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One of the most significant online marketing opportunities for doctors was revealed to me in a meeting about five years ago and still holds true today. That’s the opportunity for organic traffic compared to Google Ads for Doctors.

Here’s the backstory. A large, private physician group practice that had been a long-term, full-service client of ours, and had experienced tremendous growth, was acquired by a large healthcare system. Following the acquisition, the healthcare system informed us that they no longer required our services as they had an entire marketing department that “was capable of handling all of this group’s needs.”

A couple of the physicians who understood the organic SEO traffic strategy and had experienced success from it wisely asked how the healthcare system planned to keep the keyword rankings that we had accomplished if there were removing the site and just adding the doctors to the list of providers on their website? I was in that meeting as well, and the answer from the marketing department made my jaw drop. Their response was, “We’ll just buy the keywords with Google Ads.”

Here’s what I knew, that they clearly didn’t:

The estimated click-through rate (CTR) for a doctor who has the #1 organic position in Google is 34.2%.

The average CTR for a search ad is only 1.91%.

Unsurprisingly, the healthcare system lost all of the keywords we had built up to the competition. Worse, the doctors all saw their RVU’s decline. One of the doctors was so frustrated with the reduction in new patients that he quickly contracted with us himself.

The lesson is this is not that Google Ads for doctors are a terrible investment. Rather, the most significant opportunity is for doctors who want to attract more patients is to invest in SEO.

The organic traffic vs. Google Ads for doctors doesn’t need to be an either/or strategy. It can be a both/and. But the real advantage is that in the last five years, I have not seen healthcare systems change their thinking from just “buying the keywords” they want. For doctors who want to attract new patients, you still have a golden opportunity to get started!


Side note: As you can imagine, after several instances of building up group practices and going through an acquisition and marketing transfer, I no longer accept requests to represent entire groups. It’s simply a business decision. However, at the time of this post, I do still have a couple of openings to provide full-service online marketing to select individual physicians. If you are interested, please click here for more information.