Are Google Ads Worth the Money for a Dentist?
Every time I talk to a new client I get this same question: “Should I be paying for Google Ads?” The answer really isn’t too complex, but there are some exceptions and nuances. So what’s the answer?
No, you do not need to buy Google Ads for you dental practice…. BUT…
When Should I buy Google Ads for a Dentist?
Google adwords are expensive for dentists. When I was running our corporate emergency dental practice (On Demand Dentist), we invested heavily in AdWords (more on why and how it worked in a minute). In some cases, we were paying more than $100 every time someone clicked our ad. If you’re a GP and looking to get patients on a cheap “exam and x-ray” deal, then $100 can completely cripple your budget.
One of the reasons the ads are so expensive is because of supply and demand: there are only a handful of ads on the front page every time someone searches for your keywords. Since you are effectively bidding on the placement of your ad — and because there are 210,000 active dentists in America — those bids can get really high because of the competition.
HOWEVER… what if you are a specialist? Or filling a specific niche in dentistry? Or a specialist in a nice? Well then, Google Adwords could make a lot of sense.
What Niches Work Well with Google Ads in Dentistry?
I’ve used Google ads in a variety of dental niches and specialties, and it was most effective in our emergency dental clinic. Why? Because when someone is in pain and searching for toothache relief, they care more about finding someone quickly than they do about detailed research. Because of that, they are more likely to click on a paid ad. We were also able to make it work because our ads were very targeted based on time, day, keyword, device, and location.
For example, we would run an ad on Saturday morning at 7 am on mobile devices within a 20 miles radius of our practice. The ads had a tracking phone number so patients on their phones could just click the ad to call us. We were the only practice open at that time and most people can get to a dentist within 20 miles in San Diego.
Our average patient paid only $350 for a visit and treatment, but because our ads were so targeted, we didn’t have to pay as much (typically we paid about $10 per click) and our success rate was very high: if someone clicked, they usually came in. Over the course of two years we had an average cost per acquisition of less than $50.
High priced niches and specialties can also be a good way to ensure success. For instance, if you are a ceramic implantologist with an average patient value of $5000, you can probably be profitable with targeted campaigns because you can afford a higher cost of acquisition per patient and you are still in a limited competitive market.
The Long Term Problem with AdWords for Dentistry
One thing I dislike about AdWords as a long term strategy is the long term rising costs without a succession plan in place. Every month your ads will get a little more expensive as more people compete for those keywords, which means that you have to pay more to keep your page 1 position. If you don’t have a long term plan in place for organic growth, you’ll be tied into paying for those ads indefinitely, potentially crippling your practices profitability.
With one recent client, we needed a short term patient acquisition place to supplement the long term organic plan we had in place. To fill the holes in the schedule while we worked on a more natural, organic growth plan, we invested in adwords with a 3-month plan to reduce and eventually eliminate the AdWords investment. That gave our long term plan time to succeed without sacrificing short term revenue.
The Bottom Line on Google Ads for Dentists
I think Google Ads work very well in dentistry… as long as you have a specific nice or specialty and a very targeted campaign with a long term growth plan that does not require daily payments to an outside source.
If you have any questions about Google Ads for your practice — or any other dental marketing questions — please leave a comment or email us today!