The Doctor’s Guide To The Differences Between SEO and SEM


You have likely heard of SEO (search engine optimization), but do you know what SEM (search engine marketing) is? The two terms get confused and interchanged frequently, and, although they sound similar on the surface, they are both very different. In this article, we will take a closer look at what each of these digital marketing techniques is and how they can help you improve your medical practice revenue stream.

What Is The Difference Between SEO and SEM?

According to Digital Authority Partners, both techniques help a website appear in search results. The difference is that SEO depends on organic, or free, methods, whereas SEM uses paid methods. We’ill focus on this difference between SEO and SEM, as one is effective with paid methods and the other without.

Why Does It Matter?

Businesses of all kinds depend on the internet, the healthcare industry in particular. SEO and SEM help your website get noticed and gain exposure to a much wider audience. The purpose of these marketing techniques is to get search engines to rank your website highly enough that it appears near the top of the first page of SERPs (search engine results pages). This positioning puts your website in front of people who may not otherwise see it.

SEO – What Is It?

SEO is a process that entices search engines to visit your website, examine it closely, index it for future reference, rank it based on numerous metrics, and recommend it to users asking for information related to your website content. SEO has three key pillars: Technical SEO, On-Page SEO, and Off-Page SEO.

Technical SEO

This focuses on the overall mechanics of a website, such as page loading speed, whether the website is mobile-friendly or not, security measures, and so on.

On-Page SEO

This is concentrated on the factors that optimize your website. By taking care of titles, meta tags, and other on-page items, you make your website easier for search engines to understand.

Off-Page SEO

This is where you build the credibility and trustworthiness of your website. It employs many tactics, including foundational link-building.

SEM – What Is It?

SEM is essentially PPC (pay-per-click). Through SEM, you use paid methods to bring visibility to your website. The target is search engines, since they are responsible for sharing your website information with online users. SEM uses various online advertising platforms through PPC to get your message in front of your desired audience. SEO helps improve the ranking of your website through organic traffic-building tactics.

How SEM Benefits You

SEM produces quicker results than SEO because PPC generates clicks and conversions in a short time frame. On the other hand, SEO increases traffic over a longer period of time. Plus, with SEM, you have full control of when and where your PPC advertising is seen. This allows

you to test various strategies, ranging from sending traffic to a sales page, promoting a new product, or adding traffic to your website to gain exposure.

SEM And SEO Similarities

There are five main similarities between SEM and SEO:

  • Both improve your website visibility
  • Both send relevant and high-quality traffic to your website
  • Both help you understand your audience better
  • Both rely on relevant keyword use to achieve goals
  • Both need regular optimization and monitoring to track progress

Should You Use SEO or SEM?

Choosing SEO or SEM depends on a few factors. For example, if you’re trying to build your website’s reputation, then SEO would be the logical choice. However, if you’re trying to get a quick response to a special offer, then SEM is your best solution. Other factors will direct your decision, but this example should give a better idea of the different abilities of SEO and SEM.

You Can Always Use Them Together

Why not combine the power of SEO with the power of SEM? Let’s look a bit closer at what you can gain from implementing a joint strategy.

Data-Driven Decisions

The data you gain from SEM will give you information you can use to tweak your SEO efforts to your best advantage. Using certain data, you can create remarketing campaigns that target specific demographics. An example is creating display and search ads that you direct to visitors who landed on your website but did not convert. Plus, with a combined SEO and SEM approach, your website can quickly dominate SERPs by showing up in both organic listings and sponsored ad space.

Remember, They Are Out There

Don’t forget that your competitors may use SEO and SEM together. There are tools available that reveal advertising strategies your competition is implementing. Once you figure out what they’re doing, you can use that information to help build better future marketing strategies.

Final Thoughts

It is already tough enough in the healthcare industry to attract new patients. With an online presence, SEO and SEM can drive new traffic to your website. Through the added exposure that comes from SEO and SEM, your patient count will increase. It all starts with knowing how to use the internet to your advantage.

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