be more easily focused on either broad or narrow fields. With pay-per-click, you can reach patients who weren’t previously considering a practice’s services. Or PPC can be aimed at patients who are ready to buy now because they’re searching for phrases like “I want CoolSculpting® services right away.”
Pay-per-click traffic can be 1.5 times more likely to convert a patient than just organic content alone. As a result, having strong pay-per-click ads matched with quality Web page content is a great combination for an online marketing strategy.
Sean Berry is MetaMed Marketing’s account coordinator and in-house digital media specialist.