In dentistry, the competition is fierce. So, how can you gain more visibility and generate a steady stream of new patients? Google Ads (formerly known as AdWords) is one of the fastest, most targeted and least risky options to advertise your dental practice — but only if you set up and manage your campaigns properly. By following the 10 steps below, you’ll gain an edge over your local competitors.
But before we get started on how to set up a Google Ads campaign, let’s talk about why you should be investing in Google Ads in the first place…
3 Smart Reasons to Advertise in Google
Reason #1. Attract Your Ideal Patients
When you advertise in Google, your ads are being shown to prospective patients who are looking for exactly what you offer.
Reason #2. Fast Results
With Google Ads, you can set up a campaign and start getting clicks within hours of turning on your ads. We’ve set up several new campaigns for clients who started receiving their first patient inquiries that same day!
Reason #3. Low Risk
Many dental practices believe they need to spend a fortune to run a successful campaign on Google, but that’s not true — you can get started on a shoestring budget. With Google Ads, there’s no minimum spend required, and you only pay when prospects click on your ads.
Now that you understand why Google Ads is worth your investment, it’s time to get started! Here are the 10 steps to creating a profitable Google Ads campaign that increases your visibility in the search engines, attracts qualified patients, and adds to your bottom line.
Step 1: Keyword Research
Creating a high-converting Google Ad dental campaign starts with knowing the needs of your potential patients. Why are they searching for a dentist? What specific services are you looking to promote and what terms do prospective patients use when searching for those services in your area?
Our first step is to figure out the search volume of keywords related to your dental practice by using the free Google Ads Keyword Planner tool. You’ll enter phrases you think your potential patients would use to find a local dentist and hone in on the best keywords to target for your campaign.
Here are some sample phrases a patient living in Miami might enter when looking for a family dental practice.
- Dentist near me
- Family dentist near me
- Family dentist Miami
- Family dental care Miami
The Google Ads Keyword Planner tool provides you with similar phrases to use in your ads. It also gives you some important data like:
- How often patients use these keywords in their searches
- The competitiveness of the keyword phrase in Google Ads
- The estimated cost per click of using each keyword
Using the Keyword Planner
Ask yourself the following questions as you decide whether to incorporate a keyword into your campaign:
- How much search volume is there for the keyword in Google? A low search volume means few people are searching for that phrase; for some specialized dental procedures, this may not necessarily be a bad thing, but in most cases you’ll want to focus on a keyword that more potential patients are using in their search for a dentist.
- Is the person searching the phrase a potential patient for my dental practice? They could be entering the phrase for research purposes with no intention of visiting a dentist. Make sure the keywords you select have scheduling intent so that you focus your ad budget on the keywords most likely to drive scheduled appointments. A keyword like “teeth whitening” may or may not have scheduling intent, while “teeth whitening dentist” indicates that the patient is looking for a dentist that performs teeth whitening and likely ready to book an appointment.
- Can my budget handle the cost of the keyword? You need to have enough money allocated each month for an effective advertising campaign.
We’ll take a more in-depth look at figuring out our Google Ads budget in the next section.
Step 2: Fourth Grade Math Skills
To figure out how to distribute your advertising budget, all you need to do is apply some basic math skills. You do not want to waste money advertising on keywords that are not likely to drive patients to your practice at a reasonable cost. This means you need to determine your maximum cost per click (CPC).
You calculate your Max CPC based on your profit per patient, your website conversion rate, and your target advertising profit margin. Here’s the formula:
Max CPC = (profit per patient) x (1 – profit margin) x (website conversion rate)
The profit per patient will likely vary by service so you’ll need to run these numbers for each of the services you’re going to advertise in Google Ads. If you’re not sure what your conversion rate is based on historical data, then we recommend using 1%.
Let’s plug in some real numbers to give you a better look at how the formula works. If you know your business generates about $600 per patient for the service you want to advertise and you’re comfortable investing 65% into the cost of ads, then your Max CPC is $3.90.
Max CPC = $600 x (1 – 0.35) x 1% = $3.90
Based on that calculation, you now know your Google Ads cost per click needs to be less than $3.90. Once you calculate your Max CPC, then you can compare the Max CPC for your dental practice to the estimated cost per click for each keyword shown in the Keyword Planner. Here are a few examples of this in action:
- If you have a Max CPC of $6, and the estimated CPC for the keyword in the Keyword Planner tool is $4, you can likely turn a profit on that keyword.
- If you have a Max CPC of $7, and the estimated CPC for the keyword in the Keyword Planner tool is $20, you likely do not want to use that keyword in your campaign because it’ll cost too much to generate a new patient.
When the keyword CPCs shown in the Keyword Planner are much larger than your Max CPC, you will need to either increase the profit per patient or the conversion rate to see a return on your advertising investment.
Step 3: Competitor Intelligence
You now have a list of keywords to begin using in your Google Ads. Great job! Before diving in and creating your campaign, it pays to start thinking about what your competitors are already using in their Google Ads dental marketing campaigns.
Your online competitors will have already done their testing and optimization for their Google Ads campaigns. Having that information helps lower the risk for your advertising investment. You can use the insights into what works for their landing pages, ads, and keywords to improve your own campaigns.
Google Ads does not provide a back door for you to spy on the marketing campaigns of other dental offices. What you can do is use a 3rd party competitive intelligence tool.
Our Favorite Competitor Intelligence Tool
SpyFu is our favorite tool for collecting and organizing historical information on competing Google Ads campaigns. You can gather some information for free, but for detailed information, we recommend creating an account. Click here to learn more and sign up.
After setting up your account and logging in, copy and paste a competitor’s domain into the search bar, then select the PPC Research tab and then PPC Keywords to see the keywords used by your competitor in their advertising. You can also click on Ad History to see examples from their Google Ads campaigns.
Pay attention to how long an advertiser has used specific keywords. The longer they advertise with them, the more likely it is that these phrases are successful in attracting new dental patients. Most smart advertisers would abandon keywords that do not hit their target goals.
You can choose to go through the keyword list on the SpyFu site or export the file to read through on your own time. Remove any irrelevant phrases and add the remaining items to your current keyword list.
After updating your keyword list, click the Ads tab to read the copy used in your competitors’ advertisements. Look at multiple ads to see which ones seem to work well with the targeted audience. See how you can refine and differentiate your ads to set your practice apart from your competitors. More on that in the next section…
Step 4: Create a Powerful USP
You need a strong unique selling proposition, or USP, to differentiate your practice from other dental offices. Why should a potential patient pick your practice over another? A good USP answers the questions patients might have about choosing a dentist. Here are three reasons why a compelling USP matters in your campaigns.
- Strong USPs generate more traffic from patients who are seeking what your practice is offering. They also prevent irrelevant clicks from people who have no interest in your dental practice.
- Strong USPs can dramatically increase the number of people who will make an appointment with your dental practice. That means more revenue to support your plans for growth.
- Strong USPs help potential patients see you as the best option for their dental needs.
Coming Up With a Solid USP
Think about what you do better than other dental practices in the area. The best USPs use insights from past patients and how they felt about the dental services you delivered.
Your USP doesn’t even have to be about specific dental procedures your practice offers. Think about the atmosphere you provide, the technology your practice uses, the ease of setting up appointments, services for nervous patients, etc. Are you open later than most practices in the area? Do you allow patients to make weekend appointments? These are things you should emphasize in your campaigns to give you an edge over competitors.
When you are advertising dental procedures and treatments, look for openings neglected by competing practices. Listen to the reasons why your current patients keep coming back to you for these services and why they may have abandoned a competitor in the past.
Check out the advertising used by your competitors, including their marketing materials, print and digital ads, and websites. Take notes and put them into a spreadsheet so you have all your data in one place for reference. This also helps you identify openings in a competitor’s advertising strategy.
Step 5: Make Your Offer Irresistible
Once you have your USP, start crafting offers that make patients feel they would be losing out by not scheduling an appointment right away.
The best irresistible offers contain the following elements:
Your dental services should give patients added value over the competition. That does not mean creating offers undervaluing your work; it means allowing potential patients to see the value in making an appointment with you. Do you specialize in treating anxious patients? Is your office open early in the morning to accommodate work schedules? These add value without offering a discount or freebie.
Keep your offers in the realm of reality. You can turn off potential new patients by making claims that seem too good to be true. Give them a reason to believe the offer is valid. Don’t simply offer free teeth whitening; instead, offer free whitening with a routine dental exam.
3. Low Risk
Most savvy internet users keep an eye out for anything appearing to be a scam. Provide some guarantee to potential patients to reassure them that they have nothing to lose by giving your dental practice a try.
4. A Call to Action
Give prospective patients the motivation to click on your ad. Encourage them to want to learn more about specific services you provide or a discount you’re offering. Be direct to encourage patients to take the next step and set up an appointment with your dental practice.
We went through a lot of information in the first five steps of this article and have yet to start building your Google Ads campaign! Don’t worry, you will soon realize why we had you put in so much legwork beforehand. The first five steps are essential to building out high-conversion campaigns that can keep new patients coming in through the doors of your dental office.
Step 6: Design Compelling Ads
You only pay for Google Ads when someone clicks on your advertisement, so your ads must serve three critical functions:
- Attract patients who need your services and will pick your practice over a competitor.
- Repel people who are not likely to schedule an appointment.
- Boost your Google Ads Quality Score.
The last element can play a big role in your budget. Google rewards savvy advertisers that write good ads by giving them a high Quality Score, which in turn reduces their cost per click for ad placement. On the flip side, Google penalizes advertisers that write poor ads by decreasing their Quality Score, which means they need to pay more per click for the same ad placement!
Laying out Your Google Ads
Your Google Ad text contains 3 key components.
- Headline 1, Headline 2, Headline 3: Google provides 3 separate headlines for your ad copy. Your headline what grabs the attention of your potential patients, so make it shine! Including your target keywords in the headlines helps them stand out since Google automatically bolds the text–plus, adding keywords in the headlines makes your ads 100% relevant to a user’s search. Try asking a question that elicits a positive response and a potential click. You only have 30 characters for your headlines, so carefully craft your message.
- Description Line 1 and Description Line 2: Use your description lines to focus on the key benefits of your dental services to patients. Emphasize your offer and add a call to action to make your ad stand out amongst others. Each description line can be up to 90 characters long.
- Display Path 1 and Path 2: Google displays your domain, along with two paths, which gives you additional space to include your target keyword, a call to action, or anything else you think would be compelling to a prospective patient. Each path can only be 15 characters.
Below are a couple of example ads to help you get started. (Note: the specifics in the ads have been modified in order to be preserve client details.)
South Shore Endodontics | Painless & Effective Treatment
Specialists in Saving Your Teeth. Trusted by Patients and Dentists. We Also Treat Cracked Teeth and Traumatic Dental Injuries, and Diagnose Dental Pain.
Affordable Dental Implants | Restore Your Smile | Call Now
We’re Local. You Can Find Us in Simsbury, CT. Schedule An Appointment Today!
Step 7: Build Congruent Landing Pages
Your prospective patient reads your ad and then clicks. Now what?
This is a critical point in the sales path where many advertisers drop the ball by sending their prospective patients to their website homepage. Bad idea! Prospects who click on your ad are looking for a specific service or offer; they should land on a page that is 100% congruent with the ad message. Your homepage will not meet that criteria.
Take the time to craft individual landing pages geared to relevant phrases in your ads. This streamlines the process of attracting new patients and shortens their path to making an appointment with your dental practice. Include an attention-grabbing headline and copy that emphasizes your benefits, USP, offer, why you are trustworthy, and of course, another call to action to schedule an appointment.
Step 8: Track Your Conversions
How can you tell which keywords and ads perform best when it comes to attracting new patients to your practice? Which keywords should you pause due to poor performance? You cannot find the answers to those questions without first setting up conversion tracking.
Conversion tracking in Google Ads can measure how many phone calls and how many online appointments were generated directly from your ads. Google Ads also provides offline conversion tracking to allow you to match patients back to the keyword and ad that helped them find your practice.
Go to Tools > Conversions to get started. Follow the instructions to set up all the necessary conversions for your campaign so you can track phone calls, online appointments, and even sales that were generated in your practice.
With conversion tracking set up, it’s finally time to create your Google Ads campaign!
Step 9: Configure Google Ads Settings
The Google Ads layout makes creating campaigns a fairly simple process. Click the New Campaign button, then follow the instructions to add keywords and create your text ads.
Warning: Be careful about Google’s default settings! Many of them must be edited before turning on your ads or you’ll risk wasting your ad budget.
Here is how we recommend configuring Google Ads:
Search vs. Display
Select Search Network Only so that you only target the Google Search Network instead of the Display Network. Display Network requires different targeting and different ads so it’s best to create campaigns that target each network separately.
You do not want to waste money paying for mobile ads if your website is not optimized for mobile devices. Likewise, your website may not function properly on tablets, so be sure to test before turning on your ads. Set your device bids to -100% (that’s negative 100 percent) if you want to prevent your ads from displaying for mobile and/or tablets.
Keyword Match Types
The default setting for keywords in Google Ads is Broad Match. That means Google displays your ad to any keyword it deems relevant. You may generate more clicks, but from people with no interest in your dental services. Instead, select Phrase Match or even Exact Match to gain more control over your ad targeting.
Using negative keywords allows you to block phrases from triggering your ads. For example, you may want to add “free” as a negative keyword to block your ads from showing to anyone searching for free information or services. We also recommend adding school related keywords like school, university, college, and degree. Anyone searching with those keywords is not looking to schedule an appointment at your office!
Once you confirm all of the settings are correct, then you are ready to activate your ads and get your campaign up and running!
Step 10: Ongoing Optimization
Take a moment to do a little dance. We won’t judge. You’ve just created your first Google Ads campaign for your dental practice and you should be proud!
Don’t get too comfortable, though.
Most campaigns take a while to begin turning a profit and must be managed continuously to keep them viable. Here are three areas you should monitor regularly to optimize the performance of your Google Ads campaign.
Initially, monitor and adjust your bids so that your ads qualify for the first page of the search results. If Google says your bids are too low, then you will not get any ad impressions and no one will see your ads. Raise bids accordingly until you start to get impressions and clicks.
Once you’re getting clicks, then raise your bids on keywords that are driving conversions and lower your bids on underperforming keywords or pause them entirely.
Click-Through Rate (CTR)
Your ad click-through rate (CTR) is the biggest factor in your Quality Score. As noted above, high Quality Scores will lead to lower cost per click for your ads. That’s why monitoring your CTR is critical to your advertising success.
Continually test new ad variations to see what copy gets the best CTR. Lather, rinse, and repeat, month after month. Don’t get complacent because if your competitors create a better ad than yours, they’ll earn a higher Quality Score and you’ll start to pay more for the same ad position!
Landing Page Conversions
Use tools like Google Optimize or InstaPage to split test your landing pages to determine the copy and layout combinations that work best for driving conversions.
That’s it! By following the steps outlined in this guide you should be well on your way to creating high-converting Google Ads Campaigns. Don’t give up, and you will see your efforts pay off in a big way!
Need Help with Google Ads?
At Main Street ROI, we specialize in helping dentists attract more local patients with Google Ads. If you’d like us to set up and manage your Google Ads campaigns for you, contact us today.