The Intake

Insights for those starting, managing, and growing independent healthcare practices

What could go wrong if you do Google Ads yourself for your medical practice

Should you try to run Google Ads yourself for your medical practice? Here are 10 expensive mistakes to avoid making.

Medical practice staff members looking at computer screen discussing Google ads for medical practice

At A Glance

  • Google Ads can support a long-term marketing strategy, especially for medical practices looking to increase their visibility quickly
  • However, competing with oneself by overlapping keywords across ad groups can lead to increased costs
  • Inaccurate keyword selection can also result in misplaced ads or ads associated with negative connotations
  • Other errors include overspending, neglecting ad extensions, and more
  • While some practices attempt to manage Google Ads independently, this can often lead to inefficiencies or unoptimized campaigns
  • Alternatives include hiring freelancers, engaging a general advertising agency, or partnering with a medical-specific advertising agency

Google is the number one search engine in the United States. And getting to the top of the search results is the ideal goal for many businesses. Creating blog content is the best long-term method to get there. However, there’s another way for medical practices looking to rise quickly while waiting for SEO to work: Google Ads.

Google Ads support your long-term marketing strategy. You can work on a shoestring budget and still get some results. At the same time, the interface makes it easy to set up and start running ads. 

All you need is the content and graphics, right?

Not quite.

If an ad campaign isn’t structured correctly, and if its content doesn’t resonate, you could be throwing money into a black hole.

When you’re working on Google Ads yourself, it’s possible for several things to go wrong. Knowing the common pitfalls can help you determine whether you can run ads yourself or whether it’s better to outsource. 

First, some Google Ads terminology

Before we dig into the details of self-managing Google Ads, we must review some key terms. Advertising is its own language, and Google Ads has its own vocabulary. So, let’s cover some of the basic terms you’ll need to know whether you manage your ads or not:

  • Ad campaign: An ad campaign encompasses different ad groups. For example, you might run an “in-office” campaign and a “telehealth” campaign. Each campaign can have different ad groups, as well as different target locations, goals, and budgets.
  • Ad group: An ad group is a group of ads that share similar keywords and audience demographics. For example, your “in-office” campaign might have different ad groups based on your different brick-and-mortar services. 
  • Cost-per-impression (CPM): This metric is how much you pay per 1,000 views of your ad.
  • Cost-per-click (CPC): This metric is how much you pay every time someone clicks on your ad. 
  • Keyword: Keywords are words or phrases used to determine where your ads will appear. For example, if a patient searches for “physiotherapist st. louis missouri” and you have a physiotherapy practice in St. Louis, you’d want your ad to appear for this keyword. 

The top 9 expensive mistakes from doing Google Ads yourself

It’s often tempting to set up ads yourself. After all, you don’t have to bill yourself for your time. But if you don’t know the ins and outs of Google Ads, it’s easy to make costly mistakes. Here are our top 9:

1. Competing with yourself

Google Ads uses a bidding process for ad placement, and because of this it’s possible to outbid yourself and end up paying more. But how does this happen?

Many businesses choose to run different ad groups at one time. For example, they may be highlighting different services or promotions. However, if they use the same keyword in multiple ad groups, the cost may differ. A single keyword may have a different quality score and bid price depending on the context of the ad. 

In some cases, the keyword will have the same score in both ad groups, but each will have a different bid. When this happens, Google will choose the higher bid for your overall campaign.

2. Advertising in the wrong place

Keyword research is critical when it comes to Google Ads. Using broad search terms or failing to screen unwanted keywords can result in unfortunate placements. For example, if someone searches “bad healthcare,” it will not help your practice if your ad appears.

Be as specific as possible when selecting your keywords — or your ad might end up in the wrong place.

The last thing you want is for your website to be associated with negative keywords. This includes things like “worst doctor” or “bad doctor reviews.” Carefully curate and exclude all the potential negative keywords from your ad campaign.

3. Getting found with unrelated keywords

Another common issue is being found for the wrong keywords. Vague or broad keywords tend to be the root of the problem. For instance, the keywords for your “telehealth” campaign should be more specific than “online video.” Not only does this keyword not address what your ideal patient is searching for, but it’s a waste of money. 

4. Overspending

There are several reasons you might overspend on Google Ads. Choosing broad keywords is easily the most common and the most difficult to remedy on your own. But not knowing a reasonable budget, failing to optimize your campaigns, and not refreshing your ads periodically can all contribute to paying more for less.

5. Forgetting ad extensions

You can add supplemental links to your main ad. It’s not mandatory to use all of them, but they do help. These ad extensions offer additional actions your patients can take besides visiting your landing page. Instead, they can call you, read about your services, view your location, and more. 

6. Not having a specific ad page on your website

One of the worst things you can do is send potential patients to a generic homepage, even if you have an amazing medical practice site. Your homepage often has a mix of messages, but it’s likely you’ll want individuals to take a specific action when they reach your site. You may want them to read a blog post, download a checklist, or sign up for a webinar. These clear, specific calls to action usually do better with a specific page. 

You may want them to read a blog post, download a checklist, or sign up for a webinar. These clear, specific calls to action usually do better with a specific page. ”

Create a page that caters to your ad content, often called a landing page. For instance, a podiatrist practice may have multiple ads focusing on different services. But someone clicking on an ad for diabetic neuropathy will expect to head to a page with content dedicated to the topic — not your catch-all homepage. 

7. Sloppy content or graphics

Healthcare providers and their staff aren’t often copywriters, graphic designers, or videographers. But these are skills you will need to create effective ads. Many underestimate how long it will take them to complete the creative component of their ads — time that could be spent on treating patients. 

8. Relying on auto-recommendations 

Google Ads gives you the option to auto-apply recommendations from the platform. This may seem like an easier way to manage your campaigns, but it isn’t perfect. Manually reviewing the recommendations and applying the relevant ones tends to be more beneficial in the long run. Even if it takes more time. 

The same is true for using smart bidding, a way to automate your bids and ensure you get a better placement. The problem here is that you may end up spending more than you’d like. 

In short, some aspects of Google Ads are better completed manually. 

9. Failing to understand metrics or troubleshooting

What happens if your CPM is going out of control? If no one is scheduling a call? Or if Google decides to ban your Google Ads account due to a slip-up in the algorithm? Even worse, sometimes you can have a significant amount of data but not know how to apply it. 

You need to understand the various terms specific to advertising to gauge success and pinpoint errors. And it takes time to learn. If you do it all on your own, you’ll likely spend hours or days searching for solutions or definitions without knowing what will work. 

Why do medical practices try to manage Google Ads?

So, if there are so many potential mistakes, why do medical practices still attempt to manage Google Ads on their own?

Usually, they assume that Google Ads are simple and it’s cheaper than hiring someone. As a result, medical practices may run a Google Ads campaign, but not optimize it. Poorly prepared ads often don’t do well, making it seem like ads don’t work. Healthcare professionals and office managers then believe they’ve thrown a lot of money at nothing.

But Google Ads can be an opportunity for medical practices to attract patients. And it doesn’t have to break your budget. 

What are alternatives to managing Google Ads yourself?

For medical practitioners hoping to reduce their time spent on advertising and stretch their dollars further, there are some alternatives to managing Google Ads on your own. Spending on these solutions often appears unnecessary at first glance. However, investing in professionals who can effectively manage your ads and attract more patients can easily increase your revenue. 

But who should you hire?

There are usually 3 options:

  1. Freelancers: Freelance advertising professionals are often great for startups or small practices. It’s possible to find a freelancer that meets your needs and budget. These individuals tend to work and respond quickly since they are one-person operations. In this case, you will likely have to hire multiple freelancers. You would need one person to run the ads, and another to create your ad content, such as video ads or ad graphics. In some cases, you can find professionals who can do both. 
  2. An advertising agency: An advertising agency is often more expensive a freelancer, but it also often has better resources and tools. Furthermore, agencies often provide additional services and insights into improving your overall marketing approach.
  3. A medical-specific advertising agency: Not all advertising agencies are familiar with your specialization or even the medical field. You may choose an agency or program that handles marketing for your industry. This can be advantageous since they will know the ins and outs of specific keyword research, patient expectations, and compliance requirements. Like with freelancers and agencies, there is a wide range when it comes to pricing. 

Next steps: Google Ads and beyond

Despite the learning curve, it is possible to run a successful campaign. But you’ll likely need help as your practice grows. As a healthcare professional, patients are your priority. Your staff quickly becomes busy with immediate tasks, such as patient questions, prior authorizations, and other important tasks.

Eventually, the best way to get Google Ads to work and work well, without eating up your time is to outsource to someone who really knows advertising and digital marketing. 
To know what you should look for when outsourcing or sticking to creating an advertising and digital marketing strategy yourself, check out our in-depth medical practice growth guide.

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Kelsey Ray Banerjee

Kelsey Ray Banerjee is a professional content writer in the healthcare, marketing, and finance space. She has worked in the back office of a psychiatric practice, and with family members working in mental health for 2 generations, she understands the challenges healthcare professionals face when it comes to marketing and admin. She believes access to efficient healthcare is essential for society’s well-being, and loves being able to write content that can positively impact a practice and its patients.

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