More and more dentists these days are advertising online – especially with Google Adwords. Of course, there are other forms of online advertising, and some of them can work quite well, but for this post we’ll focus on Google.
If you haven’t used pay-per-click or want to know more about it, check out this video (from Google) for a brief overview.
Now, most dentists who are serious about doing Google Adwords will have a marketing company run their campaign for them. Finding a really sharp company to do this is important, as there are a lot of factors that can impact the cost and the success of your Adwords campaign.
If you’re not serious about Adwords yet, and you simply want to give it a try and see if it can get the phone ringing, you have the option of using Google Adwords Express.
Adwords Express is a super simplified version of Google Adwords, in which an average Joe without any online marketing experience can set up a campaign. You tell Google what your business is and how much you are willing to spend, and then Google does the rest for you. So you can play around with Google Adwords and see if it works without needing to be an expert.
Again, Google can explain it better than I, so here is a brief video from Google about Adwords Express:
Now, I think Adwords Express can be a good experiment if you want to play around with Adwords and see if it’s something you should invest in, but you’re not ready to spend a lot of money and enter into a contract with a web company to run it yet.
However, I would not do it long-term, because it’s not going to be as well optimized to give you the best bang for your buck.
After I’d done my little experiment and seen how many people are searching in my area and how much traffic it brings to my website, I’d then do one of two things:
- Hire a sharp company to optimize my online marketing and run my Adwords campaigns, or
- Train myself or a staff member to become an expert.
Of course, there are specialists in the field who will always know more than a dental worker who does it as a hobby, but you can pick up quite a bit of knowledge just from studying Google’s free course on Adwords. Click here for more info if you’re interested in it.
Now, whether you do it yourself, or hire a company to do it, here are six tips to help you get better results from Google Adwords or any of your internet advertising for that matter!
Keep in mind: how much money you spend does not necessarily determine how high up your ad will appear on Google. Many of the tips I discuss below will actually help your ad appear higher without increasing the amount you spend. Conversely, if you don’t do some of these things, Google will punish you by dropping you down the rankings and you’ll have to spend more to get back up.
1. Have an effective website.
When you do an Adwords campaign, you are sending people to your website. So if your website doesn’t do its job (get these visitors to pick up the phone and schedule their appointment), then all the money you spend is going to waste.
The first and primary thing I advise on dentist’s websites is to have a very prominent new patient offer (e.g., discounted cleaning, whitening, or free exam & consult) and very clearly directing visitors to schedule their new patient appointment.
If your website isn’t “mobile friendly” (meaning it’s designed to be viewed on cell phones and tablets as well as computers), you’re going to have problems, as well. A high percentage of Google searches are done on mobile devices nowadays.
For more on creating an effective website, see my series Why Most Dentists Have Horrible Websites.
2. Have an engaging website.
If your website is unattractive, uninteresting, or not relevant to what people are searching for, people won’t stay on your website very long. In fact, the average length of a visit to a website is measured in seconds.
You only have a couple seconds to capture the attention of the visitor and get them to stay, so make sure your website grabs attention quickly and directs the visitor to DO something – i.e. respond, make an appointment, etc.
If people aren’t staying on your website—in other words, if they all immediately close the site after only a couple seconds and don’t stay and look at other pages on your site—Google can see this and then they’ll lower you down the listings. Google doesn’t want to send people to a bad or un-engaging website.
On a related note, if your website takes a long time to load or malfunctions in any way, Google will punish you for that, too. Google doesn’t want to send people to slow or broken websites.
3. Only run the ads during open hours (when a live person answers the phone…not a machine).
With Google Adwords, you’re spending money for every person who clicks your ad. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to pay a lot of money to have people forwarded to a recorded message machine.
If I’m going to spend money to get people to pick up the phone, I want to take advantage of every single one of those calls and get the new patient scheduled right then and there.
It’s a simple setting on Google Adwords to only run ads during certain hours.
If you’ve had success having patients fill out a form or use some feature on your website to request their appointment, then fine, but I haven’t known many dental offices that get a high volume of new patients purely on online form appointment requests. Most offices get a higher percentage of new patients from live phone calls.
4. Target the right “keywords”
In case you didn’t catch it in the videos above, a “keyword” is what a person types into Google, such as “dentist,” “dentist in Sacramento,” “family dentist” or “Invisalign dentist.”
Those are all nice keywords that are relevant to your office (if you’re a General Dentist). But beware of using obscure keywords that aren’t as relevant to what you do.
It can be tempting to include these long obscure keywords, like “affordable health dental insurance plan” or “how does teeth whitening work,” because you don’t have to spend as much money to appear at the top of those keyword listings. But…they’re cheaper for a reason. Not many of those people are actually looking to make an appointment with a dentist. So you end up just paying to satisfy the curiosity of some random person who will never come to your office.
And of course, if the keyword isn’t actually relevant to your website, then visitors will immediately close your site because it’s not what they’re looking for, leading to the same problem I described in point 2 above.
5. Use “Negative Keywords.”
“Negative Keywords” are words that you don’t want your ad to appear for.
You target the keyword “dentist” in the Sacramento area. Then someone in Sacramento searches “Medicaid dentist”…but you don’t participate with Medicaid and you don’t want to spend money just to refer a caller elsewhere. So you edit your Adwords campaign to include “Medicaid” as a negative keyword. Now your ad will never appear when someone searches using the word Medicaid.
Other examples of possible negative keywords are “salary” or “school,” as these would be people researching dentistry as a possible career option.
6. Track, track, track your results!
Google Adwords will show you all the relevant information about your campaign—how many people saw the ad, how many clicked the ad, how much you spent, what kind of device the visitor used, etc.
I recommend running several different ads and tracking the results to see which ones are getting the best results for you. Now you can invest more in the ones with the most clicks for the cheapest cost. Or invest less in the ones that aren’t getting clicks.
If you have a clever web company, you can even set up call tracking so precisely that you can even track which ad the caller originally clicked. I only personally know one company that does this in the dental industry (www.gotchalocal.com), but I’m sure there are more. This way you can also see which ones are actually getting you new patients. If one ad is getting lots of clicks but no phone calls, this is valuable information!
Of course there’s more to the subject of online advertising, but those should help you improve your results with Google Adwords. I hope it helps!
And if you really want to increase new patient flow in your office consistently, attend the MGE New Patient Workshop. We’re running a special discount right now, so if you register now you can receive more than a third off the full price. More information here. I look forward to seeing you there!