Beacon Media + Marketing was awarded Best Logo, Best Marketing Campaign, and Best Website in the AMA Alaska Chapter Prism Awards!

3 Things to Know About Google Ads for Mental Health

Originally published on September 16, 2019. Updated May 3rd, 2022

What’s the quickest and easiest way to get your mental health clinic on the first page of the search engine results page? Google advertising!

With pay-per-click advertising on Google, you can increase brand awareness, generate leads, and gain conversions. And while you’ll need to invest enough ad spend to be competitive in your field and make your marketing efforts effective, the ROI for Google Ads is often very high and more immediate than other “slow-burn” types of marketing.

If you’re ready to get aggressive in your marketing and are interested in using one of the most powerful forms of digital advertising available. Join us as we deep dive into how to advertise your mental health practice on Google and get the results you’re looking for.

Looking to grow your client base with Google Ads? Trust our expertise and get the best ROI from your marketing. Schedule your free consultation with Beacon Media + Marketing today. 

1. What Is Google Advertising for Mental Health?

Google advertising comes in two varieties, each with its own flair.

First, you have Google AdWords, the advertising displayed directly on the search results page. Second, there is the Google Display Network, the network of popular websites that allow Google advertising in columns and banners.

What Is Google AdWords?

Google AdWords placements look like search results, but they are actually paid advertisements displayed at the top of the search results page.

These ads are indicated by a little, green “Ad” box next to the URL so internet users have the opportunity to know they’re looking at ads.

Here’s what we mean:

Google AdWords placements have three primary components that are all text-based:

  • A headline (max 30 characters)
  • A URL (max 15 characters + domain)
  • A description (max 90 characters)

You can customize these elements for your mental health clinic on the Google AdWords platform.

One term for Google advertising is “pay-per-click” or “PPC” advertising. This is because, every time someone clicks on a Google ad, the advertiser is charged.

Everything below the Google AdWords placements on the search results page is called the “organic” results. That’s because these businesses were able to rank for the search without paying for ads.

It can take a lot of time and work between blogging and website search engine optimization (SEO) to achieve organic ranking. Learn about Google E-A-T and its impact on your SEO strategy.

For this reason, we recommend an integrated paid/organic strategy at Beacon. This way you can have your cake and eat it too — benefiting from the quick results Google advertising provides while investing in the long-term advantages of ranking your mental health clinic organically.

What Is the Google Display Network?

Many popular websites make part or all their money off allowing Google advertising across their pages. These websites are part of what’s called the Google Display Network, something you and your mental health clinic can take advantage of. The advertisements are typically displayed in a banner or column placement on the website. They are indicated by the word, “advertisement” in small, grey text nearby so that, once again, website users have the opportunity to know what they’re looking at.

BuzzFeed is an excellent example:

Unlike Google AdWords placements, Google Display ads are more than just text-based ads. They can include headlines, descriptions, logos, and graphics. Google Display ads are overall more diverse with sixteen different formats available.

Retargeting Ads

A common application of Google Display advertising is called “retargeting.” This is where you tell Google to show your ads to people who have just visited your mental health clinic’s website. For example, before I took the screenshot above, I had recently visited the LastPass website, which is why I received the red, LastPass ad you see here when I visited BuzzFeed.Retargeting is very effective for reminding people of their interest in your mental health clinic and encouraging them to come back to your website.

Geotargeting Ads

Another application of Google Display advertising is “geotargeting” or targeting based on location. Geotargeting is important for location-based companies. If you own a local clinic, you do not want to be marketing your mental health services to the whole world, just to people in your local area. This ensures you’re not wasting advertising spend on unqualified leads who aren’t going to be looking for your services. Even if you’re a national mental health business, geotargeting allows you to invest your ad spend into the locations you’re likely to see the most conversions and the highest return.

2. How Does Google Advertising Work?

improve google ad performance infographic

All formats of Google advertising are managed through the Google AdWords platform. Here are the Google-provided instructions for setting up your mental health clinic’s account.

To sum it up, here’s how to get started: 

  1. Create an account using your business email and website
  2. Tailor your experience with Smart or Expert mode
  3. Set your campaign goal and create your ad
  4. Set your budget and enter your payment information  

Before you start advertising, you should understand a few things about how the Google advertising algorithm works.

How the Google Advertising Algorithm Works

Depending on your internet speed, it probably takes you less than a second to perform a Google search, right? Because Google is so quick to return millions of results, many of us don’t realize how much work goes into every search. There’s a lot going on behind the scenes!

For starters, Google takes a look at all the businesses that want to show ads for the search using Google AdWords. Maybe it’s a search like, “feeling depressed counseling near me.” If your mental health clinic provides these services and you’re targeting these searches through Google advertising, you will be included in the list of companies Google looks at.

How do you tell Google that you’re targeting these searches? By bidding a monetary value on these search terms–better known as “keywords“–in Google AdWords.

Google determines who gets to show ads for each search using two metrics:

  1. The maximum bid you have set for your keyword
  2. The quality score for your advertisement

Let’s talk about what each of these mean.

First, the “maximum bid” is the maximum amount you are willing to pay if someone clicks on your Google advertisement (remember our pay-per-click conversation earlier?).In the industry, this can also be referred to as a “cost-per-click” or “CPC” bid.

Second, your “quality score” is a score the measures how relevant and valuable your ad is to Google’s search engine users. Something interesting to note here is that Google cares about the quality of their user’s experience. This is because, the better experience they have, the more they use Google, and the more money Google makes.

On the other hand, this benefits you, because the more users Google has, the more people see your ads! Two factors go into your quality score:

  1. Past performance of your ad, ad group, and your account in general
  2. The relevance of your selected keyword, ad, and landing page to the search and to each other

We have two new terms to define: “ad group” and “landing page.”

An “ad group” is a group of keywords that you are trying to show ads for.

A “landing page” is the page that you link your ad to.

There is an equation that governs which ads Google chooses for every search, and that is:

CPC Bid x Quality Score = Ad Rank

Your “ad rank” is the position your ad receives among the Google AdWords placements displayed at the top of the results page.

Up to this point, we have been describing the algorithm for Google AdWords placements only. The algorithm for the Google Display Network is very similar.

The primary difference is that rather than bidding on clicks, you bid on impressions, which is the number of times your ad was displayed. This is called “cost-per-impression” or “CPM” bidding.

How Much Google Advertising Will Cost Your Mental Health Clinic

As we mentioned, Google advertising is pay-per-click, which means your mental health clinic foots the bill each time someone clicks on one of your ads. By setting a maximum bid, you are telling Google the most you are willing to pay.

Sometimes the amount you actually pay is much lower. When a search is performed, Google runs an equation that determines how much you pay if your ad is displayed and clicked on.

Here is that equation:

Next Highest Ad Rank/Quality Score + $0.01 = CPC

If you paid attention during algebra, you can see that the higher your quality score is, the lower your rate is going to be.

In order to improve its search experience, Google rewards advertisers for relevant, successful advertising. We cannot stress the importance of creating relevant Google advertisements enough!

3. Can Google Advertising Grow Your Mental Health Clinic?

Hopefully, at this point we have not drowned you in terms and you are still interested to know how Google advertising can grow your mental health clinic! The answer to the question, “Can Google advertising grow my mental health clinic?” is this: it depends.

In addition to thinking about your bid and quality score, you also have to consider your competitive landscape. You will be competing with other Google advertisers on two things:

  1. Your industry
  2. Your location

Some industries and locations are very competitive.

For example, in Anchorage, Alaska, in the legal industry, we have experienced cost-per-clicks as high as $50! Unless our client is making a massive profit off each customer they bring in, we would not recommend Google advertising at a CPC this high.

In other industries and locations, you have an excellent chance of “making it” among the Google ads. Here are some commonly searched terms in the U.S. mental health industry:

KeywordAverage Monthly SearchesCompetitionPage Bid (Low Range)Page Bid (High Range)
depression100K – 1MLow$1.02$5.00
anxiety100K – 1MLow$0.40$2.00
bipolar100K – 1MLow$1.03$5.76

Source: Google AdWords Keyword Planner (at the date of this blog post).

What you’re looking for here is a high number of average monthly searches with low to medium competition.

How do you know know what levels of bids are reasonable?

Here are Google AdWords benchmarks for a wide variety of industries:

Source: WordStream (at the date of this blog post).

Looking here, you can see that the average cost-per-click for the health and medical industry is in the mid-range at $2.62 per click, which makes sense when we average the high end of the bids from the data in our table.

On a national scale, the U.S. mental health industry is fairly average when it comes to competition. Of course, you will want to look specifically at the competition in your location to inform your advertising decisions.

Even at a high level of competition, there’s a lot you can do to lower your Google advertising rate. We regularly achieve lower than industry standard rates for our clients because we use a few, key best practices.

Here are just a few of them:

  • Spend $300 per month on each mental health service you want to advertise (we recommend more). This typically translates to the minimum cost-per-click you want to be bidding on each keyword in your ad group for a total of 1-3 ad groups.
  • Find a niche that makes your mental health clinic different and use it in your keyword choices. The more you can make the keywords you are targeting unique, the less competition there is going to be for them, and the more likely you are to bring in the patients you want! For example, we helped one dentist achieve excellent results through Google advertising by focusing on the functional aspect of her practice, using the words “functional,” “holistic,” and “integrative” in her ads.
  • Develop relevant ads and landing pages. Again, the relevance of your Google advertising campaign is going to determine its success above all else. Make sure the keyword you are targeting shows up in your ad headline, description, and on the web page you are linking the ad to.

Should You Outsource Your Mental Health Google Advertising? 

At this point, you may be thinking, “this Google advertising business is definitely not quick and easy like you said!” Maybe not the first time, but once you get the hang of it, Google advertising is much faster for getting on the first page of Google than organic results.

We hope this information gives you a leg-up if you are just getting started at your mental health clinic! If not and you would rather outsource your Google advertising to an expert, we would love to help you. Our team at Beacon is Google Partner certified and we have helped many businesses in the mental health industry register new patients.

Ready to make the biggest impact with Google Ads? Reach out to us and schedule a free consultation.