When someone tweaks a knee playing pickup basketball, wonders if their child’s sniffles are a cold or the flu or wants to find a therapist taking new patients, what do they do? They pull up their preferred web browser on their mobile, tablet or desktop device and do a Google search for information.
Google processes 3.5 billion searches per day worldwide. Every day, people within your healthcare organization’s geographic footprint are looking for the kinds of services you provide. And while they often ask friends and family for recommendations, Google is typically the first line of research for someone looking for physical or mental healthcare.
Healthcare marketers have lots of ways to catch those searchers’ attention. The first order of business is maintaining a robust website that’s packed with relevant information, that runs flawlessly, that’s constantly being updated with new content and that’s managed for search engine optimization. As Google scans your website to index its content, its algorithms determine how highly your site ranks on a display of search results when, for example, someone Googles “knee pain.”
But the best SEO practices aren’t guaranteed to connect your organization with someone who’s looking for what you do. Paid Google Ad campaigns improve your odds.
The objective of paid search advertising for healthcare organizations is to engage people that aren’t currently your patients, prospects or followers. Paid Google Ads appear at the top of a search results page so they’re quickly visible to the searcher. They are designed to drive traffic to your website, where people can learn more, find care and make an appointment.
Google charges for ads on a pay-per-click model. Marketers select and bid on the keywords they want to target in a competitive automated bidding system.
So your first strategies are to know what keywords are best for your organization and choose them wisely. Healthcare keywords are expensive because they’re so often used, so you should be precise about the keywords you’re targeting.
Other strategies we recommend for paid search marketing:
As with any sort of marketing, it is important that you know your target audience. You need to understand who they are and what they’re looking for so you can make educated insights about the keywords they might use to find your services. Make sure to choose keywords that reflect words your audience would use — for example, “knee pain” instead of “ACL rupture.” Use patient-centered language, not medical-speak.
Because you can monitor Google Ad campaigns closely and can make changes quickly, don’t let perfection be the enemy of the good. Set your goals and objectives, and then just deploy the campaign and make tweaks along the way; unlike a display ad in a magazine, you don’t get just one shot at it.
Stay on top of your campaign metrics. Keep track of what keywords are serving you and what are not. Continue to update and make adjustments as your get more data. Also, it’s important to check on these metrics as Google is also updating and coming up with new algorithms that can impact your numbers.
That said, make sure you give a campaign time to run before you make changes. It can take a while — at least a quarter — to understand how a search campaign is performing.
Your site’s mobile functionality is extremely important as well. Compare your metrics to understand how it performs on desktop and mobile devices to see if there is any point of friction or something you can improve. Is your mobile landing page easy to use? Easy to read?
Be thoughtful and strategic about where a search user goes when they click on your ad. Understand the path you want the user to follow and the action you want them to take when they get to your site. Linking people to the wrong page — sending them to your cardiac department page when they’ve Googled “knee pain” – is the quickest way to lose people and erode trust.
With most campaigns, we create a separate landing page that looks and feels like the organization’s website but is devoted to providing information related to the campaign, including keyword search, and encouraging users to take the action we want. They can access other site pages from there, and we can better track why they came and how they move through the site.
For larger organizations that may be doing paid search in a number of different areas – orthopedics, primary care, recruiting, and so on – it’s smart to try to integrate those efforts so you utilize the dollars and administrative time you have in a way that makes sense. You don’t want to oversaturate your audience with a bunch of Google Ads coming from different silos in your organization that hit hard in a short time.
It can be easy to lose track of what you’re spending because managing Google Ads can be a set-it-and-forget-it kind of project for marketing teams. You can set budget limits, and set automation so that if a keyword or ad isn’t performing the system can reallocate dollars to another keyword. It is easy to manage your spend, but you have to pay attention.
Google has plenty of tools, how-to guides, and dashboards that make it easy for marketers to administer campaigns. But it’s a specialized role that most healthcare organizations don’t have the headcount for. Our expertise in digital marketing can help. Let’s talk.
Tenth Crow Creative is a brand marketing agency that creates, aligns, and promotes messaging for health and wellness organizations. Through insightful branding, engaging design and compelling marketing campaigns, we help these essential organizations find their identities and effectively communicate with their stakeholders so they can fulfill their missions.