Why Buy an Ad When You Already Show Up Organically? By Sigrid Tehrani on December 10, 2018

Google Chart: The Impact of Organic Rank on Ad Click Incrementality

It’s a perennial question: Why buy an ad when you already show up organically?

For one simple reason: You get more clicks, the end-all and be-all for every practice with an online presence. As the Google graphic above shows, pairing an ad with an organic listing on the same page produces an 89% incremental lift in clicks.

Or put another way: On average, a full 89% of the traffic generated by search ads is not replaced by organic clicks when ads are paused.

Diving a little deeper into the study shows that the incremental lift from ads varies by where your practice ranks in the organic listings. Rank in the bottom 5 organically, and ads give a whopping 96% incremental lift. And even if you rank No. 1 in organic search, you can still get a 50% incremental lift when your ad appears on the same page.

Google Chart: Effect of Ad Incrementality With Organic Rank

But why does pairing SEO for organic visibility with SEM for paid visibility boost clicks? We can sum it up with this simple formula:

Visibility + Frequency = More Clicks

Let’s dissect this equation, starting with “visibility.” As we know, online visibility is essential because, obviously, you can’t be chosen if you can’t be found. And, truth be told, if you don’t appear on Page 1 of Google search results, the odds of getting noticed decline dramatically. As the online pundits say:

'The best place to hide a dead body is Page 2 of Google search results.'

You’ve got two paths if you want to build visibility in search results:

✔ Via SEO. If you have an awesome website with rich content that is aesthetically pleasing and optimized for both search engines and people, you’ll earn your place in organic search results. This is what Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is all about. SEO takes time, but it has staying power.

✔  Via SEM. Put your money down and you too can buy visibility in search. Just buy ads and … voilà, you appear. Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is especially useful if your practice is MIA in organic results. A downside: Advertising is pay-to-play. Once you stop paying, you stop showing up.

Done well, either SEO or SEM can get you on Page 1 in search results. But let’s not forget about the other half of our equation: Frequency.

Just showing up occasionally in an organic listing does not provide much impetus to actually being chosen. For that you need “frequency.”

Frequency factors in because consumers develop affinities to a brand, for example, your practice, through repeated exposure to it. The more frequently it is found, the more recognizable it becomes. It’s a lot like meeting a person over and over again. After a while, you start feeling a connection to them. And start to trust them.

Practices with organic listings, local map listings, and paid ads physically take up a lot of the real estate on a search results page. That creates a lot of visibility and each entry positions you as an authority, making you a likely choice for consideration when it comes time to make a decision. That guy with one listing on the page? Not so much.

In short: If organic listings on a page create visibility, then doubling up on that visibility and frequency is even better. So, yes, buying paid ads when you already appear organically is a smart strategy.

Our own experience at Einstein shows that practices showing up in both ads and organically don't just get more clicks, they get 10% to 12% more conversions, a much more valuable metric.

The Google Factor

It’s wise to remember that Google doesn’t make money off your awesome SEO strategy. It makes money by selling ads. So it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that ads aren’t going to disappear. In fact, the real estate Google devotes to paid ads is growing.

We could use Google’s quest for more money to cast ourselves as victims or we could see the opportunity sitting in front of us. If lots of space on a page occupied by an organic listing is great for creating visibility, then having that experienced doubled by adding a paid listing is even better.

Level the Playing Field

Yet, it’s frustrating when you see a competitor’s name perched at the top of search results in a paid ad … particularly when their ad gets top billing over your beautifully crafted organic listing.

And it’s salt in the wound if it’s a newbie who is digitally savvy but lacks the chairside hours you’ve chalked up. Even more dastardly is when that same individual is buying ads under your name and siphoning off your “brand equity.”

It’s time to level the playing field by adopting SEO and SEM: Organic listings in search along with paid ads… a digital double-whammy.

But where do you start?  

Start with a branding campaign. The costs are minimal and it's a fundamental step in protecting your brand equity.

What a Branding Campaign Does

Branding campaigns ensure you own the top spot in search results for your brand name. Then when someone searches for your practice online, you appear first … not that competitor who targets your name in his ads in a play to siphon your business.

It happens. In fact, the more successful you are, the more likely it will happen.

The Takeaways

  • SEO and SEM can exist without each other, but they are definitely better together for building visibility and frequency to drive clicks and maximize return on investment.

  • Use SEO to cement your long-term presence in organic results, then sprinkle on SEM to show up in more places on the page. Beyond clicks alone, showing up in both paid and search on the same page has been shown to boost conversions by 10% to 12%.

  • SEO takes time. If you can’t wait for your organic listing to show up for a new procedure or location, buy visibility with ads until your SEO kicks in.

  • An awesome website helps both your SEM and SEO performance. That also means your SEO and SEM teams shouldn’t be working in silos. Coordinating their work under one roof improves cross-channel decisions that improve clicks and conversions to get the maximum return.

Have questions? Want to pick our brain?

Simply fill out the form below and we’ll be in touch or call us at (800) 606-­0003. We design ad campaigns for any budget.

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For over 20 years, Einstein Medical has been meeting the digital marketing needs of elective healthcare professionals around the world. We are constantly improving our products to stay up-to-date with the search engines, help patients find you, and increase your lead generation.

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