“The best place to hide a dead body is on the second page of Google.” – Anonymous
A lot of the practice managers we meet have a gut instinct that they need to be advertising on Google, but few know exactly what Google advertising is, how it works, and whether or not it can truly help them grow their practice. They’ve heard the terms–Google AdWords, PPC, even search engine optimization–but they don’t know what it all means. We’re here to shed some light on these subjects and to tell you that yes, Google advertising can help you grow your orthodontics practice, but there are some important factors that you need to know. You’ll learn about the Google advertising algorithm, how much Google advertising costs, and much, much more! Enjoy!
Bonus: We threw in some of our agency best practices at the end. Check it out!
What is Google Advertising?
Have you ever performed a search on Google and wondered why the top several results have a little green box that says “Ad” next to them? Or have you ever visited a website only to have their advertisements follow you to the next site you visit? If so, you have encountered Google advertising.
When you perform a search on Google, you are taken to something we marketers call a SERP (search engine results page). This is simply the page on which Google displays all of the results of your query. The SERP will be formatted differently depending on your search, but in general, Google Ads are the results displayed at the top of the page:
Google Ads are called “paid” results because the advertiser must pay whenever an internet user clicks on them. That is why in the marketing world we call Google advertising “pay-per-click” or “PPC” advertising. The results below this area of the SERP are called “organic” results because they are chosen by Google strictly according to their relevance to the search, as in, there is no additional paid incentive.
It can be tough for an orthodontics practice to show up in the top of the organic results. That is why Google Ads are so appealing to many practices. At Beacon, we recommend a strategy that incorporates both Google Ads and techniques to rank organically.
Google Ads are created using Google AdWords, and they are typically comprised of three components, a headline, URL, and description. The advertisements that you see on the websites you visit are a little bit different, however. These are called Display Ads, and they can come in sixteen different formats combining logos, graphics, headlines, and descriptions. Here are some examples of Display Ads being run by Listerine on WebMD:
As you can see, Display Ads look very different from the ads shown in the SERP, and allow for a lot more visual, creative freedom. When you see Display Ads that seem to “follow” you from other sites you have been visiting, this is because the advertisers are trying to reach you through something called “remarketing.” Remarketing is a kind of advertising enabled by Display Ads that allows advertisers to show ads to you if you have already visited their website, enticing you to come back. It is very effective!
How Does Google Advertising Work?
Both the Google Ads that are displayed in the SERP and the Display Ads that are shown on websites are created using Google Adwords. To create a Google AdWords account for your orthodontics practice, follow their sign-up guide.
Registering for an account is one thing, but creating advertisements is another. Getting those advertisements to show up when other orthodontics practices are competing for the same advertising space proves to be an even greater challenge! Let’s talk about the Google advertising algorithm and how it works, then we’ll dive into how you can use Google advertising to grow your orthodontics practice.
The Google Advertising Algorithm
A lot happens in the split second it takes to perform a search on Google.
Whenever someone performs a search, Google takes a look at all of the AdWords accounts it has on record, checking for advertisers who are trying to rank for relevant keywords. For example, an advertiser who wants to rank for searches like, “Can I get braces as an adult?” might be trying to rank for the keyword, “adult braces.” Advertisers tell Google that they want their ads to rank for certain keywords by bidding a monetary value on them. This makes every Google search an auction of sorts for advertisers.
How does Google choose who wins? The algorithm looks at two factors:
- The maximum bid you have set for your keyword
- The quality score of your advertisement
Your maximum bid is how much you are telling Google you are willing to pay if an interested party clicks on your ad. It can also be called your cost-per-click (CPC) bid. The quality score is comprised of additional factors:
- Past performance of the ad, ad group, and your account
- The relevance of your selected keyword, ad, and landing page
Ad groups are the groups of keywords that you are trying to rank your ad for. Landing pages are the page you send interested parties who click on the URL in your ad to. All of this comes together in one simple equation that selects winners:
CPC Bid x Quality Score = Ad Rank
Display Ads work very similarly to Google Ads with only a few key differences. In the case of Display Ads, CPC bids are set on an ad group level, not for individual keywords. In addition, you can bid based on impressions–the number of times your ad was delivered–instead of clicks if you like. These are called CPM bids.
Why does Google rank ads based on relevance? The more relevant results they return to their users, the more their search engine is used and loved, the more money they make! It is in Google’s best interest to connect you with the right customers.
How Much Google Advertising Costs
As the name pay-per-click implies, your orthodontics practice will be charged every time an interested party clicks on your ad. This rate is determined on a case-by-case basis according to the following equation:
Next Highest Ad Rank / Quality Score + $0.01 = CPC*
Take a look at this equation for a second. Notice anything interesting? The higher your quality score is, the less you will have to pay per click. Google rewards advertisers for relevance. How cool is that?
Advertisers are rewarded for the relevance of their ads in how much they are required to pay! The more relevant the ad, the higher your quality score will be, and the lower your cost-per-click will be.
*The cost-per-click will never go above your maximum set CPC.
Can Google Advertising Grow My Orthodontics Practice?
There is not a simple “yes” or “no” answer to this question. As we have seen, Google advertising can make your practice show up first in search results, but this is dependent on a lot of factors such as bid, relevance, and especially the number of other orthodontics practices you are competing against.
Certain industries and certain locations are more competitive than others. At our location in Anchorage, the legal industry sees cost-per-click of up to $50! For credit card processing clients, we are looking at between $25-$53 CPC. Here is a breakdown of the top three keywords in orthodontics for Alaska:
|Keyword||Average Monthly Searches||Competition||Page Bid (Low Range)||Page Bid (High Range)|
Source: Google Adwords Keyword Planner (at the date of this blog post)
On the low end, those are reasonable bids. According to industry benchmarks, the average cost-per-click for the health and medical industry (the closest to orthodontics recorded) is closer to $2.62:
Source: WordStream (at the date of this blog post)
That said, relevancy in advertising can do a great deal for bringing down cost-per-click prices. At Beacon, we typically run Google Ads that have CPC below industry benchmarks.
Over the years, we have developed best practices for our own Google AdWords team to grow their accounts. Here are a few key pointers that we recommend to new clients:
- Do not attempt to run Google Ads on a budget less than $300 per service advertised. This amounts to 1-3 ad groups and minimum cost-per-click budget on each keyword.
- Choose a niche that differentiates your orthodontics practice from everyone else. For example, we run Google Ads for a holistic dentist–These keywords are easier to target than general dentistry.
- Write strong ads, but also optimize your landing pages for the keywords you are using in your ads. Doing so will boost your quality score.
In summary, if you do your research on the competitiveness of relevant keywords in your area, find a niche, spend the right amount, and create high quality score ads, you can grow your orthodontics practice using Google advertising. As we mentioned earlier, however, we typically recommend a strategy that incorporates more marketing channels than simply Google AdWords. For one client, we were able to deliver over 180 leads in one month (that’s over five leads a day) using an integrated Facebook and Google AdWords strategy.
If all of this is a little overwhelming, we completely understand–the pay-per-click advertising industry uses a lot of terms and technology! We have spent many years sorting through the ins and outs of Google Ads and Display Ads as an agency. Our team has earned the Google Partner certificate and we would love to help you grow your orthodontics practice using Google advertising. Please reach out to our VP of Marketing Jennifer Christensen to schedule a free consultation if you are interested.