Lauren Leone: “An ideal strategy would contain both SEO & PPC and that doesn’t mean that they always have to be both at the same level. There’s a way to flex up in one area and then work towards a different mix.”
Announcer: Welcome to the Ignite podcast, the only health care marketing podcast that digs into the digital strategies and tactics that help you accelerate growth. Each week, Cardinals experts explore innovative ways to build your digital presence and attract more patients. Buckle up for another episode of Ignite.
Alex Membrillo: Hey, everybody excited to have you all here today on Ignite, you’re in for a treat. Once more, we’ve got our SVP of health care marketing, Lauren Leone. She’s been with me for nearly a decade, knows everything about health care marketing because she gets to work across a variety of verticals in health care. She’s going to be bringing you all the tips. Today, we’re talking about SEO and PPC and how they work together. Do they work together, Laura, because Google’s been telling me that if I run ads, I don’t show up higher on organic results, is there something else to it?
Lauren Leone: I mean, Google their motivation is money. Everybody take that with a grain of salt. I think more than any proven algorithmic value is just the value of being present in what I would say, three to four places on the search results page, and what that’s going to do to the validity of the results. If I’m a user, and I’m scrolling up, I search dentists near me, and I see your name in an ad, and I think, “I wonder if they’re just paying for that spot, are they legit?”
I’m going to scroll down a little bit further, and I’m going to see the map results, and I’m going to see you there again, and I’m going to say, “Okay, they’re near me, and they have good ratings.” Maybe I’m going to scroll down a little bit further, and I’m going to see your organic result, and I’m going to say, “These guys know their stuff. They’re here three times, I’m going to click one of these results.” What Google says, who knows, but I think there is some merit to the impression that you have on a prospective patient.
Alex: Yes, conquest is important. Brand positioning, right? When they see you everywhere, and lots of good reviews on that map listing, and you’re in the organic at number one, and you’re running ads, this is a really serious dental practice. It helps with the overall cost per lead, I suppose, even though it may look a little out of whack because you’re running ads on terms you’re ranking for.
Talk more about PPC and SEO, Google got rid of a lot of keyword-level information from SEO many years ago and were one of the few agencies that was around when we still had it, but they got rid of a lot of it. So are there any insights you can glean from running search ads on the same keywords that can be correlated to your SEO campaigns?
Lauren: Yes, I mean, the way that we think about these two tactics working together is you’re going to have a couple of different categories of keywords, you’re going to have your brand, you’re going to have your core non-brand terms, that’s just going to be the service that you offer, it’s going to be the most competitive, most expensive. Then you’re going to have all the variations that people search, like, “What is the best dentist near me open after 8:00 PM?”
All those longtail terms, so what you want to be able to identify in paid search is and what you get visibility into that you don’t get in organic necessarily is how competitive these terms are, what exact queries are people searching that you’re matching to, and then take those learnings and identify how you can supplement a paid search campaign with SEO content that helps you rank for both the most expensive terms so that maybe one day you don’t have to always spend all that money to be there.
Then the longer tail terms that are growing in volume that you’re seeing show up in your paid campaigns more often. Go write some blog posts, go get a pillar [inaudible 00:03:28] about those. You really can use the insights across channels to inform each other.
Alex: It really important there to look at the search queries that are happening and the volume there. Then you send that to your SEO team and you say, “Hey, listen, we’re seeing a good bit of traffic around these questions, go put these as FAQs on our location page, or go write blog posts.” That seems like the most important way that they work together is using those search queries to go right organic content, right?
Lauren: Vice versa. If the SEO team is looking at your rankings on a weekly basis, and they’re saying, “Look, we’re on page seven for psychiatrists, it’s an extremely competitive term nationally. It’s where all the volume is, and I’m working on it, but it’s going to take me 8 to 10 months to get there with this really aggressive link-building plan but we need that traffic, we need that volume, let’s make sure we are there on paid search. Let’s make sure we have coverage on those terms.” We can work in both ways.
Alex: That’s a long game versus getting immediate results. Interesting, a lot of groups come to us and they want one or the other, and they’re opposed to one or the other. They say, “I want SEO. We did PPC before, it was expensive.” What do you say to them? “We want you guys to cauterize our room, fix our PPC. We’ll think about SEO.” We’re hearing that too often. Why is that happening, and what would you tell them? Let’s tell them now.
Lauren: Really, an ideal strategy would contain both and that doesn’t mean that they always have to be both at the same level. I think there’s a way to flex up in one area and then work towards a different mix. There’s a slight misconception that paid search works tomorrow, if I turn it on today, data is power.
I can turn out a bunch of keywords today and I think they’re the right keywords but I need to collect some data, I need to serve on those keywords, I need people to click them, I need people to visit my site so be a little patient with your paid search, maybe 30 days is a really strong benchmark to see, is this working for me? Don’t just turn it on, see that it’s expensive and turn it off? A lot of companies are doing that.
It’s unfortunate, you probably also don’t have a company that’s really thinking about your business objectives. Maybe you ran on the term psychiatrists and you had two keywords in your account and you said this is expensive shut it off, but were you bidding on psychiatrists and 3-0-3-1-9? Maybe the CPC is half of psychiatrist, and maybe there’s a lot less competition and the search intent is stronger. Just think about, did you actually have the right strategy when you tried that channel five years ago?
Alex: We’re seeing that to really get enough learnings through search, it really takes 90 days with the right company, every time we audit a search campaign, it’s just they’re not run with the smart bidding technologies, the smart bidding system that’s running now, landing pages are garbage, call rail wasn’t implemented. Guys, paid search is not expensive. It’s only expensive when it’s done incorrectly but there’s a reason your competitors are doing it and they’ve been doing it for a while. How do you combine that into SEO to do them at the same time? When people have a constrained budget, which one would you start with?
Lauren: I think about it like this, someone once told me the analogy of paid searches, renting the house, and SEO is found in the house.
Alex: Smart persons.
Lauren: If you think about it, if you rent forever, that’s all you’re ever going to do. You’re never going to get any of that money back but if you only work on owning the home, which would be the SEO like, where are you going to live in the meantime, maybe you need a little mix of both. What we often say is, start with SEO, it is that own ownership and we all want to own the work that we’re doing but if you have this urgent need, and by urgent I mean, anytime in the next 12 months to be really driving significant volume, consider that you need paid search to sit on top of it.
Usually, what I’m looking at when I’m talking to any prospective client, any size, one location, 250 locations. Do you have the foundation in place? Do you have the right content, are you saying the right things? Is Google crawling your site? Is it indexable? Can the content be found? I’m talking the basics, not even the sophisticated link-building strategies. Do you have those, I will only talk to you about paid search if you at least have those covered. You don’t have to work with me to do them but you need to be doing them in-house or with a contractor or with an intern, I don’t care but you need to think about them.
Alex: I love it. Is there any other way– When you’re thinking about how you’re communicating with the customer, are there any insights you can glean from your search ads or landing pages that can be used for SEO, for your messaging, for your heroes, your H1s? How else can people look at their insights from search and use that for their content?
Lauren: With the onset of responsive search ads, and the fact that we can test headline and description lines dynamically in real-time, what we’re looking at, you’re essentially always in a multivariant test when you’re running paid search. Is it a certain headline that is driving the click-through but maybe once people land there, no one’s taking an action, and then maybe there’s a different headline about, let’s say, insurance, and that is driving maybe a slightly lower click-through rate but everyone who lands on your page is converting from that headline.
Take those learnings, apply them to your metadata, make sure you have a page on your site that really talks about that topic. If people aren’t clicking through the insurance headline, and you don’t have a really clear page that describes exactly how insurance works at your agency, who you’re partnered with, how the billing system works, then you’re missing the boat on the organic side.
Alex: Absolutely, guys, and make sure your ad copy on search is being mimicked on your landing page. Too many times we see we accept all insurance, you land on the landing page, and none of the payers are listed. We’re seeing that a ton. Having the payer partnership is a huge value add. Please make sure you’re having that. Landing pages for another discussion. I talk about it with Rich on CRS, we won’t steal his thunder. That’s super helpful.
My recap is this, start with SEO if you got to start with either one, because that’s owning the home, try to run them both. Don’t expect PPC to be a 10-day turnaround, at least 30 to 90 days. Then use the insights, look at your search queries. Look at your Google Analytics, call rail, the people that are actually converting, and then build more content around what you’re seeing work on search on your organic pages. Okay, one really helps the other. This is one plus one equals three and thank you for attending our math course today, Lauren.
Lauren: Thanks, Alex.
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