Allied Health Marketing: SEO vs Google Ads – Which One Wins?

Joe Edgley - Director at Amplified Marketing
Joe Edgley

I’m the director and chief strategist at Amplified Marketing and I love helping Allied Health Practices grow with simple, effective digital marketing.


In this digital age, having an online presence is key for Allied Health practices wanting to attract and retain clients. More and more people are searching online for health services so you need to be where your potential clients are looking. Two ways to boost your online visibility are Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Google Ads. But which one is better for your Allied Health practice when it comes to getting new clients and filling your waiting room?

Let’s get into the pros and cons of both with examples and data to help you make a decision.

What is SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) for Allied Health?

SEO is optimising your website to rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs) organically. The goal is to increase the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through unpaid (organic) search results.

Think of SEO like planting a tree. It takes time and care but once it’s grown it can provide long-term benefits with little maintenance.

Benefits of SEO for Allied Health Practices:

  • Long-term results and sustainability: Once your site ranks well it can maintain its position with less effort compared to ongoing paid advertising. This is huge for practices wanting to establish a stable and enduring online presence.
  • Increased organic traffic and credibility: Users trust organic search results more than paid ads, so you get higher click through rates. According to BrightEdge 53.3% of all website traffic comes from organic search.
  • Cost effective over time: While the initial investment in SEO can be big, when executed well the long term benefits far outweigh the costs. Our agency charges $500 per month for local SEO per location, with content creation packages up to $1500 per month. That’s relatively cheap compared to larger agencies, which can easily balloon into tens of thousands per month.

Allied Health SEO Case study

A client of ours invested in SEO and over 12-18 months saw a 187% organic traffic growth.

What are Google Ads?

If you remember the SEO analogy – that SEO is like a tree – then consider Google Ads more like a sprint. They give you immediate results but require ongoing investment. Google Ads is an online advertising platform where you bid to show brief ads, service offerings, product listings or videos to web users. Your ads can show in search engine results, the Google Map Pack and across the Google Display Network.

Benefits of Google Ads for Allied Health Practices:

  • Immediate visibility and Fast results: Ads can show almost instantly after your campaign goes live. This is huge for practices that need client engagement and appointments now.
  • Highly targeted advertising: Allows you to target a specific audience based on various criteria so you get higher conversion rates. You can target potential clients based on location, demographics and specific health concerns. You can even target specific times of the day to run your ads, for example if you know clients are more likely to book an appointment in the evening hours after work, you can direct more budget to this window.
  • Measurable and adjustable campaigns: Google Ads provides detailed analytics to track performance and make changes, so your budget is used effectively. Our agency charges start at $500 per month for Google Ads management, multi-location campaigns up to $1500+ per month.

Case study:

We began running a targeted Google Ads campaign for a client of ours in the Osteopath space on a very limited initial budget and within a few months saw a 183% increase in online bookings.

SEO vs Google Ads for allied health practice marketing

Cost: Short term vs Long term Investment

SEO requires a big upfront investment of time and resources but has lower ongoing costs. Google Ads requires ongoing spend to maintain visibility. But businesses often see a quicker ROI with Google Ads than the long term benefits of SEO.

Timeframe: Immediate vs Gradual Results

SEO can take several months to show results, Google Ads can drive traffic almost instantly. For Allied Health practices that need immediate visibility Google Ads might be the way to go. But for those looking for long term growth SEO is priceless.

Targeting: Broad vs Specific Audiences

SEO attracts a broad audience searching for your keywords, Google Ads allows you to target specific audiences based on demographics. So SEO is good for overall traffic, Google Ads is great for targeting specific client profiles.

Sustainability: Long term vs Temporary Results

Once established, SEO continues to drive traffic without ongoing costs, long term benefits. Google Ads gives you a temporary boost in visibility and traffic (and new patients when done well!) which stops when you stop paying for the ads. It’s like turning on and off a tap essentially.

Integrated Approach: SEO and Google Ads

Using both SEO and Google Ads together gives you the best of both worlds. This integrated approach gives you maximum visibility and reach, covering both short term and long term goals.

For example you can use data from your Google Ads campaigns to inform your SEO strategy, coordinate keywords and content for consistency and effectiveness.

How to Integrate SEO and Google Ads:

  • Coordinate keywords and content: Use Google Ads keyword data to inform your SEO.
  • Use Google Ads data to inform SEO strategy: Analyse high performing keywords and add to your SEO strategy.
  • Consistent messaging across both channels: Keep your brand message the same across your SEO content and Google Ads.

Tips for Allied Health Practices

SEO Tips:

  • Do keyword research to understand what potential clients are typing into Google to find you: Use tools like Google Keyword Planner and Ahrefs to find your keywords.
  • Create good content: Good content doesn’t mean thousands of words long blog articles that no one will read. It means provide value to your audience. For example – if you’re a physio, provide some short videos showing people how they can improve their posture at home in 5 minutes per day.
  • Build backlinks: Reach out to other reputable websites for guest posting or collaborations. If you’re a local practice you could sponsor local sporting teams, or work with other similar businesses to gain link placements on their website.

Tips for Google Ads:

  • Set a realistic budget: Set a budget that matches your goals. You need to spend money to make money – if you’re only willing to invest $10 per day, then you won’t see much in return. We generally recommend allied health practices spend a minimum of $1000 per month on Google Ads. Remember – the goal is to make back more money than you spend, so see this as an investment, not a cost!
  • Create good ad copy: Write clear and persuasive ad copy that speaks to your audience. This is possibly one of the biggest errors we see practitioners make in allied health advertising.
  • Monitor and adjust regularly: Use Google Ads analytics to track performance and make data driven changes – just like you would do with a client over a series of sessions!

Wrap up – which one wins?

In summary, both SEO and Google Ads have their benefits for Allied Health practices – and in reality, neither ‘wins’. SEO is long term and builds credibility, Google Ads is short term and targeted. The best approach is to use both together to get maximum online presence and achieve short term and long term goals. By assessing your practice’s specific needs and resources you can create a marketing strategy that leverages the strengths of both SEO and Google Ads to get the best results.

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