SEO versus PPC – the current state of play for dentists

When it comes to SEO or pay-per-click ads, which do you choose?

Google AdsBack in 2015 we wrote a blog which concluded that organic SEO i.e. seeking out best positions in the free Google ranking, was preferable in many cases to pay-per-click, i.e. Google Ads. We weren’t naive enough to completely discount paid advertising, but back then our experience suggested that gaining a broad, prominent organic search presence was preferable to a sole reliance on PPC for traffic.

Since then the search landscape has changed quite considerably and Google has pushed increasingly hard to encourage business owners to invest in pay-per-click ads. For example increasing the number of ads they show in the search results pages and also the positions they show them. As we’ve written elsewhere, this is particularly prevalent on mobile devices where ads take up quite a large proportion of the available screen real estate.

So these days we are much clearer in recommending that our dental clients consider a holistic digital marketing approach, leveraging on traditional SEO and pay-per-click. The proportion of website traffic generated via paid search is just too great to disregard these days.

Despite the evidence, there are still too many marketers in both camps who insist that their preferred channel i.e. paid or organic, is better when it comes to new business leads. But the days of this type of bias are behind us and we need to select the best marketing options for any particular circumstance. So with this in mind, lets take a look at some of the key things to consider when we are reviewing PPC and SEO as part of a dental digital marketing strategy.

Paid search is not a substitute for organic SEO (and vice versa)

Both techniques have strengths and weaknesses and both can be very useful. As we’ve seen in the ‘ad display on mobile’ discussion above, there is almost a necessity to pay to be in the mix these days. Also if you have a new product or service and need to get it out there quickly, PPC is your go-to tool as it really can be immediate. Conversely, it is always desirable to have a broad and prominent organic (free) search presence to keep delivering new enquiries without having to rely solely on a big PPC budget. It is also important to note that quite a lot of web users still distrust paid ads and deliberately avoid them! A broad organic presence is also known to build more trust with users, rather than simply a presence of paid ads.

Both techniques can be real power-houses so why wouldn’t you want both of them working for you?

Neither technique is free

Whilst we refer to organic search as being “free” what we mean here is that you don’t pay for Google to add your website to their search index. However, you do pay for good-quality, ethical SEO which delivers results as a lot of diligent work is required. Similarly, you will pay (often a lot!) of money to Google when your PPC ads are clicked. If you are sensible, you will also be paying a reasonable sum to an ads specialist to optimise your ads on an ongoing basis.

So neither technique is free but both can yield an excellent return on investment which of course is the key.

SEO or PPC – horses for courses

It is wrong to think that SEO can be a substitute for PPC in all cases and vice versa. Shutting your PPC down and expecting organic SEO to pick up the slack likely won’t work. Similarly if you quit SEO and shift reliance solely to PPC, it will likely not work either (or cost you an arm and a leg!)

As we know, PPC is essential for visibility on mobile devices and when you need to get your brand out there quickly. Similarly traditional organic SEO is important to build up a broad web presence, both for brand searches and to attract clicks from a very broad range of search queries. There is also a strong correlation between good organic search placements and presence in the local/map results – this is also very important and not to be ignored!

Check the results and adjust accordingly!

Whatever digital marketing techniques you are using, you absolutely must measure your results right down to the conversion level (actual enquiries). You should also validate the quality of these enquiries. Too many marketers these days simply quote impressions and clicks, which on their own are pretty meaningless.


Free SEO reportSo should you choose organic SEO or pay-per-click? The answer is to choose both! Each technique can be brought to bear to take advantage of different circumstances and we are seeing more and more dentists utilise each method very successfully as part of holistic digital marketing campaigns.

To ensure the best effect, please be sure to use the services of a proven digital marketing professional – it’s very easy to waste a lot of cash with Google Ads if you don’t know what you are doing or similarly, fall foul of Google’s publishing guidelines if you try to take on SEO yourself or outsource it to an agency using unethical techniques.

I hope this article helps to explain the balance between search engine optimisation and pay-per-click and how they can be used very effectively as complementary services. However, if you’d like to discuss in more detail as applicable to your own marketing needs, then the team at Dental Media will be pleased to help on 01332 672548. Please give us a call for highly-experienced, no-obligation device.