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3 Things to Know About Google Ads for Mental Health

Updated and revised by Jennifer Gracey, Web Content Strategist & Writer on 06/15/2023

Google advertising is the quickest and easiest way to get your mental health clinic on the first page of the search engine results page (SERP!)

With pay-per-click advertising on Google, increasing brand awareness, generating leads, and gaining conversions get accelerated. In order to make your marketing efforts effective, you’ll need to invest enough ad spend to be competitive in your field. You’ll be happy to hear: ROI for a Google Ads campaign is often very high and provides more immediate, measurable results than other “slow-burn” types of marketing.

You’ll want to continue reading if:

  • You’re building a therapy practice and feel it’s time to shift your marketing into a more aggressive and targeted phase.
  • You’re interested in using one of the most powerful forms of digital advertising available.

For this deep dive, we’ll be looking into how to advertising your mental health practice on Google can help you get the kind of ‘new client’ leads and 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.

Firstly, you have Google AdWords. In a nutshell, this is the advertising displayed directly on the search results page. Secondly, there is the Google Display Network. This is the network of popular websites that have granted Google advertising permissions to display ads in columns and banners on their various web pages.

What Is Google AdWords?

While Google AdWords look like typical search results, which show up at the top of your page after typing a search request into Google. (for example: google advertising in reno.) However, instead of being typical ‘search engine results’ — they’re actually paid advertisements.

To help users identify what they’re viewing (ex. ads vs. regular search engine results) Google indicates which listing is an ‘ad’ using a little, green “Ad” icon that’s located to the left of the URL. To learn more about how this is displayed on a typical Google search, keep reading.

Screenshot of A Google Search Sample Explained

Below is a screenshot of what we’re talking about. In this case, we used the term google advertising in reno for our Google search. As you can see, the top four results on this page are showing us the paid ad results. We know they are paid ads because that little green “Ad” icon is displayed next to the URL and just below the headline.

Tip: The top four Google results on a desktop and the top three Google results on a mobile device are paid ads.

Google AdWords Placements and character counts

Google AdWords placements have three primary components. Each of these are text-based and have minimum character count requirements. They are as follows:

  • Headline | 30 characters max
  • URL | 15 characters max + domain
  • Description | 90 characters max

Not only is it possible to customize these elements for your mental health clinic on the Google AdWords platform, but it’s highly recommended. Especially if you want the biggest impact on your ad spend.

Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising

Two terms for Google advertising you’ll need to familiarize yourself with are pay-per-click or PPC advertising. These two terms refer to what happens each time someone clicks on a Google Ad. Put simply:

  • The advertiser (aka. your mental health business) is charged a certain amount each and every time a user (aka. your potential client) clicks on the ad in order to learn more about the product or service that’s being advertised.

Organic search Results vs. Paid ads for mental health services

Everything below the Google AdWords placements on the search results page is called the organic results. These businesses display on Google’s SERP just below the top of page Google Ad results. The businesses that ranked on the first page of the search results without paying for ads are doing something right. The higher one can rank organically on the first page of a search, the better.

Tip: In the digital marketing universe, the term organic refers to anything online that is not specifically paid advertising.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Helps Achieve Ranking

Another essential digital marketing and advertising term to be aware of — search engine optimization takes a lot of time and work to achieve high organic ranking on Google. It also requires a cohesive SEO strategy that’s integrated between a mental healthcare business blog and website. Learn about Google E-A-T and its impact on your SEO strategy.

Importance of Having an Integrated Paid and Organic Strategy

At Beacon, we recommend an having a two pronged and integrated paid/organic marketing strategy for your mental healthcare clinic. 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 is a no brainer in our book!

What Is the Google Display Network?

Many popular websites generate (either a portion or all) of their revenue by allowing Google advertising across their pages. These websites are part of what’s called the Google Display Network (GDN), and are something you and your mental health clinic want to take every advantage of.

These advertisements are characteristically displayed in banner or column placement on the GDN website. The word, advertisement in small, grey text indicates to users that what they’re seeing is a paid ad. Once again, giving website users insight into what they’re viewing and potentially clicking on.

This screenshot from a BuzzFeed web page is an excellent example of how this looks. Notice the word advertisement above the LastPass ad in the right hand column:

Unlike Google AdWords placements, Google Display ads are more than mere text-based ads. They can include:

  • headlines
  • descriptions
  • logos
  • graphics

Overall, Google Display ads are more diverse than Google AdWords. With their different formats available (sixteen at our last count) advertisers have a little more control over how their ads display to users.

Retargeting Ads Is a Bonus google display network feature

A common application of Google Display advertising referred to as retargeting. This is where you’re essentially telling Google, “I want you to show my ads to people who’ve just visited my mental health clinic’s website.”

Before taking the BuzzFeed screenshot above, we’d recently visited the LastPass website. As you can see in the screenshot, a LastPass ad now displays on this BuzzFeed website page. Google’s GDN retargeting functionality explains why the ad from LastPass is showing up here instead of, a totally irrelevant ad for a local plumber three states over.

Retargeting is highly effective for keeping your mental health clinic top of mind. It helps remind people of their interest in your mental health facility and encourages them to do what you want them to do — come back to your website.

Location Based Targeting with 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 market your mental health services to the whole world. Instead, it’s best 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 on locations you’ll 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 a google ads for your mental health clinic’s account.

Here’s how to get started on that: 

  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, however, it’s important to 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 less than a second to perform a Google search. Because Google is so quick to return millions of results, we 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 the Google ads platform, AdWords. Maybe it’s a search for something like, “feeling depressed counseling near me.”

If your mental health clinic provides these services and you’re targeting these searches through Google advertising, your business will be included in the list of companies Google looks at.

Using Google Keywords

How do you communicate to Google that you’re targeting these searches to a specific target audience? By bidding a monetary value on these search terms –better known as keywords– in Google AdWords.

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

  1. The maximum bid you’ve set for your specific keyword
  2. The quality score for your advertisement

Understanding Maximum Bid and Quality Score

First, the maximum bid is the maximum amount you’re willing to pay if someone clicks on your Google advertisement (this is similar to pay-per-click). In the industry, this is also 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.

Google’s concern for the user experience benefits you because — the more users Google has, the more people see your ads! These 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.

Understanding Ad Group and Landing Page

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

An ad group is the 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

Understanding Ad Rank and Cost-per-impression

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

Up to this point, we’ve described the algorithm for Google AdWords placements and not covered the GDN. 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 Will Google Advertising Will Cost Your Mental Health Clinic?

As previously mentioned, Google advertising is pay-per-click. This means your mental health clinic foots the bill each time a potential client clicks on one of your ads. By setting a maximum bid, you are informing Google that, “This amount is the most I’m willing to pay.”

Sometimes the amount you actually pay in the end is much lower. When a search is performed, Google runs an equation that determining 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 back in algebra class, you’ll see that the higher your quality score is, the lower your rate’s going to be.

In order to improve the user search experience, Google intentionally 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?

If you’re asking, “Can Google advertising grow my mental health clinic?” We’re here to say, “That’s a great question!” And our answer is, “It depends.”

Consider Your Competitive Landscape

In addition to thinking about your bid and quality score, you also have to zoom out and consider the dynamics of your unique competitive landscape. Those dynamics, we can boing down into two things you’re competing with other Google advertisers about:

  1. Your industry
  2. Your location

Your location matters!

Some industries and locations are very competitive.

For example, in the legal industry in Anchorage, Alaska, we’ve seen cost-per-clicks as high as $50! In cases like this, unless our client makes a massive profit off each customer they bring in, we wouldn’t 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. for mental health professionals by 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.

Identifying Reasonable Bids

A good question to ask at this point is, “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. This makes sense when we average the high end of the bids from the data in our table.

On a national scale, the mental health industry in the U.S. is fairly average when it comes to competition for ad campaigns. As this is a national average, it’s still important to closely examine the competition in your locality and use that to inform your advertising decisions rather than relying on a national average for your benchmark numbers.

Learn about and utilize best practices

Even if your locality has a high level of competition, there’s a lot you can do to help lower your Google advertising rate. Here at Beacon, we regularly achieve lower than industry standard rates for our clients. This is in part due to the fact we use a few, key best practices.

Here are a few of our favorites:

  • 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. You’ll want 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 unique you can make the keywords you’re targeting, the less competition for them you’ll encounter, and the more likely you’ll bring in the patients you’re hoping for! For example, we helped one dentist achieve excellent results through Google advertising. We did this by focusing on the functional aspect of her practice, and used 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’re targeting shows up in your: ad headline, description, and on the web page you are linking that specific ad to.

Should You Outsource Your Mental Health Google Advertising? 

At this juncture, you may be thinking, “Google advertising is not exactly quick and easy!” True, maybe not the first few times, but once you get the hang of it, Google advertising is will get you on the first page of Google much quicker than relying on organic results alone.

If you’re just getting started or are planning to launch your private practice or mental health clinic in the near future, we hope this information gives you a leg-up! If not and you are interested in outsourcing your Google advertising to an expert, we would love to help you. Our team at Beacon is Google Partner certified and we’ve helped many businesses in the mental health industry register new patients.

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

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