Organic vs. paid search for doctors
Read this before you use Google Ads as a doctor
Read this before you use Google Ads as a doctor
January 10, 2022
It’s like renting vs buying
what is organic and paid search?
If you are new to the distinction between organic and paid search, picture this. When you buy a house, you invest in something that gains value over time.
When you rent an expensive house, you are paying to get the temporary benefit of living in it.
I like the metaphor because organic search, SEO or search engine optimisation, are like this purchased real estate. There’s an investment involved, and there is lasting and often increasing value you benefit from.
As your patients search for information via Google, they get page one of the search results. There are results placed there because the Google algorithm flagged those pages as relevant, and other results are ads, paid for by you as an advertiser, bidding for that prominent position on page one. Every time a patient clicks on the ad, you pay, pay-per-click or PPC is the name of the tactic.
Just like sometimes you will receive advice to buy a property instead of paying expensive rent, it is often wiser to invest in organic search content so you are on page one naturally, without paying ongoing rent, saving on your Google Ads budget.
How does organic search for doctors work?
organic search for doctors
We now know that each time a user types something into Google search, Google curates search results for that query. The first page typically contains widgets or maps, review sites, links to hospital web pages and links to medical practices or even a specific content page by a specialist doctor.
Organic search is about making efforts so you can be found on the first page of Google search results. Google’s artificial intelligence continuously crawls websites and sorts them by relevance and quality. That is why we talk about Google-friendly standards, which are actually user standards so the user gets a flawless experience when they click on a search result.
"Put yourself in Google’s shoes. Would you send someone who googles “coffee near Trafalgar square” to a book review about someone who had a coffee there in 1845…or to the top 5 coffee places that are in business now and that have a website"
Common SEO errors doctors make
organic seo tips for doctors
How can I rank well as a doctor?
seo for medical practices
It’s quite normal to have a level of impatience as a doctor: in the end, you just want the clicks, the patient leads and the successful health practice you envisioned. I believe in the value of expanding your understanding of Google search before you decide to outsource Google Ads to an agency.
Competing for visibility as a doctor is not just about the clicks. It’s about actually building your reputation along with the traffic so the right patients find exactly the help they need.
"I like to reverse the exercise. It’s not about you - as a doctor - finding more patients. It’s about helping more people who really need you, so they can find you easily. Many of them don’t know your name yet, so you need to know what they are googling for."
Can I get the best of both: organic and ads?
organic search & google ads for doctors
We vividly recommend a data-driven approach to online marketing. It means that you first need a detailed report describing your monthly keyword ranking and website conversions. This tells you which content is giving you great organic ranking – if you don’t have any, check out our articles about optimal Google-friendly content or book a free strategy session.
If you are looking into Google Ads to boost your patient numbers, make sure you are not competing against yourself. If you rank number one for ‘endometriosis Sydney, it only makes sense to use Google Ads, provided that other gynaecologists are bidding for this keyword. If their ads show up for this search, it means you may need to put in place Google Ads to outcompete them.
The use of Google Ads should always be seen in its context: look at your organic progress, your overall marketing efforts, your ROI in terms of patient-lifetime value, and the capacity of your clinics to attract more patients. The most effective use of Google Ads for your medical practice is a balanced exercise because patients are not looking for a discount unless you work in certain subspecialties of plastic surgery or dental. Whatever you decide on organic vs paid search, put yourself in the shoes of your potential future patient. Crafting the ads so they are in line with the landing page the patient will reach when they click on it, requires skills and experience.
That exercise needs an in-depth approach, a strategic view on your overall online visibility and a realistic expectation in regards to the success ratio of your available Google Ads budget. If a procedure brings in $4,000, then $1,000 per month spent on Google Ads for 3 additional leads per month is an ROI-positive investment.
Find out if you are a buyer or a renter
SEO consultation for doctors
Are you in the business of renting advertising space or investing smartly in your digital real estate? If you are unsure about organic vs paid search for your medical practice, why not book a free strategy session? Every practice is different and so is each local market for a particular medical specialty. We will look at your goals, overall competition levels for your niche in your catchment area, and discuss the most cost-effective way to build future-proof visibility.