What Should Your Practice Advertise on Google Ads?

By Scott Zeitzer, President, P3 Practice Marketing
Twitter: @p3practicemktg

Google Ads campaigns can be a great way to drive traffic to your practice’s website, and more importantly, bring in new patients. However, it’s important to be strategic about what you are advertising in order to be successful.

Though there are some limitations to how medical practices are allowed to advertise on Google Ads, it’s still a fairly complex system with lots of different options. It’s easy to get bogged down in the details and run ads that may not give you the results you want.

We’ve run several campaigns for medical practices, particularly in the orthopedic space. While there have been several changes to Google Ads over the years, we’ve found that these steps help practices identify the types of keywords and targeting that will net the best return on investment.

1. Choose specific procedures or services to advertise.

We have found that campaigns focusing on specific procedures and services have a greater ROI than campaigns that cast a wider net. For example, ads targeting searches for hip replacements tend to bring in more procedures than ads targeting searches for an orthopedic surgeon.

This is because when a patient searches for a particular procedure or service, there’s a very good chance that they are seeking it out for themselves, or at least researching for a friend or family member. On the other hand, when you target broader searches like “orthopedic surgeon,” a patient could be seeking you out for any number of services that may or may not include surgery.

Essentially, it’s about targeting the patients who specifically want the procedures and services you specialize in. Sure, you’ll help anyone who comes in. But from a business perspective, it only makes sense to pay for ads that are most likely to bring in the patients that are the best fit for what you do. Perhaps if you are a large multispecialty practice in a really competitive market, we could make the argument for casting a wider net with your ads. But for the average small practice, going too broad can eat up your budget quickly without getting you the results you want.

2. Make sure your procedure or service has enough search volume to run a campaign.

It’s important to note that with Google Ads campaigns, you have to have enough people searching for the keywords you target to allow the campaign to run. If only a few people in your market search for your procedure or service each month, Google usually deems it too low-volume to run an ad campaign.

We often see issues with low search volume for overly technical/complex keywords, keywords that are more than 2-3 words long, and for new or highly specialized procedures. These are our tips for choosing keywords with a high enough search volume for Google Ads:

  • Consider how a patient might search for your procedure or service. That usually means avoiding really complex medical terminology (think “ACL surgery” rather than “anterior cruciate ligament surgery”).
  • Avoid including lengthy keywords in your keyword list. Use keywords that include only the main point of the search, rather than trying to think of all of the possible phrases people might use to search for it. For example, include “hip replacement surgery” in your keyword list rather than “hip replacement surgery specialist near me.” You can use a “phrase match” keyword targeting in Google Ads to capture different phrase variations for the keywords you target.
  • If you are trying to target a new procedure or a highly specialized procedure that few people know about, you may have to try a different angle for your campaign. People aren’t searching for procedures they don’t know about yet. However, you may be able to target patients by the condition or problem that your procedure solves. For example, if you want to advertise a new minimally invasive spine procedure for herniated discs, you can target searches for herniated disc surgery.

3. Make sure your keywords, ad copy, and landing pages are well-aligned.

One of the keys to being successful with Google Ads is making sure that you are keeping your wording consistent, from the keywords you target all the way through your ad copy and your landing page. Why? Just like with regular organic search results, Google uses different factors to determine when to show your ads and where to position them.

Yes, your keyword targeting, location targeting, bids, and other settings factor in, but Google also looks at the quality of your landing page. Does the content closely relate with the keywords? Does it have enough depth to provide useful information to a user? Even if you bid high, Google may not award you with the best ad positioning if your landing page doesn’t pass their quality check.

When targeting a particular procedure or service with a Google Ads campaign, practices will often use the page on their website that covers that procedure or service. Sometimes, that works out well. Other times, not so much. Think about your landing page from the perspective of someone who has just clicked on an ad for that procedure. The content should directly correlate to the user’s search query.

For example, if you were running an ad campaign on hip replacement surgery, but the most closely related page on your website covers both hip and knee replacement, that is not an ideal landing page for an ad campaign. Those users only want to know about hip replacements, and they don’t want to have to wade through information about knee replacements to get to it. More often than not, people know when they are clicking on an ad, and they have much less patience when the landing page doesn’t match up with their expectations. You will have paid for an ad click, but you aren’t likely to hold their attention long enough to get a conversion.

4. Measure your results–are you getting the right patients?

Once you have your campaign up and running, the work doesn’t stop there. You have to keep an eye on what types of results you are getting to understand if your ad targeting is working as intended. Conversion tracking is one of the easiest ways to track your results.

For paid search campaigns, we recommend tracking both phone calls from your website (using a call tracking service like CallRail) and form submissions on your website. It will take some work to connect the dots, but with that information, you should be able to track down how many of those phone calls and form submissions resulted in patients who went forward with the procedure or service you were targeting.

If you aren’t getting the results you want from your ad campaigns, then it’s time to adjust course. That may include making changes to your keyword list, adjusting your ad targeting, and changing your ad or landing page copy. You may not get it totally right on the first round, and that’s okay. Even the best paid search marketers know that paid search campaigns usually require some tweaking over time to get and maintain the desired results. Let the data tell you what’s working, and what isn’t, and make your advertising decisions based on that.

This article was originally published on P3 Practice Marketing and is republished here with permission.

Want to hear about the ways patients search for doctors online? Listen to this Paradigm Shift of Healthcare episode (#paradigmshifthealth), Top 6 Ways Patients Search for Doctors Online, Pt. 1 below.