To drive practice growth in today’s increasingly competitive landscape, healthcare practices need to reach more prospective patients — particularly those ready to book an appointment. What are the best ways to reach patients at this critical point in their decision-making process? Although organic tactics will drive website traffic and new patient conversion over time, the fastest, most foolproof way to get there is by paid advertising within Google search results.
Also known as Google Ads, paid search, cost-per-click, or pay-per-click advertising, this strategy delivers real, measurable growth for healthcare practices across all medical specialties. These ads — almost always text-based — cut through the clutter and place your practice at the top of search engine results pages (SERPs).
Why paid search advertising works for healthcare practices
While there are dozens of digital marketing strategies to consider, investing in Google Ads is one of the simplest and most effective tools for healthcare practices. Unlike traditional advertising tactics, paid search offers immediate results that can directly promote practice growth. Here are just a few of the greatest benefits of cost-per-click advertising campaigns for medical and dental practices.
1. Your practice moves to the top of the pack.
With Google Ads, your healthcare ads will appear on the page above organic search results — giving your practice the opportunity to be seen by, and connect with, more prospective patients. Google Ads results look almost identical to natural, organic results but are differentiated with the word ‘Ad’ appearing in a small box to the top left of the copy.
For practices that lack a comprehensive SEO strategy, or looking for rapid online performance improvements, cost-per-click advertising offers the best chance of landing on the first page of search results. That level of visibility is imperative for patient acquisition, as clickthrough rates (CTRs) drop fast as you move further down the page. In fact, the top three organic search results account for 75 percent of all clicks.
2. You can target your ideal patients.
When running a Google Ad campaign, you’ll have access to “advanced targeting,” meaning you can control who sees your ads and market only to people you’re trying to reach. Perhaps you want to reach men or women of a certain age, or individuals who live within a certain radius of your practice. You might choose to target people with specific interests that correlate to your ideal patient. Pay-per-click advertising lets you choose precisely who will see your ads.
You can also focus on keywords more likely to be used in a search query from a prospective patient ready to book an appointment — rather than one who may be starting their search journey.
For example, practices with a limited budget may want to bid on terms like ‘best cardiologist near me’ rather than terms like ‘tips for lowering cholesterol.’ While both may help improve practice awareness, the first searcher is more likely to convert to a new patient. By utilizing advanced targeting, healthcare practices can improve their digital marketing return on investment (ROI).
3. You only pay for ads that deliver.
Perhaps the most appealing benefit of Google Ads is that you only pay for ads that generate a click (thus, the name ‘pay-per-click’.) Even if hundreds or thousands of people see your Google Ad, you’ll only pay for those that result in action — as defined by a click that drives the patient to your practice website. While not every person who clicks will convert into a patient, ads can dramatically increase your website traffic, practice awareness, and, ultimately, new patient acquisition.
4. It’s easy to adjust your ad campaigns.
With Google Ads, flexibility is the name of the game. With the click of a button, you can easily swap out your headline or ad copy. You can also adjust or modify your budget at any time. Unlike traditional advertising, this flexibility gives healthcare practices the ability to stay nimble and respond to changes in practice operations or modify campaigns based on performance in nearly real-time. If an ad or campaign isn’t working, you’re not stuck with a long-term contract and thousands of dollars wasted. Instead, you can refine your strategy until you get the results you’re looking for.
5. Paid search ads complement and strengthen your practice’s organic strategies.
Online search engine advertising for healthcare practices complements organic marketing efforts, such as search engine optimization (SEO). As your organic SEO strategies slowly build visibility for your practice over time, paid search can bridge the gap by delivering immediate results.
When using both strategies, your practice has the chance to occupy more “real estate” on the search engine results page. This can collectively drive higher clickthrough rates for both your organic and paid search results.
6. Your practice can gain a competitive advantage.
In certain medical specialties, competition for new patients can be fierce. If you’re a newer or smaller practice, it can be difficult to compete with well-established providers and offices that have a long-standing reputation in your community.
When executed properly, paid search advertising can help level the playing field, allowing your practice to rise above the competition. You can bid on specific keywords (including your competitors’ practice and provider names) to give your practice a fair chance at attracting prospective patients looking for a new provider.
If you want to gain that edge and build market share for a certain care service or subspecialty, you can develop targeted campaigns to drive business in those areas (for example, a highly targeted campaign around joint replacement or varicose vein treatment can drive patient volume in niche specialty areas.)
PatientPop helps healthcare practices run targeted online advertising campaigns to attract more potential patients with precision. A Google premier partner, PatientPop provides practices with a targeted advertising and social media ad strategy and ongoing ad testing to optimizes performance.