What is Google AdWords?
Google AdWords, now known as Google Ads, are the sponsored results you see at the top of Google Search Results. Every result you see with the word “Ad” next to it is a website which is paying to appear there.
For example, here are the ads which appear when we search for “orthopedic surgeon miami”:
Why should Doctors and Medical Practices consider Google AdWords for Doctors? (5 Advantages)
If your practice is serious about increasing its number of online patient referrals, then Google Ads is a must. Here are 5 reasons why:
1. Get to the Top of Google Immediately
Are you in a rush to get new patients and fast? Then Google AdWords may be the right option for you. A new account can be set up without a matter of hours, so your website could be appearing on patients’ screens before the end of the day!
2. Target the Patients you Want
One of the best features about Google AdWords is its ability to target people within a certain geographic area. After all, if you are an urgent care center in Chicago, then you don’t want to be paying for ads for people in Texas!
You can also use the Google Adwords schedule feature to schedule ads for when you want. We usually advise doctors to schedule ads for when they are open – so that patients can call to schedule. After all, why pay for patients to call you when you’re closed?
3. Track Results
Their are many tracking options. Google refers to them as “Conversions”. Using code provided by Google, you can track the success of your ads. This includes tracking how many calls you received (and whether these calls were from the ad or from your website).
It also includes the ability to track if patients later scheduled an appointment on your website. By tracking results, your practice can calculate how much you are paying for each conversion.
4. You only Pay when someone Clicks
Unlike other forms of online advertising (e.g. Facebook), you only pay when someone clicks on your ads. This is known as Pay Per Click (PPC). It means that you are not wasting your advertising budget on ads which are not of interest to people.
5. The Percentage of Google Ads Clicks is Increasing
According to WordStream, the percentage of consumers clicking on Google Ads (instead of the organic search results below) is increasing. But what does this mean? It means that doctors can no longer just rely on appearing in the organic search results. For the best results, they should appear in both the Google Ads section AND the organic search results.
Great, so Doctors should apply 100% of their Ad Budget to Google Ads, right? WRONG (5 Disadvantages of Google Ads)
Despite being a great way to increase online patient referrals, here are 5 reasons Doctors should NOT spend 100% of their Ad budget on Google Ads:
1. The Cost
Google AdWords works on a cost per click (CPC) model. This means you pay for every click on your ads. How much is each click? It usually ranges from $1 to $30 dollars, but can be higher for more competitive keywords. Needless to say, the cost of an AdWords campaign can quickly rack up. So you have to be careful to set it up correctly.
2. Beware the Google AdWords Reps
Some of the Google AdWords Representatives are great and have found brilliant solutions for our AdWords campaigns. However, others seem more intent on just increasing the click through rate (CTR). Increasing the CTR increases the amount of money Google earns.
However, it’s not always a good thing for doctors. You do not want to be paying for patients who have little or no chance of scheduling an appointment. So when setting up and managing your AdWords campaign, be sure to work with an AdWords specialist and not just the Google AdWords employees.
3. Short Term
The thing about Google AdWords is that as soon as you stop paying, your ads stop appearing. This is one reason why many doctors prefer the idea of organic seo for doctors, because it lasts for longer.
4. There are still more Organic Clicks than Ad Clicks
“Organic searches still get more clicks overall than paid search” – WordStream. So why would you allocate 100% of your budget to a form of advertising which is getting less than 50% of the clicks? In other words, doctors also need to rank their website in the organic search results. This process is known as SEO, or for medical doctors, as ‘medical seo‘.
5. Be Careful when Setting Up Your Campaign
Setting up your campaign badly can lose you a lot of money. We have seen practices set up campaigns to run 24/7, yet the practice only answers the phone from Mon-Friday, 9am to 5pm. So all those clicks and missed calls in the evenings and at weekends were wasted!
Worse still, we have seen local practices forget to restrict the location, resulting in them targeting the entire USA. Is someone in Alaska really going to visit your urgent care in Orlando? No. Money wasted!
The lesson here is simple: Be careful when setting up your campaign so that your ads, so that no dollar is wasted.
How many new patients will you get? What’s the Return On Investment (ROI)?
The number of new patients you acquire will depend on how well your campaign is set up. The better optimized your campaign, the more relevant your ads will be, which means more conversions (more new patients). It will also depend on your budget. The more you spend, the more patients you will acquire. And the ROI will depend upon your specialty. An orthopedic surgeon receives much more per surgery than an urgent care doctor performing a check up.
However, the short answer is this: If set up well, most campaigns generate much more Return On Income than the cost. After all, why are doctors spending so much on Google Ads? The answer is simple: Because they work.
How do Google Ads compare to other forms of marketing?
As mentioned above, Google Ads alone are not enough. They work best as part of a blended campaign. You should also consider:
- Organic SEO
- Facebook Ads
- Increasing your number of 5 Star Reviews
- A mobile-friendly Medical Website
- Social Media Marketing
- Email Marketing to Patients
Conclusion: Are Google Ads worth it?
The answer is: “Yes, but…” If your practice is serious about increasing its number of new online patient referrals, then it needs to allocate some budget to Google Ads. It’s a growing source of patients, so it will be a big player in the future. If you want your practice to compete in 2019 and beyond, then it’s time to get on board the Google Ads Train!
However, Google Ads is NOT the be all and end all. You should NOT spend 100% of your budget on Google Ads. Instead, it should be part of a blended approach, ensuring that you have all your bases covered.