Many healthcare advertisers are aware of search engine marketing and the need to 'optimize' their rankings, but fewer are clear on the distinction between (nor the relative cost and power to generate actual referrals of) its two predominant marketing strategies;
1)Search Engine Optimization (SEO) - SEO is the process of improving the visibility of a website or page in search engines' "natural," or "organic" search results
2)Paid Search or Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Marketing – Paid search results allow advertisers to post text ads (that look just like organic search results), where they pay only when a searcher clicks on their ad (and ends up on their website) thus the name pay-per-click (PPC) advertising.
The broader segment of online marketers is often responsible for fostering confusion regarding these techniques; many marketers (usually those pushing their SEO services) imply that SEO is all you need, without a true discussion of the limitations of SEO. Many of those same marketers will imply that 'SEO is free' and seek to position PPC as a short-term (high cost) strategy that should ultimately be replaced with good SEO.
As a performance-based online medical marketing company serving hundreds of hospitals and physician practices, MD Connect utilizes both of these techniques extensively in our client programs, and we have extensive data on their relative performance across the thousands of referrals we drive every month. Our focus is ultimately on driving the maximum number of referrals at the lowest cost, so we will use whichever technique(s) are most effective.
We recently conducted a research study of the relative referral driving power of SEO techniques versus PPC techniques, in a cross-section of clients where both techniques had been effectively implemented (top 3 rankings in both organic and paid search results). Our goal was to separate reality from perception by conducting an empirical analysis and looking at what the actual data told us based on performance.
The results may surprise you…