As business-focused professionals, we all know that simply having a static online presence is no longer an option if we want to drive traffic to our websites and ultimately into the business. There are a plethora of advanced digital marketing strategies for attracting online traffic, but which ones are best for your practice? If you currently have a robust online presence with a content-rich website, you’re ready for at least one advanced option. Let’s examine both Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Pay-Per-Click (PPC) and help you to determine what is the best tactic to incorporate into your digital marketing strategy.
When attempting to understand the difference between SEO and PPC and which one to implement, let’s first define the differences and benefits of each:
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Overview: The purpose of implementing Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is to get your website to rank organically near the top of page one in the search results. For example, if a Google search with the keywords “deep dish pizza in Chicago” is conducted, the organic results that populate at the top of the search engine are dependent upon several factors, one of which is SEO. Here’s an example of the search results for that specific phrase:
Based on the results, it appears that the businesses Giordano’s, Pequod’s Pizza and Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria have invested in SEO tactics such as reviews and keyword optimization on their respective websites. We can determine this since they’ve appeared at the top of the organic results, based on our keyword search.
How does it work?: Google (and other search engines) use proprietary algorithms to determine how relevant the information on your website is when someone searches a specific keyword or phrase. In the example above, the results for “deep dish pizza in Chicago” generated listings for three popular pizzerias; obviously the results are relevant to the keyword search and in turn, the content on the respective websites is optimized for those keywords. Therefore, it’s important to understand that when incorporating an SEO strategy, you must focus on adding relevant content to your website via keywords. This ensures that your products and services are promoted authentically to match the terms that consumers are searching.
Cost: An investment in SEO typically begins at a few hundred dollars per month if working with a digital marketing partner.
Overview: The overall goal of Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising is to quickly generate new leads for your website. In essence, businesses pay a “media” fee through Google AdWords to appear at the top of the search engine and hope that they’ll click on the first ad they see. For this example, let’s conduct a Google search for the keyword term “Starbucks coffee.” Here are the results:
In the example above, you can see where Starbucks has sponsored an “Ad” in order to appear at the top of the search listings (arrow A). You can also see that companies such as Jet.com and Staples which carry Starbucks products have purchased sponsored content (arrow B). With any keyword search, PPC ads will display above and below the organic search results. Adding PPC to your digital marketing strategy can create traffic to your website quickly, but you want to make sure someone is monitoring the results closely.
How does it work?: The advertiser or sponsor pays each time someone clicks on the link that is included in the ad; if no one clicks, the Google AdWords account is not debited. PPC costs are determined by bidding and can be set based on keyword searches and geography. In the example above, Starbucks is targeting anyone that searches the keywords “Starbucks coffee,” no matter where they are located in the United States. With PPC, you want to ensure that the person managing the account understands the bidding of your specific keyword terms and can properly manage the Google AdWords (media spend) each month. You also want to make sure that one clicks on the PPC ad it is directed to relevant information on your website and it encourages them to call the practice.
Cost: An investment in PPC has two components, the media buy (paid directly to Google AdWords) and the management fee. Expect to pay a minimum of $500 for AdWords and $300 in management fees per month if working with a digital marketing partner. The AdWords budget is typically determined by the keywords and your market.
Which strategy is best for you?
SEO and PPC typically work best when they co-exist within a digital marketing strategy; attaching consumers from both organic and paid searches. We know that’s not always feasible from a readiness or budgetary standpoint, so let’s approach the “best” strategy by understanding the goals of the practice. If a practice just opened or has added a new location, PPC is the short term solution to get new patients in the door quickly. SEO, in contrast, is a longer term strategy and may be best for a practice that just completed a website update or doesn’t have much competition. Your practice goals combined with the maturity of your online strategy and digital marketing budget will help determine the appropriate next steps.
Regardless of which strategy you decide to pursue, ensure that you are tracking effectiveness via Google Analytics and following your investment through to sale, if possible. You’ll want to ensure that all of your marketing dollars are spent effectively.
Consult YHN can help! Consult YHN partners with several digital marketing vendors that offer both SEO and PPC programs. The Consult YHN Marketing Team is also available to consult on your digital marketing strategy, including reviewing proposals, developing budget suggestions, offering recommendations, and more. Contact marketing@ConsultYHN.com to get started today!
Want to know more of what not to do with your online presence? Here’s the remainder of our list of 10 do’s and 10 don’ts to keep your online activities on the right track in 2013.
Don’t: Hide your contact information away in an obscure spot or buried page.
Do: Present your contact information (address, phone number, email address) and other critical details noticeably on your website. No need to go overboard and plaster it in 60 point type everywhere either – that does not send the message you are looking for, does it? Make certain it is in one primary spot, then use the footer or text-based references to sprinkle it throughout the site. The same thing applies to listings, social media profiles, and any other online space that you have created. Be sure to check for accuracy and consistency across your entire online presence, it will help search engines recognize and elevate your business in local search rankings.
Don’t: Disregard the fact that happy customers are your best promoters.
Do: Share positive reviews and comments from some of your best customers. It is up to you how elaborately you want to do this – whether written or via video clips. Video can be impromptu personal video camera quality, or professionally shot and edited, however you choose and whichever your budget allows. Use them on your website, social media pages, and/or company blog to establish credibility for your practice. This process ensures you are paying attention to feedback from your customers and provides a “voice” of your patients for others to gauge. That voice needs to be authentic and real, not prescribed and contrived – consumers can tell the difference.
Don’t: Assume you are immune to criticism, or take your reputation for granted.
Do: Create a plan for monitoring and managing your online reputation. Set up notifications, like Google Alerts, to be aware of what consumers are saying about you online. Also, follow up on any negative comments in a timely and professional manner. Do not engage in an online debate with an unhappy customer, take your actions offline and address them immediately. Be certain to recognize and thank customers who leave positive feedback.
Don’t: Go unlisted online, or fail to extend your presence.
Do: Claim business listings on Google+ Local, Yelp, and other business directories. The term ‘free directory listings’ applies to local search engines, internet yellow pages, local vertical search engines, special directories (like free 800 listings), and consumer review websites that focus on local businesses rather than products,. By claiming your business listings in these places, you can ensure your information is current and accurate. Plus, by updating and optimizing your listings, you increase the chances that consumers will find you as they search online.
Don’t: Ignore or underestimate your online marketing campaigns.
Do: Just like in traditional direct marketing you must create smart, effective ads with strong calls to action (CTAs). In this market an online ad can be part of your customers’ research and possibly the first impression of your business, so make it a strong one. As in offline marketing, you need to actively monitor your campaign performance to see what works. Monitor campaigns frequently to assess the source for the most leads and adjust your efforts in real time. The key benefit of online marketing is the ability to make on-the-fly adjustments. Be sure to keep any online incentives, offers, or specials listed in your ads (or on your website/social media pages) up to date.
Consult YHN’s recommended digital marketing strategy is centered on the development of highly relevant and flexible websites built upon a Content Management System (CMS) platform. CMS websites allow the user (Associate) to make routine changes or updates to their own website (e.g.: store hours, employee bios, headshots, newsletters, blog posts, etc.) These sites are rooted in consumer intensive content and communicate the Associates’ clinical service message. The results of this approach are sites optimized for search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc.) helping to drive traffic to their website.
Search Engine Optimization improves page ranking.
An important addition to any website development is the incorporation of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Focusing on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) through content, keywords, and tagging (keywords inserted within the code for the site) encourage search engines to find and competitively rank your website higher than competitors relative to specific search terms. Different search terms will have different results rankings. Optimization improves the search results for several key words or phrases by emphasizing those words within the content or structure of the site. This type of SEO is known as organic and helps raise website page rankings and remain at or near the top of the search listings. Using organic optimization requires continuous SEO management and is necessary to keep a viable online presence.
Another optimization strategy is Search Engine Management (SEM) and a tactic known as Pay-Per-Click (PPC) web managers help businesses increase their online presence. Paid links appear as the first few search results from the search engines (usually in a shaded box) and also in a narrow, vertical column along the right-hand side of the results page. PPC requires a monthly budget as the advertiser is charged a fee each time a consumer clicks on a paid link. Keyword fees are negotiated and bid upon by multiple advertisers, with highly sought after words drawing higher rates. This type of optimization is best added to a website once a strong organic SEO methodology is implemented.
Consult YHN has created a website development program that allows Associates to create a new site, revise an outdated one, or supplement their current site with additional services and support. Contact Consult YHN Marketing at 800.984.3272 to discuss your goals and objectives or speak with your Associate Manager to get more details and pricing. A capabilities presentation and a portfolio of websites are also available.