Dental PPC Guide | Pay per Click Dental Advertising

Knowing the demographics of your target market lets you target your advertising at the people most likely to become your customers. For example, women drive more than 90% of the buying decisions for healthcare needs.

Most of the traditional dental advertising channels like local newspapers and the Yellow Pages don’t give you much control over who sees your ads. Half the people who see your ad might not be the ones choosing a dentist anyway.

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising puts the control back in your hands. You can decide who sees your ads, how much you want to spend on those ads, and even what city or region you want to show them to.

Let’s look at how to set up an effective dental PPC campaign to bring new patients in the door.

What is Pay-per-Click Advertising?

Pay-per-click advertising is exactly what it says on the box. You pay for your ad whenever someone clicks on it.

PPC ads are the paid results you see at the top and sides of the search results on Google and other search engines as well as many social media sites. You create ad campaigns that will show your ad whenever someone searches for a particular keyword or phrase or based on things they’ve liked or follow on social media.

For example, let’s say you’re a dentist in Portland, Oregon. You could set up a campaign that would show your ad whenever someone searches Google for the phrase Portland family dentist. When someone searches for that, your ad would show up in the paid search results.

If they searched for Portland emergency dentist or Roseburg family dentist, your ad wouldn’t show up so you wouldn’t have to pay for clicks from people who aren’t in your target market.

Social media PPC ads work similarly. You could choose to only show your ads to people who live in Portland and have kids, for example.

What Determines Your Ad Costs

Pay-per-click advertising can be extremely cost-effective because you’re able to pick a very targeted group of people to advertise to. Even so, several factors determine how much you’ll pay.

Competition is the biggest factor. The cost of the ads works like an auction. The more advertisers that are competing for a particular keyword (more bidders), the higher the cost per click.

Ad quality is the other important factor. As people click on your ad, the ad network tracks what they do next. If they immediately come back and click on a different ad, it likely means the information on your website doesn’t live up to what the ad promised.

If that happens too often, your ad can either drop lower in the rankings or your ad cost will go up to stay in the same place.

Key PPC Terms to Know

There are several terms you should be familiar with when planning your PPC campaign. The ones you’ll see mentioned most often include:

  • CTR (Click-through-rate) – the percentage of clicks your ad gets vs the number of times it’s shown.
  • CVR (Conversion rate) – the percentage of people who end up becoming your patient after clicking on your ad.
  • CPC (Cost-per-click) – how much you have to pay when someone clicks on your ad.
  • Impressions – each time your ad is displayed it’s called an “impression.”
  • Clicks – how many times someone clicked on your ad.
  • CPL (Cost-per-lead) – how much you spend on ads in total for each person who ends up becoming a patient.

You may also see the term CPM mentioned in relation to PPC advertising. CPM means cost per thousand views and isn’t a pay-per-click metric. With CPM advertising, you pay for a certain number of impressions whether the ad gets any clicks or not.

PPC Advertising Networks

There quite a few pay-per-click advertising networks but the vast majority of the traffic comes from a handful of sites. The main PPC networks most businesses focus on include:

  • Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords)
  • Bing
  • YouTube
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Instagram

And those can be broken down even further with Google Ads being the most effective by far. The rest of this article will be looking at PPC advertising from a Google Ads perspective.

Advantages of PPC Advertising

We’ve already discussed one of the biggest advantages of PPC advertising – the ability to target your audience. There are several other reasons to use PPC advertising as part of your overall market strategy though.

Fast Results

Pay-per-click advertising is one of the fastest ways to get traffic to your website. Getting your site ranked in the “organic” search results (the unpaid listings) takes time and can be a lot of work if you’re in a more competitive market.

You can create a PPC campaign and start getting clicks and traffic in less than 24 hours. This lets you test things very quickly to figure out what converts searchers into patients most effectively.

Measurable Results

Google lets you split-test your ads to fine-tune things as you go. You can create two or more versions of your ad and Google will rotate them when your ad is triggered. Once they have enough impressions to be able to compare the results, you’ll know which ad gets the highest CTR and which has the best CPC.

You can also track the results of your advertising closely. When someone clicks on your ad and ends up on your website, you’ll be able to identify exactly what path they take from there. If they submit a form looking for more information or send an email through a link on your site, you’ll know exactly what ad got them there.

You can even set things up to track people who end up calling your office to make an appointment. Almost everything is trackable with PPC advertising.


This benefit is less quantifiable but having your ad show up in the results when someone searches for a dentist in their area helps brand you in their mind. Even if they don’t click on your ad, they’ll see your name and/or website in the results and it will plant a seed in their mind.

If your website also shows up in the organic search results beside the ads, it’s even more powerful.

Disadvantages of PPC Advertising

The biggest disadvantage of PPC advertising is the time and expertise it takes to manage your campaigns properly.

Checking your stats, tweaking your ads and CPC bids, and tracking all the information you need to optimize your campaign takes time. And to get the best results, you need to have a certain amount of expertise.

PPC advertising can be a bit of a double-edged sword. It gives you the ability to target a very specific group of people by focusing on the right keywords but you can also end up blowing your ad budget on untargeted clicks if you don’t know how to set things up correctly.

Going back to our Portland family dentist example, if the ad campaign isn’t configured properly your ads could end up showing for someone searching for Orlando family dentist even though they’re most likely on the other side of the country. If they click on your ad, you have to pay for the click even if there’s zero chance they’re going to become a patient.

Google has tools to avoid this type of problem, such as using negative keywords in your campaign but if you don’t know how to use those tools, you could end up throwing money away.

Monitoring Your Campaigns

Another thing that takes time when running PPC ads is monitoring your campaign. You should never set up an ad campaign and then let it run without keeping an eye on it.

If a competitor notices that you’re outranking them, they might bump up their bids. Or you might have overlooked a negative keyword and your ads might be getting a lot of untargeted clicks. If you’re not paying attention to the campaign closely enough, these types of things can end up costing you a lot of ad dollars.

Planning Your Dental Advertising Strategy

Before you open a Google Ads account or start writing your first ad, plan out your strategy. You don’t have to have every last detail figured out before you start but you should have an idea of what you want to accomplish.

How many new patients do you want to get? You likely have a limit on the number of patients you can handle so if your campaign takes off, you could find yourself with too many new clients.

What types of patients do you want to attract? Do you want to attract families with children or do you prefer to work with adults? Would you rather target people above a certain income level or are you comfortable working with patients who may not have the financial means to pay for more expensive work?

Get Your Staff Up to Speed

Make sure you let your staff know about your advertising plans as well, especially if they’ll have a part in bringing new patients on board. Your receptionist is likely going to be fielding phone calls and emails, for example. They’ll need to know what they need to ask so you can track your conversion rate.

What’s the Lifetime Value of a Patient?

Part of setting your advertising budget is knowing how much a new patient is worth to you. If a typical patient pays you $5,000 over the time they’re your patient, you can work backward from that number to figure out how much you’re willing to spend to bring them in the door.

How to Run a Successful PPC Campaign

The mechanics of setting up an ad campaign in Google Ads aren’t that complicated. You can probably learn the basics over the course of a weekend. But there’s a lot more to it than just knowing how to set up your ads.

Keywords Are the Foundation of Everything

Targeting the right keywords is the key to a successful PPC campaign. If you’re advertising for keywords that are too broad, you’ll end up spending a lot of money on untargeted clicks. Or if you bid on keywords that end up showing your ads to people outside your practice’s service area, it’ll have the same effect.

There are several web-based tools for researching keywords for your campaign including Google’s own Keyword Planner.

Use Demographic Targeting

The Google Ads network lets you get pretty specific in who you want to show your ads to. For example, if you know your best patients tend to be married women between 30 and 40 years old who have kids, you can choose to show your ads to those people only.

Have a Consistent Message

Every step in the process, from the ad itself to the landing page on your website and even the discussion your receptionist has on the phone, should present a consistent message to your potential patient.

If part of the process is out-of-step with the rest, it can put doubt in your potential patient’s mind – even if they’re not consciously aware of it.

Working with an Expert

As you can see, there’s a lot involved in running an effective dental advertising campaign. Pay-per-click advertising isn’t incredibly complicated but it can take a lot of time to manage your campaign properly.

And like most other things in the world of technology, the PPC networks are constantly changing things. The most effective strategies today may not work as well six months from now. If you want your ads to keep working for you over the long-term, you’ll need to stay abreast of the changes.

Most dentists aren’t web marketing experts though, and most don’t want to be. If you’d rather focus on providing the best quality care to your patients and leave the PPC advertising work to experts, Profitable Dentistry can help.

We focus exclusively on marketing dental practices, both through local SEO and PPC marketing. We know how your business works and can leverage that knowledge to bring you more new patients quickly and, most importantly, profitably.

Get in touch with us today to get a customized offer for your particular needs.

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