Have you ever clicked on a pay-per-click ad? You know, the listings at the top of a Google search with the ever so slightly different background color? Chances are you have, even if you didn’t intend to or know you were choosing the link for a paid ad when you were searching for something online.
For some time, many people thought, “No one clicks on those ads at the top of a Google search, do they?” Many people (including dentists) assume people intuitively choose the organic (or unpaid) search listings over paid. While yes, some do, the research is showing that increasingly, people choose the PPC listings when they are searching for something that they want or need right now, including a dentist to perform a necessary procedure like a root canal or a dental crown. One of the most effective ways to increase new patient flow or target a specific procedure is by using pay-per-click advertising. Here are some of the latest statistics:
- The top three paid ads in a Google search get 41% of clicks. (Wordstream, 2013)
- 45% of people can’t distinguish between the paid ads and organic ads on a page that wasn’t separated by a column. (MosierData, 2013)
- A recent study by Marketing Sherpa found that PPC advertising was more effective than email marketing, social media and print advertising. (Marketing Sherpa, 2013)
Regardless of its vast marketing potential, we’ve still found that many dentists and dental specialists have tried it, but didn’t have such great experiences with PPC. Either they didn’t get the number of booked appointments they were hoping for or the process of the campaign was too tedious, time-consuming and at times, very confusing. Why? PPC advertising truly takes a seasoned marketing professional to take care of all elements of the campaign, including writing ad copy, A/B testing the copy and landing pages, knowing which people to put the ad in front of and importantly, which keywords to target and which to steer clear of.
Yes, that’s right, knowing which keywords to stay away from is just as important as knowing which to target. They’re called negative keywords and they play a big role in effective PPC. Here is a little Q&A to get you acquainted:
What are negative keywords?
Negative keywords are certain phrases or keywords used in a PPC campaign to keep your ad from displaying to search queries that won’t likely end up in a booked appointment. For example: If you are a dentist who wants to start a PPC campaign to get more patients searching the web for dental crowns, you wouldn’t want your ad to display to people who are searching for crown moldings or tiara-like “crowns.” Without getting into complicated PPC terms like exact, phrase and broad match keywords, you would essentially choose keywords like “crown moldings” as negative keywords so Google knows not to display your ad for people who are searching for crowns in your area.
Why do you need them?
There are many reasons why negative keywords contribute to an effective PPC campaign, here are the two most important:
- You don’t want to overpay for the wrong clicks – A PPC budget can run out in lightning speed if you don’t make sure your ad is displayed to people who have a reasonable likelihood of booking an appointment with you. Never forget your goal in all of this, which is more booked appointments.
- Don’t waste time advertising to people who aren’t looking for your promoted service – We believe that the most effective marketing philosophy for a dentist is inbound marketing. Inbound marketing entails positioning your practice in the best way so when people are searching for a dentist in your area, they find you and choose you. People who aren’t actively looking for a dentist online will not only ignore your PPC ad, but will probably be a bit put off by it because it’s not what they expected their search to return to them. By using an effective negative keyword list in your PPC campaigns, you can avoid this.
Which should you choose?
An effective negative keywords list takes time to accumulate, but when you have it, it’s priceless. You want to block the wrong searchers from clicking on your ad (and subsequently paying for it), but you don’t want to block too many of the right people. Remember how we said earlier that accruing a negative keyword list is a delicate process? Here is our advice – for each PPC ad campaign, take the time to really think about the habits of Google searchers and all of the possible phrases or keywords that could pull up your ad incorrectly. It’s also important to frequently review your search query reports to see how your keywords and negative keywords are doing and tweak and change as needed. The more time you put into your PPC campaign, the better it will be.
If you want to start a PPC campaign to boost new patient flow or appointments for a specific procedure, contact our dedicated online marketing team today. We can help.