Paid vs. Organic Ranking

First you need to know the difference between an organic ranking and paid advertising.  Both allow you to get to the “top of Google,” however with paid advertising you lose your ranking the second you stop paying to be in that spot.  Also, in paid advertising you can pay less to be the 3rd spot, making your budget last longer but still giving yourself a chance to be seen.  A high organic ranking is something everyone should strive for, however, it is not necessarily better than a paid spot if you’re generating as much money with your paid advertising as you would have to pay in order to improve organically.  It’s a matter of time vs. money and a new patient is a new patient either way.  You might hear someone say, “well the patients that come from paid advertising aren’t as high quality.”  Although I certainly agree with you in contrast to a word-of-mouth referral, differentiating the quality between someone that finds you by researching organic versus paid spots on Google is negligible at best.  The reason being, the more specific you are in your long tail keyword bidding on your advertising dollars, the higher quality the leads are that click through to your landing pages.  Below are some resources to learn more about ranking in regards to paid vs. organic.

  1. http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/the-difference-between-organic-and-paid-search-eng.html
  2. http://searchenginewatch.com/sew/news/2200730/organic-vs-paid-search-results-organic-wins-94-of-time#

Think on a Per-Keyword Basis

This is the big honking fact that throws a lot of my clients off…if you rank number #1 for “Orthodontist New York City”, you may not even be on the first page for “Braces New York City”!  I know this is a tough one, so I’m going to give another few examples…  If you have three locations and you’re number 1 in 2 of them, your third location does not get to piggy back the other 2.  They are unique!

This is where most of my clients get hung up.  They think very shallow when it comes to SEO.  I commonly have to answer the question, “Why am I not #1 when I search for my practice on Google?”  ACTUALLY, because most of my clients don’t understand SEO on a deeper level (I get it, this stuff is complicated!), they are more likely to ask me the same question but in this format:

  • “Why am I not ranking on the top page for “orthodontist in Los Angeles”?
    • My response: I understand you’re not happy that you haven’t reached the first page for that specific long tail keyword search yet but have you tried searching for “braces in Los Angeles”?
    • Their response: “Oh wow, yea we’re right there on top”
    • My response: “This is because we focused the majority of your web pages on using the short tail keyword “braces” instead of “orthodontist” so unless you create new content and attract traffic to long tail keyword combinations that include the short tail keyword “orthodontist” you’ll never rank as high for that word.
  • “I’m spending a lot of money on Google and my friends in my study club aren’t spending anything at all!  Why are they ranking better than me for free?”
    • My response: First of all, let’s be clear about this one fact.  The more you spend on Google AdWords Pay-Per-Click Advertising will never factor into the organic ranking of your website.  The more you spend on Google, the more leads you will aggregate.
  • “Google AdWords is costing me too much money”
    • My response: Are you paying for a company to help you manage your campaigns or are you trying it on your own, maybe in Google AdWords Express?
    • Their response: I’m paying a company to manage it for me, and paying them a management fee I might add.
    • My response: Are you looking at the gross expense or the net income from your investment in the advertising?
    • Their response: What do you mean?  All I get is a report from the company managing my ads that reads how many clicks I’m getting, how often they click through to the site and that’s it!
    • My response: Well that’s the problem right there.  Clicks don’t always convert into leads.  Even if they were, the more leads you aggregate doesn’t mean anything unless you are successfully closing those leads into treatment cases.  I recommend you setup a landing page system that collects some information from click throughs, as well as setup a call-tracking system that collects inbound calls from advertising.  This way you can cross reference those leads with closed cases and not only figure out how much profit you’re generating (if it’s creating any profit, your first statement is wrong…it’s not costing you anything) but you can also analyze if your close rate is where it should be for your treatment coordinator.

How to improve?  First, get organized!

Sounds easy doesn’t it?  “Get organized?  Well sure, I’ve been organizing supplies, staff, bills and loads of other things for my practice for years but what do you mean by getting organized with my SEO strategy?”  What I’m referring to here is creating a list of short tail and long tail keywords you want to rank well for.  Your website is made up of a certain number of pages that your patients are going to visit without much effort.  That means you may have a page written with basic SEO already taken care of for several keyword combinations, however, you are probably missing out on lots of keywords you feel are just as important!  This is why it’s important for you to first create an outline that organizes your keywords and allows you to note whether they’ve gotten the attention they deserver, or, if you need to start a blogging campaign to begin including them.

Once you have your organized list, it’ll be time to start prioritizing them based on your preferences and goals…then determining which ones you’re going to need to pay for in an advertising campaign so you don’t miss out on revenue from their searches while you’re still climbing the organic ranks.  Always have a long term goal of replacing your advertising with organic, and moving your advertising to new keyword combinations you have trouble writing about.