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Many healthcare professionals realize that if they are to stay competitive in the modern world, they need to actively promote their services. It is not enough to simply open an office, put out a sign and hope for the best. However, as more healthcare providers enter the world of digital marketing; they are quickly bombarded by an array of unfamiliar terms and acronyms such as impressions, SEO, PPC, etc.

If small and independent practices are going to find success with online marketing, they need to understand basic SEO and PPC terminology.

What is SEO?

The term SEO is an acronym for search engine optimization. The goal of SEO is to generate internet traffic to a specific webpage or website. Well done SEO application and planning will increase a website’s ranking on search engine result pages (SERP). This organic or natural internet traffic helps search engines rank content on their search results page.

These rankings are based on what is considered most relevant to a user’s question or keyword. Search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo all prefer websites that have relevant content, images, video, proper HTML construction as well as relevant links.

What is PPC?

The term PPC is short for pay-per-click which is a very popular online advertising principle. Also called CPC or cost per click, this internet-based advertising method directs user traffic directly to websites. In PPC advertising models, the online ad owner (advertiser) directly pays a website creator or search engine (publisher) when a specific online ad is clicked by a viewer. Often, PPC advertising is a service provided by more well-known search engines like Google or Bing.

However, other online search directories (Yelp) and social media sites (Facebook and Twitter) have their own versions of PPC. Websites or search results that display PPC ads will display an advertisement when a keyword query matches an advertiser’s keyword list, or when a content site displays relevant content. PPC-generated advertisements are called “sponsored links” or “sponsored ads”, and appear next to, below or above the organic (non-paid) links or content on a webpage. The price of each click is based on either a flat-rate PPC model or a bid-based PPC model.

What is an index?

Search engines like Google or Bing store all web pages on what is called an index. This index creates an entry for each web page and describes the page’s content and URL location. When Google’s system performs this task it will “fetch” (Google’s language) a web page and add it to its index. This indexing function is actually done several times a day by search engines.

What does crawling mean?

In internet-speak, the term crawl or act of crawling is the process that search engines engage in when they are updating their indexes. This includes discovering new URLs, recording updates to previously indexed web pages, reading sitemaps, etc. Search engines like Google use automated software applications known as a Googlebot. These bots constantly scan or crawl the web, looking for new content to add to Google’s search index. Not surprisingly, this automated indexing software is also called a crawler.

It should be noted that when a Googlebot or similar crawler explores a web page, these web bots attempt to view the page as if they were an actual user. Search bots will access a webpage’s JavaScript, CSS, and image files. If a website’s robots.txt file disallows the crawling of these items, it will hamper how well a search engine’s crawler can locate and index that web page. This means that the search engine results for that web page will be received suboptimal rankings.

What is an algorithm?

At the most basic level, an algorithm is a set of steps used by a computer program to accomplish a specific task. For search engines, without diving too deeply into computer science, this largely means data processing, indexing and calculation. Search engines use complex algorithms to locate and index millions of web pages. According to Moz.com, Google performs between 500 to 600 updates per year to its search engine algorithm.

What is an impression?

If an ad or webpage is pulled or fetched from its source, then it is considered countable. This fetching of material from another computer or server is an essential part of web advertising. To simplify things greatly, an impression is just another word for a view of an ad, email or website.

What is a click?

People are aware of the sound that a computer mouse makes when it is, well, clicked. For online marketing purposes, a click is something that sends a website user to a webpage outside of the search engine results page. However, by clicking a link that stays inside a search engine result’s listing is not counted as a click. Clicking a search result that takes users to an outside web page, and then returning to the same search results and clicking the same link again; still only counts as only one click. However, physically clicking on a different search result link on the page will count as a new click.

What is CTR?

This acronym stands for click-through rate, which is a key feature in pay-per-click advertising. CTR is the ratio of users who click on a specific link to the number of total users who view a page, email, or advertisement. In other words, this is the number of times a person physically clicks on an advertisement divided by the total number of views or impressions.

The exact CTR formula is CTR = (number of clicks / number of impressions) x 100. This metric is commonly used to measure the success of an advertising campaign for a particular website or email campaign. However, click-through rates for ad campaigns vary tremendously across industries. For Google search results in the health and medical industry, the average CTR is 3.27%.

The general purpose of the click-through rate measurement is to track the ratio of “user clicks” to “user impressions” of an online ad or email marketing campaign. Usually, the higher the CTR the more successful that advertisement has been at directing traffic to a specific website.

What are keyword matching options?

Keyword match types help control which searches on Google can trigger your ad. So you could use broad match to show your ad to a wide audience or you could use exact match to hone in on specific groups of customers. In general, the broader the match type, the more traffic potential that keyword will have, since your ads may be triggered more often. Conversely, a narrower match type means that your ads may display less often. But, when the ads are displayed, they will likely be more related to someone’s search. Understanding these differences greatly helps online advertisers to choose the right keyword options and improve the results of their online advertising campaigns.

Google AdWords recommends starting with a broad keyword match in order to maximize the potential for your ads to show up in relevant searches. However, this can be more expensive. Over time, advertisers need to focus their campaigns so they are efficient and relevant to their specific industry. This is particularly true for healthcare practitioners who need targeted and relevant advertising.

There are many more terms and acronyms in the field of SEO and PPC marketing. As health professionals take charge of their own marketing campaigns, ABCS RCM can help. In addition, we offer medical billing, credentialing and workforce management tools.

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SEO and PPC terms