13 Ways PPC And SEO Can Work Together To Improve Your Dental Practice Marketing
Search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click marketing (PPC) are both major strategies to use during dental practice marketing.
PPC is a way of purchasing visits to your landing page by advertising on Google or another platform.
SEO is an unpaid strategy of drawing people to your website, by using relevant keywords and search terms to appear in search results.
I think you’ll agree with me when I say:
PPC and SEO are both integral parts of a highly effective dental marketing strategy that generates you new patients.
I, and other marketers, have often argued how you can use SEO and PPC together to improve both strategies.
But too often, marketers ask the same question:
Is SEO the most effective way to market a dental office?
Is PPC more effective than SEO for dentists??
What should I use for my office?
Rarely are they considering the benefits of their dental practice using both Pay Per Click & Search Engine Optimization.
But how exactly can you or your marketing team leverage this data?
In today’s post, I’m going to show you 12 different ways you can use pay per click data to improve your dental practice’s SEO, and make the argument for keeping both strategies under one roof.
1. Get on Google’s First Page of Search Results
Doing PPC and SEO together provides you with more opportunities to get on the first page of Google SERP (search engine results page). Why is that important? Well, 91.5 percent of users won’t scroll past the first page of search engine results — so it is essential that your practice appears on this first page. This is something I cannot stress enough.
SEO and PPC help dentists get on Google’s first page — the only place where 91.5 percent of people will look to find you. (Image source: Search Engine Watch)
Using PPC in conjunction with SEO, you actually have multiple opportunities to get on Google’s first page, making your first-page presence that much more impressive. While it’s true that first-page PPC ads generally have a lower click through rate (CTR) than first-page organic search results, many, many people still click on PPC ads. As we noted in our blog post 4 Ways to Increase the ROI of Your Dental PPC Campaign, PPC ads account for almost two-thirds of clicks for searches where someone is looking for a product or service.
SEO and PPC help dentists get on Google’s first page — the only place where 91.5 percent of people will look to find you.
2. Take Advantage of PPC Keyword Data.
SEO and PPC can both be very useful strategies for dentist marketing, but it’s clear PPC has some kind of advantage. Research by MD Connect has demonstrated that for dental practices, PPC drove 79% of visitors and 71% of referrals, while SEO drove 21 and 29% respectively.
A while ago, Google removed keyword-level data in their Analytics tool. This was a huge problem for SEO-marketers could no longer easily see which keywords were responsible for bringing in traffic or driving conversions.
Luckily, you can use your PPC data to help pick your keywords for organic search.
Here’s what you do:
- In Google Analytics, click Admin.
- Go to the Account column, and select the Analytics account you want to link to your Google Ads account.
Now you can use the Paid & Organic Dimension report to add your SEO data into Google Ads!
3. Learn Which Keywords Bring Results
Your PPC analytics will help you understand which keywords really resonate with people, and bring the results you’re looking for.
You can easily sort your keywords by conversion rate to see which. Just make sure they have a high number of clicks, and pick the top converting keywords to add to your SEO and content marketing as well.
PPC analytics also allows you to sort keywords by revenue -- another valuable set that should be incorporated into SEO.
4. Use SEO To Find Long Tail Keywords Your PPC Campaign Ignored
PPC campaigns tend to focus on finding those heavy traffic keywords that suggest the person is ready to purchase. That’s a pretty small set, compared to the wide variety of keywords your website can organically rank for through your web content.
If you figure out which long-tail organic keywords are attracting interest and driving conversions, you can use it as extra ammo for PPC. Expanding your PPC campaign to include keywords you might not have thought of otherwise gives you an advantage over competitors who aren’t using them at all.
The graph below helps to visualize how long tail keywords work. Thanks to a post on Quora for this answer and graphic.
5. Use SEO To Rank for Expensive PPC Keywords
Dentistry is one of those industries where the most relevant keywords are expensive, and not always cost-effective to use for PPC. Google cost per click can reach as high as $50, and ‘treatment’ is one of the most expensive Google Ads keywords.
If you have an SEO and PPC team working together, you can make a list of the keywords that are outside of the PPC budget and have the SEO team make more effort to rank for those terms.
6. Learn From Ad Copy
The data you get from PPC ad copy can serve as a kind of experiment for how people respond to different keywords or advertisements.
For your best performing ads, you can figure out what kind of copy really resonates with readers, and incorporate that into your SEO efforts. You can adapt ad copy to create better meta descriptions, or even your content.
7. Use Search Query Report to Brainstorm Content
Another great way to get content ideas with the help of PPC is by looking at your search query report.
The search query report in Google Ads allows you to see what kind of treatments people are searching for when they find your ad. This layer of knowledge is invaluable when brainstorming the kind of content that brings people to your site organically.
For example, say your advertising keywords are “San Francisco plastic surgery” and people are finding your ad by searching for [San Francisco liposuction surgery], then it would be valuable to focus on liposuction surgery as a blog topic for your local SEO.
8. Use PPC to Increase Organic CTR By 522%!
Google will be the first to tell you that having a PPC campaign will increase your organic SEO, and marketers are backing it up:
Seer did a study of their clients, and found that when an ad and organic listing appear in SERPs, organic CTR rose from 6.15% to 38.26%, a 522% increase.
They also saw nearly a 10-fold increase in CTR when organic listings and an ad appeared together in SERPs.
With Google Ads Paid and Organic Dimension Report, you can see how your own SEO and SEM efforts work together in SERP.
You can use the data to get a complete idea of your marketing reach. In the report, just look at the “Both Shown” or “Combined Stats” metrics. Then you can easily see how certain search terms are faring for ad impressions and organic queries.
If a term has high ad impressions but low organic queries, or vise versa, you can use that information to discover opportunities to improve the keyword’s performance in either PPC or SEO.
9. Avoid Cannibalization
Some businesses think of marketing as an expense. This makes them weary of using SEO and PPC together as part of their marketing strategy because it might reduce their return on investment.
Why pay for clicks if I can get them for free with organic rankings?
This is called “PPC cannibalization” by the marketing gurus, and it’s a valid point. But there is a solution.
Optimizing paid and organic strategies together with the Paid and Organic Report can help you avoid PPC cannibalization and improve ROI.
For example, if one of your organic listings for a certain query isn’t ranking well in SERPs, you might try to improve PPC performance for the same query to make sure it appears at the top of search results as a paid ad. This could help fill gaps lost in organic traffic.
And while I mentioned above that there is value in having both paid and organic listings appearing in search together, it might not be the best strategy for ROI. If both channels are ranking highly for the same search queries, it could be valuable to reduce your max CPC bid on PPC with the goal of reducing PPC cost and encouraging more organic conversions.
10. Improve Your PPC Quality Score
Google uses a ‘Quality Score’ to determine your PPC cost per click (CPC) and ultimately your ad rank, based on the keywords that appear on your landing page.
At the same time, Google has different metrics for how they rank pages in organic search.
This can be problematic if your SEO and PPC teams aren’t working together on your digital media campaign-- SEOs are charged with optimizing pages for organic search and might ignore ad quality score factors. If the teams collaborate, they can prioritize both ad quality score and organic search to yield better PPC results.
11. Leverage Site Search
Site Search is an important tool for any SEO team. If you know what people on your site are searching for, it can guide changes you make in SEO and site structure to improve user experience.
Site Search appears in Google search results like this:
The same data can be incredibly valuable for your PPC campaigns. Site Search can tell your PPC strategist exactly the kinds of keywords that describe the information visitors seek. Incorporating them into a PPC ad creates an extra layer of consumer targeting.
You or your PPC team can set up Google Site Search in Google Analytics.
12. Test Potential Page Titles
Your SEO team should always be dreaming up messaging that resonates the most with your audience. Page titles are a huge part of this, so it’s really valuable to be able to test your audience’s reactions to different page titles you’re considering.
Here’s how PPC can help with that:
Come up with 2 ads with the exact same copy, except for the two titles you want to test.
Set up Google Ads to show both ads evenly.
Use the Google Ads interface to see which title gets a better CTR.
Rinse and repeat.
Once you figure out which title really resonates the most with your audience, you can use it in your SEO title tag as well as part of a successful ad.
13. Discover Link Building Opportunities
Any marketer will tell you that SEO isn’t all about ranking for keywords. Google won’t tell you what counts, but Moz has identified 90 factors that can affect your organic rank.
One of the major ones is backlinks -- the number and quality of link citations your domain receives from others. Finding websites that might earn a backlink has become a major part of any SEO strategy.
But here’s some good news:
Your Google Ads data is also a great way to find relevant websites you can target for link building SEO.
If you advertise on the display network, you have all the data you need.
Just go to Display Network > Placements in Google Ads to where the ads were placed. Used the “See Details” option to get more information about the specific pages as well.
PPC or SEO, or Both?
Many dental practices grapple with which marketing strategy to use. Each has its pros and cons.
Pros and Cons of SEO for Dentists
- Pro: Excellent long term ROI - If you make it to the top of Google’s organic search results with SEO, you’ll get about a third of all clicks for the keywords you’re targeting.
- Pro: Better for branding - SEO helps build awareness and trust for your dental practice brand in a way paid advertisements can’t.
- Pro: High volume potential - There is no limit to what you can do and how many people you can reach with SEO.
- Con: Requires more development resources - For effective SEO, you’ll need a web designer, content writers/editors, and an online marketing specialist who knows about keyword research, etc.
- Con: Results take time - SEO is an ongoing process and it may take a while to see results or get a significant return on your investment. There may also be a lot of trial and error as you figure out what works and what doesn’t.
- Con: Results are difficult to quantify - Analyzing your web analytics will give you some insights on your SEO campaign, but measuring these insights is a more complex process than with paid ads.
Pros and Cons of PPC for Dentists
- Pro: Easier to get started - Unlike SEO, PPC is relatively quick and easy for dentists to set up, for example in Google Ads or Bing Ads.
- Pro: Quick, quantifiable results - PPC brings almost immediate results in the form of greater search engine visibility and more clicks to your website. Results with PPC are also easy to track with the addition of a small piece of code, making it easy for you to calculate the cost per sale or lead.
- Pro: Targeted control - PPC ads can be geo-targeted to appear to people within a 5 or 10 mile radius of your dental practice. You also have lots of control when designing your PPC ad, with options like map extensions, click-to-call extensions, and remarketing.
- Con: Potentially expensive to maintain - According to WordStream, the average small business Google Ads user pays between $9,000 and $10,000 a month on paid search. However, if done right, it can be one of the best forms of new patient generation a dentist can ever do.
- Con: May be subject to “Ad blindness” - Generally, organic search results have a higher click-through rate (CTR) than PPC. PPC has a better click-through rate for searches with a “high commercial intent” — for example, a search for dental services. However, there are always going to be a certain percentage of people who will not click on ads and will automatically avert their eyes away from the ads to focus on the organic search results instead.
- Con: Limited volume potential - PPC ads have a targeted, but limited effect. Because they are so targeted, they will appear to a fewer number of people, and unless you continue paying month after month to keep the campaign going, the ads will only appear for a limited amount of time.
It’s clear that SEO and PPC can both work wonders. But after reading this post, you probably have a better understanding of all the different ways these search engine strategies can work better together for your online marketing. And as analytics tools become more sophisticated, you can expect the list will grow.
Now that you've learned how you can leverage PPC & SEO to drive optimumal marketing success, what are you going to do different?
If you have SEO and PPC campaigns running simultaneously, you should make sure they’re communicating with each other.
Or an easier fix is to just make sure all your PPC and SEO work are done under the same roof, ensuring that your teams take advantage of every possibility to improve your medical practice’s relevancy in paid and organic search.
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