Healthcare Paid Search: Is It Worth the Investment?

Published: 3 November 2023

Updated: 21 February 2024

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Olga is a digital marketing specialist @VIDEN, delivering results for brands through data-driven strategies and result-oriented tactics across Google & Bing Ads, Facebook Ads, Amazon Ads & more.
Healthcare Paid Search: Is It Worth the Investment?

Simple answer? If you want to grow your business – yes.

PPC (pay-per-click) advertising serves as a cornerstone of digital marketing for a broad spectrum of industries, including healthcare — and for a good reason. The beauty of PPC lies in its ability to offer a cost-effective and highly measurable means of reaching your target audience.

Recent stats show that many healthcare providers are putting a chunk of their marketing budgets into PPC campaigns. In fact, in 2021, the healthcare and pharmaceutical industry in the United States spent nearly 14 billion US dollars on digital advertising services. And it doesn’t look like they’re slowing down. According to recent projections, the digital ad spend is expected to continue its growth, reaching 19.66 billion dollars by the end of 2024. This surge in digital ad spending underscores the industry’s recognition of the immense potential of online advertising. So, let’s dive into healthcare paid search advertising and see if it’s really worth the hype when it comes to getting new patients.

Healthcare and pharmaceutical industry digital ads spending

Healthcare and pharmaceutical industry digital ads spending in the US 2011- 2024

Table of Contents:

  1. What is PPC Advertising?
  2. PPC Advertising Tips for Healthcare Businesses
  3. Paid Search for Healthcare: Importance and Benefits
  4. Challenges of Running Healthcare PPC Campaigns
  5. Who Needs to Use PPC Marketing?
  6. FAQ about PPC Advertising for Healthcare Businesses
  7. Conclusion

What is PPC Advertising?

At its core, PPC advertising is an auction-based system where advertisers bid on keywords relevant to their businesses. When a user searches for those keywords, the search engine or platform (such as Google Ads or Bing Ads) displays the most relevant ads at the top of the search results. Advertisers only pay when a user clicks on their ad.

Schematic representation of a PPC auction

PPC auction

As such, a pediatrician running a practice in Irving, for example, could set up a campaign based on keywords like “pediatrician near me”, “pediatric center Irving”, etc., targeting the city, and have their ads show up for the potential customers that are actively searching for their business.

Most users who click on the ad are interested in this type of service, so each dollar spent on Google Ads services or any other PPC solutions could potentially result in a consultation. This means that PPC ads for healthcare organizations are a great chance to reach their target audience.

PPC Advertising Tips for Healthcare Businesses

While pay-per-click (PPC) advertising holds significant potential for healthcare businesses, it’s essential to approach it strategically to make the most of your investment. Here are some valuable tips to help you run PPC ads for healthcare effectively:

1. Choose the Right Strategy

A proper strategy is key. Begin by defining clear and specific goals for your healthcare PPC campaigns. Determine whether your primary objective is to increase brand awareness, drive website traffic, generate leads, or boost product/service sales, and define the right channels for your goals. Identify how you’re going to measure the success of your campaigns — think about the KPIs you need to pay the most attention to (ROAS, CPA, sales volume, downloads, leads, traffic volume, etc.)

2. Research Your Competitors

Are you familiar with your competitors in the healthcare space? Take the time to get to know them. Analyzing their strategies, ad copy and keyword selection is a valuable exercise. Here’s how it can benefit your healthcare business:

  • Uncover untapped keywords. Examine the keywords your competitors are targeting to identify potentially lucrative opportunities they might have overlooked. These untapped keywords could help you reach a segment of the audience that your competitors are missing out on.
  • Learn from their success and mistakes. Studying your competitors’ ad copy and landing pages can provide insights into what resonates with your target audience and what doesn’t. You can learn from their success and avoid making the same mistakes in your own campaigns.
  • Differentiate your brand. Struggling to identify unique selling points and differentiators for your healthcare business? Analyze your competitors! Highlighting what sets you apart can make your healthcare paid search campaigns more appealing to potential patients and help you stand out.
  • Stay informed about industry trends. Keeping an eye on your competitors allows you to stay informed about the latest trends and innovations in healthcare PPC advertising. This knowledge can help you adapt and stay competitive in an ever-evolving digital landscape.
  • Benchmark your performance. Comparing your PPC campaign performance to that of your competitors can give you a benchmark for success. Are you outperforming them in terms of click-through rates or conversion rates? If not, it may be time to refine your strategy.

Don’t simply replicate their strategies; use the insights you gain to create campaigns that reflect your healthcare business’s distinct qualities and values. If you’re unsure how to set up this delicate balance, don’t hesitate to reach out to us for support. We have a proven track record of running paid search campaigns for healthcare companies. Just look at our case studies!

3. Optimize Your Landing Pages for Conversions

Ensure that the content and design of your landing pages are highly relevant to the ad that leads users to them. Implement clear and persuasive CTAs on your landing pages, guiding visitors to take the desired action, whether it’s scheduling an appointment, signing up for a newsletter, or making a purchase. Add clear and visible USPs of your healthcare business on the landing page you’re planning to drive traffic to.

Since the majority of traffic from healthcare PPC ads is coming from mobile devices, ensuring that your landing pages are mobile-friendly should also be a priority. A responsive design and fast-loading pages are essential for capturing mobile users’ interest. Conduct A/B tests to assess the performance of different page elements (e.g., headlines, images, forms) and make data-driven improvements.

4. Choose the Right Keywords and Audiences

If you offer several product or service categories, you want to focus on something that generates the most sales and has the best potential in terms of search volume. This includes your branded keywords and checking if competitors are bidding on your brand name. It’s also important to identify and include negative keywords in your campaign to exclude irrelevant traffic.

5. Take Advantage of Remarketing and Lookalike Audiences

When running paid search campaigns for doctors or physicians, it’s essential to start strong. To maximize engagement and drive sales, begin by targeting the most relevant audiences:

  • Remarketing audiences. These are individuals who have previously interacted with your website or engaged with your content. Remarketing allows you to re-engage with these potential patients, reminding them of your healthcare services and encouraging them to take the next step.
  • Lookalike audiences. Lookalike audiences are individuals who share characteristics and behavior similar to your existing patients or website visitors. By targeting lookalike audiences, you can expand your reach to people who are more likely to be interested in your healthcare services, increasing your chances of conversion and driving sales.

6. Choose the Right Location for Your Business

With medical paid search campaigns, you can get as local or as broad as you want. If you’re running a local practice, it’s best to focus on your town. It’s important that you choose the right settings for your location and include only the people who are present in it and not interested in it. Here are some practical recommendations to help you do it effectively:

  • Define your geographic scope. Consider the geographic reach that aligns with your healthcare services. If you’re running a local practice, it’s best to focus on your town or immediate vicinity. However, if your services cater to a broader region or multiple locations, your targeting should reflect that.
  • Use geo-modifiers. To ensure your ads reach only those who are physically present within your chosen location, use geo-modifiers in your settings. This is particularly important for healthcare businesses, as you want to connect with potential patients who can easily access your services.
  • Avoid irrelevant traffic. Be cautious not to attract tourists or individuals searching for healthcare services in other locations. Your ads should be designed to target people who are not just physically present but are also genuinely interested in your local healthcare offerings.
  • Optimize for mobile devices. Since many people use mobile devices to search for local services, ensure that your healthcare PPC is mobile-friendly. Utilize location-specific ad extensions and features to make it easy for potential patients to find your business when they’re on the go.
  • Test different locations. Consider running tests in various locations to determine where your advertising efforts yield the best results. For instance, if you’re a chiropractor in a small town, your location settings should focus on a radius that includes your local community. On the other hand, a regional hospital chain serving a major city should target the entire metropolitan area.

Paid Search for Healthcare: Importance and Benefits

Running PPC ads for healthcare offers the opportunity to gain increased online visibility, connect with a precise target audience, deliver rapid results, manage costs effectively, and gather valuable data-driven insights. Let’s explore how YOUR healthcare business can remain a prominent player among competitors:

  1. Reach your target audience — with cost-efficient solutions. Google and Bing Ads can help you reach your potential customers when they’re directly looking for your products and services, while Meta Ads can be a powerful tool for growing brand awareness across “cold” audiences. Many platforms also allow you to utilize smart bidding strategies, depending on how likely the user is to convert, as well as the ROAS or CPA targets you set for the campaigns. With paid search marketing for healthcare, you can also take advantage of seasonality — if it applies to your brand.
  2. Boost your brand awareness. Healthcare PPC advertising allows you to show top queries for your business, occupying top spots with the right bid and ad, which would get you directly in front of your customers. You can use informative and educational content to highlight the issues and pain points your brand is trying to solve and drive traffic to your website.
  3. Grow your customer base. By launching paid search campaigns for your healthcare business, you can engage with an increasingly health-conscious audience. The healthcare industry keywords gain volume YoY. The interest in healthcare brands has been on the rise ever since the pandemic hit. Such as, the search volume for “vitamins” has seen a +22% YoY increase. Similarly:
  4. Search query for vitamins

  5. Beat your competition & ensure your brand’s visibility. You should also remember that your direct competitors can (and most likely will) bid on your brand name. This means that even when users are looking directly for your website and company, they may be intercepted by another brand’s offer simply because their ad is placed higher than your organic link. The industry is competitive and is getting more so with each year. This is why it’s important to ensure you have a share at the top spots of the search results.
  6. Gather leads and remarket to your audiences. Healthcare PPC advertising can help you not only reach prospecting audiences but also show your ads to remarketing audiences. Remarketing campaigns work especially well when paired with an offer that might entice the non-converting users to close the gap toward a sale — it could be a discount, a free phone or video chat consultation.

Challenges of Running Healthcare PPC Campaigns

While PPC can be beneficial to your business’s growth, there are some factors and challenges that you have to consider before launching yourself into the PPC.

  1. High competition and rising costs. Without a proper strategy, you’ll likely be facing high CPC (cost per click) and low engagement. There’s also a risk of ad fatigue among the target audience. Users may become desensitized to the constant stream of healthcare-related ads, resulting in lower engagement rates and reduced click-through rates. This is why it’s important to pay attention to the messaging in your ads to avoid coming across as “spammy”.
  2. PPC platforms’ policies and limited reach. Healthcare falls under a sensitive category for most of the PPC platforms. It is often either restricted in reach or completely banned, depending on the product or service that you want to advertise. Running Google ads for healthcare, for example, may mean that you won’t be able to use some of the audiences.
  3. Lack of time and expertise. Developing PPC ads for healthcare, especially if you want to build a holistic strategy across paid search and paid social, requires specialized knowledge and can be time-consuming. Ongoing campaign maintenance involves bid and budget adjustment, monitoring where and on which queries your ads show, constant testing of keywords, creatives, and strategies.

Who Needs to Use PPC Marketing?

Let’s take a closer look at the healthcare stakeholders who can reap the rewards of PPC marketing:

  • Doctors and physicians: Whether you’re an individual practitioner or a specialist, PPC marketing can boost your online presence, attract more patients, and promote specific medical services, helping you connect directly with patients in need of your expertise.
  • Clinics and hospitals: Healthcare institutions, including clinics and hospitals, can showcase their specialized services, like surgeries, maternity care, or emergency departments, with PPC advertising. It’s an effective way to keep appointment schedules busy and ensure the local community knows about the wide range of services available.
  • Pharmaceutical companies: With PPC campaigns, pharmaceutical firms can engage with healthcare professionals, share information about new medications or treatment options, and raise awareness about specific medical conditions. It’s also a vital channel for marketing pharmaceutical products to a diverse audience.
  • Dentists and dental practices: Dentists can effectively attract local patients looking for dental services, such as regular cleanings, orthodontic treatments, or cosmetic dentistry, through targeted PPC campaigns. This ensures appointment slots are filled while highlighting specialized dental care.
  • Specialty healthcare providers: Specialized healthcare providers like chiropractors, dermatologists, and physical therapists can use PPC to highlight their unique services and connect with potential patients seeking specialized care.
  • Healthcare software and technology providers: These companies can leverage PPC to reach healthcare administrators, IT professionals, and clinicians who are actively searching for technology solutions to improve patient care and streamline operations.
  • Healthcare marketing agencies: Marketing agencies specializing in healthcare marketing and advertising can harness the power of PPC to assist their clients, including hospitals, private practices, and healthcare organizations, in orchestrating successful digital advertising campaigns.
  • Healthcare nonprofits: Empowered by PPC marketing, healthcare nonprofits can effectively amplify awareness, secure vital funding, and attract donors for their medical missions, research initiatives, and public health programs.

FAQ about PPC Advertising for Healthcare Businesses

  1. What is PPC marketing in healthcare? PPC marketing in healthcare is a form of online advertising that allows healthcare providers to reach potential patients when they are actively looking for information or services online.
  2. Are medical ads legal? Yes, medical ads are legal, but they are subject to certain regulations. In general, medical ads must be truthful, not misleading, and supported by evidence.
  3. How do you advertise healthcare services? There are many ways to advertise healthcare services, but PPC marketing is one of the most effective.
  4. What is an example of a paid search? For example, if you search for “dentists near me”, you will see a paid search ad for a dentist in your area.
  5. How to target doctors on Google Ads? To target doctors on Google Ads, use relevant keywords and phrases, target your ads to specific demographics, and utilize interest-based targeting, remarketing, ad extensions, and tracking tools.

Conclusion

In conclusion, there are numerous advantages to running PPC advertising campaigns for healthcare businesses, including a cost-effective and highly measurable means of reaching target audiences. With the right strategy, you can ensure your visibility across the core keywords for the right customers and before your main competitors, grow your brand awareness, and retarget “warm” audiences. Of course, launching and maintaining PPC campaigns doesn’t come without challenges. However, with a well-crafted strategy, you can still succeed with the PPC campaigns, maximizing your presence and brand recognition, even despite rising competition and costs.

If you’re looking for help launching PPC campaigns for your healthcare organization, reach out to us. We have a team of experienced PPC specialists who can help you create and manage effective campaigns that deliver results.

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