Search engine optimization and search engine marketing may sound like the same thing, but the two phrases refer to distinct dental marketing techniques. Each has its own pros and cons, and a dental marketing agency can help your practice decide whether search engine marketing for dentists is a viable strategy for you. This post will help you differentiate between SEO and SEM, as they are commonly called, and begin to evaluate the benefits of using SEM in your marketing strategy. While it comes with a few key challenges, SEM can be an effective dental marketing strategy for practices that would like to see increases in website traffic.
Search Engine Marketing vs. Search Engine Optimization
SEO and SEM are both intended to help dental practices increase web traffic. The results of each marketing strategy appear on search engine results pages. These items appear on results pages thanks to carefully researched keywords, which help search engines find them and show them on pages of similar search results after a web user types in a query.
This, however, is where the similarities end. In SEO, the keywords are used in the content of a website. Search engines find those keywords and match them up to queries, displaying them organically on search engine results pages. In SEM, meanwhile, the keywords are placed within advertisements, which appear directly on search engine results pages. Companies using SEO do not have to pay for these keywords. They can be placed in blog posts, website headers, titles, and meta descriptions for free. SEM keywords must be paid for, and these types of ads are commonly called “pay-per-click” advertisements because the buyer pays only when a web user clicks on the ad. Each keyword has a different price, usually a few cents, with more popular keywords costing more.
Benefits of Using Search Engine Marketing for Dentists
Search engine marketing is an efficient and affordable dental marketing option. Because SEM ads are often created right in Google, the ads begin to appear to alongside relevant search results almost immediately. Traffic can therefore begin increasing right away. Search engine optimization can be slow in comparison, as it takes time for search engines to index web pages. SEM is ideal for dental practices wishing to see a bump in their traffic and client conversion right away.
SEM ads can also be easily targeted to specific audiences. They can be customized with specific keywords and shown only to web users with specific demographics and interests, which helps ensure that your ads will appear in front of the most interested and relevant groups of people. They will be more likely to be interested in your services than people fit different criteria, which will help increase client conversion rates.
Search engine marketing for dentists is also affordable. While some people may be wary of the pay-per-click marketing, Google allows users to set a daily budget, which helps prevent overspending. The rates for good keywords are also not expensive. While the most popular keywords can cost more, they are not always suited to every dental practice’s needs, and it is possible to obtain strong results while bidding for less-popular but still useful keywords.
Search engine marketing provides dental practices with a large amount of data that can be used to improve future marketing efforts. This form of marketing can track the number of clicks an ad receives, as well as the time of day it was clicked, the popularity of the keywords used, and more. SEM data helps marketing agencies better understand what a client’s audience is looking for and how they go about finding it. The data also helps refine marketing plans, making them more specific to this audience and helping dental practices save money on their marketing efforts.
Challenges of Using SEM
Like any marketing strategy, SEM can have its drawbacks. Even with proper budgeting, SEM can get expensive. Your practice is charged for every click, whether it’s accidental or from a casual browser who has no intention of signing up as a patient. This can make lead conversion difficult, and it may be disheartening to see large amounts of traffic with no matching increase in conversion. In addition, the price of keywords can unexpectedly go up if two practices start a bidding war for the same keywords, potentially increasing your costs to stay relevant. The fluctuating price of keywords can make search engine marketing for dentists expensive, particularly if someone with little marketing experience is constructing the marketing strategy, as they will likely purchase higher-priced keywords with little understanding of whether they will provide significant results.
Search engine marketing for dentists also takes some time to set up. Not only does it require proper research, like SEO, it also requires constant testing. Many dental marketing agencies will run two ads at the same time, then determine which performs better and use that as the basis for future marketing efforts. While testing is a smart way to ensure that an SEM campaign is as successful as possible, the constant maintenance and monitoring can take up a significant amount of time for practices doing their own marketing.
Finally, many consumers ignore advertisements. We are constantly being bombarded with information and entreaties to buy this or sign up for that, and many people have become adept at simply tuning all advertisements out. SEM can therefore be less effective than SEO, depending on the type of audience you are trying to reach. SEO helps your website appear naturally in search results and blend in more easily than SEM ads, which are clearly labeled as such.
Working with a Dental Marketing Agency
Speak to a dental marketing agency for more information and to schedule your free consultation regarding search engine marketing for dentists. 321 Web Marketing creates customized SEM plans for its clients by evaluating their competition, service offerings, ideal client base, current marketing efforts, and more. These plans are designed to help clients achieve a steady stream of qualified leads within six months. To achieve this, 321 Web Marketing monitors the results of each marketing plan, making changes as necessary to attract the right clients and increase conversion rates.