Content Writing vs. Paid Search (SEO vs. PPC)

You need to boost traffic to your website, but do you go with pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, or search engine optimization? What is the difference, and which is better? In this post, we’ll break it down for you so that you can make the best decision for your practice.

Paid Search (PPC)

With pay-per-click advertising, you pay for advertising space on search engine results pages. These are the ads you see along the top and right side of search results pages on search engines like Google. Your ads target specific keywords related to your practice that your target audience would use when searching for your services. The ads link to your website, and you are only charged when someone clicks on your ad. When setting up a paid search campaign, like Google Adwords, you place bids on the keywords you want to target. You can set your budget, and set the amount of money you are willing to bid on a single click for a particular keyword.


  • Paid search is a quick way to drive traffic to your website by getting your ad on the first page of search results (as long as you bid enough and your ad and content are relevant). This is great for brand-new websites to help get exposure.
  • You only pay if a person clicks on your ad.
  • If your marketing budget is at least $50 a day, you can get a good return on your investment. (This amount will vary depending on your market, but prepare a decent budget in order to see results.)
  • You have the ability to target your ads to your intended audience. This ensures that your ads are only being shown to people who make relevant search queries. You can also target specific locations and schedule ads for specific days and times.
  • The data from your paid search campaign can be very useful for your marketing efforts. You can quickly and easily test and make changes to your marketing campaign.


  • If you don’t have a high enough budget, your paid search campaign may not yield the results you want.
  • Not every person who clicks on your ad will become a new patient. Some will click through to your site, then navigate away.
  • There is a learning curve. You may need to test out different things and tweak the campaign along the way until you find what works for your practice.
  • Some areas and keywords can be very competitive, and the average cost-per-click may be high in these areas. For example, if your practice is located in a large city like New York, a more general term like sports medicine often has a lot of competition, and you may need to make a higher bid on those types of keywords to see any return.
  • Once you end your paid search campaign, the traffic that you were getting will stop.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

The goal of SEO is to boost your website’s rankings in organic search results, rather than paying for ads. For a medical practice, that means creating custom content for your website based on keywords you want to target. Essentially, you need to be able to explain the services you provide and the procedures you perform in a way that your patients can easily understand. Not only are you demonstrating what sets you apart from your competitors, you are providing useful information that allows potential patients to make an informed decision about their healthcare.


  • Unlike pay-per-click advertising, SEO doesn’t have to be an ongoing process. While you should revisit your SEO efforts periodically to make sure you are keeping up with the constant changes of search engines, you don’t necessarily have to keep SEO efforts going year-round to see a return on your investment.
  • SEO has longer-lasting results than paid search. Because the custom content stays on your website, you can continue to reap the benefits long after you initially put it up.
  • Data suggests that patients are more likely to trust you and your practice if they find you through organic search results, rather than ads. Patients want to find the information they need without feeling like you are trying to sell them on something.
  • People often ignore ads on search engine results pages, focusing instead on the organic results.
  • SEO is often more cost-effective than paid search.


  • SEO is a long-term investment–you won’t get the instant results that you would with a paid search campaign. It will take time to get search engines to recognize your content and build your rankings.
  • Search engines are often changing their algorithms, which can affect your rankings. You’ll need to revisit and adjust your SEO efforts periodically and stay on top of algorithm changes to make sure you don’t lose out on ranking.
  • In highly competitive areas, it may be difficult to gain ranking in organic search.

Why Not Have Both? (If Your Budget Allows)

Paid search and SEO each have advantages and disadvantages, but by combining the two, you can get the best of both worlds. Paid search is a great way to quickly and easily bring in traffic and get the ball rolling. It may take a bit of testing to figure out what works for your practice, but you can easily make adjustments to your paid search campaign as needed. On the other hand, SEO can deliver more long-lasting results and qualified leads. These two marketing techniques can compliment each other when used simultaneously.

However, budgetary limitations can sometimes make it impossible to do both paid search and SEO at the same time. In that case, weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each in relation to your practice’s needs.

I hope this guide has helped you understand more about what paid search and SEO can do for your practice. How will you invest your marketing dollars?

Free Guide:
A Beginner’s Guide to Online Marketing for Orthopedic Practices

Download This Guide