how to speak marketing

5 Popular SEM Terms: What They Mean and How They Can Build Your Business

SEO, PPC, Keywords, Reach, Organic: marketers speak their own language, and trying to follow the concepts they discuss can be confusing. We’re here to help you understand just what all this jargon means and what it can mean for growing your medial practice.

1. SEO

First thing’s first, and this one you’ll hear in almost any digital marketing conversation or article. SEO is an acronym that stands for “search engine optimization,” which is a variety of strategies that are used to help a website appear as one of the first results in a search engine after someone searches a term related to that site. It’s logical that a person searching for “dermatologist in Los Angeles” will be more likely to click on the first or second website in the search result list than on the 50th. The closer to the top your website shows in the search results, the more likely it is potential patients will find your website and click on it. About 67% of web users fail to scroll past the first page of search engine results, so any websites listed on the second or later pages of results won’t even be seen.

There are many components of an SEO strategy, such as keyword research, content development, and user experience. SEO is one of the most popular and effective elements of online marketing.

2. Keywords

When you use Google or another search engine to look for something, you type in a word or phrase that relates to what you’re looking for. The search engine then puts that keyword or phrase into it’s algorithm and uses it to determine what websites and resources to link to in the results they show you.

Marketers do research on keywords to find out which ones most closely relate to their product, industry, location, content, and more. This research can help them decide what kind of content to include on a website in order to encourage ranking for certain keywords. For example, if they want to rank for “rhinoplasty in Miami,” which is a very valuable keyword phrase, they’d want to make sure to have information on their website about their rhinoplasty services and location. This may seem obvious, but there is a lot of strategy involved. In some cases, it’s actually more valuable to leverage lower-value keywords because there is less competition. In the previous example, trying to rank highly for “second opinion nose job Florida” might be more successful because the phrase is less competitive than “rhinoplasty in Miami,” but still relevant to their business.

3. Pay-Per-Click Advertising

Pay-per-click advertising, commonly known as PPC, is exactly what it looks like: digital advertising that requires businesses to pay a host each time a person reading their advertisement clicks on the ad.  This form of digital advertising requires the business to pay a fee to a host each time their advertisement is clicked on.

If you search on Google, you’ll notice that the first three results listed have a small indicator that the result is actually an advertisement. These are pay-per-click ads; the business listed will pay Google (who is hosting the ad), if you click on it.

PPC advertising is often a fast and effective way to drive relevant traffic to your website, especially if you target the right keywords. Google Ads are particularly popular with web users, with 41% of clicks going to the top three ads.

4. Organic Search

Organic search results are the “normal” search results that are displayed below the three pay-per-click ads at the top of search results. There are many SEO strategies that are designed to help websites rank more highly in organic search results. These include keyword research, link building, content marketing, and more. You can also take advantage of organic search results by listing your practice on a high-profile website directory. Large websites like WebMD,, Healthgrades, etc. often appear highly in organic search results because of their reputation and size. Listing your practice on these sites can help visitors clicking on the first results in their search find you.

5. Bounce Rate

A website’s bounce rate is a value that is tracked in your website’s analytics. The number represents the percentage of people who click on your website but quickly leave it.

A high bounce rate can mean that there is a technical problem with your site, or that there’s something about your site that is off-putting to website visitors. This could be an outdated design, or that your website takes too long to load each page, or that your content is boring or irrelevant to them. A high bounce rate can also be positive; people are getting the info they need right away. For example, if you land on a contact page, see a phone number easily and then call. Regardless of whether a high bounce rate is because your site is problematic or just very helpful, it’s definitely a metric to keep an eye on. This is because search engines also watch your bounce rate and will lower your ranking in search results if your bounce rate is too high, which negatively impacts future business. So monitor your bounce rate and be prepared to make some changes to your website if it’s consistently high.


Ready to learn more about search engine marketing and other marketing strategies for your medical practice? Get in touch with us, we’d love to talk more about how to use digital marketing to build your business.

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