HOW DO THESE TOOLS WORK AND WHAT’S BEST FOR YOUR BUSINESS?
We know that it’s now very common for medical practitioners to have a website. But how do you get a website to rank on internet searches?
To put things into perspective, there are an estimated 500 websites that go live each minute. When a site goes live, it does not rank on any search engines as they are not aware that it exists yet. Once a ‘fetch’ has been performed and the search engines, such as Google, have been invited to index the website, it is likely to only appear after searching through many pages.
There are two ways that we can get a website to rank. By using SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) or SEM (Search Engine Marketing) and sometimes by using a combination of both.
If all you do is build a website and never work on SEO or have SEM (the most commonly used is Google Adwords) and you don’t have a truly unique name then you will only ever be found on the internet in one of two ways:
- People know your exact URL and type this in (website address)
- People search for your name or your business name (this only works if you have something unique)
SO WHY CHOOSE SEO, SEM OR BOTH?
Each option has its own pros and cons and costs involved. The key is understanding how you want your website to work for you so that are then able to use these tools to your advantage.
WHAT IS SEO?
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) focuses on the content of your website and involves the ongoing process of on-page optimisation, key-phrase analysis and link building. Basically these help improve your website ranking within the organic listings in the search engine results pages. As Google makes well over 400 algorithm changes each year which affects rankings, this is an essential, ongoing process.
The purpose of SEO is to enable your website to rank well organically in internet searches. The power of SEO is that websites that rank organically can often be viewed as a more “trusted” source of information. There are many people who will only go to sites that have an organic ranking and will not visit sites that show in the search as an “ad” or “sponsored link”. SEO is a slow build and can’t involve short-cuts without the risk of having your website penalised or black listed by Google – which means you might have to build a new one to be found on line.
PROS AND CONS OF SEO
- - SEO is a long term strategy
- + Sites that rank organically are viewed as a trusted source
- - It takes between 6-12 months for your organic ranking to improve
- - SEO is a moving target. There are no cheap SEO programs as the work is ongoing and needs Google experts to get results.
COSTS AND CAUTIONS FOR SEO
Costs for good SEO can range from $400 to over $1500 per month, depending on how competitive your business is and what your goals are. Make sure you have a reputable Australian based company providing your SEO service as marketplace understanding and search terms vary greatly across different countries.
WHAT IS SEM?
The purpose of SEM is to have your ad appear, which links to your website, when specified search terms are typed into search engines. The most common form of online SEM is Google Adwords, but there are also options provided by Bing, Yelp and other search engines – but really, in Australia Google is king and therefore the best option.
SEM works by setting an advertising budget based around particular search terms. To achieve best results we use a ‘call to action’ campaign approach and include a landing page. SEM means you are “bidding” to rank against certain search terms. Your budget needs to be set according to how competitive your search terms are.
SEM enables you to have an immediate online presence and start to generate client visits without waiting for over 6 months to develop an organic presence. If you want to start making people aware of your business/service and drive new enquiries, you can put in place a strategic SEM campaign for this purpose.
PROS AND CONS OF SEM
- + Allows you to rank immediately in internet searches
- + You can set your own budget
- + You can have a targeted campaign approach
- + Can work together with an SEO campaign to improve your website ranking
- - Not valued as highly in rankings as an organic search
- - Can be expensive if you have competitive search terms
- - Stops working when your budget runs out
COSTS AND CAUTIONS FOR SEM
Build a proper SEM campaign based on consumer research. Costs will vary greatly depending upon the level of competition.
WHY USE BOTH?
A well-conceived strategic plan will use SEM and SEO to make sure you have immediate presence in internet searches with the long term goal of ranking organically so the two tools are used in tandem to get short and long term results.
THE TAKE HOME MESSAGE
Understand what role you want your website to play in your business development. If your site is just a digital profile of you and your service provision, or an information portal that you are directing your patients to, then you may not need to rank in a Google search.
If you’re intending to use your website to gain attention and market presence, build your strength in the marketplace and find new clients, and you want to be found in an internet search that is based around the services you’re providing that has others providing the same type of service - then you need to use SEM, SEO or both.
CJU Medical Marketing provides customised strategic digital marketing plans using SEO and SEM. Call us to arrange a complimentary review of your website design and content.