Dental Marketing 101: Running Targeted Google Ads

For dental practices considering targeted ads and online paid advertising, there is no better place to start than with Google Ads.

Earlier this year, Google began rolling out a rebrand of its advertising platform. Known as Google AdWords since its debut in 2000, the new offering is called ... drumroll please ... Google Ads.

Fear not, though, because as of now Google Ads still performs much like its earlier namesake. Which means that Google's ad network is still an important piece to any digital dental marketing plan — especially when it comes to targeting.

Google's pay-per-click service is an incredibly effective marketing tool because it gives users the flexibility to hyper-target ads according to demographics, location, interests, and more.

But, because there are so many options, it is easy to get overwhelmed and settle for a generic ad that doesn’t perform up to its potential.

Practices of all sizes can easily avoid this pitfall with just a little bit of planning and the right targeting tactics.

These steps will walk you through the process of setting up a highly targeted campaign with all the questions you should be asking along the way.

How should I set up my targeted ads?

To get started, let’s talk structure.

Successful targeting is much easier to achieve with a strong organizational foundation. This includes your campaigns, groups, and actual Google ads.

Within your Google Ads account, a campaign is a collection of ad groups. Similarly, groups are collections of individual ads.

A good way to organize your campaigns is to segment them out. Start with broader marketing goals and then divide the ad groups into different audiences or keyword variations.

For example, let’s say you want to grow your practice by advertising a new whitening service but also by advertising for local brand awareness.

These two ads will have very different goals and content — one targeted to a group searching specifically for whitening the other for a group searching for practices nearby.

Separating them ideologically into campaigns is a great way to stay organized from the start and eventually run A/B tests.

Types of targeted Google Ads

Under the umbrella of all this categorization are the ads themselves.

There are four different types of targeted ads on Google:

  • Search—Ads shown when someone searches for the services you provide and the keywords you select
  • Display—Ads that appear on websites (Google boasts over 200 million options), apps, and within Gmail
  • App—Ads shown on iOS or Android mobile-devices
  • Video—Ads promoted on YouTube

Search ads are normally the best option for dental practices.

Because potential patients are often searching with high intent, they are more likely to find and click on your ad within a Google results page rather than on an email banner.

Once you have an idea of the type of ad you want to run, along with where it fits into your dental marketing strategy, it’s time to ask the million dollar question.

online visibility guide ad OVG

Who should see my ad?

The heart of any marketing campaign comes with knowing the demographics of your patients. And with all the options on Google Ads, it's more important than ever to understand your target audience.

The demographics targeting on Google Ads has been steadily improving to keep up with Facebook Ads, expanding beyond just keyword marketing.

You can now set an age range, gender, parental status, or go even deeper to set up audience targeting to include:

  • Affinity audiences—Based on interests, lifestyle, and buying habits
  • Custom affinity audiences—Based on customized selections you make in the affinity audiences
  • In-market audiences—Based on what people are actually searching for
  • Remarketing or similar audiences—Targeted toward people who have already visited your website or viewed your videos

Creating custom audiences forces dental marketers to put themselves in the patients’ shoes.

The most important factors to consider when stepping into those shoes are the demographics mentioned above, along with location and device type.

Let’s say two of your target demographics are mothers of high school children and recent college graduates. These two audience types will drive very different ad targeting.

The mothers could be targeted with both preventative and restorative treatments, locally with an age range of 40-60, running a split test on mobile and desktop devices.

Then the college grads could be targeted with preventative and cosmetic treatments, both locally and on nearby college campuses with an age range of 21-27, exclusively on mobile devices.

There are, of course, plenty of variations and testing you can add. However, this gives you an idea of considering patients' habits when making targeted ads.

Which keywords should I use?

Another instrumental element of targeting your audience is the set of keywords that you choose.

One of the biggest mistakes a dental marketer can make is setting up ad groups using the same collection of keywords for different audiences.

Keywords can, and should, change depending on the type of ad you are running.

To keep this organized, segment ads into groups based on similar keywords instead of using the same keywords for each ad.

When it comes to keywords, Google also offers different “match types.”

Matches dictate how your keywords or phrases will align with what patients are searching for and determine which searches will deliver your ad. These include:

  • Broad match—The default match that includes synonyms, related searches, etc.
  • Negative match—Excludes keywords that are unrelated to your practice (for example, if you do not offer whitening treatments, you can create a negative match for “bleaching”)
  • Broad match modifier—Similar to broad match, but requires that certain keywords or close variations be used in the actual search
  • Phrase match—Matches longer-tail key phrases with commonly searched phrases
  • Exact match—Requires that the ad match up to exact search terms with little variation

For more general marketing ads, start off with broad and negative matches.

For promotional campaigns offering specific services, it is worth trying out an ad with a phrase or exact match.

Like all elements of your ads, keyword lists will continue to change over time. As you learn more about which keywords perform well, you can increase ROI with more specific keyword targeting.

How will I measure my success?

The more targeted your Google Ads become, the more recording and measuring they require to be successful.

The ultimate goal is to increase conversions through your ads. These are the high-level goals that mean new patients and increased revenue.

Conversions for your practice could include increasing:

  • Number of visits to your practice’s website
  • Phone call appointments to your practice
  • Appointments made online

At this high level, the easiest way to measure the cost and success of an ad is to take the number of conversions and divide by ad spend.

At the very least, track this a three-month period. Use specific call and link tracking to see which calls or site visits are generated through specific ads.

On a more granular level, tracking specific ads metrics can get really interesting.

Within Google Ads, the most important metrics to track are cost-per-click (CPC), click-through-rate (CTR), and impressions. They can be measured according to keywords, groups, and campaigns.

Google makes it easy to track your data through the Report Editor. There, you can create custom tables, charts, and multi-segment analysis.

However, these tables and metrics will only be as good as the goals you set. As you go through the process of setting up your ads, always clearly define your objective and KPIs.

Outside of your goals, running successful targeted ads on Google Ads ultimately comes down to testing, tracking, and adapting.

By asking yourself the right questions, your practice will already be on its way.

grow your dental practice ad

Learn more about how RevenueWell improves case acceptance and creates more close-knit relationships between dentists and their patients.